Artist Tree Pvt. Ltd vs. CBDT (Bombay High Court)

DATE: December 3, 2014 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: December 4, 2014 (Date of publication)
AY: 1997-98
FILE: Click here to download the file in pdf format
S. 119(2)(b): The expression 'genuine hardship' should be construed liberally, particularly in matters of entertaining of applications seeking condonation of delay.

(i) The expression ‘genuine hardship’ came up for consideration of the Supreme Court in case of B.M. Malani (supra), wherein, by reference to New Collins Concise English Dictionary, the Supreme Court accepted the position that ‘genuine’ means not fake or counterfeit, real, not pretending (not bogus or merely a ruse). Further, a genuine hardship would, inter alia, mean a genuine difficulty. The ingredients of genuine hardship must be determined keeping in view the dictionary meaning thereof and legal conspectus attending thereto. For the said purpose another well known principle, namely, that a person cannot take advantage of his own wrong, may also have to be borne in mind. Compulsion to pay any unjust dues per se would cause hardship. But a question as to whether the default in payment of the amount was due to circumstances beyond the control of assessee, also bears consideration.

(ii) The phrase “genuine hardship” used in section 119(2) (b) should have been construed liberally even when the petitioner has complied with all the conditions mentioned in Circular dated October 12,1993. The Legislature has conferred the power to condone delay to enable the authorities to do substantive justice to the parties by disposing of the matters on the merits. The expression “genuine” has received a liberal meaning in view of the law laid down by the apex court referred to hereinabove and while considering this aspect, the authorities are expected to bear in mind that ordinarily the applicant, applying for condonation of delay does not stand to benefit by lodging its claim late. Refusing to condone delay can result in a meritorious matter being thrown out at the very threshold an cause of justice being defeated. As against this, when delay is condoned the highest that can happen is that a cause would be decided on the merits after hearing the parties. When substantial justice and technical considerations are pitted against each other, the cause of substantial justice deserves to be preferred for the other side cannot claim to have a vested right in injustice being done because of a non-deliberate delay. There is no presumption that delay is occasioned deliberately, or on account of culpable negligence, or on account of mala fides. A litigant does not stand to benefit by resorting to delay. In fact he runs a serious risk. The approach of the authorities should be justice oriented so as to advance the cause of justice.

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