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Anand Prakash Saksena Vs. Income-tax Officer - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtIncome Tax Appellate Tribunal ITAT Indore
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1983)3ITD151Indore
AppellantAnand Prakash Saksena
Respondentincome-tax Officer
Excerpt:
.....of the said claim, whereby it was stated that the assessee had been suffering from a permanent physical disability other than blindness as a result of which the capacity to engage in a gainful employment has been substantially lost. according to the learned counsel, this state of affairs is prevailing since the year 1976 or even before it. thus, it was contended that the finding of the learned ito that the assessee is not entitled to deduction under section 80u(ii) is incorrect.5. the learned aac was not satisfied with the said contention.according to the learned aac, the assessee is still in the employment and he continues to be in gainful employment without any loss of remuneration and as such, the assessee is not entitled to the relief claimed.6. in appeal before the tribunal, it.....
Judgment:
1. These appeals are by the assessee pertaining to the assessment years 1979-80 and 1980-81. The point in issue in both the appeals is the same. So, both the appeals were heard together and are being disposed of by a common order.

2. The assessee is an individual. For the previous years, relevant to the assessment years 1979-80 and 1980-81, the assessee filed the returns declaring income of Rs. 12,220 and Rs. 17.860 respectively. In the assessment year 1979-80, a revised return was filed on 30-6-1981 disclosing income of Rs. 7,580. Similarly, for the assessment year 1980-81, a revised return was filed on 30-6-1981 showing income of Rs. 12,515.

3. In both the years under consideration, the assessee had claimed deduction under Section 80U of the Income-tax Act, 1961 ('the Act').

The learned ITO was of the view that the case of the assessee is not covered under the CBDT Circular No. 2,46, dated 20-9-1978. So, he disallowed the claim in both the years under consideration.

4. The assessee took up the matter in appeal. Inter alia it was contended that the assessee is an IAS officer and has been in the service since the year 1951 onwards. It was contended that the assessee had become almost deaf whereby he had lost his capacity of hearing and thus unable to attend meetings, to attend telephone calls as also to attend to the Court hearings. Thus, it. was contended that his case comes under Section 80U(ii). The learned counsel further contended that a certificate was filed in support of the said claim, whereby it was stated that the assessee had been suffering from a permanent physical disability other than blindness as a result of which the capacity to engage in a gainful employment has been substantially lost. According to the learned counsel, this state of affairs is prevailing since the year 1976 or even before it. Thus, it was contended that the finding of the learned ITO that the assessee is not entitled to deduction under Section 80U(ii) is incorrect.

5. The learned AAC was not satisfied with the said contention.

According to the learned AAC, the assessee is still in the employment and he continues to be in gainful employment without any loss of remuneration and as such, the assessee is not entitled to the relief claimed.

6. In appeal before the Tribunal, it was submitted that the assessee is suffering from a permanent disability inasmuch as his hearing continues to be very defective, although the assessee has been operated thrice and also that no hearing aids are available in our country with the help of which such a defect could be overcome. It is also pointed out that even with the help of hearing aid, the assessee was unable to follow conversation as a normal person and as a result of which his capacity to engage in the gainful employment to the best of his ability stood substantially reduced. The learned counsel contended that in both the years under consideration, the assessee was subject to or suffered from a permanent physical disability (other than blindness), which had the effect of reducing substantially his capacity to engage in a gainful employment or occupation.

In support of this, the assessee has already filed a certificate from a registered medical practitioner. Since the said certificate was not found to be bogus or not genuine, the ITO is bound to allow deduction under Section 80U(ii), proviso (b), of the said section. In this connection, it was contended that the appellant is a very senior IAS officer. If he was not suffering from the said permanent physical disability, he could have become Chief Secretary in the State by now.

On account of the said physical infirmity, the appellant is still an Additional Commissioner, Indore Division, Indore. The authorities below were wrong in holding that the case of the appellant is not covered by Circular No. 246, dated 20-9-1978, issued by the CBDT. According to the learned counsel, the said circular letter is not exhaustive. As a matter of fact, the case of the assessee comes within the proviso to Section 80U itself. The circular letter relied on by the revenue only gives guidelines for the purposes of allowance under Section 80U. The said circular letter does not say that in those circumstances alone, which were mentioned in the circular, the said allowance can be made.

In the present case, a certificate issued by the doctor proves that the assessee is suffering from permanent physical disability. Once the said certificate was filed and which was not challenged by the department, the requirements of Section 80U(ii) are sufficiently complied with and as such, the assessee is entitled to claim deduction of Rs. 5,000 in each year under consideration.

