It is not legal on the part of the Assessing officer to raise the demand involved in the deduction of tax. It is the responsibility of the deductor and not the responsibility of the deductee,
The Hon’ble Karnataka High court in the case of Smt. Anusuya Alva vs Deputy Commissioner Of Income Tax in the order dated 9 June, 2005 ((2005) 197 CTR Kar 37,2005 278 ITR 206 KAR, 2005 278 ITR 206 Karn) held that Revenue is to be definitely restrained in terms of Section 205 of the Act from enforcing any demand on the assessee-petitioner insofar as the demand with reference to the amount of tax which had been deducted by the tenant (Deductor) of the assessee (Deductee) in the present case, and assuming that the tenant had not remitted the amount to the Central Government. The only course open to the Revenue is to recover the amount from the very person who has deducted and not from the deductee.
Section 205 of the Act reads as under: “205. Bar against direct demand on assessee : Where tax is deductible at the source under Sections 192 to 194, Section 194A, Section 194B, Section 194BB, Section 194C, Section 194D, Section 194E, Section 194EE, Section 194F, Section 194G, Section 194H, Section 194-I, Section 194J, Section 194K, Section 195, Section 196A, Section 196B, Section 196C and Section 196D, the assessee shall not be called upon to pay the tax himself to the extent to which tax has been deducted from that income.”
On a plain reading of this provision, it is very clear that in a situation where the tax is deductible at source under Section 194 of the Act, as in the present case, and to the extent to which the tax has been deducted from the income, the assessee shall not be called upon to pay the tax himself/herself to such extent. That means what the section provides for is to put an embargo or prohibition from raising a demand on the assessee in respect of the amount, which was deductible and actually deducted to the extent it has been deducted. The section by itself does not say that the amount should also be paid to the Central Government. There is no doubt that such an obligation is cast on the person responsible namely, the person who has deducted the amount and the Act also provides for initiation of proceedings against the person on his/her failure to do so, right upto the prosecution of the person for recovery of the amount with interest. The condition of remittance is not referred to or made a requirement for the protection to the assessee under Section 205 of the Act. Even if one reads the earlier provisions such as 192, 194-I, 199, 200, 201, 202 and 203 to presume that payment being on behalf of the assessee having expressly made applicable when the amount is remitted and granted to give credit to the amount of the tax payable by the assessee also, only when the amount deducted is also remitted, whereas, there is a clear departure in the case of Section 205 by not mentioning the words ‘remittance of the amount’ in this section. Here again, for imposing the bar on the Revenue for making a direct demand on the assessee, what is indicated in the section is a requirement in law for deduction and factual deduction and nothing more. Insofar as such requirements are concerned, in the present case, it is not much in dispute that it has happened or fulfilled. In fact, the bar only is not to raise demand on the assessee herself or to enforce recovery on the assessee after the deduction is made in respect of the amount deducted. That means, once deduction is made, the Revenue is expected to look upto the person who had deducted the tax for realizing the amount, if such person fails in remitting the amount to the Central Government.
The Hon’ble High court is of the view that this understanding and such interpretation of Section 205 of the Act is also in consonance with the general principles of law, particularly the principles of the Law of Principal and Agent. If we look at the scheme for the provision of deduction of tax at source, it becomes obvious that such person is acting on behalf of the Revenue, i.e., as an agent of the Revenue. In fact, the person is enabled statutorily to make deduction and remit the amount to the Central Government, though in the instant case, the person who has deducted the amount may be the tenant or lessee of the petitioner and there is such inter se relationship as between the two, insofar as the deduction of tax at source representing 20 per cent of the monthly rent payable as envisaged under Section 194-I of the Act is concerned, the deduction is under the statutory obligation and on behalf of the Revenue and because of the compulsion herein. It is not as if the petitioner could prevent such deduction. When the person like a tenant acts as a representative or agent of the Revenue for such deduction and if there is any violation on his/her part, the consequence should fall only on the Revenue and that cannot be foisted on the assessee. It is no doubt true that the assessee if pays the tax in terms of the tax liability, i.e., under the assessment order and to the extent of the amount is not paid to the Government remains a liability on the assessee also and could look upto the tenant to recover the amount for reimbursement. The question in the light of the provisions is that, should the assessee be driven to that plight ? I think that the provision is to provide a protection to the assessee and to prevent the Revenue from embarking on the recovery proceedings in respect of such amount. If such being the object of the provision, it is not possible to understand the word ‘deduct’ occurring in Section 205 as ‘deducted and remitted’