Plus Paper Food Pac Ltd vs. ITO (Bombay High Court)
April, 07th 2015
S. 147/ 148: If the recorded reasons show contradiction and inconsistency it means necessary satisfaction in terms of the statutory provision has not been recorded at all. The Court cannot be called upon to indulge in guess work or speculate as to which reason has enabled the AO to act in terms of s. 147
(i) Though the power to reopen is much wider, but the interpretation that the words “reason to believe” must receive an interpretation which is in consonance with the scheme of the law. There cannot be arbitrary powers to the Assessing Officer to reopen assessment on the basis of mere change of opinion. The Assessing Officer has no power to review. He has only a power to reassess. In the garb of reopening the assessment review cannot take place.
(ii) If the assessee has not made full and true disclosure of income and its particulars in the return or during the assessment proceedings, then, we do not see how these figures have been derived by the Assessing officer. In one breath he says that he has perused the records and which reveals the above position. At the same time, he holds that the petitioner has not made full and true disclosure of income and its particulars in the return or during assessment proceedings. This contradiction and inconsistency in the reasons would indicate that the necessary satisfaction in terms of statutory provision has not been recorded at all. This would be further clear if one refers to the other reason viz. that the income has escaped assessment and also in view of sub-clause (I) of clause (c) of Explanation-2 to section 147 of the Act if income chargeable to tax has been underassessed. Such recording of reasons can never be termed as satisfactory.
There is either a satisfaction based on the income escaping assessment by virtue of it being chargeable to tax and, therefore, reassessment and in terms of substantive provision is required. The satisfaction can also be said to be that the case is covered by the deeming fiction and the income chargeable to tax has escaped assessment by virtue of Explanation 2 clause (a), (b), (ba) and (c) and (d). However, if one refers to the failure on the part of the assessee to make full and true disclosure of income, then, what the Assessing Officer has in mind is the first proviso to section 147. That enables reassessment after expiry of four years from the end of the relevant assessment year if the income chargeable to tax has escaped assessment for such assessment year by reason of failure on the part of the assessee to make a return under section 139 or in response to a notice issued under sub-section (1) of section 142 or section 148 or to disclose fully and truly all material facts necessary for his assessment for that assessment year. In the present case, both are referred viz. the first proviso to section 147 and Explanation 2 thereof.
However, this is not a case where action under section 147 is taken after the expiry of four years from the end of the relevant assessment year but it is within four years period. Thus, this proviso cannot be of any assistance. At the same time, the Assessing Officer says that he has reason to believe that income has escaped assessment and also in view of sub-clause (1) of clause (c) of Explanation-2. The Court cannot be called upon to indulge in guess work or speculate as to which reason has enabled the Assessing Officer to act in terms of this section. If more than one reason is assigned as in this case then the Court can sustain the notice only if it is of the opinion that an erroneous reference to a statutory provision has been made but still there is an income chargeable to tax which has escaped assessment and on account of which issuance of notice is justified. Which ground is sufficient to sustain the notice is something which must be indicated in clear terms and should not be a matter of speculation or guess work.