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M/s Ganapathy & Co vs. CIT (Supreme Court)
January, 27th 2016

S. 256: While findings of fact found by the Tribunal are final and the High Court cannot reappraise the same, the High Court can take note of facts on record which are lost sight of by the Tribunal and also construe certain facts to be of significance as against the different view of the Tribunal

(i) It is well settled that issues of fact determined by the Tribunal are final and the High Court in exercise of its reference jurisdiction should not act as an appellate Court to review such findings of fact arrived at by the Tribunal by a process of reappreciation and reappraisal of the evidence on record. The aforesaid position in law has been consistently laid down by this Court in several of its pronouncements out of which, illustratively, reference may be made to Karnani Properties Ltd. Vs. Commissioner of Income-Tax, West Bengal [82 ITR 547], Rameshwar Prasad Bagla vs. Commissioner of Income-Tax, U.P. [87 ITR 421], Commissioner of Income-Tax, Bombay City vs. Greaves Cotton and Co. Ltd. [68 ITR 200] and K. Ravindranathan Nair vs. Commissioner of Income-Tax [247 ITR 178].

(ii) The legal position in this regard may be summed up by reiterating that it is the Tribunal which is the final fact finding authority and it is beyond the power of the High Court in the exercise of its reference jurisdiction to reconsider such findings on a reappraisal of the evidence and materials on record unless a specific question with regard to an issue of fact being opposed to the weight of the materials on record is raised in the reference before the High Court.

(iii) Having reiterated the above position in law we do not see how the same can be said to have been transgressed by the impugned order of the High Court. Each relevant fact considered by the High Court to answer the questions referred to it on the claim(s) of deduction raised by the appellant – assesee are acknowledged, admitted and undisputed facts. No fresh determination of facts found by the Tribunal have been made by the High Court. What, however, the High Court did was to take into account certain additional facts, already on record, which were however not taken note of by the Tribunal to arrive at its findings, e.g., that the appellant – assessee had failed to furnish any proof of service rendered by UTC in the course of the relevant Assessment Year i.e. 1984-1985. Alternatively, the High Court construed certain facts as, for example, compliance of the conditions subject to which registration was granted to the Aparna Ashram under Section 35(2A) of the Act to be of significance as against the contrary/different view of the learned Tribunal on this score. There was no departure from the basic facts found by the learned Tribunal in the two illustrative situations cited above, namely, that (i) the assessee had not adduced any proof of service rendered by UTC in the Assessment Year 1984-1985; (ii) that Aparna Ashram had not complied with the conditions subject to which registration had been granted to it under Section 35(2A) of the Act.

(iv) The difference in the approach between the Tribunal and the High Court, therefore, is not one relating to determination of new or additional facts but was merely one of emphasis on facts on which there is no dispute. This is surely an exercise that was within the jurisdiction of the High Court in the exercise of its reference power under the provisions of the Act as it then existed.

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