A legal notice is an official document which is used for starting a formal communication between two parties who may have entered into a dispute regarding any particular issue. One of the parties may send the legal notice to another in the view that the other party may read and understand the legal notice which has been sent to them and give a proper response to the same within the time period. There are no set rules and regulations laid down under the Indian law which govern the response to a legal notice.
Cases Where Notices Are Sent
The following are the most common cases where the notices are sent to the other party. This is not an exhaustive list.
- Property matters
- Notice in consumer cases
- Employer and employee cases
- Marriage related cases
- Cases under section 138 of the negotiable instruments act 1881.
- Cases under section 80 of the civil procedure code
How To Respond A Legal Notice
Step1: Reading of the notice
First and the most important step after receiving a legal notice is to read the objective of the notice. Then one can refer the terms and conditions of the contract that has been taken into consideration. One may choose to deal with the situation with a mutual settlement or enter into legal proceedings.
Step2: Consult a qualified Advocate
If after reading the notice, one feels that it is not appropriate and not related or there is some ambiguity, then they can approach a qualified Advocate and decide the future procedure of the case.
Step3: Explaining the matter to the advocate
Once the advocate understands the matter, one can draft a counter-notice or may choose to settle.
Step4: Copy of the reply
After responding to the legal notice, one must keep proof of the same which can be used for future reference.
A party should try and reply to the notice as soon as possible and within the prescribed amount of days as mentioned in the sender’s notice. If it is a tax-related matter, then the response must be given to the income tax authorities within 6 to 7 working days to be on a safer side. However, there is generally no strict action taken against the individual who has not responded within the prescribed time period. Only in the case where the money is involved, certain strict actions can be taken against the individual.
Is It Mandatory To Reply To A Legal Notice?
It is not always compulsory to give a response to a legal notice under the rules and regulations given under the law. But it is still advisable to reply to the legal notice within the time period which it has to be replied with the help of an experienced advocate in order to avoid the matter from going into litigation.
Ina case where no reply has been sent to an important legal notice, it may become an added advantage to the sender of the notice during the legal proceedings and not replying to a legal notice may create problems in the future.
It is important that an individual or the firm responds to the income tax notices if they have received one. The income tax notices can be sent to the individual on the following cases:
Section 131 (1A): Notice is issued under this section when the income tax officer wishes to investigate the income of a particular individual so that they can find out the true income of the same individual. The consequence of not responding to the notice or fails to produce the documents is a penalty of Rs. 10,000 or more.
Section 133(6): If the notice is sent to the taxpayer under this section, the income tax officers, need some information relating to a certain transaction during that particular transaction year. If the individual does not respond to the authorities within the prescribed time, fine of Rs.10,000 may be imposed and such other punishments may be levied as decided by the income tax officer.
Section 139(9), Section 143(1), Section 143(2), Section 245 and such other matters which may be related to income tax return must be responded on time to avoid severe consequences which may also result to imprisonment or high amount of fine.
Bihari Chowdary Vs The State of Bihar
The Supreme Court had held that cases filed against public or government officials under the code of civil procedure must be given equal opportunity to prove their claim in cases where a legal notice has been sent to them. To avoid wastage of time and money during litigation matters, it's always better to give an opportunity to the other side.
It is not justified by law whether it is compulsory to give a response to each and every legal notice that come across to an individual, but notices pertaining to tax matters of a company or an individual, it is mandatory to respond to the income tax officers.