Sunday, 1 November 2015

Section 234E does not suffer from any vices for being declared to be ultra vires of the Constitution. Section i.e., 234E is intra vires of the Constitution

• In the instant petition the petitioners challenged the constitutional validity of Section 234E contending that it is ultra virus of Constitution of India .
• According to petitioners levy or imposition of 'fee' is regarded as a written or consideration for services rendered and in the instant case the Government is not providing any service to the deductors and as such levy of fee under Section 234E is invalid.
• The petitioner submitted that for levy of `fee' services should be rendered by the State and it is quidpro- quo. In the absence of any services being rendered by the State to demand `fee' or levy of such fee would be without authority of law. There being no rational or nexus to `levy' of fee under the impugned provision for `service' being rendered by the State (which is none), such imposition is bad-in-law, unconstitutional and ultra vires of the Constitution.
The High court held as under :
• There cannot be any dispute to the fact that assessee is required to file e-returns to Central Processing Centre – CPC for processing of statements of tax deducted at source vide Section 200A, which provision is in para materia with Section 143(1). While processing the return of income under Section 143(1)(a) no personal hearing is provided to an assessee and as such the same is also not provided under Section 200A. Thus, the doctrine of principles of natural justice is given a go by under impugned provision or its violation thereof would not be a ground available to the petitioners to challenge the impugned provision on this ground. Hence, contention raised in this regard is without merit and stands rejected.
• A person responsible for deduction of tax namely deductor is required to furnish periodical statements containing the details of deduction of tax within the prescribed due date. Any delay in furnishing TDS statements would result in perennial problems being faced by the department while processing the return of income filed by the assessees. When a return of income is filed by an assessee a statutory obligation is cast on the department to process the said return of income within the specified period from the date of filing. If for want of details such return of income not being processed or assessment order not being framed or would be stalled or in other words the return of income filed by an assessee on whose behalf the tax has already been deducted by the deductor is not furnished within the prescribed time by such deductor, it would consequently have cascading effect namely, it would stall the processing of the return of income filed by thedeductee. In a given case, there might be instances of where the assessee would be entitled to refund and on account of delay occurring due to non delivery of TDS statements by the deductors , it would result in delay in extending the credit of TDS to the person on whose behalf tax is deducted and consequently it would result in delayed issuance of refunds to the deductee or raising of consequential demands against the deductee which otherwise would not have been raised. In this lengthy and unwarranted process it may erode the confidence reposed by the tax payer on the department. Last but not the least, it would result in financial burden to the Government namely on account of late payment of refund interest is to be paid on such refunds and it would also result in cash flow crunch, especially for business entities.
• This Court in exercise power vested under Article 226 of the Constitution can declare a statute or a provision in the statute as unconstitutional and there cannot be any dispute with regard to this proposition. However, such power would be exercised where it is clear that impugned Act or provision is beyond its legislative competence or violates the provisions of the Constitution of India. Where two views are possible, one making the statute constitutional and the other making it unconstitutional the former would prevail or would be preferred.
• Thus, viewed from any angle it cannot be held that Section 234E of the Income Tax Act, 1961 suffers from any vices for being declared to be ultra vires of the Constitution. In other words it has to be held that the impugned Section i.e., 234E of the Income Tax Act, 1961 is intra vires of the Constitution.