In a recent ruling, the Bombay High Court has mandated the refund of Rs 1,128 crore to Vodafone Idea, which had been remitted by the telecom operator as taxes in 2016-2017, by the Income Tax department.
As per the ruling, the assessment order from August 31, 2023, issued by the Faceless Assessing Officer (FAO) is ineligible for sustenance as it surpasses the time limit, occurring two years after the directives of the Dispute Resolution Panel (DRP).
Justice K. R. Shriram and Justice Neela Gokhale, heading the bench, recommended an inquiry into the Faceless Assessing Officer's failure to adhere to the provisions of the Income Tax Act. They emphasised on the lack of diligence from both officials and the system regarding the present assessment, urging stringent action against those responsible for the observed laxity and lethargy. This negligence has led to significant losses for the exchequer and, subsequently, the citizens of the country.
On June 8, 2023, Vodafone Idea filed a petition with the High Court challenging the central processing centre in Bengaluru and the assistant commissioner of income-tax. The petition questioned the non-refund of an excess tax amount on income.
Previously, the assessing officer had issued a draft order on December 29, 2019, prompting the company to raise objections before the Dispute Resolution Panel (DRP) in the following year.
Following the recent trail of events, the shares of the telecom company were trading at Rs. 13 price level, up by almost 2 per cent on the National Stock Exchange.