If the last date to file a reply falls on a holiday then the last date extends to the next working day
Facts and Issues of the case
The appellant was issued notice under Section 148A(b) of the Act calling upon them to show cause as to why action should be initiated for reopening the assessing by invoking the power under Section 184A of the Act. The notice stipulated that the reply be submitted by the appellant not later than 18th March, 2022. The appellant bad uploaded their reply/response on 21st March, 2022. The ITO proceeded to pass the order dated 23rd March, 2022 stating that the assessee did not file any response within the stipulated time and, therefore, concluded that the assessee has nothing to submit in their response. 18th March, 2022 was a public holiday on account of the Holi festival. It was not clear as to whether the concerned ITO had attended office or he was enjoying the holiday.
Observations by the Court
A reasonable view ought to have been taken by the ITO in the instant case as admittedly the reply cannot be submitted on 18th March, 2022 if it was required to be submitted in physical form because the Income Tax Department was closed on account of a public holiday. Therefore, the interpretation given by the ITO is a thoroughly narrow interpretation and a perverse outlook.
The present facts are that the reply was uploaded online by the assessee on 21st March, 2022 and the time limit for filing the reply in terms of notice expired on 18th March, 2022 which was a public holiday and the following two days namely, 19th March, 2022 and 20th March, 2022 were Saturday and Sunday. Therefore, the next working day was 21st March, 2022. It appears that the assessing officer is not aware of the provisions of the General Clauses Act and, therefore, needs to be appraised of the same.
Thus, we have no hesitation to hold that the assessing officer acted in great haste and virtually reduced the procedure under the amended provision to a nullity. We have queried the learned Advocate appearing for the assessee as to whether the assessment was getting time-bared. The prompt reply was that the power to re-assess is available to the authority till the year 2023 if permissible under law. Therefore, we fail to understand as to what was the great hurry on the part of the assessing officer, Sri Niladri Kumar Ghosh to pass the order dated 23rd March, 2022 by ignoring the reply given by the assessee and uploaded in the department’s portal on 21st March, 2022. For all the above reasons, the appeal is allowed.
The last date to file a reply is extended to the following working day if the last date is a public holiday.R-N-Fashion-Vs-Union-of-India-And-Ors-Calcutta-High-Court