Merely by showing receipt of cheque or statement of bank account of share subscriber, creditworthiness and genuineness of transaction is not proved
THE ISSUE IS – Whether merely by showing receipt of a cheque or statement of bank account of share subscriber, creditworthiness and genuineness of the transaction is not proved if circumstances requires some more evidence to show that the share subscription is genuine investment.
YES IS THE VERDICT.
Facts of the case
The assessee company had filed return for relevant AY. During assessment, the AO found some funds credited in the books maintained by the assessee. The AO asked assessee to offer an explanation about the nature and source of such sum found credited in its books of accounts. The assessee explained the same as share subscription money. But explanation given was not found satisfactory by AO and the sum was included in the income of the assessee u/s 68 of Act. On appeal, CIT(A) and Tribunal upheld the order of AO.
High Court held that,
observations made by the tribunal were that primary requirements, which should be satisfied cumulatively by the assessee in such cases is identification of the shareholder, creditworthiness of shareholder and the genuineness of the transaction.The explanation offered and material submitted by the assessee in support of its explanation should be wholesome, credible and verifiable. These three requirements thereafter have to be tested by the Assessing officer not superficially but in depth having regard to the human probabilities and normal course of human conduct. It is only when the explanation and the material offered by the assessee at this stage passes this muster that the initial onus placed on it would shift leaving it to the Assessing Officer to start inquiring into the affairs of the third party. Whilst it is true that the assessee cannot be called upon to adduce conclusive proof on all these three requirements, it is nonetheless legitimate expectation of the process that he would bring in sufficient proof, which is credible and at the same time verifiable, so as to discharge the initial burden placed on him. Whether initial onus stands discharged would depend upon facts and circumstances of each case;
degree of burden of proof on the assessee will vary from assessee to assessee. In case of private limited companies where shares are allotted through private placement to persons generally known to directors or shareholders, directly or indirectly, burden of proof is on higher pedestal as compared to public limited companies where the large scale subscription are offered through public issue and shares are subscribed by general public. In case of private limited companies, the Courts have laid down a strict approach in terms of satisfying such burden of proof;
in case of private limited companies, generally persons known to directors or shareholders, directly or indirectly buy or subscribe to shares. Upon receipt of money, the share subscribers do not lose touch and become incommunicado. Call money, dividends, warrants, etc. have to be sent and the relationship remains a continuing one. Therefore, an assessee cannot simply furnish some details and remain quiet when summons issued to shareholders remain un-served and un-complied. As a general proposition, it would be improper to universally hold that the assessee cannot plead that they had received money, but could do nothing more and it was for the Assessing Officer to enforce shareholders’ attendance in spite of the fact that the shareholders were missing and not available. Their reluctance and hiding may reflect on the genuineness of the transaction and creditworthiness of the shareholder. It would be also incorrect to universally state that an inspector must be sent to verify the shareholders/subscribers at the available addresses, though this might be required in some cases. Similarly, it would be incorrect to state that the Assessing Officer should ascertain and get addresses from the Registrar of Companies’ website or search for the addresses of shareholders themselves;
the word “identity” means the condition or fact of a person or thing being that specified unique person or thing. The identification of the person would include the place of work, the staff, the fact that it was actually carrying on business and recognition of the said company in the eyes of public. Merely producing certificate of incorporation, PAN number or assessment particulars did not establish the identity of the person. PAN numbers are allotted on the basis of applications without actual de facto verification of the identity or ascertaining active nature of business activity. The actual and true identity of the person or a company was the business undertaken by them. Further, these documents have their limitation and cannot be relied upon blindly when there are surrounding circumstances to show that the subscriber was a paper company and not a genuine investor;
in respect of the genuineness of the transaction and creditworthiness of the shareholder, it would be incorrect to state that the onus to prove the same stands discharged in all cases if payment is made through banking channels. Whether or not onus is discharged depends upon facts of each case. It depends on whether the two parties are related or known to each other; the manner or mode by which the parties approached each other, whether the transaction was entered into through written documentation and due diligence to protect the investment and the pay back on such investment, whether the investor professes and was an angel investor, the object and purpose (profit motive) behind the investment and whether any dividend declared and distributed in the past or not. Whether share subscribers have their own profit making apparatus and were involved in any tangible business activity or were they merely rotated money, which was coming through the bank accounts, which means deposits by way of cash and issue of cheques;
final conclusion must be pragmatic and practical, which takes into account holistic view of the entire evidence including the difficulties, which the assessee may face to unimpeachably establish identity, creditworthiness of the shareholders and the genuineness of the transaction. It was decided to follow the observation of Tribunal. No substantial question of law arises in this appeal.