The entire controversy behind a DIN-less communication by the revenue department dates back to a 2019 circular.
The circular, in clear terms, mandated that no communication shall be issued by any income tax authority relating to assessment, appeals, orders, statutory or otherwise, exemptions, enquiry, investigations, etc. to any person on or after Oct. 1, 2019, unless a computer-generated DIN is allotted.
The purpose of allocating a DIN to such communications was to maintain a proper audit trail.
The circular also issued certain circumstances under which exceptions could be made. These include technical difficulties in generating a DIN, issues pertaining to PAN migration, and the like.
Even then, it was clearly stated that any irregularity in issuing a DIN must be dealt with by the authorities within a stipulated time.
In essence, the circular said that any communication without a DIN will be held non-est in law.
In 2023, the Delhi High Court was faced with a case pertaining to an assessment order passed without a DIN. It was contested by the revenue department that the failure to allocate DIN was a mere mistake.
Since it was a mistake, the department contended that the assessment proceedings should not be invalidated and that this omission can be cured under the Income Tax Act.
However, the high court was not inclined to accept this line of reasoning. The circular’s phraseology makes it clear that any communication without DIN can have no standing in law, it said.