High Court remands the matter back to department

In a major relief for Nokia India Private Ltd., the Madras High Court on Tuesday set aside the Commercial Taxes Department’s order imposing a total tax of Rs. 2,400 crore on the company for three assessment years from 2009-10.

While remanding the matter back to the CTD for fresh consideration by affording an opportunity of personal hearing to the company, the court directed the Nokia India to deposit 10 per cent of the total tax demand (Rs.240 crore) as a pre-condition for reviving the orders of assessment. This sum has to be deposited within eight weeks.

In the meantime, the company should submit all the documentary evidence for department’s consideration. The department should peruse the documents and pass orders. Justice B. Rajendran passed the judgment on petitions by the company challenging the validity of the orders of assessment dated February 28 this year for the three years.

CTD’s contention baseless: Nokia

Nokia’s senior counsel, Aravind P. Datar, contended that the CTD’s indication that no document had been produced to substantiate the claim was unwarranted, besides being baseless. Since the documents sought to be produced ran to nearly 16 lakh pages, the petitioner had produced sample documents. Without looking into the documentary evidence filed or without even affording an opportunity of hearing, the department had passed the order. This violated principles of natural justice.

The Advocate-General, A.L. Somayaji, submitted that at every stage the petitioner was given adequate opportunity to put forward its submission, but the company did not avail itself of the opportunities. Personal hearing was not a statutory requirement as adequate and reasonable opportunity to file the documents and declarations had been provided.

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