ITAT grants stay of demand, to enable Mumbai builder to pay workers


A construction company, which during the Covid-19 pandemic, wanted to take care of its workers, support staff and employees and was unable to do so, because of an outstanding Income-Tax (I-T) demand of Rs 2.91 crore, frozen bank accounts and attachment of its debtors has obtained a favourable order from the Income-Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT).

The Mumbai bench of the ITAT intervened by treating the matter as urgent, as government advisories had called upon employers to take care of its workforce during the pandemic. It also noted that the builder had paid its tax dues for the financial year 2009-10 and the sum of Rs 2.91 crore related to outstanding interest and penalty.

In addition, the business operations of Pandhes Infracon, the construction company, had also come to a standstill and it was not able to meet its obligations towards its workers.

In its first hearing, via video conferencing, the ITAT bench granted a stay of tax dues and suspension of the garnishee orders issued by the I-T authorities on the bankers and debtors of the company.

However, this favourable verdict delivered on April 24, by PP Bhatt, president of the ITAT and Pramod Kumar, Vice President, comes with conditions attached.

The funds obtained from stay of the I-T demand, unfreezing the bank accounts and lifting the garnishee orders on debtors are to be first utilised to pay the overdue and current wages and salaries to its labourers and employees.

The builder also pointed out that as per the Collector's order, the company has to make available a partially completed building for providing quarantine facilities to Covid-19 patients.

The ITAT bench, stated that the amount available after payment of wages and salaries should be used for construction for creating the quarantine facilities. The balance after meeting both these obligations could be used for the purpose of its construction business.

Pandhes Infracon has been engaged in the construction business for the 25 years and has obtained several contracts from government bodies, under the Prime Minister's affordable housing program.

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