The Allahabad High Court has held that the taxing authorities in the garb of technicalities cannot stop any assessee from claiming his statutory right provided under the Income Tax Act.

The Bench of Justice Rohit Ranjan Agarwal observed that due to the mistake of the department or the technical glitch in the software when an appeal of the assessee was not reflected on the portal, the authorities could not deny entertaining the appeal filed offline on technical grounds.

“The Act has granted right to every person, who is aggrieved by an order passed by the Adjudicating Authority to approach the appellate forum as envisaged under Section 107. The act of the respondents in not entertaining the appeal offline is an act from stopping the assessee from getting his right adjudicated as provided under the Act.” added the Court.

Advocate Nishant Mishra appeared for the petitioner and Standing Counsel A.C. Tripathi appeared for the respondent.

The assessee was a public charitable trust duly registered under the Societies Registration Act and also under Section 12-AA of the Income Tax Act (the Act). The Trust was constructing a charitable hospital and certain exemptions under the Income Tax were claimed by the assessee which were not granted by the assessment order passed under Section 74 of the Act.

After the order was passed, the assessee reversed certain input tax credits through form GSTR-3B. The department passed a summary order. In the meantime, the assessee had tried to file an appeal online against the original order, but was not accepted as the web portal displayed an error.

The Counsel for the petitioner submitted that the online portal of the department was not accepting the appeal filed by the assessee against the original order and the department insisted for placing the acknowledgement of the appeal filed online and was not even accepting the appeal filed offline.

The Court noted that the appeal filed by the assessee was not reflected on the web-portal of the department and that under Section 107 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2008 appeal could be preferred against any decision or order passed by the adjudicating authority.

“The legislature has not put any embargo upon filing of an appeal before the Appellate Authority by a person aggrieved, against any order.... The Appellate Authority is there to adjudicate the matter, which is before it under the provisions of the Act, and it cannot stop any aggrieved person from approaching the forum through filing the appeal restricting his right.” said the Court.

The Court further noted that Rule 108 of UP GST Rules, 2017 provided for the procedure and appeal to the Appellate Authority was to be filed in Form GST APL-01 along with relevant documents either electronically or otherwise as may be notified by the Commissioner. But no other mode apart from filing appeal online had been notified by the Commissioner in the State of Uttar Pradesh.

“There is absolute clarity by the legislature as to the notification which has to be published by the State Government in the official gazette. Once no such notification has been issued, it would be presumed that other mode of filing the appeal would be offline.” said the Court.

Therefore, the Court directed the Additional Commissioner to hear the assessee’s appeal, which was filed offline strictly in accordance with the law, within one month.

Accordingly, the writ petition was partly allowed.

Cause Title- M/S Yash Kothari Public Charitable Trust v. State Of U.P. And 2 Others

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