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CIT vs. D. K. Garg (Delhi High Court)

COURT:
CORAM: ,
SECTION(S):
GENRE:
CATCH WORDS: , , ,
COUNSEL:
DATE: August 4, 2017 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: August 16, 2017 (Date of publication)
AY: 1995-96
FILE: Click here to download the file in pdf format
CITATION:
S. 68 "Peak Credits": An accommodation entry provider wanting to avail the benefit of the 'peak credit' has to make a clean breast of all the facts within his knowledge concerning the credit entries in the accounts. He has to explain with sufficient detail the source of all the deposits in his accounts as well as the corresponding destination of all payments from the accounts. The assessee should be able to show that money has been transferred through banking channels from the bank account of creditors to the bank account of the assessee, the identity of the creditors and that the money paid from the accounts of the assessee has returned to the bank accounts of the creditors. The assessee has to discharge the primary onus of disclosure in this regard

(i) There have been numerous cases before the AO, CIT (A), the ITAT and for that matter even before this Court, where the question involved concerns the treatment of ‘accommodation entries’. Basically, what an accommodation entry provider does is to accept cash from an Assessee and arranges to have a cheque issued from his own account or some other account, usually of ‘paper’ or fake entities, to make it appear to be a loan or an investment in share capital. The accommodation entry provider usually charges a commission which is deducted upfront. Where the Assessee is unable to explain the source of such credit in his account – i.e. by demonstrating the identity of the provider of the credit, the creditworthiness of such entity, and the genuineness of the transaction – the credit entry is treated as unexplained and the income is treated under Section 68 of the Act as the income of the Assessee.

(ii) In cases where the Assessee discharges the initial onus of establishing the identity and creditworthiness of the credit provider and the genuineness of the transaction, be it one of loan or subscribing to share capital, the onus shifts to the revenue to show the contrary. Where, for instance, an Assessee furnishes the complete details of the entity like its certificate of incorporation, PAN number, income tax returns, bank accounts, names and addresses of the directors and so on, the Courts have insisted on the AO to make a proper enquiry to examine the identity and creditworthiness of such companies and the genuineness of the transactions in question. Where the AO fails to make such an enquiry, a Court might delete the additions made by the AO.

(iii) The present case, however, is of a different nature. Here, we are dealing with an Assessee who does not deny that he is an accommodation entry provider. He, in fact, makes no bones of the fact that he either owned or floated ‘paper companies’ only for that purpose. He also does not dispute the fact that he has not been able to explain the source of all the deposits in his accounts or the ultimate destination of all the outgo from his accounts.

(iv) The Assessee’s plea that he should be taxed only on a composite ‘peak credit’ is based entirely on principles of accountancy. He questions the logic behind allowing peak credits for some of the credit entries by way of cheques and denying it for the other entries in cash. He also questions the practice of working out separate peak credits for cheque and cash transactions.

(v) The premise underlying the concept of peak credit is the squaring up of the deposits in the account with the corresponding payments out of the account to the same person. In Bhaiyalal Shyam Bihari v. CIT (supra), the Allahabad High Court explained that benefit of peak can be given only when the assessee owns up all the cash credits in the books of accounts. It was further held: “For adjudicating upon the plea of peak credit the factual foundation has to be laid by the assessee. He has to own all cash credit entries in the books of account and only thereafter can the question of peak credit be raised.”

(vi) In that case, it was held that as the amount of cash credits stood in the names of different persons which the Assessee had all along been claiming to be genuine deposits, withdrawals/payments to different persons during the previous years, the Assessee was, therefore, not entitled to claim the benefit of peak credit. Later in CIT v. Vijay Agricultural Industries (supra), it was reiterated that:

The principle of peak credit is not applicable in case where the deposits remained unexplained under Section 68 of the Act. It cannot apply in a case of different depositors where there has been no transaction of deposits and repayment between a particular depositor and the assessee.

On the facts of that case it was held that peak credit could be applied only in the case of squared up accounts. In other words, where an Assessee was unable to explain the sources of deposits and the corresponding payments then he would not get the benefit of ‘peak credit’.

(vii) The legal position in respect of an accommodation entry provider seeking the benefit of ‘peak credit’ appears to have been totally overlooked by the ITAT in the present case. Indeed, if the Assessee as a self-confessed accommodation entry provider wanted to avail the benefit of the ‘peak credit’, he had to make a clean breast of all the facts within his knowledge concerning the credit entries in the accounts. He has to explain with sufficient detail the source of all the deposits in his accounts as well as the corresponding destination of all payments from the accounts. The Assessee should be able to show that money has been transferred through banking channels from the bank account of creditors to the bank account of the Assessee, the identity of the creditors and that the money paid from the accounts of the Assessee has returned to the bank accounts of the creditors. The Assessee has to discharge the primary onus of disclosure in this regard.

(viii) While the AO in the present case did not question the working out of the peak credit by the Assessee, he, at the same time, insisted that the additions made by him to the returned income of the Assessee should be sustained. The peak credit worked out by the Assessee was on the basis that the principle of peak credit would apply, notwithstanding the failure of the Assessee to explain each of the sources of the deposits and the corresponding destination of the payment without squaring them off. That is not permissible in law as explained by the Allahabad High Court in the aforementioned decisions which, this Court concurs with.

Conclusion

(ix) As already noted, the ITAT went merely on the basis of accountancy, overlooking the settled legal position that peak credit is not applicable where deposits remain unexplained under Section 68 of the Act. The question of law framed by this Court, is accordingly, answered in the negative i.e. in favour of the Revenue and against the Assessee. The impugned order of ITAT is, accordingly, set aside and the order of the AO is restored to file.

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