×Latest Case Laws on Income Tax by various Income Tax Appellate Tribunals in India
These are the latest case laws decided by various Income Tax Appellate Tribunals (ITAT) of India on Income Tax which have been published recently. The case laws are open for discussion and we invite expert comments from our members on its applicability and effect on relevant issues.
1.1 As per the provisions of Section 263 of Income Tax Act, 1961, the revenue authorities namely Pr. Commissioner of Income Tax / Commissioner of Income Tax is vested with the supervisory powers of suomoto revision of any order passed by the Assessing Officer [AO]. For the said purpose, the appropriate authority may call for and examine the record of any proceedings under the Act and may proceed to revise the same provided two conditions are satisfied-(i) the order of the assessing officer sought to be revised is erroneous; and (ii) it is prejudicial to the interest of the revenue. If one of the condition is absent i.e. if the order of the Incometax Officer is erroneous but is not prejudicial to the revenue or if it is not erroneous but it is prejudicial to the revenue - recourse cannot be had to Section 263 of the Act as held by Hon’ble Supreme Court in Malabar Industrial Co. Ltd. V/s CIT [243 ITR 83 10/02/2000] & noted by Hon’ble Delhi High Court in CIT V/s Vikas Polymers [194 Taxman 57 16/08/2010]. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Malabar Industrial Co. Ltd. V/s CIT (supra) has held that the phrase 'prejudicial to the interests of the revenue' has to be read in conjunction with an erroneous order passed by the Assessing Officer. Every loss of revenue as a consequence of an order of the Assessing Officer cannot be treated as prejudicial to the interests of the revenue. For example, when an Income-tax Officer adopted one of the courses permissible in law and it has resulted in loss of revenue; or where two views are possible and the Income-tax Officer has taken one view with which the Commissioner does not agree, it cannot be treated as an erroneous order prejudicial to the interest of the revenue, unless the view taken by the Income-tax Officer is unsustainable in law. The said principal has been reiterated by Hon’ble Court in its subsequent judgement titled as CIT V/s Max India Ltd. (295 ITR 282). Similar principal has been followed by jurisdictional High Court in Grasim Industries Ltd. V/s CIT (321 ITR 92).
1.2 The Hon’ble Delhi High Court in CIT V/s Vikas Polymers (supra), further observed that as regards the scope and ambit of the expression "erroneous", Hon’ble Bombay High Court in CIT vs. Gabriel India Ltd. [1993 203 ITR 108 (Bombay)], held with reference to Black's LawDictionary that an "erroneous judgment" means "one rendered according to course and practice of Court, but contrary to law, upon mistaken view of law; or upon erroneous application of legal principles" and thus it is clear that an order cannot be termed as "erroneous" unless it is not in accordance with law. If an Income-tax Officer acting in accordance with law makes a certain assessment, the same cannot be branded as "erroneous" by the Commissioner simply because, according to him, the order should have been written differently or more elaborately. The Section does not visualize the substitution of the judgment of the Commissioner for that of the Income-tax Officer who passed the order unless the decision is not in accordance with law.
1.3 Further, any and every erroneous order cannot be the subject matter of revision because the second requirement also must be fulfilled. There must be material on record to show that tax which was lawfully leviable has not been imposed as held in Gabriel India Ltd. However, the expression "prejudicial to the interest of the revenue", as held by the Supreme Court in the Malabar Industrial Co. Ltd.'s case, is not an expression of art and is not defined in the Act and, therefore, must be understood in its ordinary meaning. It is of wide import and is not confined to the loss of tax as held in various judicial pronouncements. At the same time, the words "prejudicial to the interest of the revenue", as observed in Dawjee Dadabhoy and Co. vs. S.P. Jain, (1957) 311 ITR 872 (Calcutta), can only mean that "the orders of assessment challenged are such as are not in accordance with law, in consequence whereof the lawful revenue due to the S ate has not been realized or cannot be realized." Thus, the Commissioner s exercise of revisional jurisdiction under the provisions of Section 263 cannot be based on whims or caprice. It is trite law that it is a quasi-judicial power hedged in with limitation and not an unbridled and unchartered arbitrary power. The exercise of the power is limited to cases where the Commissioner on examining the records comes to the conclusion that the earlier finding of the Income-tax Officer was erroneous and prejudicial to the interest of the revenue and that fresh determination of the case is warranted. There must be material to justify the Commissioner's finding that the order of the assessment was erroneous insofar as it was prejudicial to the interest of the revenue.
1.4 The Hon’ble Delhi Court, in the cited decision, further observed that there is a fine though subtle distinction between "lack of inquiry" and "inadequate inquiry". It is only in cases of "lack of inquiry" that the Commissioner is empowered to exercise his revisional powers by calling for and examining the records of any proceedings under the Act and passing orders thereon. In Gabriel India Ltd. (supra), it was expressly observed: -
"The Commissioner cannot initiate proceedings with a view to starting fishing and roving enquiries in matters or orders which are already concluded. Such action will be against the well-accepted policy of law that there must be a point of finality in all legal proceedings, that stale issues should not be reactivated beyond a particular stage and that lapse of time must induce repose in and set at rest judicial and quasi-judicial controversies as it must in other spheres of human activity [Parashuram Pottery Works Co. Ltd. vs. ITO, (1977) 106 ITR 1 (SC)].
It was further observed as under: -
"From the aforesaid definitions as it is clear that an order cannot be termed as erroneous unless it is not in accordance with law. If an Income-tax Officer acting in accordance with law makes a certain assessment, the same cannot be branded as erroneous by the Commissioner simply because, according to him, the order should have been written more elaborately. This section does not visualize a case of substitution of the judgment of the Commissioner for that of the Income-tax Officer, who passed the order unless the decision is held to be erroneous. Cases may be visualized where the Income-tax Officer while making an assessment examines the accounts, makes enquiries, applies his mind to the facts and circumstances of the case and determines the income either by accepting the accounts or by making some estimate himself. The Commissioner, on perusal of the records, may be of the opinion that the estimate made by the officer concer ed was on the lower side and left to the commissioner he would have estimated the income at a figure higher than the one determined by the Income tax Officer. That would not vest the Commissioner with power to re-examine the accounts and determine the income himself at a higher figure. It is because the Income-tax Officer has exercised the quasi-judicial power vested in him in accordance w th law and arrived at conclusion and such a conclusion cannot be termed to be erroneous simply because the Commissioner does not feel satisfied with the conclusion
x x x x
There must be some prima facie material on record to show that tax which was lawfully exigible has not been imposed or that by the application of the relevant statute on an incorrect or incomplete interpretation a lesser tax than what was just has been imposed.
1.5 The Hon’ble Supreme Court in CIT V/s Amitabh Bachchan (69 Taxmann.com 170 11/05/2016) held that the power of appeal and revision is contained in Chapter XX of the Act which includes section 263 that confers suo-motu power of revision in the Commissioner. The different shades of power conferred on different authorities under the Act has to be