Basic Maxims-Principles of Natural Justice. Audi alteram partem, nemo judex in re sua
Quoting the above maxim of natural justice as laid down by the Supreme Court, ITAT, New Delhi in a recent judgment set aside order passed by CIT(A) without confronting the assessee with the remand report of the AO,
Case Law Details:
Bal Kishan Saraf (Appellant) vs. ACIT (Respondent)
ITA No.-654 to 656/Del/2013
Assessment Year -2003-04 & 2005-06
Date of Judgment: 12/05/2016
Brief Facts of the Case:
A search and seizure u/s 132 was conducted in the Sh Ram Hari Ram Group of cases on 26.02.2009, the assessee was also covered under the said search. The additions made by the Assessing Officer of the assessee were challenged before the CIT(A). on the ground that the documents seized during the search did not pertain to the assessee but relying on the Remand Report filed by the AO, CIT(A) without confronting to the assessee with the remand report dismissed the appeal.
Accordingly the assessee prayed to the ITAT that the order passed by CIT(A), was bad in law and deserves to be set aside. During the course of hearing before the Tribunal, the AR requested that in order to correct the deficiencies, the issues might be restored to the file of the CIT(A) with the direction to confront the evidences relied upon and pass a speaking order thereafter.
In the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case, the Tribunal held the order of CIT(A) passed relying on remand report without confronting the assessee as violative of the rules of natural justice.
Basic Maxims-Principles of Natural Justice
The Tribunal elaborated the underlying principles of Natural Justice as under:
It cannot be over-emphasized that the “Right to be heard is an important right to which a party who is faced with an adverse view is entitled to. “Audi alteram partem” is one of the most famous and celebrated Rules of Natural Justice. The principles of natural justice are those which have been laid out by the Courts as being the minimum protection of the rights of an individual against the arbitrary procedure that may be adopted by a judicial, quasi-judicial and administrative authority while making an order affecting those rights. A careful perusal of the consistent judgements of the Apex Court would show that it has consistently been held that the Rules of natural justice are not embodied rules and the said phrase is not and cannot be capable of a precise definition. The underlying principle of natural justice evolved under the common law is to check arbitrary exercise of power by the State or its functionaries. Accordingly, the principle by its very nature implies the duty to act fairly i.e. fair play in action must be evident at every stage. Fair play demands that nobody shall be condemned unheard. In the celebrated judgement of the Apex Court in the case of A.K.Kraipak –vs- Union of India (1969) 2 SCC 262, it is observed that the aim of rules of natural justice is to secure justice or to put it negatively to prevent miscarriage of justice. The said rules are means to an end and not an end in themselves and though it is not possible to make an exhaustive catalogue of such rules however it can be readily said that there are two basic maxims of natural justice namely “audi alteram partem” and “nemo judex in re sua”. In the present facts of the case we are concerned with the maxim “audi alterm partem” which again may have many facets two of them (a) notice of the case to be met; and (b) opportunity to explain. Their Lordships have cautioned that these rules cannot be sacrificed at the altar of the administrative convenience or celebrity .