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Donaldson India Filters Systems Pvt. Ltd vs. DCIT (Delhi High Court)
January, 31st 2015

S. 147: Assessment cannot be reopened in the absence of "fresh material"

(i) Undoubtedly, Explanation – 1 to Section 147 indicates that mere production of account books or other evidence before the Assessing Officer would not necessarily amount to disclosure of the material information by the assessee. But then, the explanation clarifies the said general refrain by the words “not necessarily”. Therefore, the burden is equally placed on the Assessing Officer to exercise due diligence in examining the record (account books or evidence) produced before him in the light of declarations made in the return or responses (to the notices, questionnaire etc.). As has been noted above, the sine quo non for action under Section 147 (to deal with escapement of income) is gathering or availability of some “tangible material” requiring the matter to be re-opened;

(ii) The order passed by the assessing authority extracted above unmistakably shows that even at that stage it had no fresh material available to it so as to exercise the jurisdiction available under Sections 147/148 of Income Tax Act. It was, thus, taking a fresh call on the subject of assessment of income (i.e. re-assessment), drawing conclusions and inferences from the same very material that had been scrutinized in the original assessment proceedings. The case at hand is concededly not covered by other exceptions as indicated by second and third proviso or explanation to Section 147 quoted earlier.

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