Despite “Last Chance” appeal should be adjourned if there is sufficient cause
The department’s appeal was adjourned at the assessee’s request to 9.02.2010 and it was made clear that it would be the “last opportunity”. The assessee’s counsel filed an application for adjournment on 8.02.2010 on the ground that he was going to Mumbai for some urgent work. On 9.2.2010, no one appeared for the assessee and so the Tribunal rejected the adjournment application and allowed the department’s appeal. On appeal by the assessee to the High Court HELD:
Ordinarily, it is not incumbent on the Tribunal to adjourn the case when a last opportunity had already been granted to the assessee. However, there may be number of circumstances where adjournment becomes necessary in the interest of justice. If Counsel for assessee had to go for some urgent work to Mumbai and an application for adjournment was moved in advance, then in the interest of justice, a short adjournment should have been granted. If number of opportunities had already been afforded to the Counsel for assessee, then adjournment could have been granted, on payment of cost. The Tribunal has not assigned any reason as to whether reason mentioned in the application for adjournment, constituted sufficient cause for adjournment or not. Even if a last opportunity is granted and case is fixed for hearing and sufficient cause is shown on the date fixed for hearing, then the case can be adjourned and it should be adjourned, in the interest of justice. Accordingly, the Tribunal committed an illegality in rejecting the application for adjournment and in deciding the appeal exparte. Appeal remitted to the Tribunal for decision on merits on payment of costs of Rs.21,000 by the assessee.