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Rajasthan High Court disposes of PIL on tax returns, glitches in filing portal

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The Rajasthan High Court has recently disposed of a PIL, filed by the Tax Bar Association of Jodhpur, pointing out various difficulties faced by assessees on account of the glitches in the official portal of the Income Tax department.

The first and the primary prayer made by the petitioners was for extension of time limit for filing returns and furnishing tax audit reports. In this context, the prayer made was to issue directions to the CBDT to extend such a time limit up to 15.02.2022 in exercise of the power under Section 119 of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

The other limb of the petitioners’ grievance is that unless and until all glitches on the official portal are removed, any extension of time limit would be illusory. In other words, if the department grants only the time extension for filing the returns and audit reports but the portal does not accept the proper declaration, such extension would be of no consequence. Consequently, the prayer made by the petitioners is to give direction to the income tax department to remove all the defects and glitches in the official portal.

Vikas Balia, the counsel for the petitioners, stated that on January 11, the Government of India had declared extension of last dates for filing returns and tax audit reports for assessment year 2021-22. In that view of the matter, the first grievance of the petitioner’s stands was resolved, held the Division Bench of Chief Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice Rekha Borana.

With respect to the second limb of the petitioners’ grievance for removal of all the defects and glitches in the official portal at this stage, the Bench is of the view that at this stage the Court is not inclined to entertain the same. Firstly, since the Court noted, there has been across the board extension of last dates for compliances. Presumably, these extensions are granted because the Government of India had realized that on account of technical difficulties, several assesses may not have been in a position to make the compliances.

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There is nothing for the Bench to presume that the administration is not cognizable of such defects and that proper steps for removing of such defects would be taken so that the extension of last date for compliances does not remain illusory “but the assesses can meaningfully take advantage of such extension.”

It is observed by the Court that the prayers made by the petitioners in this respect are rather wide and non specific. At this stage, the Bench leaves it to the administration to deal with these issues at its level. The High Court is hopeful that proper resolution of the difficulties of assessees would be made at the level of the administration itself without the requirement of Court’s intervention.

“This petition is therefore disposed of at this stage with the above observations, leaving it open to the petitioners to raise these issues if in future the difficulties persist. The petition is disposed of accordingly,”

-the order reads.

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