The Delhi High Court last week directed a CBI enquiry for ascertaining the source of an adjournment email allegedly sent by Income Tax Department to an assessee firm while warning initiation of action against either of the parties who would have forged the same.
Observing that the matter was serious since one of the parties had either forged the document or was not telling the truth, a division bench comprising of Justice Manmohan and Justice Navin Chawla observed thus:
"This Court may mention that it is constitutionally bound to ensure that citizens of this country who invoke the extra ordinary jurisdiction of this Court are not intimidated by allegations of forgery and prosecution and that too by officials who do not exercise the duty of care by enquiring as to whether the email had been issued by another wing or Department of Revenue."
An email was received by the assessee firm namely Three C Homes Private Limited on 31st May from the income tax department granting adjournment to the firm. The said email was received from "[email protected]".
The adjournment was sought by the petitioner company in order to seek time for submitting reply as it's Resolution Professional was unable to access the records of Company due to various lockdown restrictions imposed by the State of Uttar Pradesh.
While the matter was adjourned to 14th June by way of the email, an assessment order was received by the Company on June 1 which was under challenge in the petition.
On the other hand, the respondent had alleged that the petitioner had in fact forged the document as all the communication made by the department to the company was done from [email protected]
Hearing the said submissions, the Court ordered thus:
"Any reasonable official would have conducted the said enquiry before filing his counter affidavit and before making a serious allegation of perjury and forgery, even if prima facie, against the deponent of the writ petition. Consequently, in the opinion of this Court, the said offer of DCIT, CC-06 lacks bonafides."
Furthermore, it directed thus:
"Moreover, as the allegation pertains to a sensitive server belonging to the Ministry of Finance/Department of Income Tax and involves a senior official of the Income Tax Department holding a sensitive post, this Court directs the Central agency, namely Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to enquire as to whether the email dated 31st May, 2021 (Annexure P-4) had been issued to the petitioner or not, and if so, by whom."
While directing the CBI to file an enquiry report within four weeks, the Court ordered that the Assessing Officer shall not take any coercive action against the petitioner company till further orders.
The matter will now be heard on September 6.
Title: THREE C HOMES PVT. LTD. v. ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF INCOME TAX CENTRAL CIRCLE 6, NEW DELHI