7. The argument of the learned departmental representative was that the case of the assessee does not come within the ambit of the said circular letter issued by the CBDT. As such, the assessee is not entitled to deduction under Section 80U.8. Before discussing the contentions of the parties, we would like to point out that relief under the old Section 80U was granted by allowing to totally blind individuals, a deduction of Rs. 2,000 in the computation of their taxable income. In order to qualify for this relief, the individual had to produce in respect of the first assessment year for which such relief was claimed, a certificate as to his total blindness from a registered medical practitioner who was on the list. For the subsequent assessment year in respect of which the relief was claimed, such a certificate was not required. Sucb relief was available for the assessment years 1969-70 and 1970-71. From the assessment year 1971-72, the newly substituted section provides for a deduction of Rs. 5,000 in the computation of the total income of an individual. For the sake of convenience, we may reproduce Section 80U below : 80U. Deductions in the case of totally blind or physically handicapped resident persons.-In computing the total income of an individual, being a resident, who, as at the end of the previous year- (ii) is subject to or suffers from a parmanent physical disability (other than blindness) which has the effect of reducing substantially his capacity to engage in a gainful employment or occupation, there shall be allowed a deduction of a sum of five thousand rupees : Provided that such individual produces before the Income-tax Officer, in respect of the first assessment year for which deduction is claimed under this section,- (a) in a case referred to in Clause (i), a certificate as to his total blindness from a registered medical practitioner being an oculist ; and (b) in a case referred to in Clause (ii), a certificate as to the permanent physical disability referred to in the said clause from a registered medical practitioner.

9. We have considered the rival submissions and perused the entire material on record. It is not disputed that the assessee had furnished a certificate from a registered medical practitioner showing that the assessee suffers from a permanent physical disability which has the effect of reducing substantially his capacity to engage in a gainful employment or occupation. The said certificate was issued by Dr.

Chhatra Singh Anand, MS, DLD, FRSM, Head of the ENT Department, Maharaja Yeshwantrao Hospital, Indore. We may point out that it is not the case of the authorities below that this certificate is not genuine.

Even before the Tribunal no such argument was advanced that the said certificate is not genuine. In the absence of any such material, we will have to presume that the said certificate is genuine and it was issued by the Head of the ENT Deptt., Maharaja Yeshwantrao Hospital, Indore. In the said certificate the doctor opined that the assessee had been suffering, from a date prior to the year 1976, from such a permanent physical disability as has the effect of reducing his capacity to engage in a gainful employment, or occupation, due to his hearing handicap. The said opinion is also supported from the facts and circumstances of the case. The assessee is an IAS officer and he has been in the employment since the year 1951 or so. If he was not suffering from the said permanent physical disability, he could have been promoted to the post of Chief Secretary or so, in the State, or might have been appointed to a higher post in the Central Government.

Simply because he is still somehow or the other carrying on with his employment, it does not mean that his permanent physical disability has not the effect of reducing substantially his capacity to engage in a gainful employment or occupation. Since the assessee was suffering from the said physical disability, it had the effect of reducing substantially his capacity to engage in a gainful employment or occupation.

10. The case of the assessee, according to the learned counsel for the appellant, comes within Section 80U(ii). For getting the deduction under Section 80U(ii), the assessee is required to show that in the year under consideration, he is subject to or suffers from a permanent physical disability (other than blindness). For proving the said facts, a certificate from a registered medical practitioner should be filed.

Once such a certificate was filed by the assessee, as stated above, he is entitled to claim deduction under Section 80U(ii).

11. Para 3 of the circular issued by the CBDT only gave guidelines for the purposes of Section 80U. The said guidelines are not exhaustive. At least the said circular letter nowhere says that if the assessee claims that he was subject to or suffers from a permanent physical disability which has the effect of reducing substantially his capacity to engage in a gainful employment or occupation and in support of such a claim, a certificate, as referred to in Clause (ii), was issued by a registered medical practitioner, in that case also the assessee would not be entitled to deduction under Section 80U.12. We may point out at this stage that the highest executive authority is the CBDT which is constituted under the Central Board of Revenue Act, 1963. Its power of administrative supervision and control extend over the whole department ; it has power to make rule and to issue orders, instructions and directions to all officers and persons employed in the execution of the Act. This is clear from Section 119 of the Act. Normally the quasi-judicial function of an income-tax authority cannot be controlled by the CBDT in a particular case, but they can be so controlled to the extent that general directions are issued by the CBDT. To avoid genuine hardship, the CBDT may direct that in a particular case, time-barred applications or claims should be admitted and dealt with on merits.

13. In exercise of its power to issue general circular under Section 119, the CBDT cannot impose a burden on the taxpayer or, otherwise put him in a worst position than he is under the statute ; but the CBDT can relax the rigour of the law or grant relief which is not to be found in the term of the statute. Reference may be made to the ratio of decision in the case of Tata Iron & Steel Co. Ltd. v. N.C. Upadhyaya [1974] 96 ITR 1 (Bom.). Such circulars were made for a just and fair administration of law. In Navnit Lal Javeri v. K.K. Sen, AAC [1965] 56 ITR 198 (SC) and in Ellerman Lines Ltd. v. CIT [1971] 82 ITR 913, the Supreme Court was pleased to accept the validity and binding nature of such beneficial circulars and the Board's right to enforce them in his favour even in a court.

14. In view of the aforesaid discussions, the CBDT, under Section 119, by issuing a circular letter, cannot impose a burden on the taxpayer or otherwise put him in a worse position than he is under the statute.

15. We may state that if the assessee is entitled to deduction under proviso to Section 80U(ii) itself, even if his case does not come within the ambit of circular letter issued by the CBDT, the claim under Section 80U cannot be refused.

16. For the reasons discussed above, we are fully satisfied that in the present case it is proved that in both the years under consideration, the assessee was subject to or suffered from a permanent physical disability which had the effect of reducing substantially his capacity to engage in a gainful employment or occupation. Thus, he is entitled to deduction under Section 80U in both the years under consideration as claimed. The finding of the learned AAC to the contrary is not correct.


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