Read Judgment: Vishal Ashwin Patel V. Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax Circle 25(3) & Ors.

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, March 29, 2022: Observing that the manner in which the High Court had dealt with and disposed of the writ petitions without passing any reasoned order, the Supreme Court has held that when a number of issues/grounds were raised in the writ petitions, it was the duty cast upon the court to deal with the same and thereafter, to pass a reasoned order. 

A Division Bench of Justice M.R Shah and Justice B.V Nagarathna observed that when the Constitution confers on the High Courts the power to give relief it becomes the duty of the Courts to give such relief in appropriate cases and the Courts would be failing to perform their duty if relief is refused without adequate reasons.

The observation came pursuant to an appeal challenging cryptic & non-speaking orders passed by the Bombay High Court dismissing the petitions challenging reopening of the assessment/ re-assessment proceedings preferred by Vishal Ashwin (Appellant). 

After considering the submissions, the Top Court found that the reopening of the assessment u/s 148 of the Income Tax Act has been challenged on a number of grounds, but none of the grounds raised in the writ petitions has been dealt with and/or considered by the High Court on merits. 

The Division Bench of the High Court has dismissed the writ petitions in a most casual manner which is unsustainable, and except stating that ‘we are not inclined to entertain writ petition’, nothing further has been stated by the High Court giving reasons for the disinclination to entertain the writ petitions, added the Top Court. 

Speaking for the Bench, Justice Shah opined that the High Court in exercise of powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India was required to have independently considered whether the question of reopening of the assessment could be raised in a writ petition and if so, whether it was justified or not.

The orders are bereft of reasoning as diverse grounds were urged/raised by the parties which ought to have been examined by the High Court in the first place and a clear finding was required to be recorded upon analysing the relevant documents, added the Bench. 

Justice Shah refused to countenance the manner in which the orders have been passed by the High Court and hence is compelled to remand the matter to the High Court for deciding the writ petitions afresh on merits. 

However, the Apex Court refrained from making any observation on merits of the controversy, having formed an opinion to remand the cases to the High Court. 

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