|COURT:||Delhi High Court|
|CORAM:||Badar Durrez Ahmed J, Najmi Waziri J|
|CATCH WORDS:||Search assessment|
|COUNSEL:||Deepak Chopra, Rashi Khanna|
|DATE:||August 14, 2014 (Date of pronouncement)|
|DATE:||December 1, 2014 (Date of publication)|
|AY:||2006-07 to 2011-12|
|FILE:||Click here to download the file in pdf format|
|S. 153C cannot be invoked unless the AO is satisfied for cogent reasons that the seized documents do not belong to the searched person. Finding of photocopies with the searched person does not mean they "belong" to the person holding the originals. The distinction between "belongs to" and "relates to" or "refers to" must be borne in mind by the AO|
(i) First of all, it is nobody’s case that the Jaipuria Group had disclaimed these documents as belonging to them. Unless and until it is established that the documents do not belong to the searched person, the provisions of Section 153C of the said Act do not get attracted because the very expression used in Section 153C of the said Act is that “where the Assessing Officer is satisfied that any money, bullion, jewellery or other valuable article or thing or books of account or documents seized or requisitioned belongs or belong to a person other than the person referred to in section 153A ….” In view of this phrase, it is necessary that before the provisions of Section 153C of the said Act can be invoked, the Assessing Officer of the searched person must be satisfied that the seized material (which includes documents) does not belong to the person referred to in Section 153A (i.e., the searched person). In the Satisfaction Note, which is the subject matter of these writ petitions, there is nothing therein to indicate that the seized documents do not belong to the Jaipuria Group. This is even apart from the fact that, as we have noted above, there is no disclaimer on the part of the Jaipuria Group insofar as these documents are concerned;
(ii) Secondly, the finding of photocopies in the possession of a searched person does not necessarily mean and imply that they “belong” to the person who holds the originals. Possession of documents and possession of photocopies of documents are two separate things. While the Jaipuria Group may be the owner of the photocopies of the documents it is quite possible that the originals may be owned by some other person. Unless it is established that the documents in question, whether they be photocopies or originals, do not belong to the searched person, the question of invoking Section 153C of the said Act does not arise;
(iii) Thirdly, the assessing officers should not confuse the expression “belongs to” with the expressions “relates to” or “refers to”. A registered sale deed, for example, “belongs to” the purchaser of the property although it obviously “relates to” or “refers to” the vendor. In this example if the purchasers premises are searched and the registered sale deed is seized, it cannot be said that it “belongs to” the vendor just because his name is mentioned in the document. In the converse case if the vendor’s premises are searched and a copy of the sale deed is seized, it cannot be said that the said copy “belongs to” the purchaser just because it refers to him and he (the purchaser) holds the original sale deed. In this light, it is obvious that none of the three sets of documents – copies of preference shares, unsigned leaves of cheque books and the copy of the supply and loan agreement – can be said to “belong to” the petitioner.
Right judgement, it seems AOs for obvious reasons might be indulging in all such wrong activities, vigilance should track these great worthies as i understand a lot of AOs or ITOs have more black money than even business meaningless cases men may be that is the reason not that they understand the sections is obvious, when i see so many surfacing at courts and tribunals… so even full revenue should by under survailance of vigilance as also CB CID of states, not that these agencies are great but some checks and balances.