Case Law Details

Case Name : Hind Wire Industries Ltd Vs CIT (Supreme Court of India)
Appeal Number : (1995) 212 Itr 639 (Sc)
Date of Judgement/Order : 20/01/1995
Related Assessment Year :
Courts : Supreme Court of India (916)

What falls for consideration in the present case is the interpretation of the expression from the date of the order sought to be amended in sub-section (7) of section 154 as it stood then It is obvious that the word order has not been qualified in any way and it does not necessarily mean the original order It can be any order including the amended or rectified order.

SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

HIND WIRE INDUSTRIES LTD Vs CIT

Civil Appeals Nos 1323 to 1327 of 1995,

Decided on January 20, 1995

Equivalent Citations- (1995) 212 ITR 639 (SC)

ORDER

Special leave granted Heard counsel on both sides

What is challenged in these appeals is the decision of the Calcutta High Court (see [1993] 202 ITR 274) interpreting the provisos of section 154(7) of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (hereinafter referred to asthe Act ), as it stood at the time of the assessment order dated September 21, 1979

Shortly stated, the facts are that the appellant-assessee was assessed to income-tax originally under the assessment order dated September 21, 1979 The assessee filed a petition for rectification of the said order under section 154 of the Act as it stood then on the ground that the ITO had not taken into consideration the shift allowance available to the assessee Consequent upon this application, the assessment order was rectified on July 12, 1982 Thereafter, the assessee again applied for rectification of the fresh order of July 12, 1982, on July 4, 1986, Contending that while he was entitled to depreciation allowance on the factory building at the rate of ten per cent, he was allowed depreciation only at the rate of five per cent the ITO dismissed the assessee’s claim on the ground that the application was beyond time This order was confirmed by the Appellate Assistant Commissioner In the appeal, the Tribunal, however, allowed the application holding that the application made on July 4, 1986, was within four years of the fresh order of assessment made on July 12, 1982, and hence within limitation On a reference, the High Court reversed the order of the Tribunal holding that the period of four years is to be calculated from the initial order of assessment, viz, from September 21, 1979, and not from the fresh order of assessment passed on July 12, 1982

There is no dispute that the assessee would be entitled to ten per cent depreciation allowance on the factory building and it has to be granted to him if it is held that this rectification application was within time

Section 154 of the Act, as it stood at the relevant time, read as follows :

154 Rectification of mistake – (1) With a view to rectifying any mistake apparent from the record –

(a) the ITO may amend any order of assessment or of refund or any other order passed by him

(1A) Where any matter has been considered and decided in any proceeding by way of appeal or revision relating to an order referred to in sub-section (1), the authority passing such order, may, notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force, amend the order under that sub-section in relation to any matter other than the matter which has been so considered and decided

(7) Save as otherwise provided in section 155 or sub-section (4) of section 186, no amendment under this section shall be made after the expiry of four years from the date of the order sought to be amended

What falls for consideration in the present case is the interpretation of the expression from the date of the order sought to be amended in sub-section (7) of section 154 as it stood then It is obvious that the word order has not been qualified in any way and it does not necessarily mean the original order It can be any order including the amended or rectified order. A similar expression in rule 38 of the Mysore Sales Tax Rules fell for consideration in International Cotton Corporation (P) Ltd Vs Commercial Tax Officer [1975] 35 STC 1; [1975] 2 SCR 345 Dealing with the point raised, this court held as under (at page 12) :

The other attack that the rectification order is beyond the point of time provided in rule 38 of the Mysore Sales Tax Rules is also without substance What was sought to be rectified was the assessment order rectified as a consequence of this court’s decision in Yaddalam’s case [1965] 16 STC 231 After such rectification the original assessment order was no longer in force and that was not the order sought to be rectified It is admitted that all the rectification orders would be within time calculated from the original rectification order Rule 38 itself speaks of any order and there is no doubt that the rectified order is also any order which can be rectified under rule 38.

This decision was endorsed in Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes Vs H R Sir Ramulu [1977] 39 STC 177 when this court observed there as follows (at page 180) :

The reason for that is that once an assessment it reopened, the initial order for assessment ceases to be operative The effect of reopening the assessment is to vacate or set aside the initial order for assessment and to substitute in its place the order made on reassessment The initial order for reassessment cannot be said to survive, even partially, although the justification for reassessment arises because of turnover escaping assessment in a limited field or only with respect to a part of the matter covered by the initial assessment order The result of reopening the assessment is that a fresh order for reassessment would have to be made including for those matters in respect of which there is no allegation of the turnover escaping assessment As it is, we find that in the present case, the assessment orders made under section 12A were comprehensive orders and were not confined merely to mattes which had escaped assessment earlier In the circumstances, the only orders which could be the subject-matter of revision by the appellant were the orders made under section 12A of the Act and not the initial assessment orders

