NDTV running out of optionshe Supreme Court (SC) today rejected the arguments on New Delhi Television (NDTV) in the matter of its paying the Rs. 525 crores fine imposed by the Income Tax Department. It further directed the Delhi High Court to dispose the matter expeditiously.
This new development should send shivers down the spines of many a media empire as they thoroughly stand exposed for not covering news of one of their own.
At the heart of the matter and core contention is whether India’s Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) has the powers/ jurisdiction to pass an order to stop proceedings by an Assessing Officer (AO). It is established by law and many judgments that the Tax Tribunal can only intervene once a final order is passed by an AO and not interested in the process or mere administrative exercise of functions by the AO.
However, in this matter, NDTV had approached the ITAT to stop the penalty proceedings of Rs 525 crores on the contention that the main demand of tax (450 crores) itself is disputed. NDTV refused to respond to the Show Cause Notice and challenged it in the ITAT. In these proceedings, the Tribunal (ITAT) gave relief to NDTV and thus the Department was stopped from even procedural matters and administrative process of passing an Order. The Department was of the view and rightly so that it cannot be stopped from doing its job of proceedings and raising a penalty demand and the Tribunal had powers only to stop recovery or collection of penalty if it deems so once assessee approaches the ITAT.
Aggrieved by the ITAT order, an extremely honest, dedicated and competent team of Officers along with the Assistant Solicitor General (ASG) Patwalia approached the Delhi High Court (Division Bench) in March 2016 and got the stay vacated and with directions that full matter would be heard and disposed in May 2016.
However, NDTV tried to outsmart the Department and rushed to the SC for relief. Today, SC did not grant any relief to NDTV but directed that Delhi HC should dispose the matter expeditiously, without delay.
Thus, in effect honest, hard-working Officers of Tax Department were heard and kudos to them and ASG (Patwalia) for standing up to top dollar lawyers like Harish Salve and giving a tough fight to tax evaders like NDTV.
MSM refuses to acknowledge that the Emperor wears no clothes
This new development should send shivers down the spines of many a media empire as they thoroughly stand exposed for not covering news of one of their own. By staying mum, they are in danger of becoming irrelevant as India takes to Social Media and online platforms to get accurate news.
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