Agson Global Pvt. Ltd vs. ITSC (Delhi High Court)

DATE: January 6, 2016 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: January 29, 2016 (Date of publication)
AY: 2004-05 to 2011-12
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S. 245F: The Settlement Commission does not have the power to direct a special audit u/s 142(2A)

The High Court had to consider whether the Income Tax Settlement Commission has the power to direct a special audit under section 142(2A) in the course of settlement proceedings under Chapter XIX-A of the said Act. HELD by the High Court:

(i) The powers and functions of an income tax authority which are to be exclusively exercised by the settlement commission (subject to the provisions of section 245D (3)) must be in the context of and have a nexus with the settlement proceedings. That being the case, since the requirement of a special audit falls under the procedure for assessment which is distinct and different from settlement proceedings, the settlement commission would not, in our view, have jurisdiction to direct a special audit as it does not have any nexus with the settlement proceedings. All that the settlement commission is required to do in the course of the settlement proceedings is to ensure that the assessee who has made the application for settlement of his case has inter-alia made a full and true declaration of his hitherto undisclosed income and the manner in which it was derived. The method of computation of the tax liability of the applicant is set out in section 245C and in particular in sub-sections (1A) to (1D) thereof. If the settlement commission is of the view that an assessee has not made a full and true declaration of the undisclosed income then the application is liable to be rejected. In other words, if the accounts put forth by the assessee before the settlement commission are found by the settlement commission on the basis of the available records and/or the reports of the Commissioner to be neither full nor true then the only option available with the settlement commission is to reject the application for settlement and relegate the assessee to the normal provisions of assessment under the said act. The settlement commission cannot, by itself, enter upon an assessment and step into the shoes of an assessing officer for the purposes of making an assessment.

(ii) The exclusive jurisdiction of the settlement commission to exercise the powers and perform the functions of an income tax authority, in terms of section 245F(2) of the said Act, is to be exercised and performed for the purpose of settlement of the case under Chapter XIX-A and not for assessment under Chapter XIV. That being the case, the powers and functions which are in the exclusive jurisdiction of the settlement commission are circumscribed by the object and role which has been ascribed to the settlement commission, which is to settle the case in terms of the procedure stipulated in Chapter XIX-A. Since assessment of the type contemplated under section 143(3) is outside the purview of settlement proceedings, a special audit under section 142(2A), which is in aid of assessment, would also be beyond the scope of settlement proceedings.

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