Madras High Court Quashes Assessment Order, Grants Personal Hearing in Property Valuation Dispute
The Madras High Court has set aside an assessment order and directed the Revenue to provide the Assessee with a personal hearing as required under Section 144B. The case pertains to an Individual Assessee who underwent reassessment proceedings under Section 147 based on allegations of non-disclosure of the value of a certain property. The Assessee had raised objections and requested a personal hearing, citing the faceless assessment process. However, the Revenue rejected the request and proceeded with the assessment, adopting the guideline value of the property.
In the writ filed before the court, the Assessee argued that the alleged property was actually located in an area where the guideline value was Rs. 8,000 per square foot, whereas the Revenue erroneously considered it to be situated in an area with a guideline value of Rs. 14,000 per square foot. The Assessee asserted that a personal hearing should have been granted to explain this fact. On the other hand, the Revenue contended that in a faceless assessment, the Assessee had no right to seek a personal hearing, especially since they had not clicked the virtual communication link or mentioned it in their written submission. The Revenue further argued that the Assessee’s only right was to submit objections in writing along with supporting documents, which the Assessee had failed to do. The assessment order was therefore passed based on the available records.
The High Court carefully examined the assessment order and observed that there was no discussion regarding both guideline values mentioned by the Assessee. In light of this, the court concluded that the Assessee should be given another opportunity to present their case and requested facts. The court emphasized that the Assessee has the right to substantiate their case, and a personal hearing would provide a platform for doing so.
Consequently, the High Court remitted the matter back to the Revenue with a directive to schedule a specific date and time for the Assessee’s personal hearing, providing a communication link. The court also stated that the Assessee is free to produce records, particularly the guideline value provided by the relevant authority. Following the personal hearing, the Revenue is required to pass an assessment order based on the merits, taking into consideration the appropriate facts.
The Madras High Court’s decision, delivered in the case of R. Rajasekaran v. Addl.CIT, highlights the significance of providing a fair opportunity to the Assessee to present their case in assessment proceedings. The court emphasized that a personal hearing is crucial for the Assessee to substantiate their claims and provide relevant evidence. The judgment, dated May 11, 2023, grants relief to the Assessee for the assessment year 2015-16, setting aside the assessment order and ensuring the right to a personal hearing in the property valuation dispute.