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From the Courts »
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 ITO vs. Vikram A. Pradhan (ITAT Mumbai)

PEPSI FOODS PVT. LTD. Vs. ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF INCOME TAX
September, 18th 2014
         IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI

                                  Judgment delivered on: 07.08.2014

W.P.(C) 415/2014 & CM 823/2014
PEPSI FOODS PVT. LTD.                                 .....Petitioner
                        versus

ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF INCOME TAX                .....Respondent



W.P.(C) 568/2014 & CM 1151/2014
PEPSI FOODS PVT. LTD.                                 .....Petitioner
                        versus

ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF INCOME TAX                .....Respondent



W.P.(C) 570/2014 & CM 1154/2014
PEPSI FOODS PVT. LTD.                                 .....Petitioner

                        versus

ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF INCOME TAX                .....Respondent



W.P.(C) 571/2014 & CM 1155/2014

PEPSI FOODS PVT. LTD.                                 .....Petitioner

                        versus

ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF INCOME TAX                .....Respondent




WP(C) 415/2014 & Ors.                                      Page 1 of 15
W.P.(C) 575/2014 & CM 1159/2014

PEPSI FOODS PVT. LTD.                                                       .....Petitioner

                               versus

ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF INCOME TAX                                    .....Respondent



W.P.(C) 576/2014 & CM 1160/2014

PEPSI FOODS PVT. LTD.                                                       .....Petitioner

                               versus

ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF INCOME TAX                                     .....Respondent


Advocates who appeared in these cases:

For the Petitioner      : Mr Deepak Chopra, Mr Harpreet Singh, Mr Amit Srivastava,
                          Mr Piyush K. Singh and Mr Rishi Khanna.

For the Respondent      : Mr Rohit Madan, Mr P.Roychaudhuri and Mr Akash Vajpai.

CORAM:
HON'BLE MR JUSTICE BADAR DURREZ AHMED
HON'BLE MR JUSTICE SIDDHARTH MRIDUL


                                   JUDGMENT

BADAR DURREZ AHMED, J (ORAL)

1.      These six writ petitions pertain to the very same issue and therefore

the same are being disposed of together. The petitioner has challenged the

notices issued under Section 153C of the Income Tax Act, 1961 (hereinafter




WP(C) 415/2014 & Ors.                                                            Page 2 of 15
referred to as the ,,said Act) all dated 02.08.2013 pertaining to the

assessment years 2006-07 to 2011-12.


2.      The point urged by the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the

petitioner is that the basic ingredient of Section 153C of the said Act has not

been satisfied and, therefore, the notices are without jurisdiction and ought to

be quashed. The learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that Section

153C permits the issuance of a notice by an Assessing Officer of a person

who has not been searched, on the basis of a satisfaction note prepared by the

Assessing Officer of a searched person indicating that during the search

certain documents belonging to the other person (the person not searched)

were found. The learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that before a

notice under Section 153C can be issued in the manner indicated, the

Assessing Officer of the searched person must arrive at a positive

satisfaction that the documents belong to the person not searched. He

submitted that in the first instance a presumption is created by virtue of the

provisions of Section 132(4A)(i) of the said Act that the documents belong

to the searched person. A similar presumption is also indicated by the

provisions of Section 292C of the said Act. The learned counsel for the

petitioner submitted that, therefore, before the Assessing Officer of the






WP(C) 415/2014 & Ors.                                                 Page 3 of 15
searched person can be said to have arrived at the satisfaction that the

documents belonged to the other person (the person not searched) there has

to be a rebuttal of that presumption on the basis of some material to which

the Assessing Officer of the searched person should have applied his mind.

He further submitted that on going through the satisfaction note of the

Assessing Officer of the searched person, in the present cases, it is not at all

clear as to on what basis the said Assessing Officer has arrived at the so

called satisfaction that the seized documents belong to the petitioner. It was,

therefore, contended that the notices under Section 153C of the said Act

which are impugned herein are without any basis and ought to be quashed.


