Notice issued u/s 148 of the IT Act against a deceased assessee is invalid: Reiterates Delhi HC

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The Delhi High Court has reiterated that a notice issued under Section 148 of the Income Tax Act, 1961, on the ground of escapement of income from assessment, against a deceased assessee is invalid in law.

The Division Bench of Justices Jyoti Singh and Anoop Kumar Mendirattaobserved that though the notices were issued by the revenue authorities pursuant to an order of the Supreme Court, however, the said order did not deal with the issue of whether the notices could be issued against the deceased assesses. Therefore, the Court quashed the notices issued by the revenue authorities against the deceased assessee.

A notice was issued by the Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax (ACIT) to the deceased assessee, Amrit Singh Thapar, on the ground that his income for the relevant assessment year had escaped assessment. The assessee was directed by the ACIT to file a return within a specified period. The revenue authorities were intimated regarding the death of the assessee and a Death Certificate was also furnished.

However, the revenue authorities issued further notices to the deceased assessee, including one under Section 148A(b) of the Income Tax Act, pursuant to an order passed by the Supreme Court. Against the notices issued by the revenue authorities, the petitioner Davinder Singh Thapar, i.e., the son of the deceased assessee, filed a writ petition before the Delhi High Court.

Section 148 of the Income Tax Act deals with the issue of notice by the Assessing Officer where the income of the assessee has escaped assessment.

Section 148A(b) provides that the Assessing Officer shall, before issuing any notice under Section 148, provide an opportunity of being heard to the assessee as to why a notice under Section 148 should not be issued.

The petitioner Davinder Singh Thapar submitted before the High Court that the notices issued by the revenue department against the assessee were invalid in law since they were issued against a dead person.

The petitioner averred that under Section 148 of the Income Tax Act, there is a statutory requirement that the Assessing Officer shall serve a notice on the assessee. The petitioner contended that since the assessee had expired prior to the issuance of the first notice, the said statutory requirement was not fulfilled.

The petitioner submitted that the Delhi High Court in the case of Savita Kapila versus Assistant CIT, (2020) had held that a notice under Section 148 of the Income Tax Act against a dead person is null and void and, therefore, all consequential proceedings and orders are invalid.

The revenue department averred that notices were issued against the deceased assessee pursuant to an order passed by the Supreme Court in the case of Union of India & Ors. versus Ashish Agarwal (2022).

The Court observed that the judgment of the Supreme Court in Union of India & Ors. versus Ashish Agarwal (2022) did not deal with the issue of whether the notices could be issued against the assesses who had expired.

The Court noted that the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court in the case of Sangeeta Vig versus ITO, Delhi (2022), after referring to the decision rendered in Savita Kapila versus Assistant CIT, (2020), had set aside an order passed under Section 148A(d) and the consequential notice issued under Section 148 of the Income Tax Act against a deceased assessee.

The Court observed that the case of the assessee was covered by the judgments of the Delhi High Court. Thus, the Court allowed the writ petition and quashed the notices issued by the revenue authorities against the deceased assessee.

Case Title: Davinder Singh Thapar versus Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax & Anr.

Source from: https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/delhi-high-court-section-148-of-the-income-tax-act-justice-jyoti-singh-justice-anoop-kumar-mendiratta-assistant-commissioner-of-income-tax-acit-deceased-assessee-201789

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