Sureshkumar S. Lakhotia v. National e-Assessment Centre & Ors. (Bombay High Court)

Final assessment order passed by National Faceless Assessment Centre quashed due to insufficient time being given to respond the Draft Assessment Order.
The National Faceless Assessment Centre served a Draft Assessment Order for AY 2018-19 on the Petitioner-assessee on Friday, 23rd April 2021 at 1:40 pm requiring the assessee to respond to the same by Monday, 26th April 2021 by 11:59 pm. At this time, weekends were subject to strict weekend lockdown in Pune owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The assessee immediately lodged grievances with the e-Nivaran facility in the e-filing account on the Income Tax website’s portal on account of such less time being given to the assessee as well as sought a personal hearing before passing of the final order. The assessee further pointed out that the CBDT had extended the time for completion of assessment till 30th June 2021 from the existing deadline of 30th April 2021.Despite the same, the National Faceless Assessment Centre passed the final assessment order on 29th April 2021. The Court considered these facts as fit for interference inter alia as only about 30 hours spread over the weekend were given to the assessee to respond to the Draft Assessment Order. The Court quashed & set aside the final assessment order giving one more opportunity to the assessee including an opportunity of personal hearing