Joginder Pal Gulati vs. OSD – CPIO (Delhi High Court)

DATE: (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: April 17, 2013 (Date of publication)

Click here to download the judgement (joginder_pal_gulati_scrutiny_guidelines_RTI.pdf)

Income-tax department must make return scrutiny guidelines public

The Petitioner, an advocate, filed an application with the CBDT under s. 6 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 seeking information pertaining to cases excluded from scrutiny, where the disclosure was made during survey. He also sought information qua the scrutiny guidelines for the financial year 2009-10. The Department opposed the disclosure of the scrutiny guidelines on the ground that it would prejudice the “economic interest” of the Country and enable assessees to “configure” their return to avoid scrutiny. The refusal to supply the information was upheld by the CIC. The Petitioner filed a Writ Petition to challenge the order of the CIC. HELD by the High Court reversing the CIC:

The Income-tax department has issued instructions with regard to procedure for selection of cases for scrutiny from time to time both qua corporate assessees as well as non-corporate assessees. These instructions give detailed procedure on the basis on which the concerned officers are required to make a random selection of assessees whose cases are taken up for scrutiny. These instructions are in public domain even prior to the enactment of the RTI Act. Most of these instructions have been issued in the middle of the financial year and not in the beginning and they are applied to pending returns as well. Therefore, the argument, that assessees would configure their returns in the manner, which would impact the economic interest of the country, cannot be accepted. The expression “economic interest” takes within its sweep matters which operate at a macro level and not at an individual, i.e., micro level. By no stretch of imagination can scrutiny guidelines impact the economic interest of the country. These guidelines are issued to prevent harassment to assessees generally. It is not as if, de hors the scrutiny guidelines, the I.T. Department cannot take up a case for scrutiny, if otherwise, invested with jurisdiction, in that behalf. This is an information which has always been in public realm, and therefore, there is no reason why the department should keep it away from the public at large. The department shall supply the relevant scrutiny guidelines to the petitioner for the financial year 2009-10 and hereafter upload the guidelines with regard to scrutiny on their website.

9 comments on “Joginder Pal Gulati vs. OSD – CPIO (Delhi High Court)
  1. K S SINGHAL & CO. says:


  2. CA S R Soni says:

    Basis of selection for scrutiny must be known to the assessee

  3. CA K S SINGHAL says:

    Openion expressed from CA S R Soni Sb. is good but what I feel that it should be exhaustive /in clearity as to in what Number of cases will be scrutinisined in a particular category of cases.

  4. good decision by writ court. you cannot have things in sleeve whoever it is , ater all india is a democracy and that is the basic structure o constitution. thank god we have judicial review under Art 226 or 32. Economics aggects people so that great economics need to be known to assessees, the advocate right to inormation petition since rejected high court really helped. so we need constitutional courts powers are in tact, else arbitrariness og government machinery will prevail meanig natural justice and rule o law is thrown to winds by these governments whoch do not understand what is governance !

  5. I agree with judgement. when sec 143, 142 sections clearly say that any action by AO is time bound on ROIs, that is within limitation prescribed by Act itsel that is rule og law, but when AO exceeds his power he is arbitrary is it not. so court is right live within limits prescribed. taxman cannot deny assessee’s right. I would say that when tax man sends notice he needs to indicate in the notice what provisions are helping the Assessee and Assesse can contend that way impartiality can be in place under natural justice else arbitrariness is writ large in the vay Notice og tax man is it not sirs, regards.

  6. ca sumit mittal says:

    It is good to public the scrutiny guidelines.

  7. ca sumit mittal says:

    It is good to public the scrutiny guidelines. It shows Democratization of Income Tax procedure…

  8. D.R.KAPADIA says:

    There should not be any ambiguity in selection of the cases and it should be transfarant and open for the general public, while fixing the criteria 50% cases should be selected at random basis and 50 % cases must be selected
    by the concern officer on the recommendations by the local complanatant

  9. B N Rawat says:

    Good descion. Income tax department above all. They have crack of everything if you Pay……….. By go slow…… No court can challange for it. After 6 years……??????????????

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