|CORAM:||H. L. Karwa, President, R. C. Sharma (AM)|
|SECTION(S):||143(3), 147, 282, 292BB|
|CATCH WORDS:||service by affixture|
|DATE:||September 9, 2014 (Date of pronouncement)|
|DATE:||October 6, 2014 (Date of publication)|
|FILE:||Click here to download the file in pdf format|
|A strict procedure has to be followed for service by affixture. If done improperly, the notice and the resultant assessment order are null and void.|
(i) As per sub-section (1) of section 282, the notice is to be served on the person named therein either by post or as if it was a summons issued by Court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (V of 1908). The relevant provision for effecting of service by different modes are contained in rules 17, 19 and 20 of Order V of CPC. Rules 17, 19 and 20 of Order V of CPC lay down the procedure for service of summons/notice and, therefore, the procedure laid down therein cannot be surpassed because the intention of the legislature behind these provisions is that strict compliance of the procedure laid down therein has to be made. The expression after using all due and reasonable diligence’ appearing in rule 17 has been considered in many cases and it has been held that unless a real and substantial effort has been made to find the defendant after proper enquiries, the Serving Officer cannot be deemed to have exercised ‘due and reasonable diligence’. Before taking advantage of rule 17, he must make diligent search for the person to be served. He therefore, must take pain to find him and also to make mention of his efforts in the report. Another requirement of rule 17 is that the Serving Officer should state that he has affixed the copy of summons as per this rule. The circumstances under which he did so and the name and address of the person by whom the house or premises were identified and in whose premises the copy of the summon was affixed. These facts should also be verified by an affidavit of the Serving Officer.
(ii) The reason for taking all these precautions is that service by affixture is substituted service and since it is not direct or personal service upon the defendant, to bind him by such mode of service the mere formality of affixture is not sufficient. Since the service has to be done after making the necessary efforts, in order to establish the genuineness of such service, the Serving Officer is required to state his full action in the report and reliance can be placed on such report only when it sets out all the circumstances which are also duly verified by the witnesses in whose presence the affixture was done and thus the affidavit of the Serving Officer deposing such procedure adopted by him would also be essential. In the instant case, the whole thing had been done in one stroke. It was not known as to why and under which circumstances another entry for service of notice by affixture was made on 27-7-2012 when sufficient time was available through normal service till 30-9-2012. Nor there is any entry in the note-sheet by the AO directing the Inspector for service by affixture and had only recorded the fact that the notice was served by the affixture. It appears that the report of the Inspector was obtained without issuing any prior direction for such process or mode. ….. In view of the above, it is clear that there was no valid service of notice u/s.143(2) by way of affixation and the assessment made on the basis of such invalid notice could not be treated to be valid assessment and, hence, such assessment order deserves to be treated as null and void and liable to be quashed and annulled.
It is a thought provoking decision for revenue. This is how officers in department do not care for the legal issues before passing assessment orders and tries to cover up at later stage. In this decision, there is somewhere mention about the RTI Application filed by the assessee to find out issue and service of notice u/s 143(2), it could have been better if Hon. bench could have reproduced the same. It seems that objection of AR that issue of notice is not proper has not been disposed in detail and matter has been decided due to failure in service rather than failure in issue.