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2019 (10) TMI 992 - AT - Income Tax
Assessment order under the scheme of section 144C - applicability of limitations provided under section 153 - HELD THAT:- AO cannot tinker or apply anything further than what was mentioned in the draft assessment order except what is directed by the learned dispute resolution panel. The provisions of principles of natural justice are ingrained in the provisions of section 144C of the act. It further says a time limit of 9 months from the end of the month when the draft order is forwarded to the assessee for passing of issue of any directions.
Upon receipt of the direction the AO shall pass an order of final assessment which is in conformity with the direction of the dispute resolution panel within one month from the end of the month in which the directions are received. There is no further provision of granting any opportunity to the assessee of further hearing. Thus the above provisions are a self-contained code. In this code, the role of the assessing officer ends the movement, the objections are filed by the assessee or draft order is accepted by the assessee. Therefore, the learned assessing officer cannot make any upward adjustment to the income of the assessee after passing of the draft assessment order. He also cannot initiate any further penalties which are attached to the assessment order if same are not initiated in the draft order.
The rights of the variation to the income of the assessee are solely rest with the dispute resolution panel. Therefore the dispute resolution panel has a correcting power to the draft assessment order. AO does not have any power to do so. Therefore it is apparent that on the plain reading of the above provisions for all practical purposes the role of the assessing officer comes to an and the movement he passes the draft order.
He is only authorized to pass the final assessment order which is according to the directions of the learned dispute resolution panel. The above provisions also contained the separate time limits and it has its own timelines which binds the revenue as well as the assessee. The honourable Madras High Court in Sanmina SCI India private limited [2017 (8) TMI 663 - MADRAS HIGH COURT] has held that it is a self-contained code in itself. Thus the provisions contained therein only determine the timelines of the passing of such order and not as provided u/s 153 of the act. Thus this argument of the assessee deserves to be rejected.
It may also be possible that in certain circumstances the provisions of section 263 of the income tax act also do not apply to orders passed under directions of the dispute resolution panel. Thus law has seen the assessment passed in pursuance of direction u/s 144C of the act different from the regular assessment as envisaged u/s 153 of the act.
No doubt, the final order of assessment is passed pursuant to the direction of the learned dispute resolution panel but it cannot be said that that limitations provided under section 153 applies to it. As we have already held that it is a complete code in itself as held by the honourable Madras High Court, which also provides for specific limitations ,if a particular procedure adopted by the assessee, then timelines provided therein will only apply.