In the case of V Jagamohan Rao Vs CIT and CEPT [1970] 75 ITR 373 (SC), this court dealt with section 34 of other Indian Income-tax Act, 1922, which relates to reassessment in the case of income escaping assessment It was held by this court that once the assessment is reopened, the previous underassessment is set aside and the whole proceedings start afresh Ramaswami J, speaking for the court, observed (at page 380) :

’Section 34 in terms stated that once the ITO decides to reopen the assessment, he could do so within the period prescribed by serving on the person liable to pay tax a notice containing all or any of the requirements which may be included in a notice under section 22(2) and may proceed to assess or reassess such income, profits or gains It is, therefore, manifest that once assessment is reopened by issuing a notice under sub-section (2) of section 22, the previous underassessment is set aside and the whole assessment proceedings start afresh When once valid proceedings are started under section 34(1)(b), the ITO had not only the jurisdiction, but it was his duty to levy tax on the entire income that had escaped assessment during that year’

In the case of CST Vs H M Esufali H M Abdulali [1973] 32 STC 77 (SC); [1973] 90 ITR 271 (SC), this court dealt with reassessment made under section 19 of the Madhya Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1958 It was held that when reassessment is made, the former assessment is completely reopened and in its place a fresh assessment is made Hegde J, speaking for the court, observed (at page 280) :

’What is true of the assessment must also be true of reassessment because reassessment is nothing but a fresh assessment When reassessment is made under section 19, the former assessment is completely reopened and in its place fresh assessment is made While reassessing a dealer, the assessing authority does not merely assess him on the escaped turnover but it assesses him on his total estimated turnover While making reassessment under section 19, if the assessing authority has no power to make best judgment assessment, all that the assessee need do to escape reassessment is to refuse to file a return or refuse to produce his account books If the contention taken on behalf of the assessee is correct, the assessee can escape his liability to be reassessed by adopting an obstructive attitude It is difficult to conceive that such could be the position in law’

What fell for consideration in this decision were sections 12A, 21, 21(2) and 21(3) of the Mysore Sales Tax Act The relevant provisions of section 12A are as under (at page 179) :

(1) Where for any reason the whole or any part of the turnover of a dealer has escaped assessment to tax or licence fee or has been assessed at a lower rate than the rate at which it is assessable, the assessing authority may, subject to the provisions of sub-section (2), at any time within a period of five years from the expiry of the year to which the tax or licence fee relates, assess to the best of its judgment, the tax or licence fee payable on the turnover referred to after issuing a notice to the dealer and after making such enquiry as it considers necessary

Section 21 of the said Act deals, inter alia, with revisional powers of the Deputy Commissioner Sub-section (2) and (3) of that section reads as under (at page 179) :

(2) The Deputy Commissioner may of his own motion call for and examine the record of any order passed or proceeding recorded under the provisions of this act by a Commercial Tax Officer subordinate to him and against which no appeal has been preferred to him under section 20, for the purpose of satisfying himself as to the legality or propriety of such order or as to the regularity of such proceeding and pass such order with respect thereto as he thinks fit

(3) In relation to an order of assessment passed under this Act, the power under sub-sections (1) and (2) shall be exercisable only within a period of four years from the date on which the order was passed

While holding that the expressionthe date on which the order was passed in sub-section (3) of section 21, did not qualify the wordorder and hence, the period of four years has to be calculated from the date of the rectified order, this court referred to its earlier decision in International Cotton’s case [1975] 35 STC 1, and also followed the decision of this court in H M Esufali H M Abdulali’s case [1973] 90 ITR 271 at page 280, as under (at page 180) :

What is true of the assessment must also be true of reassessment because reassessment is nothing but a fresh assessment When reassessment is made under section 19, the former assessment is completely reopened and in its place fresh assessment is made While reassessing a dealer, the assessing authority does not merely assess him on the escaped turnover but it assesses him on his total estimated turnover While making reassessment under section 19, if the assessing authority has no power to make best judgment assessment, all that the assessee need to do to escape reassessment is to refuse to file a return or refuse to produce his account books If the contention taken on behalf of the assessee is correct, the assessee can escape his liability to be reassessed by adopting an obstructive attitude It is difficult to conceive that such could be the position in law

The court, while dealing with the provisions of the Madhya Pradesh Sales Tax Act, 1958, quoted section 19 and rule 33(1) and (2) which read as under :

