In a high profile case @ 436 ITR 340 the department invoked actions under section 153C and 148 both of which were challenged before the High Court at show cause stage. Such writ petitions were dismissed and consequently, the court issued directions to the AO to proceed with the assessment/reasessment by affording an opportunity to the petitioner and complete the same as expedi- tiously as possible.
Following this judgment dated July 5 two back to back letters were sent by the AO to the assessee on July 7, 2021 and on July 9, 2021 but the assessee requested to grant at least two weeks time to defend their case properly through their counsel/representative and further, requested for a personal hearing as well as to cross-examine persons, who have given statement against the asses- sees. However, without any reply to such request made by the assessees, the AO passed the final order of assessment on July 15, 2021.
The identical judge took exception to this course in (2021] 437 ITR 206 (Mad) and held that opportunity to be granted is not a mere opportunity and it must be meaningful and reasonable.
The assessees must have time to put forth their defense statements, examine the witnesses by engaging a counsel or for personal hearing.
The matter was thus remanded for fresh consideration and for providing reasonable opportunity to the assessee and thereafter passing orders of assessment. The AO was also directed to provide an opportunity to cross-examine the persons, who had given statements against the assessees.
Given that search was conducted on July 5, 2018 and July 9, 2018 and the defense constantly preventing completion of assessments by one course or the other for more than 3 years in this case than there must be something wrong with our assessment scheme and the governing law. If we add another 20 years to post assessment litigation than the whole paraphernalia for collection of taxes fails