S. 153A search assessment: Supreme Court stays operation of the judgement of the Delhi High Court in Dayawanti Gupta vs. CIT 390 ITR 496 (Del). The High Court dealt with the issue whether an assessment u/s 153A can be made even if no incriminating material has been found during s. 132 search proceedings
In Dayawanti Gupta vs. CIT 390 ITR 496 (Del), the assessee argued before the Delhi High Court that since no incriminating material was found during or pursuant to the search, additions, made on the basis of block assessment, were unsustainable inasmuch as they revisited finally settled assessments. It was submitted that for completing a block assessment, founded on search proceedings and notice under Section 153A, the assessing officer has to base the order on fresh materials found during the search, in the form of books of accounts, articles seized, or other similar materials. In this case, the revenue could not substantiate its plea that the assesses had concealed their income, because nothing suspect which could result in an addition to the income assessed during the previous years was in fact seized or taken into custody. Therefore, the four assessments for the block period in question had to be set aside.
The assessee relied on the judgement of the Delhi High Court in Commissioner of Income tax v Kabul Chawla 380 ITR 573 in support of the contention.
However, the High Court rejected the contentions of the assessee with the finding that:
“The lynchpin of the assessee’s submissions on this aspect is also that the statements were not recorded during the search but later and that they cannot be considered of any value. This court is un-persuaded with the submission. The search was conducted on 22-03-2006. Various materials: documents, agreements, invoices and statements in the form of accounts and calculations were seized. On 18 April 2006 and 3 May 2006, the assessee’s sons (including one of the appellants, Abhay Gupta) recorded statements under oath; the assessee too made her statement under oath, admitting that though returns were filed ostensibly on her behalf, she was not in control of the business. She and all other family members made short statements and endorsed the statements under oath, of those who elaborated the trading and business operations relating to clandestine income. These statements under oath were part of the record and continued to be so. They were never explained in any reasonable manner. Their probative value is undeniable; the occasion for making them arose because of the search and seizure that occurred and the seizure of various documents, etc. that pointed to undeclared income. In these circumstances, the assessee’s argument that they could not be acted upon or given any weight is insubstantial and meritless. This court also notices that the decision in CIT Vs. Anil Bhatia 352 ITR 493 (Del) which held that such statements are relevant, though noticed, has not been doubted in any later decision, including Kabul Chawla, which is the mainstay of the assessee’s case. Consequently the first question of law is answered against the assessee and in the revenue’s favour.”