Income Tax Dept warns public against cash dealings of Rs 2 lakh or more saying that the receiver of the amount will have to cough up an equal amount as penalty.

Bombay High Court imposes Fine on Tax Official for Unnecessary Harassment of Assessee

The Bombay High Court has recently imposed a fine of Rs. 50,000 on an officer of the Income Tax Department for passing an order to harass the assessee.

The Assessing Officer issued a provisional attachment order ordering to attach the Petitioner’s Bank Account. It was explained that this is to protect the interest of the Revenue for the likely demand to be raised for the Assessment Year 2016- 17.

The Assessing Officer issued notices to the Petitioner’s Bankers requesting to make payment of the amounts available with it to the Income Tax Department to meet the Petitioner’s dues.

The petitioner said that the attachment order should be withdrawn as the impugned notices under Section 226(3) of the Act make reference to an attachment under Section 281B of the Act by an order dated 18th December 2018, but the same had not been received by it.

The bench comprising Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice M S Sanklecha noted the fact that the letter/intimation given by the Assessing Officer is dated 11th February 2019 and was received by the petitioner only on 13th February 2019 at 6.00 p.m. i.e. after the hearing was concluded before the Pr. CIT.

“This conduct is not expected of the Officers of the State. It is unbecoming of the State. It appears the manner in which the Assessing Officer is communicating with the assessee, it is planned attempt to make it impossible for the petitioner to challenge the communication as by the time the petitioner comes to know of the proposed action on receipt of the communication, the action has already taken place making it a fait accompli,” the bench said.

before concluding, the bench added that “We pride ourselves as a State which believes in rule of law. Therefore, the least that is expected of the Officers of the State is to apply the law equally to all and not be overzealous in seeking to collect the revenue ignoring the statutory provisions as well as the binding decisions of this Court. The action of respondent nos.1 and 2 as adverted to in para 14 hereinabove clearly indicates that a separate set of rules was being applied by them in the case of the petitioner. Equal protection of the law which means the equal application of the law has been sacrificed in this case by the Revenue. It appears that the petitioner is being singled out for this unfair treatment. The desire to collect more revenue cannot be at the expense of the Rule of law. In the above view, we direct the Respondent-Revenue to pay the cost of Rs.50,000/- to the Petitioner for the unnecessary harassment, it had to undergo at the hands of the Revenue. This amount is to be paid by the Respondent-Revenue to the Petitioner within four weeks from today.”

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