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In T.D. Venkata Rao. v. Union of India [Appeal (civil) 2824 of 1992 dated December 08, 1998], the appeal in this case was filed by T.D. Venkata Rao (“the Appellant”) challenging the validity of Section 44AB of the Income Tax Act, 1961 (“the IT Act”).
Section 44AB of the IT Act requires a person carrying business having total sales, turnover or gross receipts exceeding Rs. 40 lakhs or a person carrying profession if his gross receipts exceeding Rs. 10 lakhs in any previous year to get the accounts audited by an accountant. The explanation to the section provided for the definition of “Accountant” as the same mentioned in the explanation to Section 288(2)(4) of the IT Act which provided that the term “Accountant” would mean “Chartered Accountant within the meaning of the Chartered Accountancy Act and includes persons entitled to be appointed to Act as auditors of companies in a particular State by reasons of the provisions of section 226(2) of the Companies Act, 1956.”
The current Section 44AB of the IT Act has been challenged by the Appellant on behalf of the Income Tax Practitioners. The Appellant contends that the Income Tax Practitioners should be entitled to be authorized representatives and that they are excluded for auditing accounts which violates their Fundamental Rights, specifically Article 14 and 19 of the Constitution.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that the High Courts on the same matter had rejected the challenge which was rightly done on their part. Observed that Income Tax Practitioners do not have the same expertise in the matter of accounts as is possessed by the Chartered Accountants. Chartered Accountants have special aptitude in the matter of Audits because of their training so it is reasonable that they form a class of themselves and thereby should be required to audit accounts exceeding the turnover as is mentioned in the provisions.
Further noted, although there is a restriction on part of performing audits for Income Tax Practitioners, they are still entitled to be authorized representatives of the assessees. Consequently, the challenge under Article 19 fails.
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