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In a new development the Telangana High Court set aside the notices issued u/s 148/148A and consequent orders passed by JAO u/s 143(3)/147 in one stroke in the common order passed on 13 September 23 in a batch of 52 petitions of 2022/2023. Upon their reading of the twin schemes viz., “Faceless jurisdiction of Income Tax Authorities Scheme, 2022” (Notification No. 15/2022/F. No. 370142/13/2022-TPL] dt 28 March 2022) and “e-assessment of Income Escaping Assessment Scheme 2022” (Notification No. 18/2022/F. No. 370142/16/2022-TPL(Part1) dt 29 March 2022) the Court held the view that there are two mandatory conditions which were required to be adhered to by the Department, firstly, the allocation being made through the automated allocation system in accordance with the risk management strategy formulated by the Board under Section 148 of the Act. Secondly, the re-assessment has to be done in a faceless manner to the extent provided under Section 144B of the Act. The department having not followed this matrix in all these petitions and the proceedings for reassessment being initiated by JAO is found to be in direct conflict to these two statutory schemes. In addition, the High Court also made reference to Supreme Court directive in landmark Ashish Agarwal case wherein it directed the income tax department to proceed further as per the Finance Act, 2021, subject to compliance of all the procedural requirements under the substituted provisions under the Finance Act, 2021. In that regard the Court also presented the well-known dictum that where the power is given to do certain things in certain way, the thing has to be done in that way alone and no any other manner which is otherwise not provided under the law. To proceed for assessment by JAO of cases in his jurisdiction is thus held illegal by the High Court for it amounted to proceeding with under the unamended provisions of law which is not permissible anymore any further. The department ought now to back pedal , get an opinion , get stay etc etc to come out of this catch 22 situation.

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