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2023 (1) TMI 94 - HC - Income Tax
Assessment u/s 144B - National Faceless Assessment - procedure to be adopted by the National Faceless Assessment Centre on receipt of draft order from the assessment unit - no draft assessment along with show cause notice as required under section 144B(1) and section 144B(7) is given to the petitioner - HELD THAT:- Section 144B of the Act, 1961 provides detailed procedure for Faceless Assessment introduced by the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Act, 2020 with effect from 1st April, 2021. Section 144B(1) starts with a non-obstante clause i.e. “notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any other provisions of this Act, the assessment under sub-section (3) of section 143 or under section 144, in the cases referred to in subsection (2), shall be made in a faceless manner...” as per the procedure prescribed therein.
The above-referred clause of section 144B(1) and 144B(7) deals with the procedure to be adopted by the National Faceless Assessment Centre on receipt of draft order from the assessment unit who has prepared the draft after providing opportunity to the assessee by serving a notice upon him to show cause as to why the assessment should not be completed as per such draft or final draft or revised draft assessment order. Therefore, such personal hearing in era of Faceless assessment is to be provided through video conferencing.
In facts of the case no draft assessment along with show cause notice as required under section 144B(1) and section 144B(7) is given to the petitioner so as to enable the petitioner to give explanation for proposed addition during the hearing before the National Faceless Assessment Centre. Section 144B(1)(xii) provides that on receipt of show cause notice, assessee may furnish his response to the National Faceless Assessment Centre and as per clause (xiv), assessment unit shall make a revised draft assessment order after considering the response of the assessee and send it to the National Faceless Assessment Centre. As per the provisions of section 144B(7) in case of variation prejudicial to the assessee as proposed in the draft assessment order, the assessee is entitled to request for personal hearing and upon such request, the personal hearing may be provided by the authority, if the case of the assessee is covered by circumstances provided therein in exercise of powers under sub-clause (h) of clause (xii) of section 144B(7) of the Act, 1961.
It can be safely be said that the impugned order was passed by the respondent in violation of principles of natural justice without affording an opportunity of personal hearing by not following the prescribed procedure laid down as per the provisions of section 144B of the Act, 1961 for Faceless assessment.
This petition succeeds and is accordingly allowed. The impugned order of assessment passed by the respondent under Section 143(3) read with section 144B of the Act dated 23.09.2021 and demand notice under section 156 of the Act are quashed and set aside. The respondent/Revenue will be at liberty to proceed with assessment under the provisions of section 144B of the Act, 1961 as permissible under the law after issuance of show cause notice-cum-draft assessment order so as to provide an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner. The petitioner shall be given an opportunity of hearing as per the provisions of section 144B of the Act, 1961. Such exercise shall be completed within 12 weeks from the date of receipt of copy of this order.