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Acorus Unitech Wireless Pvt. Ltd vs. ACIT (Delhi High Court)
March, 18th 2014

S. 147: Court can examine existence but not adequacy of reasons. AO is only required to provide material on which he relies to reopen the assessment

(i) It is important to restate an accepted, but often neglected, principle, that in its writ jurisdiction, the scope of proceedings before the Court while considering a notice under Section 147/148 is limited. The Court cannot enter into the merits of the subjective satisfaction of the AO, or judge the sufficiency of the reasons recorded, but rather, determine whether such opinion is based on tangible, concrete and new information that is capable of supporting such a conclusion. This was recognized by the Supreme Court in Phool Chand Bajrang Lal v. ITO 203 ITR 456 (SC);

(ii) The law only requires that the information or material on which the AO records his or her satisfaction is communicated to the asseseee, without mandating the disclosure of any specific document. While the 2G Spectrum Report has not been supplied in this case on grounds of confidentiality, the reasons recorded have been communicated and do provide – independent of the 2G Report – details of the new and tangible information that support the AO’s opinion. These facts are capable of justifying the satisfaction recorded on their own terms, as discussed above. In this context, there is no legal proposition that mandates the disclosure of any additional document. This is not the say that the AO may in all cases refuse to disclose documents relied upon by him on account of confidentiality, but rather, that fact must be judged on the basis of whether other tangible and specific information is available so as to justify the conclusion irrespective of the contents of the document sought to be kept confidential. In cases such as the present, however, where the information and facts communicated by the AO are themselves in accordance with the minimum requirement under Section 147/148, the petitioner cannot compel the disclosure of other documents that the assessee may have also relied upon.

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