SC comes down hard on IT dept, says apex court is not a "picnic place"
New Delhi, Sep 2: The Supreme Court has slammed the Income Tax department for making "misleading statement" about pendency of an appeal while making it clear that the apex court is not a "picnic place" and cannot be treated like this.
A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur slapped a cost of Rs 10 lakh on the department and said it was "shocked" that the Centre, through the Commissioner of Income Tax, has taken the matter "so casually".
The bench, also comprising Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta, also noted in its order that the plea was filed by the IT department after a delay of 596 days and "inadequate and unconvincing explanation" was given for the delay.
"Please do not do this. The Supreme Court is not a picnic place. Is this the way you treat the Supreme Court of India?," the bench told the counsel appearing for the department. "You cannot treat the Supreme Court like this," the bench said.
The top court observed that in the petition filed by the Commissioner of Income Tax, Ghaziabad, the department has said that a similar matter filed in 2012 was pending in the court. It, however, noted that the matter referred to as pending by the department was decided by the apex court way back in September 2012.
"In other words, the petitioners have given a totally misleading statement before this court. We are shocked that the Union of India through the Commissioner of Income Tax has taken the matter so casually," the bench said in its order while dismissing the petition.
"As we have noted, there is an inadequate explanation of delay of 596 days in filing the petition and a misleading statement about pendency of a similar civil appeal," it said. It said that the cost of Rs 10 lakh be deposited with the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee within four weeks and the amount be utilised for juvenile justice issues.
The department had moved the apex court challenging the August 29, 2016 judgement of the Allahabad High Court which had dismissed their appeal against an Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) order.
The plea before the high court pertained to different assessment years concerning the Hapur Pilkhuwa Development Authority (HPDA), a body constituted under the Uttar Pradesh Urban Planning and Development Act, 1973. The HPDA had applied for grant of registration under the relevant provision of the Income Tax Act, 1961, which deals with procedure for registration.
The Commissioner of Income Tax, Ghaziabad, had rejected the application in June 2006 observing that HPDA was not an institution working for charitable purposes. The HPDA had thereafter approached the ITAT which allowed its appeal against the order of Commissioner of Income Tax and said that it was entitled for registration.