3.      The learned counsel appearing on behalf of the Revenue contended

that the documents which have been seized during the search operations

conducted on the Jaipuria Group on 27.03.2012 related to the petitioner

(Pepsi Foods Pvt. Ltd.). The learned counsel also handed over copies of the

documents which have been tabulated in the satisfaction note for our

consideration. He submitted that since these documents pertained to

transactions with the petitioner, they can be construed as belonging to the

petitioner and, therefore, there is nothing wrong in the Assessing Officer of

the Jaipuria Group in recording the satisfaction note and expressing his



WP(C) 415/2014 & Ors.                                                 Page 4 of 15
satisfaction that the said documents belonged to the petitioner. Consequently,

he submitted that the issuance of the notices by the Assessing Officer of the

petitioner (which incidentally is the same Officer as that of the Jaipuria

Group) cannot be faulted and that the writ petitions ought to be dismissed.

The learned counsel of the Revenue placed reliance on a decision of the

Gujarat High Court in Kamleshbhai Dharamshibhai Patel v. Commissioner

of Income Tax: (2013) 214 Taxman 558. He also placed reliance on a

decision of the Allahabad High Court in the case of Commissioner of

Income Tax v. Classic Enterprises: (2013) 358 ITR 465 and that of a

Division Bench of this court in SSP Aviation Ltd. v. Deputy Commissioner

of Income Tax: (2012) 346 ITR 177. Based on these decisions he contended

that as long as the documents bear some relation with the petitioner, they can

be said to belong to the petitioner and, therefore, there was no illegality

committed by the concerned Assessing Officer in issuing the satisfaction

note as also the impugned notices under Section 153C.


4.      Referring to the decision of a Division Bench of this court in SSP

Aviation Ltd. (supra), the learned counsel for the Revenue submitted that the

issuance of the notice under Section 153C is only a first step to the enquiry

which is to follow. He submitted that once the Assessing Officer of the



WP(C) 415/2014 & Ors.                                               Page 5 of 15
searched person arrives at the satisfaction that a document found during the

search operation related to a person other the searched person, then it could

be said that the said document belonged to such other person and the

Assessing Officer was then bound to forward the document to the Assessing

Officer having jurisdiction over the other person (the person not searched),

and, thereafter, it was for that Assessing Officer to follow the procedure

prescribed under Section 153A in an attempt to ensure that the income

reflected in the seized documents had been accounted for by the other person

(the person not searched).


5.      We have considered the submissions made by the counsel for the

parties. Before proceeding any further it would be necessary to set out the

relevant provisions of the said Act as applicable to the assessment years

under consideration:-

                    "153C.      (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in
                    section 139, section 147, section 148, section 149, section
                    151 and section 153, where the Assessing Officer is
                    satisfied that any money, bullion, jewellery or other
                    valuable article or thing or books of account or documents
                    seized or requisitioned belongs or belong to a person other
                    than the person referred to in section 153A, then the books
                    of account or documents or assets seized or requisitioned
                    shall be handed over to the Assessing Officer having
                    jurisdiction over such other person and that Assessing
                    Officer shall proceed against each such other person and
                    issue such other person notice and assess or reassess



WP(C) 415/2014 & Ors.                                                       Page 6 of 15
                    income of such other person in accordance with the
                    provisions of section 153A:
                    Provided that in case of such other person, the reference to
                    the date of initiation of the search under section 132 or
                    making of requisition under section 132A in the second
                    proviso to sub-section (1) of section 153A shall be
                    construed as reference to the date of receiving the books of
                    account or documents or assets seized or requisitioned by
                    the Assessing Officer having jurisdiction over such other
                    person:

                    (2) Where books of account or documents or assets seized
                    or requisitioned as referred to in sub-section (1) has or have
                    been received by the Assessing Officer having jurisdiction
                    over such other person after the due date for furnishing the
                    return of income for the assessment year relevant to the
                    previous year in which search is conducted under section
                    132 or requisition is made under section 132A and in
                    respect of such assessment year­

