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Kathiroor Service Cooperative Bank Ltd vs. CIT (Supreme Court)
November, 14th 2013

S. 133(6): AO empowered to launch fishing and roving enquiry with a view to detect tax evasion

The ITO issued a issued a notice u/s 133(6) to the assessee-bank u/s 133(6) of the Act calling for general information regarding details of all persons who have made cash transactions and time deposits of Rs. 1,00,000/- and above for the period of three years between 01.04.2005 and 31.03.2008. The assessee claimed that s. 133(6) does not empower the ITO to conduct a roving or fishing enquiry into the affairs of the assessee or regarding the deposits made by its customers. It was also contended that the AO can only seek “case specific” or “area specific” information u/s 133(6). The High Court dismissed the Writ Petition. On appeal by the assessee to the Supreme Court HELD dismissing the appeal:

The legislative intention behind s. 133(6) was to give wide powers to the income-tax department to gather general particulars in the nature of survey and store those details in the computer so that the data so collected can be made use of for checking evasion of tax effectively. It would not fall under the restricted domains of being “area specific” or “case specific.” S. 133(6) does not refer to any enquiry about any particular person or assessee, but pertains to information in relation to “such points or matters” which the assessing authority issuing notices requires. This clearly illustrates that the information of general nature can be called for and names and addresses of depositors who hold deposits above a particular sum is certainly permissible (Karnataka Bank Ltd vs. Government of India (2002) 9 SCC 106 followed; M.V. Rajendran vs. ITO 260 ITR 442 (Ker) approved)

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