Issuance of Notice u/s 148 to Unrelated Email Address is not Proper Service of Notice: Delhi HC

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By Manu Sharma A.S – On September 29, 2022 6:15 pm

Notice - Delhi HC - taxscan

A Division Bench of the Delhi High Court has held that, a notice issued under Section 148 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 sent to an unrelated email address does not constitute proper service of notice.

The impugned Notices were generated and sent for despatch through electronic mail (e-mail) by the Jurisdictional Assessing Officer (JAO) using the Income Tax Business Application (ITBA) software developed by the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) for the Department. The validity of the issuance of a notice served by the Jurisdictional Assessing Officer(JAO) was tested by the court, in regard to dispatch of the notice. The JAO generated a notice on 31st March 2021. The Income Tax Business Application(ITBA) servers dispatched the above said notice on 1st April 2021, or thereafter. 

The notices thus generated were getting time barred on 31st March, 2021, as per the newly amended Section 149(a) of the Act of 1961 and were therefore, as per law, required to be ‘issued’ on or before 31st March, 2021.

The petitioner argued that some of the said notices were issued by the ITBA e-mail Software system to unrelated email addresses which has no concern with the petitioner-assessee. In those facts, the Department cannot be permitted to contend that there was due despatch of notice. The notices reflected in the e-filing portal of the assessee did not give the assessee a real-time alert as stated by Section 144B (6)(ii)(a) of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

However, the respondents represented by The Income Tax Department submitted through an affidavit that In case the JAO opts to generate the Notice without DSC, the Notice is  generated in an un-editable PDF format on the ITBA portal. Upon generation itself, the ITBA software’s e-mail system is triggered and an e-mail containing the said Notice (without DSC) is sent to the e-mail address of the assessee and also uploaded on the E-filing portal, which is accessible by the assessee for his/her viewing. The e-mail will be sent by the ITBA e-mail system to the assessee only if the assessee’s valid e-mail ID is present in the ITBA system.

It was observed by the Bench comprising Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora and that– the impugned Notice issued by the respondent was not served on the petitioner/assessee’s registered email ID and was sent to an unrelated e-mail ID. The petitioner learnt about the impugned Notice which was neither signed physically nor any DSC was appended, incidentally through its E-filing portal. Therefore, there has been no compliance of the provisions of Section 149 of the Act of 1961, while issuing the impugned notice.

The Delhi High Court thus held that, the petitions challenging Notices which were sent to unrelated e-mail addresses are disposed of with the direction of the JAOs to verify the date on which the Notice was first viewed by the assessee on the E-filing portal and consider the same as the date of issuance. If such date of issuance is determined to be on or after 01st April, 2021, the Notices will be construed as issued under Section 148A (b) of the Act of 1961.To Read the full text of the Order CLICK HERE

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