By Subash Agarwal, Advocate
Unfortunately, no remedy has been provided in the Income-tax Act where the A.O. fails to dispose of the petition filed u/s. 154 within the statutory period of six months as provided u/s. 154(8). It may, however, be noted that the department cannot take any coercive measure or recover any outstanding dues without first disposing of the assessee’s petition. In this regard, reference may be made to a judgement in the case of Sultan Leather Finishers (P) Ltd. vs. ACIT 191 ITR 179 (All.)
If inspite of reminders and persuasion, the A.O. is still not disposing of the rectification petition, the only legal option available to the assessee is to file a writ petition before the jurisdictional High Court. Our framers of constitution had visualized this situation and equipped the High Courts with the powers to issue a writ of “Mandamus” for securing judicial enforcement of public duties, performance of which has been wrongfully refused.
The Hon’ble Kerala High Court in the case of Smt. Rajamma vs. ITO 152 ITR 657(Ker), where the A.O. was not disposing of the rectification petition u/s. 154, held that an application for relief cannot be kept in cold storage and directed the A.O. to dispose of sec. 154 application within one month from the date of receipt of the order.
However, to avoid the cost, one option available to the assessee is to approach Income-tax Ombudsman by filing a complaint with him for non-disposal of sec. 154 petition by the A.O. However, before proceeding, one should refer to the Income Tax Ombudsman Guidelines, 2006 so that the proper procedure is followed.