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Soignee R. Kothari vs. DCIT (Bombay High Court)
April, 18th 2016

S. 147: Though assessee claims that she is a non-resident & that onus is on the revenue to show that the money in the HSBC Geneva account is taxable in India, the non-cooperation with the Revenue by signing the consent waiver form shows that she has something to hide and makes it an unfit case for exercise of writ jurisdiction

(i) During the course of the hearing of the Reply of the Revenue it was pointed out to us that despite the Revenue’s request, the Petitioner had failed to sign a Consent Waiver Form (“the Waiver”) which would have enabled HSBC to provide information about the Account. According to the petitioner the Waiver was sought only on 30th October, 2015 i.e. much after the issue of the impugned notice on 31st March, 2015 and also after filing of this Petition in Court on 30th October, 2015. In any case, we asked the Petitioner whether she is now ready to sign the Waiver. At the time of the rejoinder we were informed that the Petitioner is willing to sign the Consent Waiver Form with a modification – namely as alleged beneficiary rather than holder or beneficiary of the account in HSBC, Geneva.

(ii) However, on enquiry by the Revenue from HSBC, Geneva, it was learnt that a modified Consent Waiver Form would not enable the bank to give copies of the bank statement of A/c. No. 5091404580 since the Waiver would have to be provided without modifications.

(iii) We notice that the principal contention of the Petitioner before us has been that she is nonresident and it is only her income which is received or accrued or arising in India which can be brought to tax under the Act. Thus, it is submitted that it is for the Revenue to establish that the income had accrued or arisen in India which was lying on 26th March, 2006 in A/c. No. 5091404580 in HSBC, Geneva. We find that the Petitioner and/or her uncle – Dilip Mehta i.e. Executor of the Estate of late Ramniklal N. Mehta who could probably amongst others be able to produce copies of the bank statement either by giving a Consent Waiver Form to the Income Tax Department or in the alternative Mr. Dilip Mehta could instruct the Director of M/s. White Cedar to apply for and furnish to him copies of the bank statement in A/c. No. 5091404580 of HSBC,Geneva. The fact that it is within the authority/power of Mr. Dilip Mehta to instruct M/s. White Cedar is evident from the letter dated 14th. August 2014 addressed by HSBC Bank, Geneva to M/s. Red Oak Operation Ltd. which has been taken on record and marked X for identification. This bank statement if obtained from HSBC, Geneva, would reveal and/or possibly give clues as to the source of amounts deposited in the Account No. 5091404580 of HSBC. Neither the Petitioner nor her uncle i.e. Executor of the Estate of late Ramniklal N. Mehta is ready to obtain the necessary statement either directly or through M/s. White Cedar from HSBC, Geneva in respect of A/c. No. 5091404580 by exercising or causing to be exercised the limited authority to instruct White Cedar to apply for and obtain the requisite information.

(iv) In the normal course of human conduct if a person has nothing to hide and serious allegations /questions are being raised about the funds a person would make available the documents which would put to rest all questions which seem to arise in the mind of the Authorities. The conduct on the part of the Petitioner and her uncle, in not being forthcoming, to our mind leads us to the conclusion that this is not a fit case where we should exercise our extra ordinary writ jurisdiction and/or interfere with the orders passed by the authorities under the Act. If a person has nothing to hide, we believe the person would have cooperated in obtaining the Bank Statements.

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