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DATE: May 26, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: May 28, 2020 (Date of publication)
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There is a clear distinction between ‘retirement of a partner’ and ‘dissolution of a partnership firm’. On retirement of the partner, the reconstituted firm continues and the retiring partner is to be paid his dues in terms of Section 37 of the Partnership Act. In case of dissolution, accounts have to be settled and distributed as per the mode prescribed in Section 48 of the Partnership Act. When the partners agree to dissolve a partnership, it is a case of dissolution and not retirement A partnership firm must have at least two partners. When there are only two partners and one has agreed to retire, then the retirement amounts to dissolution of the firm (Imp judgements referred)

The primary claim and submission of the appellants is that Amar Singh had resigned as a partner and, therefore, in terms of clause (10) of the partnership deed (Exhibit P-3) dated 6 th May 1981, he would be entitled to only the capital standing in his credit in the books of accounts. However, the argument has to be rejected as in the present case there were only two partners and there is overwhelming evidence on record that Amar Singh had not resigned as a partner. On the other hand, there was mutual understanding and agreement that the partnership firm would be dissolved

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DATE: May 11, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: May 16, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: -
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Doctrine of "Force Majeure" & "Frustration of Contract": Under Indian contract law, the consequences of a force majeure event are provided for u/s 56 of the Contract Act, which states that on the occurrence of an event which renders the performance impossible, the contract becomes void thereafter. When the parties have not provided for what would take place when an event which renders the performance of the contract impossible, then S. 56 of the Contract Act applies. The effect of the doctrine of frustration is that it discharges all the parties from future obligations (Imp judgements referred)

From the aforesaid discussion, it can be said that the contract was based on a fixed rate. The party, before entering the tender process, entered the contract after mitigating the risk of such an increase. If the purpose of the tender was to limit the risks of price variations, then the interpretation placed by the Arbitral Tribunal cannot be said to be possible one, as it would completely defeat the explicit wordings and purpose of the contract. There is no gainsaying that there will be price fluctuations which a prudent contractor would have taken into margin, while bidding in the tender. Such price fluctuations cannot be brought under Clause 23 unless specific language points to the inclusion.

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DATE: May 14, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: May 15, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: 2013-14
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Rule 34(5) of the ITAT Rules provides that “ordinarily” the order on an appeal should be pronounced within no more than 90 days from the date of concluding the hearing. A pedantic view of the rule cannot be taken. The period of 90 days should be computed by excluding at least the period during which the lockdown due to Covid-19 was in force. We must factor ground realities in mind while interpreting the time limit for the pronouncement of the order. Law is not brooding omnipotence in the sky. It is a pragmatic tool of the social order. The tenets of law being enacted on the basis of pragmatism, and that is how the law is required to interpreted

In the light of the above discussions, we are of the considered view that rather than taking a pedantic view of the rule requiring pronouncement of orders within 90 days, disregarding the important fact that the entire country was in lockdown, we should compute the period of 90 days by excluding at least the period during which the lockdown was in force. We must factor ground realities in mind while interpreting the time limit for the pronouncement of the order. Law is not brooding omnipotence in the sky. It is a pragmatic tool of the social order. The tenets of law being enacted on the basis of pragmatism, and that is how the law is required to interpreted. The interpretation so assigned by us is not only in consonance with the letter and spirit of rule 34(5) but is also a pragmatic approach at a time when a disaster, notified under the Disaster Management Act 2005, is causing unprecedented disruption in the functioning of our justice delivery system.

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DATE: May 4, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: May 9, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: -
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Contempt of Court by Advocates: There is not an iota of remorse or any semblance of apology on behalf of the contemnors. In view of the scurrilous and scandalous allegations levelled against the judges of this Court and no remorse being shown by any of the contemnors we are of the considered view that they cannot be let off leniently. It is obvious that this is a concerted effort to virtually hold the Judiciary to ransom. All three contemnors are sentenced to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of 3 months each with a fine of Rs. 2000

There is not an iota of remorse or any semblance of apology on behalf of the contemnors. Since they have not argued on sentence, we have to decide the sentence without assistance of the contemnors. In view of the scurrilous and scandalous allegations levelled against the judges of this Court and no remorse being shown by any of the contemnors we are of the considered view that they cannot be let off leniently. We have also held in our judgment that the complaints were sent by the contemnors with a view to intimidate the Judges who were yet to hear Shri Nedumpara on the question of punishment, so that no action against Shri Nedumpara is taken. Therefore, it is obvious that this is a concerted effort to virtually hold the Judiciary to ransom.

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DATE: May 6, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: May 9, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: -
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Extension of limitation period: Taking into consideration the effect of the Corona Virus (COVID 19) and resultant difficulties being faced by lawyers and litigants and with a view to obviate such difficulties and to ensure that lawyers/litigants do not have to come physically to file such proceedings in respective Courts/Tribunal across the country including this Court, it is hereby ordered that all periods of limitation prescribed under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act 1881 shall be extended with effect from 15.03.2020 till further orders to be passed by this Court in the present proceedings

In case the limitation has expired after 15.03.2020 then the period from 15.03.2020 till the date on which the lockdown is lifted in the jurisdictional area where the dispute lies or where the cause of action arises shall be extended for a period of 15 days after the lifting of lockdown

