In one of its recent judgments the Gujarat High Court has held that the in the matter of completion of assessment, the assesses have little role to pay. After the assesses have submitted their returns within the time fixed by law, if for any reason the respondent delays in making the assessment, taking advantage of their own delay, the Revenue cannot deprive a class of the assesses of the benefit whereas other assesses of the same class whose assessment have already been completed would get the benefit. Therefore, discrimination based on two classes, first, whose assessments have become final and secondly, whose assessment are pending, definitely violates Article 14 of the Constitution of India as there is no rationale nexus with the object of the amendment, and, therefore, such classification fails the test of Article 14 of the Constitution, being a case of ‘palpable arbitrariness’.
It further held that the legislature is not bound by the doctrine of promissory estoppel and thus proposed amendment cannot be struck down on the ground that the same is violative of principles of promissory estoppel although individually an assesses can take the plea of promissory estoppel if the amended provision adversely affects such an assesses.
Further it also held that substantive amendment cannot be made with retrospective operation. Present amendment has been made at a point of time when the application of section 80HHC has already been exhausted and the same was not even in the statute book. In such situation, it is not permissible to take away the benefit already granted through a concluded scheme by introducing fresh amendment by virtue of which an expired scheme has been revived with benefit conferred upon only a limited section and snatching the same from some other sections. Hence, impugned amendment was quashed only to the extent that the operation of the said section could be given effect from the date of amendment and not in respect of earlier assessment years of the assesses whose export turnover is above Rs. 10 Crore.
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