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17-01-2020, Deepak Gupta, Section 147, 148, 151, 131, HIGH COURT OF ALLAHABAD
1. The Revenue drew proceedings against the petitionerassessee for reassessment of income which had allegedly escaped assessment for the Assessment Year 201213. The petitioner has assailed various orders taken out by the Revenue at different stages in pursuance of the reassessment proceedings initiated under the relevant provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961 (hereafter referred to as (I.T. Act, 1961)
2. The petitioner has assailed the notice issued under Section 142 (1) of the I.T. Act 1961 dated 22.10.2019 requiring the petitioner to furnish details, documents and accounts which were necessary to process the case under the relevant provisions of law. The petitioner has also impugned the “reasons to believe” recorded on 22.03.2019 by the assessing officer to support the formation of opinion of the Revenue as required under Section 147 of the I.T. Act, 1961. Lastly the petitioner has laid a challenge to the orders dated 28.10.2019 and 26.11.2019 disposing of the objections of the petitioner against the issuance of the notice under Section 148 of the I.T. Act, 1961 for the Assessment Year 201213.
3. Sri R.R. Agarwal, learned Senior Counsel assisted by Sri Suyash Agarwal, learned counsel for the petitioner contends that the only submission made on behalf of the petitioner is that the mandatory prior approval required under Section 151 of the I.T. Act, 1961 from the Principal Commissioner, Income Tax, Noida, was not obtained before initiation of the aforesaid reassessment proceedings. In the absence of such approval under Section 151 of the I.T. Act, 1961 from the competent authority the proceedings against the petitioner which are assailed in the instant writ petition, have no legs to stand on and are devoid of jurisdiction. This is the sole submission made by the learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner.
4. Per contra, learned counsel for the Revenue, Sri Subham Agarwal calls attention to various asse tions made in the orders impugned dated 28.10.2019 and 26.11.2019 to contend that the requisite approval from the competent authori y under Section 151 of the I.T. Act, 1961 was taken prior to the initiation of the proceedings in the manner contemplated by law. He further contends to the material on the basis of which the satisfaction was arrived at by the authorities to come to the conclusion that income of the petitioner had escaped assessment for the Assessment Year 201213 was credible and duly considered by the Revenue before initiating reassessment proceedings.
5. Heard learned counsel for the parties.
6. The sole contention of the petitionerassessee that prior approval required from the competent authority under Section 151 of the I.T. Act, 1961 was not obtained before issuing notice under Section 148 of the I.T. Act, 1961 will be considered first. The objection in this regard was also taken by the assessee before the authorities below. It was raised in the objections against issuance of notice under Section 148 of the I.T. Act, 1961.
7. The assessing authority dealt with the aforesaid objection regarding grant of prior approval by the competent authority under Section 151 of the I.T. Act, 1961 before issuance of notice under Section 148 of the I.T. Act, 1961. The assessing authority in its order dated 28.10.2019 specifically recorded “Further, the notice u/s 148 was issued after taking prior approval u/s 151 from the Ld. Pr. Commissioner of Income Tax, Noida.”
8. Similarly the order dated 19.11.2019 disposing of the self same objection of the petitioner assessee against the issuance of notice under Section 148 of the I.T. Act, 1961 stated as follows:
“In this regard, please find the copy of approval taken from higher authorities and copy of statement of Shri Ashok Kumar Kayan.”
9. The findings returned by the authorities in the orders disposing of the objections of the petitioner under Section 148 of the I.T. Act, 1961 are official acts and hence attract the presumption of correctness in their favour. This legal presumption of correctness is the prop and the pillar of legitimacy of all official acts. The presumption is rebuttable. However, the burden lies upon the petitioner to rebut the presumption.
The petitioner on his part has taken the following plea in the writ petition to rebut the said presumption:
“That the order of the respondent no.1, dated 28.10.2019 in para 3.2 as stated that it is supplying the copy of the approval of the respondent no. 2, granted u/s 151 (1) of the Act, after accepting the objection of the petitioner relating to the decision of Sabh Infrastructure Ltd. (Supra) & Godawari Saraf (Supra) but no such approval was appended along with the objection dated 26.11.2019, as such the petitioner has reason to believe that no such mandatory approval as provided u/s 151 (1) of the Act, has been granted by the respondent no. 2, in pursuance of the guidelines of Sabh Infrastructure Ltd. (supra).”
10. We are afraid the aforesaid pleading is deficient and does not at all discharge the burden of proof which lay squarely upon the petitioner to reverse the presumption of correctness of the findings in the orders passed by the revisional authorities in discharge of their official duties. There is no reason or basis to decline the presumption of correctness in favour of the said findings so recorded in the orders passed by the revisional authorities regarding approval under Section 151 of I.T. Act, 1961 before initiat on of proceedings under Section 148 of the I.T. Act, 1961. This Court has not been shown any reason or material to doubt the correctness of the finding recorded in the orders dated 28.10.2019 and 26.11.2019 that the notice under Section 148 of the I.T. Act, 1961 was issued after taking prior approval under Section 151 of the I.T. Act, 1961 from the Ld. Pr. Commissioner of Income Tax, Noida. This finding has not been shown to be perverse in any manner and is not liable to be interfered with by this Court. The argument on behalf of the petitioner is accordingly rejected.