Power to grant personal hearing under Faceless Appeal Scheme 2020- Supreme Court to decide if discretion be limited to Chief Commissioner and Director General only
CBDT in August 2020 notified Income Tax Faceless assessment Scheme 2020. Section 144B provides that in a case where a variation is proposed in the draft assessment order and an opportunity is provided to the assessee by serving a show cause notice as to why the assessment should not be completed as per the such draft or final draft or revised draft assessment order, the assessee if requested may request for personal hearing to make his oral submissions or present his case before the income-tax authority.
It further provides that for cases covered as above, the Chief Commissioner or the Director General in charge of the relevant Regional Faceless Assessment Centre (RFAC) may approve the request of the personal hearing via video conferencing/telephony.
On the lines of Faceless Assessment Scheme 2020, the CBDT has also notified the Faceless Appeal Scheme 2020.
The Scheme provides that an appeal against an order passed by the National Faceless Appeal Centre shall lie before the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal having jurisdiction over the jurisdictional Assessing Officer. However, the assessee shall not be required to appear either personally or through authorised representative before the income-tax authority at the National Faceless Appeal Centre or Regional Faceless Appeal Centre or appeal unit.
However, like Faceless Assessment Scheme , in Faceless Appeal Scheme 2020 also a personal hearing may be requested to present oral submissions or present the case.
On such a request being made, the Chief Commissioner or the Director General in charge of the relevant Regional Faceless Assessment Centre (RFAC) may approve the request of the personal hearing via video conferencing/telephony.
Courts/Tribunal have held that once the assessee requests for a personal hearing in the cases with variation, the Income Tax Authorities are under legal obligation to provide an opportunity for personal hearing.
However, the restriction on the power to grant opportunity of personal hearing to only Chief Commissioner or the Director General is under challenge in various High Courts on the ground that and that discretion to grant personal hearing under Faceless Appeal Scheme may not be left to the Chief Commissioner or the Director General alone.
In view of the above, CBDT has moved the Hon’ble Supreme Court to decide the issue. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has admitted the request on this issue. The decision shall have a bearing on the Faceless Assessment Scheme as well.
ABCAUS Case Law Citation
ABCAUS 3549 (2021) (09) SC
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