BBC World News Limited vs. ADIT (Delhi High Court)
February, 28th 2014
High Court alarmed at shoddy record-keeping by dept and allegations of tampering. S. 147 reopening quashed
(i) We have examined the original record but did not find the proceedings or order sheets relating to original proceedings on record. This is a serious lapse, and it is apparent that the proceeding sheets in the respondents? custody and charge, have been removed. The record belongs to the respondents and was in their custody and charge. It was/is their duty and obligation to maintain the records properly and as per law and to ensure their sanctity and accuracy. The records cannot and should not be interpolated or changed. This High Court has in some cases earlier adversely commented about record maintenance by the Revenue as it is unacceptable and faulters on the principle of good governance. Facts mentioned above do not disclose a commendable situation and in fact the situation appears to be alarming and perilous. This requires urgent effective remedial steps. Failure to maintain records has resulted in serious allegations being made that the papers/documents have been tempered or removed etc. The papers/documents on record are not serially numbered and indexed. We also note that it is not practice of the department to give acknowledgement of papers submitted during the course of assessment proceedings;
(ii) In the present case reassessment proceedings have been initiated after four years from the end of the relevant assessment year and as per the first proviso to Section 147 of the Act, it has to be shown that there was failure on the part of the assessee to disclose fully and truly all facts necessary for the assessment. In the „reasons to believe? it is mentioned that absence of “crucial information” relating to income and expenditure on account of activities of the petitioner in India had resulted in improper computation of income for the assessment year 2003-04. Thus, as per the reasons to believe itself, in case the petitioner had furnished statement showing income and expenditure from Indian activities in the course of the original assessment proceedings, there was no lapse or failure on the part of the assessee i.e. the petitioner. Once it is held that the said details were furnished vide letter/reply dated 22nd March, 2006, the reassessment notice, would fail and faulter. Letter/reply dated 22nd March, 2006 enclosing the details would go to the very root and falsify the averments made in the reasons to believe. The said reasons would be factually incorrect and reassessment notice bad and contrary to the first proviso to Section 147 of the Act.