Brief: Under section 153A of the Act, an assessment has to be made in relation to the search or requisition, namely, in relation to material disclosed during the search or requisition. If in relation to any assessment year, no incriminating material is found, no addition or disallowance can be made in relation to that assessment year in exercise of powers under section 153A of the Act and the earlier assessment shall have to be reiterated.
Intention behind insertion of Section 153A
Section 153A bears the heading “Assessment in case of search or requisition”. It is well settled as held by the Supreme Court in a catena of decisions that the heading of the section can be regarded as a key to the interpretation of the operative portion of the section and if there is no ambiguity in the language or if it is plain and clear, then the heading used in the section strengthens that meaning. From the heading of section 153, the intention of the legislature is clear viz., to provide for assessment in case of search and requisition. When the very purpose of the provision is to make assessment in case of search or requisition, it goes without saying that the assessment has to have relation to the search or requisition. In other words, the assessment should be connected with something found during the search or requisition, viz., incriminating material which reveals undisclosed income. Thus, while in view of the mandate of sub-section (1) of section 153A of the Act, in every case where there is a search or requisition, the Assessing Officer is obliged to issue notice to such person to furnish returns of income for the six years preceding the assessment year relevant to the previous year in which the search is conducted or requisition is made, any addition or disallowance can be made only on the basis of material collected during the search or requisition. In case no incriminating material is found, as held by the Rajasthan High Court in the case of Jai Steel (India), Jodhpur v. Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax (supra), the earlier assessment would have to be reiterated. In case where pending assessments have abated, the Assessing Officer can pass assessment orders for each of the six years determining the total income of the assessee which would include income declared in the returns, if any, furnished by the assessee as well as undisclosed income, if any, unearthed during the search or requisition. In case where a pending reassessment under section 147 of the Act has abated, needless to state that the scope and ambit of the assessment would include any order which the Assessing Officer could have passed under section 147 of the Act as well as under section 153A of the Act.
Facts of the Case
In the facts of the present case, a search came to be conducted on 07.10.2009 and the notice was issued to the assessee under section 153A of the Act for assessment year 2006-07 on 04.08.2010. In response to the notice, the assessee filed return of income on 18.11.2010. In terms of section 153B, the assessment was required to be completed within a period of two years from the end of the financial year in which the search came to be carried out, namely, on or before 31st March, 2012. Here, insofar as the impugned addition is concerned, the notice in respect thereof came to be issued on 19.12.2011 seeking an explanation from the The assessee gave its response by reply dated 21.12.2011 calling upon the Assessing Officer to provide copies of statements recorded on oath of Shri Rohit P. Modi and Smt. Pareshaben K. Modi during the search as well as the copies of the documents upon which the department placed reliance for the purpose of making the proposed addition as well as the copy of the explanation given by Shri Rohit P. Modi and Smt. Pareshaben K. Modi regarding the on-money received, copies of the assessment orders in case of said persons and also requested the Assessing Officer to permit him to cross-examine the said persons. The Assessing Officer issued summons to the said persons, however, they were out of station and it was not known as to when they would return. In this backdrop, without affording any opportunity to the assessee to cross-examine the said persons, the Assessing Officer made the addition in question.
In this case, it is not the case of the appellant that any incriminating material in respect of the assessment year under consideration was found during the course of search. At the relevant time when the notice came to be issued under section 153A of the Act, the assessee filed its return of income. Much later, at the fag end of the period within which the order under section 153A of the Act was to be made, in other words, when the limit for framing the assessment as provided under section 153 was about to expire, the notice has been issued in the present case seeking to make the proposed addition of Rs.11,05,51,000/- on the basis of the material which was not found during the course of search, but on the basis of a statement of another person. In the opinion of this court, in a case like the present one, where an assessment has been framed earlier and no assessment or reassessment was pending on the date of initiation of search under section 132 or making of requisition under section 132A, while computing the total income of the assessee under section 153A of the Act, additions or disallowances can be made only on the basis of the incriminating material found during the search or requisition. In the present case, it is an admitted position that no incriminating material was found during the course of search, however, it is on the basis of some material collected by the Assessing Officer much subsequent to the search, that the impugned additions came to be made.
Contention of the Revenue/Appellant
On behalf of the appellant, it has been contended that if any incriminating material is found, notwithstanding that in relation to the year under consideration, no incriminating material is found, it would be permissible to make additions and disallowance in respect of all the six assessment years.
Held by High Court
In the opinion of this court, the above contention does not merit acceptance, inasmuch as, the assessment in respect of each of the six assessment years is a separate and distinct assessment. Under section 153A of the Act, an assessment has to be made in relation to the search or requisition, namely, in relation to material disclosed during the search or requisition. If in relation to any assessment year, no incriminating material is found, no addition or disallowance can be made in relation to that assessment year in exercise of powers under section 153A of the Act and the earlier assessment shall have to be reiterated. In this regard, this court is in complete agreement with the view adopted by the Rajasthan High Court in the case of Jai Steel (India), Jodhpur v. Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax (supra). Besides, as rightly pointed out by the learned counsel for the respondent, the controversy involved in the present case stands concluded by the decision of this court in the case of Commissioner of Income-tax-1 v. Jayaben Ratilal Sorathia (supra) wherein it has been held that while it cannot be disputed that considering section 153A of the Act, the Assessing Officer can reopen and/or assess the return with respect to six preceding years; however, there must be some incriminating material available with the Assessing Officer with respect to the sale transactions in the particular assessment year.