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SC Asks Income Tax Dept to Refund Rs 733 Cr to Vodafone Idea

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The Supreme Court Wednesday granted partial relief to Vodafone Idea Ltd by asking the Income Tax department to refund Rs 733 crore to the telecom firm within four weeks, for the assessment year 2014-15.

Vodafone Idea, formerly known as Vodafone Mobile Services Ltd, had however sought Rs 4,759.07 crore in tax refund from for AYs – 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18.

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The top court did not order I-T refund pertaining to AYs other than 2014-15.

Insofar as AY 2014-15 is concerned, the final assessment order passed under Section 143(3) of the (Income Tax) Act indicates that the appellant (telecom firm) is entitled to refund of Rs 733 Crores; while for AY 2015-16 there is a demand of Rs.582 Crores, a bench comprising Justices U U Lalit and Vineet Saran said in the judgment.

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The top court also noted that the Income Tax department would be entitled to invoke requisite power under Section 245 of the Act to set off the amount of refund payable in respect of AY 2014-15 against tax remaining payable.

Since the requisite action is not even initiated, we say nothing in that respect. In the premises, we direct that the amount of Rs.733 Crores shall be refunded to the appellant (telecom firm) within four weeks from today subject to any proceedings that the Revenue may deem appropriate to initiate in accordance with the law, the top court said.

The bench also directed the Tax department to conclude as early as possible the proceedings relating to the demand for a refund of the telecom firm and the scrutiny of income by the IT department with respect to assessment years 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Except for the directions as indicated , we see no merit in any of the contentions advanced by the appellant (Vodafone). This appeal is, therefore, dismissed without any order as to costs, the judgement said.

The telecom company had earlier moved the Delhi High Court alleging that there was complete inaction on part of I-T department in processing its ITRs and in issuing appropriate refund to it.

The firm had sought a direction to the government department to process and grant refunds for the AYs 2014-15 to 2017-18, along with interest under Section 244A of the Act.

The Delhi High Court on December 14, 2018, dismissed the petition and against that decision, an appeal was filed in the apex court.

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