                        (a)    no return of income has been furnished by such
                               other person and no notice under sub-section (1)
                               of section 142 has been issued to him, or

                        (b)    a return of income has been furnished by such
                               other person but no notice under sub-section (2)
                               of section 143 has been served and limitation of
                               serving the notice under sub-section (2) of
                               section 143 has expired, or

                        (c)    assessment or reassessment, if any, has been
                               made,

                    before the date of receiving the books of account or
                    documents or assets seized or requisitioned by the
                    Assessing Officer having jurisdiction over such other
                    person, such Assessing Officer shall issue the notice and
                    assess or reassess total income of such other person of such
                    assessment year in the manner provided in section 153A."

                    "132. (1) xxxx                   xxxx                xxxx



WP(C) 415/2014 & Ors.                                                           Page 7 of 15
                                xxxx                 xxxx                xxxx
                         (4A) Where any books of account, other documents,
                    money, bullion, jewellery or other valuable article or thing
                    are or is found in the possession or control of any person in
                    the course of a search, it may be presumed­

                        (i)    That such books of account, other documents,
                               money, bullion, jewellery or other valuable
                               article or thing belong or belongs to such
                               person;

                               xxxx          xxxx          xxxx           xxxx"

                    "292C.(1) Where any books of account, other documents,
                    money, bullion, jewellery or other valuable article or thing
                    are or is found in the possession or control of any person in
                    the course of a search under section 132 or survey under
                    section 133A, it may, in any proceeding under this Act, be
                    presumed­

                        (i)    that such books of account, other documents,
                               money, bullion, jewellery or other valuable
                               article or thing belong or belongs to such
                               person;

                               xxxx          xxxx          xxxx           xxxx"


6.      On a plain reading of Section 153C, it is evident that the Assessing

Officer of the searched person must be "satisfied" that inter alia any

document seized or requisitioned "belongs to" a person other than the

searched person. It is only then that the Assessing Officer of the searched

person can handover such document to the Assessing Officer having

jurisdiction over such other person (other than the searched person).




WP(C) 415/2014 & Ors.                                                         Page 8 of 15
Furthermore, it is only after such handing over that the Assessing Officer of

such other person can issue a notice to that person and assess or re-assess his

income in accordance with the provisions of Section 153A. Therefore, before

a notice under Section 153C can be issued two steps have to be taken. The

first step is that the Assessing Officer of the person who is searched must

arrive at a clear satisfaction that a document seized from him does not belong

to him but to some other person. The second step is ­ after such satisfaction

is arrived at ­ that the document is handed over to the Assessing Officer of

the person to whom the said document "belongs". In the present cases it has

been urged on behalf of the petitioner that the first step itself has not been

fulfilled. For this purpose it would be necessary to examine the provisions of

presumptions as indicated above. Section 132(4A)(i) clearly stipulates that

when inter alia any document is found in the possession or control of any

person in the course of a search it may be presumed that such document

belongs to such person. It is similarly provided in Section 292C(1)(i). In

other words, whenever a document is found from a person who is being

searched the normal presumption is that the said document belongs to that

person. It is for the Assessing Officer to rebut that presumption and come to

a conclusion or "satisfaction" that the document in fact belongs to somebody




WP(C) 415/2014 & Ors.                                                Page 9 of 15
else. There must be some cogent material available with the Assessing

Officer before he/she arrives at the satisfaction that the seized document does

not belong to the searched person but to somebody else. Surmise and

conjecture cannot take the place of "satisfaction".


