|DATE:||(Date of pronouncement)|
|DATE:||January 1, 2009 (Date of publication)|
Extension of time limit for completion of block assessment order by making new panchnamas.
HELD in the context of s. 158BE (1) (b) which imposes a time limit for making a block assessment order with reference to the date of execution of the last of the authorizations for search u/s 132 which in turn is deemed to be the date of the conclusion of search as recorded in the last panchnama drawn that:
(i) a search is essentially an invasion of the privacy of the person whose property or person is subjected to search;
(ii) normally, a search must be continuous;
(iii) if it cannot be continuous for some plausible reason, the hiatus in the search must be explained;
(iv) if no cogent or plausible reason is shown for the hiatus in the search, the second or “resumed” search would be illegal;
(v) by merely mentioning in the panchnama that a search has been temporarily suspended does not, ipso facto, continue the search. It would have to be seen as a fact as to whether the search continued or had concluded;
(vi) merely because a panchnama is drawn up on a particular date, it does not mean that a search was conducted and/or concluded on that date;
(vii) the panchnama must be a record of a search or seizure for it to qualify as the panchnama mentioned in Explanation 2(a) to section 158BE of the said Act.
See Also: CIT vs. Plastika Enterprises (Bom) where the panchnama was found to have been made only to get over the limitation issue.