|DATE:||(Date of pronouncement)|
|DATE:||September 28, 2010 (Date of publication)|
|Click here to download the judgement (bombay_mercantile_audit_delay.pdf)|
Delay in filing ROI due to late appointment of auditor must be condoned
The assessee, a co-op bank, filed a return for AY 2001-02 showing a loss of Rs. 15.94 crores. As the return was belated, the assessee filed an application u/s 119(2)(b) with the CBDT requesting condonation of delay and for being allowed carry forward of loss. The principal ground on which condonation was sought was that there was a delay in appointment of the statutory auditor by the Registrar and a consequent delay in preparing the s. 44AB tax audit report. The CBDT rejected the application on the ground that the reasons were general in nature and there were no exceptional circumstances beyond the control of the assessee to file the return. It was also stated that the assessee was operating for several years and was aware of its obligation to get the accounts audited and to file the return within the due date. The assessee challenged the rejection of the application. HELD upholding the challenge:
(i) The power to appoint statutory auditors is that of the Central Registrar and that was done on 3.9.2001. The Registrar appointed Chartered Accountants to be statutory auditors in place of the Departmental Auditors. This change was made in respect of all societies. Therefore, the assessee cannot be blamed for the delay in carrying out its audit as the same was beyond its control. The contention of the Revenue that the departmental auditors had started the audit in the year 2000 and it was for the assessee to get the audit expedited cannot be accepted. Though the departmental auditors might have started the audit, it appears that pursuant to the said policy decision that was taken, the departmental auditors were replaced by the Chartered Accountants to be the statutory auditors. Therefore, the reason given for delay deserves to be accepted;
(ii) It is well settled that in matters of condonation of delay a highly pedantic approach should be eschewed and a justice oriented approach should be adopted and a party should not be made to suffer on account of technicalities.