Notice issued within 5 hours of receiving information is valid; HC justified reassessment on Maharashtra Minister Chhagan Bhujbal

Notice issued within 5 hours of receiving information is valid; HC justified reassessment on Maharashtra Minister Chhagan Bhujbal

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Notice issued within 5 hours of receiving information is valid; HC justified reassessment on Maharashtra Minister Chhagan Bhujbal

There was an important verdict on the validity of the reassessment notice where the notice was issued  within 5 hours of receiving information. The same was challenged on the ground of the application of mind within 5 hours.
The case citation is as under:
Chhagan Chandrakant Bhujbal
 Vs. 
ITO 
[2022] 136 taxmann.com 24 (Bombay)
 
 
 
The short Overview of the case is as under:
The assessee was Maharashtra’s Cabinet Minister.
His return of income for the Assessment Year 2012-13 was accepted without scrutiny, and an assessment order was passed.
Later, the Assessing Officer received a letter via email stating that the assessee had defrauded the Maharashtra Government.
He had prepared fabricated/bogus documents and used them as genuine documents to get a plot for building the State Central Library.
Based on said information, AO issued a reassessment notice to the assessee on the same day.
The assessee challenged the reassessment notice before the Bombay High Court.
The assessee contended that AO received the information only at 5.47 p.m, and the reassessment notice was issued at about 10:49 p.m. on the same day.
Thus, how could the authority, which had granted the sanction for issuance of notice, could be said to have applied his mind.
Ruling by Bombay High Court:
The Bombay High Court held that the test to be applied for reassessment is whether there was reason to believe that income had escaped assessment and whether the Assessing Officer has tangible material before him to form that belief.
Once a tangible basis has been disclosed for reopening the assessment, it would not be appropriate for the court to prevent an inquiry whatsoever by the Assessing Officer.
In the instant case, the reasons are indeed disclosed by the AO. What is that tangible material.
The power vested in the commissioner to grant or not grant approval to the AO to reopen an assessment is coupled with duty.
The commissioner is duty-bound to apply his mind to the proposal put up to him for the approval in the light of the material relied upon by the AO.
Such power cannot be exercised casually, in a routine and perfunctory manner.
Considering the facts and circumstances of the instant case, there was nothing to indicate that there was non-application of mind.
Merely because the information was received at 5.47 p.m. and the notice was issued by 10:49 p.m. would not mean there had been non-application of mind. I
f the court holds that it would be merely speculative and based on conjecture.
HC grants relief by quashing order as the assessee was required to wound up to meet tax demand raised on unexplained income

1 Comment

  1. March 18, 2022
    Naresh Bhagirath Jakhotia

    Nice

    Reply

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