857 days delay, including 56 Pre-Covid days Properly Explained: ITAT directs CIT(A) to Condone Delay in Appeal Filing [Read Order]

The Chennai bench of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal ( ITAT ) directed the Commissioner of Income Tax (Appeals) [(CIT(A)] to condone the 857-day delay in filing the appeal a the assessee has given proper explanation provided for the delay, encompassing 56 pre-COVID days. The brief facts of the case are that the assessee, an individual, had not filed a return of income for the assessment year 2010-11. As per the information available with the Department, it is found that the assessee had deposited cash of Rs. 14,00,000/- into Vijaya Bank, Kangeyam, during the financial year 2009-10 relevant to assessment year 2010-11. Since, the appellant is non-filer, the case was reopened under Section 147 of the Income-tax Act, 1961

The assessee neither filed his return of income nor justified source for cash deposits. Therefore, the Assessing Officer passed the best judgment assessment under Section 144 r.w.s. 147 of the Income Tax Act, on 16.12.2019 and made addition of Rs. 14, 08,353/- towards cash deposits into bank account. Further the notice issued by the Department was not served to the assessee. Even the order passed by the CIT (A) went unnoticed, because the assessee was not residing in his permanent address.  The assessee has taken steps to file an appeal immediately after noticing the order passed by the Assessing Officer But, in the meantime, Covid has started which disturbed the normal life of people. Since, the assessee was a senior citizen, he could not take steps to file an appeal during Covid period. The assessee preferred an appeal before the CIT (A) on 24.05.2022, with a delay of 857 days. The appellant has filed a petition for condonation of delay along with reasons for delay in filing of appeal.

The counsels for the assessee, Arjunraj and S. Sridhar, observed that the out of total delay of 857 days, 56 days delay is before Covid period and balance 801 days delay is covered by Covid period The assessee is a senior citizen and was residing with his daughter in a different address. The notice issued by the Assessing Officer and as well as the CIT(A) was not noticed by the assessee.  Therefore, the assessee submitted that there is a reasonable cause for not filing appeal within due date under the Act and thus, prayed for condonation of delay.

Therefore, he submitted that delay in filing of appeal before the CIT(A) may be condoned and appeal may be set aside to the file of the CIT (A) to give another opportunity of hearing to the assessee. Mr. P. Sajit Kumar representing the revenue strongly supported the order of the CIT(A) submitted that although the assessee claims to have residing in a different address, but could not file any evidence. Further, it is for the assessee to be vigilant in his tax matters.

Since, the assessee is not representing his case before the authorities with utmost care, the  CIT(A) was right in dismissing the appeal filed by the assessee for delay in filing of appeal and their order should be upheld. It was observed that the petition filed before the CIT (A) for condonation of delay appears to be bonafide and genuine. Therefore, the bench of Justice C.V. Bhadang and Manjunatha G. (Accountant member) considered the view that the CIT (A) ought to have condoned the delay in filing of appeal to advance substantial justice. ITAT directed the first appellate authority to condone the delay in filing of appeal and admit the appeal for hearing and decide the issues involved on merit, after providing reasonable opportunity of hearing to the assessee.   Accordingly, appeal filed by the assessee was allowed.

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