In this case reasons recorded for reopening indicate is that cash deposits aggregating to Rs 10,24,100 have been made in the bank account of the assessee, but the mere fact that these deposits have been made in a bank account does not indicate that these deposits constitute an income which has escaped assessment.
The reasons recorded for reopening the assessment donot make out a case that the assessee was engaged in some business and the income from such a business has not been returned by the assessee. As we donot have the liberty to examine these reasons on the basis of any other material or fact, other than the facts set out in the reasons so recorded, it is not open to us to deal with the question as to whether the assessee could be said to be engaged in any business; all that is to be examined is whether the fact of the deposits, per se, in the bank account of the assessee could be basis of holding the view that the income has escaped assessment. The answer, in our humble understanding, is in negative. The Assessing Officer has opined that an income of Rs 10,24,100 has escaped assessment of income because the assessee has Rs 10,24,100 in his bank account but then such an opinion proceeds on the fallacious assumption that the bank deposits constitute undisclosed income, and overlooks the fact that the sources of deposit need not necessarily be income of the assessee. Of course, it may be desirable, from the point of view of revenue authorities, to examine the matter in detail, but then reassessment proceedings cannot be resorted to only to examine the facts of a case, no matter how desirable that be, unless there is a reason to believe, rather than suspect, that an income has escaped assessment.
Learned Departmental Representative has referred to a number of judicial precedents in support of her stand that even deposits in the bank account, as having come to the notice of the Assessing Officer through AIR, can be reason enough for holding the belief that income has escaped assessment. She has relied upon the decisions in the cases of CIT Vs Nova Promoters & Finlease Pvt Ltd [(2012)342 ITR 169] but then none of the questions before Hon’ble High Court had anything to do with reopening of assessment and this decision can not, therefore, be taken as an authority on the legal issue which did not even come up for specific adjudication before Their Lordships. As for her reliance on Hon’ble Supreme Court’s judgment in the case of Phool Chand Bajrang Lal Vs ITO [(1993) 203 ITR 456], that was case in which Their Lordships concluded that the AO “rightly initiated the reassessment proceedings on the basis of subsequent information, which was specific relevant and reliable, and after recording the reasons for formation of his own belief that in the original assessment proceedings, the assessee had not disclosed the material facts truly and fully and, therefore, income chargeable to tax had escaped assessment” and we are unable to see anything on the facts of the present case which are materially similar to the facts of the said case. As regards her reliance on the decision of a coordinate bench in the case of Mithila Credit Services Limited Vs ITO (ITA No. 1078/Del/2013; order dated 23.5.2014), it is important to bear in mind the fact that it was a case in which the Assessing Officer had reopened the assessment on the basis of receipt of information from Directorate of Investigation, and, as noted by the Assessing Officer in the reasons recorded for reopening the assessment, “the name of the assessee figures as one of the beneficiaries of these alleged bogus transactions” in the information given by the directorate. If the assessee was a beneficiary of such a scam, the income was indeed to have been taxed in its hands but then in the case before us the only reason for reassessment proceedings was the fact of deposit of bank account which by itself does not lead to income being taxed in the hands of the assessee. Learned Departmental Representative has referred to several other judicial precedents in support of the proposition that at the stage of initiation of reassessment proceedings, all that is to be seen as existence, rather than adequacy, of the material to come to the conclusion that income has escaped assessment. To us, there cannot be any, and there is no, doubt on the correctness of this proposition but then, as we have elaborately explained earlier in this order, the material must indicate income escaping assessment rather than desirability of further probe in the matter which may or may not lead to income escaping the assessment. On the basis of reasons as recorded in this case, such an inference about income escaping assessment, in our humble understanding, cannot be drawn.
In view of the reasons set out above, as also bearing in mind entirety of the case, we are of the considered view that the reasons recorded by the Assessing Officer, as set out earlier, were not sufficient reasons for reopening the assessment proceedings. We, therefore, quash the reassessment proceedings. As the reassessment itself is quashed, all other issues on merits of the additions, in the impugned assessment proceedings, are rendered academic and infructuous.