What is the nature of enquiry within the meaning of Section 133(6) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 was the question that arose for consideration before the Apex Court.
What is the nature of enquiry within the meaning of Section 133(6) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 was the question that arose for consideration before the Apex Court. Whether it is be reckoned as a general enquiry or something that pertains to “area specific” or “case specific”? In the instant case a notice was served upon the Assessee, a Service Co-operative Rural Bank under Section 133(6) of the Act seeking general information about all such persons (whether resident or non- resident) who have made cash transactions of Rs. 1,00,000/- and above in any account and/or time deposits in form of FDs, RDs, TDs, etc. of Rs. 1,00,000/- or above during the relevant period. Assessee challenged the notice issued as bad in law since the provision empowers the Assessing authority to seek only the information relating to pending proceedings and not to seek fishing information, unrelated to any existing proceedings or something which may enable the Assessing Authority to decide upon institution of proceedings under the Act. The Apex Court held that the language of Section 133(6) is unambiguous and clear. The position changed after the amendment in 1995. Earlier the provision only provided for issuance of notice in case of pending proceedings. However, post amendment, the scope of Section 133(6) was expanded. Assessing Authorities have now been empowered to issue such notice calling for general information for the purposes of any enquiry in both the situation i.e. where a proceeding against the Assessee is pending and where it is not pending with the lone exception in the latter case that the assessing authority must have a prior approval of the Director or Commissioner, as the case may be, before issuance of such notice. In the changed perspective as applicable now, the scope of word “enquiry” vis-à-vis provision of Section 133(6) would mean as under: • Enquiry is in the nature of general survey to identify persons having or likely to have taxable income; • Enquiry under this provision would not mean “area specific” or “case specific”; • Enquiry would mean seeking information pertaining to such points or matters which the Assessing Authority issuing notices requires; • Information sought is of general nature like names and addresses of depositors who hold deposits above a particular sum; Kathiroor Service Coop. Bank Ltd. vs. Commissioner of Income Tax (CIB) & Ors. (27.08.2013, SC)