19 Assessment of turnover escaping assessment –

(1) Where an assessment has been made under this Act or any Act repealed by section 52 and if for any reason any sale or purchase of goods chargeable to tax under this Act or any Act repealed by section 52 during any period has been underassessed or has escaped assessment or been assessed at a lower rate or any deduction has been wrongly made therefrom, the Commissioner may, at any time within five calendar years from the date of order of assessment, after giving the dealer a reasonable opportunity of being heard and after making such enquiry as he considers necessary, proceed in such manner as may be prescribed to reassess within a period of two calendar years from the commencement of such proceedings, the tax payable by such dealer and the Commissioner may, where the omission leading to such reassessment is attributable to the dealer, direct that the dealer shall pay, by way of penalty in addition to the amount of tax so assessed, a sum not exceeding that amount :

Provided that in the case of an assessment made under any Act repealed by section 52, the period for reassessment on the ground of under assessment, escapement or wrong deduction shall be as provided in such Act notwithstanding the repeal thereof :

Provided further that any reassessment proceedings pending on the date of commencement of the Madhya Pradesh General Sales Tax (Amendment) Act, 1978 (No 25 of 1978), be completed in accordance with the provisions in force before the date of such commencement and within a period of two calendar years from the date of such commencement

33 Manners of assessment, reassessment and imposition of penalty – (1) Where, –

(a) a registered dealer has rendered himself liable to tax and penalty under section 14A, or

(ai) a dealer has failed to comply with a notice issued under sub-section (1) of section 17, or

(b) a registered dealer has failed without sufficient cause to furnish prescribed returns for any period by the prescribed date as required by sub-section (1) of section 17, or

(c) a registered dealer has rendered himself liable to a best judgment assessment under clauses (a) and (b) of sub-section (4) of section 18, or

(d) a dealer has rendered himself liable to best judgment assessment under sub-section (6) or sub-section (7) of section 18, or

(e) a dealer being liable to pay tax, has wilfully failed to apply for registration, or

(f) the sale or purchase of goods by a dealer during any period has been underassessed or has escaped assessment or has been assessed at a lower rate or any deduction has been wrongly made therefrom within the meaning of sub-section (1) of section 19, or

(g) a dealer has deliberately concealed his turnover of sale in respect of any goods or has furnished a false return then in every such case, the assessing authority shall serve on the dealer a notice which shall as for as may be, be in Form XVI specifying the default escapement or concealment, as the case may be, and calling upon him to show cause by such date, ordinarily not less than 30 days from the date of service of the notice as may be fixed in that behalf, why he should not be assessed or reassessed to tax and/or penalty should not be imposed upon him and directing him to produce on the said date his books of account and other documents which the assessing authority may require and any evidence which he may wish to produce in support of his objection :

Provided that no such notice shall be necessary where the dealer, having appeared before the assessing authority, waives such notice

(2) On the date fixed in the notice issued under sub-rule (1) or in case the notice is waived on such date which may be field in this behalf the assessing authority shall, after considering the objections raised by the dealer and examining such evidence as may be produced by him and after taking such other evidence as may be available, assess or reassess, the dealer to tax and/or impose a penalty or pass any other suitable order

In view of these authorities taking the view that the word any in the expression order sought to be amended would mean even the rectified order, we are satisfied that the High Court was wrong in setting aside the decision of the Tribunal Shri G Vishwanatha Iyer, learned senior counsel cited before us the decision of the Calcutta, Gujarat, Madras and Orissa High Courts in Bengal Assam Steamship Co Ltd Vs CIT [1978] 114 ITR 327; Ahmedabad Sarangpur Mills Co Ltd Vs A S Manohar, ITO [1976] 102 ITR 712; Kothari (Madras) Ltd Vs Agrl ITO [1989] 177 538 and CIT Vs Gangaram Chapolia and Co [1991] 187 ITR 594, respectively, in support of his contention that the wordorder used in the expression order sought to be amended would mean the original order of the assessment As against this, Dr Shankar Ghose, learned senior counsel, referred us to the decisions of the Patna and Karnataka High Courts in Bihar State Road Transport Corporation Vs CIT [1986] 162 ITR 114 at page 130 and CIT Vs Mysore Iron and Steel Ltd [1986] 157 ITR 531, respectively, which decision have taken the contrary view However, in view of the decisions of this court referred to above, we are of the opinion that the view taken by the Tribunal in the present case is the correct one We, therefore, set aside the impugned order of the High Court and restore that of the Tribunal The appeals are allowed accordingly with no order as to cost.

More Under Income Tax

Posted Under

Category : Income Tax (25548)
Type : Judiciary (10299)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *