Mumbai: The Income Tax department has been levied with a fine of Rs. 20,000, under a case of default search and seizure proceedings at a one Dr Gautam Sen’s premises.
The doctor had filed a petition with the Bombay High Court questioning the search on him by income tax (I-T) department seventeen years back, where to the surprise of the department nothing was found incriminating. He in his plea asked for apology from the I-T department.
The genesis of the present proceedings was the search and seizure operation on the Concept Communication Group of Companies on6 January 1999 belonging to one Mr. Nirmal Suchanti. During the course of the search, the search party came across a bank account in M/s Samta Sahkari Bank, Santacruaz, Mumbai (Bank) in the name of Pioneer Publicity (of which one Mr. Gautam Sen is shown as Proprietor). The address shown with the bank was found to be fictitious. However a telephone diary of Mr. Nirmal Suchanti (Concept Group) had the name of the Petitioner with his telephone numbers mentioned therein along with the name of M/s Devaki Hospital.
On the aforesaid basis, the Revenue department carried out the search on 16th January, 1999 under Section 132 of the Act on the Petitioner and his premises. During the course of the search, an amount of Rs.20,000/in
cash was found in his house which was explained to the satisfaction of the Revenue. Nothing incriminating was found during the course of search. During the course of investigation, the doctor explained the fact that he is in no way connected with the Account in the name of M/s Pioneer Publicity found in the said Bank. During the course of
his statements, the Petitioner clarified that he knew Mr. Nirmal Suchanti socially as he had treated his brother one Dr. Hiren Suchanti consequent to an accident. Besides, during the course of the investigation Mr. Nirmal
Suchanti gave an affidavit dated 2 February 1999 duly notorised pointing out that Dr. Sen (Petitioner herein) is not concerned in any manner with the account found with the said Bank nor has the Concept Group of Companies had any business dealing with him. The affidavit put on record the apology of Mr. Nirmal Suchanti to the Petitioner. A copy of the above affidavit of Mr. Nirmal Suchanti was also submitted by the Petitioner to the Income Tax Department.
Despite the above, the impugned notice dated 16 May 2000 was issued under Section 158BC of the Act to the Petitioner to file his return of income for the block period covered by the search. The activities of the IT department were challenged by the doctor, seeking an apology from the Revenue department.
The court after going through the evidence concluded that “it appears that the Respondents revenue took search and seizure proceedings in respect of the Petitioner on account of mistaken identity.”
The HC while concluding the judgement stated
The Officers of the Income Tax Department are obliged to proceed in accordance with the statutory provisions and not on their whim and fancy. The Officers hold power in trust and must ensure that no citizen is harassed by sending him notices, when on the basis on its own record, such notices are not sustainable.
and hence the court observed
In the above view, this is the fit case where costs should be awarded to the Petitioner. The Respondents revenue i.e the jurisdictional Chief Commissioner of Income Tax (Respondent No.1) is directed to pay the costs of Rs.20,000/to the Petitioner within four weeks from today.