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Gunjan Girishbhai Mehta vs. DIT (Supreme Court)
April, 12th 2017

S. 132/ 158BC, 158BD: The fact that the search was invalid because the warrant was in the name of a dead person does not make the s. 158BC/158BD proceedings invalid if the assessee participated in them. Information discovered in the search, if capable of generating the satisfaction for issuing a s. 158BD notice, cannot altogether become irrelevant because the search is invalid

(i) Notice under Section 132 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 (for short “the Act”) was issued in the name of a dead person. The said notice was duly received by the present petitioner as the legal heir of the dead person. Notice of assessment under Section 158BC of the Act was issued and in the assessment proceedings, where the income was declared to be ‘nil’, the present petitioner as the legal heir had participated. Thereafter, notice under Section 158BD of the Act was issued to the present petitioner on the basis of information coming to light in the course of search. Aggrieved, the petitioner moved the High Court and on dismissal of the writ petition filed, the present Special Leave Petition has been instituted.

(ii) The point urged before us, shortly put, is that if the original search warrant is invalid the consequential action under Section 158BD would also be invalid. We do not agree. The issue of invalidity of the search warrant was not raised at any point of time prior to the notice under Section 158BD. In fact, the petitioner had participated in the proceedings of assessment initiated under Section 158BC of the Act. The information discovered in the course of the search, if capable of generating the satisfaction for issuing a notice under Section 158BD, cannot altogether become irrelevant for further action under Section 158BD of the Act.

(iii) The reliance placed on the decision of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana in Commissioner of Income -tax, Karnal vs. Rakesh Kumar, Mukesh Kumar [(2009) 178 Taxman 224 (Punjab & Haryana) = 313 ITR 305 (Punjab & Haryana)] against which Special Leave Petition [SLP(C) NO…CC 3623/2009] has been dismissed by this Court and the decision of this Court in Assistant Commissioner of Income-tax, Chennai vs. A.R. Enterprises [(2013) 29 Taxmann.com 50 (SC) = 350 ITR 489 (SC) are on entirely different facts.

(iv) In Rakesh Kumar, Mukesh Kumar (supra) the challenge was to the proceedings of assessment under Section 158 BC of the Act on the basis of a search warrant issued in the name of a dead person. The issue in A.R. Enterprises (supra) has no similarity to the issue in hand, namely, the validity of the proceedings under Section 158BD of the Act.

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