Income Tax refund withheld merely due to Scrutiny is not valid – HC
IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI
The Relevant Text of the Order as follows:
7. Further in the case of Ericsson (Supra), the views were reiterated in the following words:
18. The refund of amounts claimed – where they appear justified, by itself cannot be said to be adverse to the interest of the revenue. The interest of revenue lies in collecting revenue in a legal and justified manner. It does not lie in retaining the collected taxes in excess of what is justified, since the excess collection cannot even be properly termed as “revenue”. The excess collection of tax is a liability of the State and it lies in the interest of the revenue of the State to discharge its interest bearing liability without any delay. The sovereign cannot, but, be seen as fair, honest and credible in its dealings with its subjects. Any lapse in this regard tarnishes the image and credibility of the sovereign. It certainly cannot act like any unscrupulous businessman, who is seen to dodge his liabilities by resort to frivolous excuses and devious ways.”
8. The exercise of withholding of refund under section 241A of the Act, pursuant to notice u/s 143(2) of the Act, without recording justifiable reasons, is not in consonance with the legislative intent and mandate of the aforesaid provision. The reasons cited do not support the finding that refund would adversely affect the Revenue. In view of the aforesaid, we hold that the reasoning given by the Income-Tax Officer is contrary to Section 241A of the Act. Accordingly, we set aside the impugned communication/ order dated 10.01.2020. We, therefore, grant three weeks’ time to the respondents to re-consider the aspect whether the amount found due to be refunded, or any part thereof, is liable to be withheld under Section 241A in line with the decisions of this court as noted above. The entire consideration, with the approval of the Principal Commissioner of Income Tax to the withholding of the refund amount, or any part thereof, should be completed within three weeks from today, failing which, we direct that without awaiting any further orders, the respondents shall transmit the amount of refund determined under section 143 (1) of the Act alongwith interest to the petitioner. In the eventuality of the respondents recording any reasons for withholding a part thereof, or the entire amount due for refund to the petitioner under Section 143(1), the reasons thereof as approved by the Principal Commissioner of Income Tax shall be provided to the petitioner forthwith. It shall be open to the petitioner to take remedial steps in respect of any orders for withholding of refund that may be passed. Needless to state that the reasons recorded for withholding of refund under section 241A would only amount to a tentative view and would not come in the way of the Assessing Officer to frame the assessment under section 143(3) of the Act.