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PCIT vs. Delhi Airport Metro Express Pvt. Ltd (Delhi High Court)
September, 18th 2017

S. 263 Revision: For the purposes of exercising jurisdiction u/s 263, the conclusion of the CIT that the order of the AO is erroneous and prejudicial to the interests of the Revenue has to be preceded by some minimal inquiry. If the PCIT is of the view that the AO did not undertake any inquiry, it becomes incumbent on the PCIT to conduct such inquiry. The second option available u/s 263 (1) of sending the entire matter back to the AO for a fresh assessment can be exercised by the PCIT only after he undertakes an inquiry himself and not otherwise

(i) One of the factors that weighed with the PCIT in exercising jurisdiction under Section 263 of the Act was Circular No. 9 of 2014 dated 23rd April 2014 issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes which stated that “under the BOT arrangement an assessee would only be allowed amortization in respect of expenditure incurred in creation of the infrastructure facility over the period of BOT arrangement and no depreciation would be allowed on such infrastructure under provisions of the Act”. The case of the Assessee was that such a Circular could not dictate to the AO how he should frame his assessment and, to the extent the Circular was prejudicial to the Assessee, its application would be beyond the scope and ambit of the powers conferred on the Board under Section 119 of the Act.

(ii) It is seen, in the order dated 30th March 2016, the PCIT has proceeded by setting out the contents of the SCN and the contents of the reply given by the Assessee. It appears that no inquiry, as such, was undertaken by the PCIT to come to the conclusion that the original assessment order was erroneous and prejudicial to the interests of the Revenue.

(iii) For the purposes of exercising jurisdiction under Section 263 of the Act, the conclusion that the order of the AO is erroneous and prejudicial to the interests of the Revenue has to be preceded by some minimal inquiry. In fact, if the PCIT is of the view that the AO did not undertake any inquiry, it becomes incumbent on the PCIT to conduct such inquiry. All that PCIT has done in the impugned order is to refer to the Circular of the CBDT and conclude that “in the case of the Assessee company, the AO was duty bound to calculate and allow depreciation on the BOT in conformity of the CBDT Circular 9/2014 but the AO failed to do so. Therefore, the order of the AO is erroneous insofar as prejudicial to the interest of revenue”.

(iv) In the considered view of the Court, this can hardly constitute the reasons required to be given by the PCIT to justify the exercise of jurisdiction under Section 263 of the Act. In the context of the present case if, as urged by the Revenue, the Assessee has wrongly claimed depreciation on assets like land and building, it was incumbent upon the PCIT to undertake an inquiry as regards which of the assets were purchased and installed by the Assessee out of its own funds during the AY in question and, which were those assets that were handed over to it by the DMRC. That basic exercise of determining to what extent the depreciation was claimed in excess has not been undertaken by the PCIT.

(v) Mr. Asheesh Jain then volunteered that the PCIT had exercised the second option available to him under Section 263 (1) of the Act by sending the entire matter back to the AO for a fresh assessment. That option, in the considered view of the Court, can be exercised only after the undertakes an inquiry himself in the manner indicated hereinbefore. That is missing in the present case.

(vi) Therefore, the Court is of the view that the ITAT was not in error in setting aside the impugned order of the PCIT under Section 263 of the Act.

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