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DATE: April 29, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: May 8, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: -
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TDS u/s 115BBA, 194E & DTAA: As the payments to the Non-Resident Sports Associations represented their income which accrued or arose in India u/s 115BBA, the assessee was liable to deduct Tax at Source u/s 194E. The obligation to deduct Tax at Source u/s 194E is not affected by the DTAA. In case the exigibility to tax is disputed by the recipient, the benefit of DTAA can be pleaded and the amount in question will be refunded with interest. But, that by itself, cannot absolve the liability to deduct TDS u/s 194E of the Act (Eli Lilly (2009) 15 SCC 1 & G.E. India Technology Centre 327 ITR (SC) referred)

The obligation to deduct Tax at Source under Section 194E of the Act is not affected by the DTAA and in case the exigibility to tax is disputed by the assesse on whose account the deduction is made, the benefit of DTAA can be pleaded and if the case is made out, the amount in question will always be refunded with interest. But, that by itself, cannot absolve the liability under Section 194E of the Act.In the premises, it must be held that the payments made to the Non-Resident Sports Associations in the present case represented their income which accrued or arose or was deemed to have accrued or arisen in India. Consequently, the Appellant was liable to deduct Tax at Source in terms of Section 194E of the Act.

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DATE: May 6, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: May 7, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: -
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Power of Supreme Court & High Court under Articles 142 and 226 to entertain a challenge to the assessment order on the sole ground that the statutory remedy of appeal against that order stands foreclosed by the law of limitation: The statutory period prescribed for redressal of the grievance cannot be disregarded and a writ petition entertained. Doing so would be in the teeth of the principle that the Court cannot issue a writ which is inconsistent with the legislative intent. That would render the legislative scheme and intention behind the statutory provision otiose

A priori, we have no hesitation in taking the view that what this Court cannot do in exercise of its plenary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, it is unfathomable as to how the High Court can take a different approach in the matter in reference to Article 226 of the Constitution. The principle
underlying the rejection of such argument by this Court would apply on all fours to the exercise of power by the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution.

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DATE: February 18, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: May 7, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: 2012-13
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S. 147/ 148: A mere bald assertion by the AO that the assessee has not disclosed fully and truly all the material facts is not sufficient. The AO has to give details as to which fact or the material was not disclosed by the assessee, leading to its income escaping assessment. Otherwise, the reopening is not valid (Imp judgements referred)

The decision in Calcutta Discount Co. Ltd in fact, assists the case of the Petitioner rather than the Respondents. In this decision, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has held that it is the duty of the assessee to disclose fully and truly all primary relevant facts and once all primary facts are before the assessing authority, he requires no further assistance by way of disclosure and it is for him to decide what inference of facts can be reasonably drawn and what legal inferences have ultimately to be drawn. However, if there are some reasonable grounds for thinking that there had been underassessment as regards any primary facts which could have a material bearing on question of under-assessment, that would be sufficient to give jurisdiction to the ITO to issue notice for reassessment.

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DATE: April 27, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: May 1, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: -
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Contempt of Court: There can be no manner of doubt that any citizen of the country can criticise the judgments delivered by any Court including this Court. However, no party has the right to attribute motives to a Judge or to question the bona fides of the Judge or to raise questions with regard to the competence of the Judge. Judges are part and parcel of the justice delivery system. When there is a concerted attack by members of the Bar, the Court cannot shut its eyes to the slanderous and scandalous allegations made. If such allegations are permitted to remain unchallenged then the public will lose faith not only in those particular Judges but also in the entire justice delivery system and this definitely affects the majesty of law

The purpose of having a law of contempt is not to prevent fair criticism but to ensure that the respect and confidence which the people of this country repose in the judicial system is not undermined in any manner whatsoever. If the confidence of the citizenry in the institution of justice is shattered then not only the judiciary, but democracy itself will be under threat. Contempt powers have been very sparingly used by the Courts and rightly so. The shoulders of this Court are broad enough to withstand criticism, even criticism which may transcend the parameters of fair criticism. However, if the criticism is made in a concerted manner to lower the majesty of the institution of the Courts and with a view to tarnish the image, not only of the Judges, but also the Courts, then if such attempts are not checked the results will be disastrous. Section 5 of the Contempt of Courts Act itself provides that publishing of any fair comment on the merits of any case which has been heard and finally decided does not amount to contempt.

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DATE: April 29, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: April 30, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: 2017-18
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Grant of refund u/s 143(1): Till AY 2016-17, if a scrutiny notice u/s 143(2) is issued, the return is not required to be processed u/s 143(1) for grant of refund to the assessee. From AY 2017-18 & onwards, a different regime is prescribed by Parliament. S. 241-A requires separate recording of satisfaction on part of the AO that having regard to the issue of notice u/s 143(2), the grant of refund is likely to adversely affect the revenue. The withholding of refund requires the previous approval of the PCIT with reasons to be recorded in writing.

In the premises, we hold that in respect of Assessment Years ending on 31st March 2017 or before, if a notice was issued in conformity with the requirements stated in sub-section (2) of Section 143 of the Act, it shall not be necessary to process the refund under subsection (1) of Section 143 of the Act and that the requirement to process the return shall stand overridden. However, insofar as returns filed in respect of assessment year commencing on or after the 1st April, 2017, a different regime has been contemplated by the Parliament. Section 241-A of the Act requires a separate recording of satisfaction on part of the Assessing Officer that having regard to the fact that a notice has been issued under sub-section (2) of Section 143, the grant of refund is likely to adversely affect the revenue; whereafter, with the previous approval of the Principal Commissioner or Commissioner and for reasons to be recorded in writing, the refund can be withheld.