7.      This would be the appropriate stage to consider the decisions referred

to by the learned counsel for the Revenue. The decision referred to in

Kamleshbhai Dharamshibhai Patel (supra) is of no relevance insofar as the

present case is concerned. In that case certain documents were said to have

belonged to the petitioners therein but a plea had been taken that as the land,

in relation to which the documents were, no longer belonged to the

petitioners therefore the said documents could not be regarded as belonging

to the petitioners. That is an entirely different situation and the facts of that

case are clearly distinguishable from the facts of the present case. Insofar as

the decision of the Allahabad High Court in Classic Enterprises (supra) is

concerned, we are, with respect, unable to agree with the observations that as

the proceedings are at the very initial stage the "satisfaction" is neither

required to be firm or conclusive. We say so because we are of the view that

this conclusion of the Allahabad High Court is premised on a consideration

of the provisions of Section 158BD of the said Act which are entirely



WP(C) 415/2014 & Ors.                                                  Page 10 of 15
different from Section 153C. Under Section 158BD the Assessing Officers

satisfaction is with regard to ,,undisclosed income belonging to a person

other than the searched person. It is obvious that such satisfaction under

Section 158BD by its very nature has to be prima facie and tentative. The

same methodology cannot be imported into Section 153C where, in our

view, the Assessing Officer is required to arrive at a conclusive satisfaction

that the document belongs to a person other than the searched person

because such Assessing Officer has to rebut the normal presumptions which

are suggested by the statute under Sections 132(4A)(i) and 292C(1)(i) of the

said Act. Therefore, the decision of the Allahabad High Court in the case of

Classic Enterprises (supra) would not come to the aid of the Revenue.


8.      Insofar as the decision in the SSP Aviation Ltd. (supra) is concerned

we do not find anything therein which militates against the view that we are

taking. In fact the very distinction between Section 153C and 158BD

(although Section 158BD is not mentioned) is indicated by the following

observations of the Division Bench in SSP Aviation Ltd. (supra):-

                    "It needs to be appreciated that the satisfaction that is
                    required to be reached by the Assessing Officer having
                    jurisdiction over the searched person is that the valuable
                    article or books of account or documents seized during the
                    search belong to a person other than the searched person.






WP(C) 415/2014 & Ors.                                                      Page 11 of 15
                    There is no requirement in section 153C(1) that the
                    Assessing Officer should also be satisfied that such
                    valuable articles or books of account or documents
                    belonging to the other person must be shown to show to
                    conclusively reflect or disclose any undisclosed income."



9.      It is only in this context that the Division Bench was of the view that

the issuance of the 153C notice was only first step in the process of enquiry.


10.     The only thing that remains to be examined now is the satisfaction

note itself. The satisfaction note dated 02.08.2013 is in respect of the

assessment years 2006-07 to 2011-12 and the same reads as under:-

                                  "M/s Pepsi Foods Pvt. Ltd.
                                      AY 2006-07 to 11-12

                    02.08.2013 Satisfaction Note for issue of Notice u/s 153C
                               of Income Tax Act, 1961 in the case of M/s
                               Pepsi Foods Pvt. Ltd, for the Assessment
                               Years 2006-07 to 2011-12.

                                             Satisfaction Note

                              A search and seizure operation u/s 132(1) of the
                              I.T. Act was carried out at the various premises
                              of M/s Jaipuria Group on 27.03.2012. The
                              group is also into various other business viz.
                              Raymond Retail franchisee, real estate and
                              construction, fast foods, mining, education,
                              ayurvedic products, information technology and
                              medical services. One of the major allegations
                              against the Jaipuria Group is that the assessee
                              group in order to reduce its taxable profit
                              indulged in enhancing the cost of raw material



WP(C) 415/2014 & Ors.                                                      Page 12 of 15
                        purchased. On examination of the accounts of
                        various concerns, it is noticed that raw material
                        are procured from fixed vendors. Since bulk
                        purchases are made, rates should have been
                        lower. However raw material are being
                        procured on a high rates resulting in lower
                        taxable income. The bottler shall buy all units of
                        concentrate required for the manufacture f the
                        beverage from PFL (Pepsi Foods Ltd.), or a
                        manufacturer approved in writing by PFL (Pepsi
                        Foods Ltd.) at a price and in accordance with
                        the terms and conditions established by the
                        seller. Being the sole supplier of concentrate to
                        Jaipuria Group, Pepsi Foods Pvt. Ltd. is closely
                        associated to Jaipuria Gr.

