The error in the order of the Commission in the present case lies in permitting the application to proceed without that satisfaction being recorded by the Commission, which is a fundamental aspect which goes to the root of its jurisdiction to entertain an application under Section 245C. The Commission has proceeded on the basis that at this stage it cannot hold a view that the income offered in the statement of facts is not a true and full disclosure.
In the same vein, the Commission was of the view that the subject of true and full disclosure is open for examination in the proceedings under sub- section 4 of Section 245D. In holding this, the Commission has moved over to the stage of Section 245D(4) without entering upon the fundamental issue as to whether the application was or was not invalid. This exercise had to be carried out by the Commission at the stage of the proceedings under sub-section 2C of Section 245D on the basis of the report submitted by the Commissioner and after hearing the applicant. The Commission has abdicated the discharge of that obligation at that stage, by deferring its consideration at a later stage. The Commission, in our view, was completely in error in holding that unless it is established by a competent authority that the purchases are all bogus, that the application at this stage could not be held to be invalid, though the department may have in its possession certain evidence indicating the fact that the income has not been truly and fully disclosed, or that the quantum of income disclosed in the application in comparison to the claim of the department is meager. The Commissioner had submitted his report under the provisions of sub section 2B of Section 245D. The Commission could not have declined to determine as to whether the application fulfilled the requirements or prerequisites of a valid application under Section 245C(1). We may clarify, however, that we are not for the purposes of this case inclined to hold that the Commission cannot at a later stage of the proceedings reject the application where facts come to its knowledge even subsequently that there is either a suppression of full and true material facts, a misstatement or failure on the part of the assessee to make a full and candid disclosure. The existence of such a power at a subsequent stage cannot obviate the discharge of a statutory duty to determine whether the jurisdictional requirements are fulfilled, once a report is received under sub section 2C of Section 245D. The Commission has to consider as to whether or not the application is invalid.
For these reasons we are of the view that the impugned order of the Settlement Commission is unsustainable and would have to be quashed and set aside. We accordingly allow the petition by setting aside the impugned order of the Settlement Commission dated 9 November 2012 and restore the proceedings back to the Commission for reconsideration in terms of the observations contained in this judgment. Rule is made absolute in the above terms. There shall be no order as to costs.