|CORAM:||C. M. Garg (JM), Pramod Kumar (AM)|
|DATE:||January 20, 2015 (Date of pronouncement)|
|DATE:||March 26, 2015 (Date of publication)|
|FILE:||Click here to download the file in pdf format|
|S. 147: Reopening an assessment on the ground that there is need of an inquiry which may result in detection of an income escaping assessment is not valid|
(i) The important point is that even though reasons, as recorded, may not necessarily prove escapement of income at the stage of recording the reasons, such reasons must point out to an income escaping assessment and not merely need of an inquiry which may result in detection of an income escaping assessment. Undoubtedly, at the stage of recording the reasons for reopening the assessment, all that is necessary is the formation of prima facie belief that an income has escaped the assessment and it is not necessary that the fact of income having escaped assessment is proved to the hilt. What is, however, necessary is that there must be something which indicates, even if not establishes, the escapement of income from assessment. It is only on this basis that the Assessing Officer can form the belief that an income has escaped assessment. Merely because some further investigations have not been carried out, which, if made, could have led to detection to an income escaping assessment, cannot be reason enough to hold the view that income has escaped assessment. It is also important to bear in mind the subtle but important distinction between factors which indicate an income escaping the assessments and the factors which indicate a legitimate suspicion about income escaping the assessment. The former category consists of the facts which, if established to be correct, will have a cause and effect relationship with the income escaping the assessment. The latter category consists of the facts, which, if established to be correct, could legitimately lead to further inquiries which may lead to detection of an income which has escaped assessment. There has to be some kind of a cause and effect relationship between reasons recorded and the income escaping assessment (ITO Vs Lakhmani Mewal Das [(1976) 103 ITR 437] followed);
(ii) On facts, all that the reasons recorded for reopening indicate is that cash deposits aggregating to Rs 10,24,100 have been made in the bank account of the assessee, but the mere fact that these deposits have been made in a bank account does not indicate that these deposits constitute an income which has escaped assessment. The reasons recorded for reopening the assessment donot make out a case that the assessee was engaged in some business and the income from such a business has not been returned by the assessee. As we donot have the liberty to examine these reasons on the basis of any other material or fact, other than the facts set out in the reasons so recorded, it is not open to us to deal with the question as to whether the assessee could be said to be engaged in any business; all that is to be examined is whether the fact of the deposits, per se, in the bank account of the assessee could be basis of holding the view that the income has escaped assessment. The answer, in our humble understanding, is in negative. The Assessing Officer has opined that an income of Rs 10,24,100 has escaped assessment of income because the assessee has Rs 10,24,100 in his bank account but then such an opinion proceeds on the fallacious assumption that the bank deposits constitute undisclosed income, and overlooks the fact that the sources of deposit need not necessarily be income of the assessee. Of course, it may be desirable, from the point of view of revenue authorities, to examine the matter in detail, but then reassessment proceedings cannot be resorted to only to examine the facts of a case, no matter how desirable that be, unless there is a reason to believe, rather than suspect, that an income has escaped assessment.