                        During the post search investigation, summons
                        were issued to M/s Pepsi Foods Pvt. Ltd. to
                        furnish certain details. The complete details
                        were not furnished.

                        The following documents were also found and
                        seized during the course of search and seizure
                        action u/s 132(1) of I.T. Act, 1961 belonging to
                        (PFL)      M/s     Pepsi     Foods    Pvt.  Ltd.
                        (PAN:AAACP1557E)            over    which    the
                        jurisdiction lies with the undersigned:

                        rty/Ann./Page No.      Description of Annexure
                        C-4/A-2/77        This page contains summary of
                                          PFL Claims as on 29-11-2011
                                          (Claims up to 31/10/2011)
                        C-4/A-4/18-20     These pages contain a detail of D
                                          VAT impact (April 10- June 10)
                                          Vs PFL Support report and MRP
                                          Plan.
                        C-4/A-4/21-23     These pages contain a details of
                                          discount per C/S PDL VS PFL.
                        C-4/A-4/27        These pages contain a details of
                                          status of PFL claims.
                        C-4/A-5/54        This page contains details of
                                          concentrate stock summary as on
                                          31.12.2010.
                        C-4/A-5/99        This page contains a summary of



WP(C) 415/2014 & Ors.                                                    Page 13 of 15
                                             PFL claims as on 8/9/2011.
                                             Claims upto 31/8/2011.
                           C-4/A-5/100       This page contains a detail of PFL
                                             Support year 2011

                          Accordingly, section 153C of the I.T. Act, 1961
                          is applicable to M/s Pepsi Foods Pvt. Ltd. which
                          state that "where an Assessing Officer is
                          satisfied that any money, bullion, jewellery or
                          other valuable article or thing or books of
                          account or documents seized or requisitioned
                          belong or belongs to a person other than the
                          person referred to in section 153A, then the
                          books of account, or documents or assets, seized
                          or requisitioned shall be handed over to the
                          Assessing Officer having jurisdiction over such
                          other person and that Assessing Officer shall
                          proceed against such other person and issue
                          such other person notice and assess or reassess
                          income of such other person in accordance with
                          the provisions of section 153A."

                          In view of facts narrated above, I am satisfied
                          that the case of M/s Pepsi Foods Pvt. Ltd. is a fit
                          case for issue of notice u/s 153C of the I.T. Act,
                          1961. Notice u/s 153C dated 02.08.2013 is
                          issued requiring the assessee to file return of
                          income for the A.Y. 2006-07 to 2011-12.

                                                            (Pukini Lokho)
                                      Asstt. Commissioner of Income Tax,
                                             Central Circle-12, New Delhi"

11.     It is evident from the above satisfaction note that apart from saying

that the documents belonged to the petitioner and that the Assessing Officer

is satisfied that it is a fit case for issuance of a notice under Section 153C,

there is nothing which would indicate as to how the presumptions which are




WP(C) 415/2014 & Ors.                                                        Page 14 of 15
to be normally raised as indicated above, have been rebutted by the

Assessing Officer. Mere use or mention of the word "satisfaction" or the

words "I am satisfied" in the order or the note would not meet the

requirement of the concept of satisfaction as used in Section 153C of the said

Act. The satisfaction note itself must display the reasons or basis for the

conclusion that the Assessing Officer of the searched person is satisfied that

the seized documents belong to a person other than the searched person. We

are afraid, that going through the contents of the satisfaction note, we are

unable to discern any "satisfaction" of the kind required under Section 153C

of the said Act.


12.     This being the position the very first step prior to the issuance of a

notice under Section153C of the said Act has not been fulfilled. Inasmuch as

this condition precedent has not been met, the notices under Section 153C

are liable to be quashed. It is ordered accordingly. The writ petitions are

allowed as above. There shall be no order as to costs.


                                             BADAR DURREZ AHMED, J




      AUGUST 07, 2014/mk                         SIDDHARTH MRIDUL, J



WP(C) 415/2014 & Ors.                                                Page 15 of 15

 
 
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