Sunday, April 23, 2017

hc(del): no time limit prescribed for filing an application for compounding of an offense

Vikram Singh vs. UOI (Delhi High Court)

S. 279: As there is no time limit prescribed for filing an application for compounding of an offense, the CBDT is not entitled to reject an application on the ground of 'inordinate delay'. The CBDT has no jurisdiction to demand that the assessee pay a 'pre-deposit' as a pre-condition to considering the compounding application. The larger question as whether in the garb of a Circular the CBDT can prescribe the compounding fee in the absence of such fee being provided for either in the statute or prescribed under the rules is left open

The Court finds nothing in Section 279 of the Act or the Explanation thereunder to permit the CBDT to prescribe such an onerous and irrational procedure which runs contrary to the very object of Section 279 of the Act. The CBDT cannot arrogate to itself, on the strength of Section 279 of the Act or the Explanation thereunder, the power to insist on a ‘pre-deposit’ of sorts of the compounding fee even without considering the application for compounding. Indeed Mr Kaushik was unable to deny the possibility, even if theoretical, of the application for compounding being rejected despite the compounding fee being deposited in advance. If that is the understanding of para 11(v) of the above Circular by the Department, then certainly it is undoubtedly ultra vires Section 279 of the Act. The Court, accordingly, clarifies that the Department cannot on the strength of para 11(v) of the Circular dated 23rd December 2014 of the CBDT reject an application for compounding either on the ground of limitation or on the ground that such application was not accompanied by the compounding fee or that the compounding fee was not paid prior to the application being considered on merits

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