HC Says Faceless I-T Centre Orders Passed without Hearing Assessee to be Void

The Bombay High Court has directed the National Faceless Assessment Centre (NFAC) to circulate its instruction that orders passed without giving an assessee the opportunity to be heard would be considered void, and the court would be constrained to impose substantial cost on the assessing officer.

The court issued the directive last week while hearing a petition filed by Mantra Industries Ltd. against a June 8, 2021 assessment order and notice of demand and show cause for initiating penalty proceedings.

The NFAC acts as the central gateway for all communication between taxpayers and field officers, thereby maintaining anonymity between the income tax authorities and taxpayers. The e-assessment scheme is one of the most touted initiatives of the finance ministry.

The Petitioner had contended that the assessment order had been passes without following the principles of natural justice and the petitioner’s requests for an adjournment and for personal hearing had not been considered.

Also, the petitioner alleged that the reply and objections filed in response to the show cause notice with the draft assessment order were not considered.

On April 22, the assessee had received a notice for AY 2018-2019 that sought as reply as to why assessment should not be completed as per the draft assessment order. The petitioner was given two days to submit its response.

The petitioner was also advised that a personal hearing could be requested.

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