CIT vs. Escorts Limited (Delhi High Court)

DATE: February 12, 2015 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: October 21, 2015 (Date of publication)
AY: -
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Making allegations of fraud against Dept’s Counsel and claiming that they deliberately presented weak case seeks to prejudice and interfere with due course of judicial proceedings & prima facie constitutes criminal contempt of court

On 15.01.2015, the Court noted by its order that Sh. Rakesh Kumar Gupta’s intervention application was rejected. He, however, sent an e-mail to counsel appearing on behalf of the Revenue, levelling several allegations which were shown to the Court. In the course of hearing, the Court pointed this out to Sh. Rakesh Kumar Gupta, who stated that he would be withdrawing the allegations levelled against the Revenue’s counsel. However, after the conclusion of hearing, on 09.02.2015, Sh. Gupta filed yet another affidavit titled as “Intervener Affidavit”. In the affidavit, after stating that the intervener informed this Court in the hearing that the Income Tax Department had “deliberately presented weak case”, and quoting the order dated 16.10.2014, other averments were made including that the “To help the tax payer, terms was used incomplete assignment instead of illegal assignment”. When Sh. Gupta was asked whether he wishes to unconditionally withdraw the affidavit and the allegations, to which he agreed conditionally. The condition proposed by him was that even whilst he was willing to withdraw the affidavit and the allegations with respect to the Standing Counsel and the conduct of the case before this Court, he would feel free to press those allegations elsewhere. He also stated that he had no desire and did not wish to withdraw any other allegations against the officers or the officials of the Income Tax Department, the CIT (Appeals) and the department generally, and that the allegations of fraud etc. against the assessees should remain as a matter of record. HELD by the Court:

(i) The Court is of the opinion that given the nature of the conduct displayed by Sh. Gupta, i.e. preferring an application for intervention which was rejected; thereafter engaging in e-mail communications with the Standing Counsel and leveling allegations against them; addressing e-mails directly to this Court and finally, placing on record an affidavit detailing the allegations even while stating that he would withdraw some of them vis-a-vis the Standing Counsel, but would nevertheless press those allegations against the same individuals elsewhere, prima facie amounts to criminal contempt punishable in accordance with law. This Court has been informed that two of the Standing Counsels – Sh. Balbir Singh and Sh. Rohit Madan, who had previously appeared, have already recused themselves from the matter. The behaviour outlined above amounts to seeking to prejudice and interfere or tending to interfere with the due course of proceedings in the present appeals;

(ii) The Court is of the opinion that consequently appropriate action and further proceedings under Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 is warranted. In the circumstances, Sh. Rakesh Kumar Gupta is issued with Show Cause Notice, returnable on 09.04.2015 to give his explanation why he should not be proceeded with under Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 in respect of the above allegations. The notice shall also annex a copy of this order and the copy of the Intervener Affidavit filed by him. The Registry is directed to register a separate criminal contempt proceeding and file the originals of the Intervener Affidavit which is part of the record in ITA No.1428/2006 in the said criminal contempt proceedings. Besides, the Registry shall place on record a copy of the e-mail and fax communication numbering 100 pages which was addressed by Sh. Rakesh Kumar Gupta directly to this Court. These shall be annexed along with the Show Cause Notice to be served upon Sh. Rakesh Kumar Gupta on the next returnable date, i.e. 09.04.2015. Sh. Rakesh Kumar Gupta is present in Court and has been apprised of this order.

2 comments on “CIT vs. Escorts Limited (Delhi High Court)
  1. sorry to note .

    even weak case once filed need to be contested by proper records of evidence only.

    the kind of conciliation or mediation does not arise, as the department ought to go by sections by due process of law as contained under Art 265 of the article found in the constitution of India.

    court is right to use sec 15 of the contempt Act.
    if sh gupta if he has definite documentary evidence then he can normally move under law of crimes against the one who misused their offices, as such issues are beyond the tax laws, as tax law is very clear the revenue officers or their panel legal officers have per force work per tax law, otherwise they do not enjoy any locus standi at all under tax laws.

    any one appearing for a client has to restrict himself to the case of the client only.

    any other presumptions would render advocacy impotent and not acceptable under advocacy principle, if one correctly appreciate the advocates act.

    i wonder how sh gupta indulged in so many faxes and emails why even to the courts, tribunals.

    I might suggest to sh gupta withdraw if he has no real evidence in his submissions, but he still holds himself tight on shows some issues are there, those issues more related to law of crimes.

    as far as the tax issue is concerned, he should restrict himself to tax issue only and he should prove his side if he has sufficient proof to prove his side for and on behalf of the client.

    if sh gupta is appearing as a person in-person he has to maintain decency and decorum of courts and he has to live within the limitation of boundaries.

    i cannot say whether sh gupta is right or wrong as i do not have any information except a decision of delhi high court judgement under contempt of courts Act.

    if the revenue panel advocate has his side is clear that he had not misused his office in moving any alleged vexatious litigation he heed to prove, he is not using a vexatious litigation process, so also the department need to prove it is not involved in vexatious litigation process for any obvious reasons, several tax payers confess the revenue indulges, but that forces them – tax payers agree to do obvious deeds – it is alleged on the department, as also on some CAs too as it is alleged there is some complicity. Till proof positive is on hand there is no point just mudslinging that would not work but rebound.

    if it is still sh gupta is sure with his allegations with proof on hand he could move on the officers but he exceeded by sending emails and faxes to courts and tribunals that is unacceptable,

    hon courts do not too much press contempt but would accept unconditional apology, if it is the first time sh gupta indulged in.

    never go to a court of law without solid case, for none could waste court time that is more precious than money one spends is my view.

  2. if in the revenue, officers indulges in extra constitutional acts, naturally liability need be fastened on the person concerned is my view just because, if the personal liability is enforced every one would be careful, if the department pays under vicarious liability the officers might take chances of indulging in vexatious litigation too.

    One has to rely on Exparte Young v Minnesota (1908) where justice Peckham correctly held when any state law s void, the relevant official attempting to enforce even the state law while that law is void constitutionally ,in that situation state law is valid otherwise ; here in these alleged vexatious litigation, it is obvious income tax Act never permits any of the officers to misuse their office by misusing its sections, obviously, if proved there was vexatious litigation in the court of law, the tax administration is not authorized to give umbrage to the official concerned under ‘vicarious liability’ clause.

    the hon courts need to enforce; after all tax payers funds could not be wasted on such officials, i believe hon courts might enforce personal liability on such officials if proved of vexatious litigation.

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