|The Tax Publishers2021 TaxPub(DT) 0411 (Bom-HC) : (2021) 278 TAXMAN 0307
INCOME TAX ACT, 1961
Article 226 Section 119
Where CBDT vide order dated 11-1-2010 under section 119 of IT Act, 1961 had already looked into the overall situation of the country in view of Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown and had accordingly extended the due dates on three earlier occasions, therefore, no further extention of due date of filing return under section 139 and 44AB would be granted as stated by CBDT under its discretionary power, writ petition was as such, not maintainable.
Writ - Maintainability - Extension of due date for filing return of income due to Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown -
Petitioner No. 1 was a trust representing Chartered Accountants, Company Secretaries and Cost Accountants whereas petitioner No. 2 is a Chartered Accountant besides being an assessee under the IT Act, 1961 and Vice President of petitioner No. 1 as well. Principal relief sought for by the petitioners was for a direction to respondent No. 2, i.e., Central Board of Direct Taxes ('CBDT') to extend the due date for filing income tax returns for the assessment year 2020-21 till 31-3-2021 and to extend the due date for filing tax audit reports for the said assessment year to 28-2-2021. Due date for filing of return of income in the case of those categories of assessees whose accounts were required to be audited was 15-2-2021, and the due date for filing tax audit report under section 44AV of the IT Act, 1961 was 15-1-2021. Order dated 11-1-2021 passed by the CBDT under section 119 of the Act all representations made for further extension of due dates have been rejected. Held: This court found that from the Order dated 11-1-2020 passed by the CBDT under section 119 of the Act that across the Board three extensions of the due dates have been granted. In so far filing of tax audit report was concerned, the original due date was 30-9-2020, which was first extended to 31-10-2020, thereafter to 31-12-2020 and now to 15-1-2021. In respect of filing of income-tax return in those cases where tax audit report was required to be filed the original due date was 31-10-2020 which was first extended to 30-11-2020, thereafter to 31-1-2021 and finally to 15-2-2021. Thus, CBDT had considered the evolving situation in the country and threafter, had extended the due daters on three occasions. Now, CBDT says that filing of audit reports and income-tax reports cannot be delayed indefinitely. Therefore, a line had been drawn that no further extension of the deue dates would be granted. Power exercised by the CBDT under section 119 is discretionary. On careful consideration of the order passed by the CBDT on 11-1-2021 under the said provision, it cannot be said that CBDT had failed to exercise its discretion or that CBDT had acted in an arbitrary or unreasonable manner in refusing to grant further extension of the due date. There was, therefore, no good ground to invoke writ jurisdiction under article 226 of the Constitution of India to direct CBDT for further extension of the due dates. Having regard to the above, the High Court was not inclined to entertain the writ petition.
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