The Bombay High court has directed the revenue department to refund Rs 833 crore to Vodafone-Idea for assessment year 2014-15 within two weeks from the date of this order.
After a Supreme Court direction, the revenue department had issued intimation under section 245 proposing certain adjustments to the refund and also passed order under the same section on 28 May 2020 determining the net refund of Rs 833 crore. However, no refund was released despite many reminders.
The Bombay HC in its order said that the Supreme Court order, as far the revenue department is concerned, has attained finality and after already having invoked powers under Section 245, the department cannot withheld the admitted refundable amount on the ground that the respondents may have a future demand against the petitioner arising out of the pending assessment orders.
Section 245 empowers the tax officer to adjust refund amounts against any outstanding tax demand.
The HC rejected the revenue department's contention that the refund was withheld as per the provisions of Section 241A. It says that the revenue department cannot be allowed to invoke provisions of Section 241A for the first time in the affidavit-in-reply against the writ petition filed by the assessee (Vodafone-idea) and such exercise of power under the said section is subject to previous approval of Principal Commissioner of Income tax, which was not obtained in the present case. Besides, the High Court also maintained that Section 241A is not attracted to the refund of any assessment year prior to 2017-18.