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Case Law Details

Case Name : SVT Wholesale Pvt. Ltd. Vs JCIT (ITAT Bangalore)
Appeal Number : ITA No.1030/Bang/2023
Date of Judgement/Order : 25/01/2024
Related Assessment Year : 2015-16

SVT Wholesale Pvt. Ltd. Vs JCIT (ITAT Bangalore)

The case of SVT Wholesale Pvt. Ltd. Vs JCIT revolves around the imposition of a penalty under Section 271D of the Income Tax Act, 1961. The appellant, SVT Wholesale Pvt. Ltd., contested the penalty upheld by the Commissioner of Income Tax (Appeals) (CIT(A)), arguing against its justification. This article provides an in-depth analysis of the case, highlighting the legal issues, contentions of the parties involved, and the decision rendered by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) Bangalore.

Background: SVT Wholesale Pvt. Ltd., a private limited company engaged in the wholesale trade of garments, faced assessment under Section 143(3) of the Income Tax Act for the Assessment Year 2015-16. During the assessment, it was revealed that the company had accepted a loan from its director, N. Krishna, in violation of Section 269SS of the Act. Consequently, a penalty under Section 271D was imposed by the Assessing Officer (AO), leading to an appeal before the CIT(A). The CIT(A) partially allowed the appeal, reducing the penalty amount, which prompted SVT Wholesale Pvt. Ltd. to appeal further to the ITAT Bangalore.

Contention of the Assessee: SVT Wholesale Pvt. Ltd. argued that the loans were obtained to meet urgent business exigencies, emphasizing the first year of its business operations. The company relied on the judgment of the Karnataka High Court in CIT Vs. Sree Krishna Promoters and Builders, asserting that there was reasonable cause for availing cash loans. The company contended that the penalty under Section 271D should be waived considering the circumstances.

Contention of Revenue: The Revenue authority supported the penalty imposed by the AO and upheld by the CIT(A). It argued that the loans were obtained in cash, violating the provisions of Section 269SS of the Act. The Revenue relied on the literal interpretation of the law and contended that the penalty was justified based on the statutory provisions.

Decision by Relevant Judiciary: Upon hearing the arguments of both parties, the ITAT Bangalore found merit in the contention of SVT Wholesale Pvt. Ltd. regarding the existence of reasonable cause for availing cash loans. However, it noted that the company failed to provide substantial evidence to support its claim of urgent business exigencies. Therefore, the tribunal directed the AO to re-examine the matter and determine whether there was reasonable cause for availing cash loans, as mandated under Section 273B of the Act. The tribunal allowed the appeal filed by the assessee for statistical purposes.

Conclusion: The case of SVT Wholesale Pvt. Ltd. Vs JCIT underscores the importance of evaluating penalties under Section 271D in light of the circumstances and reasonable cause. While the tribunal acknowledged the possibility of genuine business exigencies, it emphasized the need for concrete evidence to support such claims. This decision highlights the significance of adherence to legal provisions while also considering the practical realities of business operations. It serves as a reminder for taxpayers to exercise diligence in their financial transactions and provide adequate justification when faced with penalty assessments.

FULL TEXT OF THE ORDER OF ITAT BANGALORE

This appeal at the instance of the assessee is directed against CIT(A)’s order dated 16.10.2023, passed under section 250 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 (hereinafter called ‘the Act’). The relevant Assessment Year is 2015-16.

2. The solitary issue that is raised is whether CIT(A) is justified in sustaining penalty imposed under section 271D of the Act, amounting to Rs.4,55,000/- for violating the provisions of section 269SS of the Act.

3. Brief facts of the case are as follows:

Assessee is a private limited company engaged in the business of wholesale trade of garments. For the Assessment Year 2015-16, assessment was completed under section 143(3) of the Act vide order dated 05.12.2017 assessing total income at Rs.44,97,510/-. The AO, on verification of the assessment records and the assessee’s audit report (Form 3CD), it was noticed that assessee had accepted loan from Shri. N. Krishna, Director of the assessee company, in violation of provisions of section 269SS of the Act. Assessee was issued notice under section 271D of the Act, on 18.02.2022 directing it to file any objections for the levy of penalty. Assessee filed its reply on 24.03.2022 against the show cause notice issued for imposing penalty under section 271D of the Act. It was submitted that it is the first year of the operation of the business of the assessee and there were business exigencies requiring quick influx of funds. Therefore, it was stated that Directors of the company introduced capital which was used to deal with business exigencies. It was further submitted that assessee had disclosed all material facts relating to the transaction and the loans were accepted only to meet the business exigency that arose in the initial years of its business. However, the objections raised by the assessee were rejected and AO imposed penalty under section 271D of the Act amounting to Rs.15,60,000/- being the entire loan received from the Director of the assessee company.

4. Aggrieved by the Order imposing penalty under section 271D of the Act, assessee filed appeal before the First Appellate Authority (FAA). The FAA partly allowed the appeal of the assessee. The CIT(A) noticed that out of the total sum of loan received by the assessee from the Director, only a sum of Rs.5,60,000/-was obtained in cash and remaining sum of Rs.10 lakhs was obtained through proper banking channel. Further, the CIT(A) granted the benefit of opening cash balance of Rs.1,05,000/-. Accordingly, the CIT(A) confirmed the imposing of penalty under section 271D of the Act, to the tune of Rs.4,55,000/-.

5. Aggrieved by the Order of CIT(A), assessee has filed the present appeal before the Tribunal. The learned AR submitted that assessee had taken temporary accommodation of loan from the Directors in order to meet the business exigencies and hence cannot be made liable for imposing of penalty under section 271D of the Act. In this context, the learned AR relied on the judgment of the Hon’ble Karnataka High Court in the case of CIT Vs. Sree Krishna Promoters and Builders reported in (2011) 16 com 138 (Karnataka).

6. Learned DR supported the order of the AO imposing penalty and the CIT(A) confirming the penalty to the extent of Rs.4,55,000/-.

7. We have heard the rival submissions and perused the material on record. The AO had imposed a penalty under section 271D of the Act amounting to Rs.15,60,000/-. The penalty was reduced by the CIT(A) to Rs.4,55,000/- after noticing that during the relevant previous year assessee had taken a cash loan only to the extent of Rs.4,55,000/- thereby violating the provisions of section 269SS of the Act. The penalty imposed under section 271D of the Act, can be waived if assessee proves there is “reasonable cause” as mandated under section 273B of the Act, for availing cash loans . In the instant case, assessee before the AO had contended that it had taken loan from its Directors out of business exigencies, since the relevant previous year was the first year of assessee’s business operations. Assessee had strongly relied on the judgment of the Hon’ble jurisdictional High Court in the case of CIT Vs. Sree Krishna Promoters and Builders (supra). In the aforesaid judgment of the Hon’ble jurisdictional High Court, there was a categoric finding that money was taken from the assessee’s sister concern to make urgent payment (refer para 3 of the judgment of the Hon’ble jurisdictional High Court). In the instant case, though assessee has averred before the AO that there was reasonable cause as mandated under section 273B of the Act, assessee has not furnished any material to prove that there was business exigency / urgent requirement of funds on the particular day on which assessee was in receipt of cash loans from the Director of the assessee company. In the interest of justice and equity, we are of the view that the matter needs fresh examination by the AO. Accordingly, the matter is restored to the files of the AO. The AO is directed to examine whether there is “reasonable cause” as mandated under section 273B of the Act, for assessee to avail cash loans from its Directors. It is ordered accordingly.

8. In the result, appeal filed by the assessee is allowed for statistical purposes.

Pronounced in the open court on the date mentioned on the caption page.

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