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2019 (11) TMI 368

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..... e. - ITA No.5709/Mum/2017, ITA No.5623/Mum/2017, Co No.310/Mum/2018 (Arising Out of ITA No.5623/Mum/2018) - Dated:- 6-11-2019 - Shri M. Balaganesh, AM And Shri Amarjit Singh, JM For the Assessee : Shri Percy Pardiwala For the Revenue : Shri Awungshi Ginson ORDER PER BENCH: These appeals in ITA No.5709/Mum/2017 & 5623/Mum/2017 and Cross Objection No.310/Mum/2018 for A.Y.2012-13 arise out of the order by the ld. Commissioner of Income Tax (Appeals)-14, Mumbai in appeal No.CIT(A)-14/IT-10545/15-16 dated 28/06/2017 (ld. CIT(A) in short) against the order of assessment passed u/s.143(3)of the Income Tax Act, 1961 (hereinafter referred to as Act) dated 31/03/2015 by the ld. Asst. Commissioner of Income Tax- 6(2)(1), Mumbai (hereinafter referred to as ld. AO). 2. We find that the assessee apart from raising the original grounds, had also raised the following additional grounds before us. Without prejudice to the other grounds of appeal, 1. Whether on facts and circumstances of the case and in law, the assessment order under section 143(3) ought to be held to be bad in law, since on the date the assessment was framed, the company was non-existent having merged with Sprit Textile Pvt. L .....

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..... ues, which are not reiterated for the sake of brevity herein. We find that the ld. AO vide letter dated 23/03/2015 addressed to the Principal Officer of Churu Trading Company Pvt. Ltd., had taken cognizance of the fact of amalgamation with Sprit Textiles Pvt. Ltd. by referring the letter dated 20/03/2015 supra of the assessee, had expressed his inability to grant further time to the assessee for furnishing of balance details that were originally called for by him. This letter dated 23/03/2015 addressed by the ld. AO to the amalgamating company i.e. Churu Trading Company Pvt. Ltd., clearly goes to prove that the ld. AO was conscious of the fact of merger of Churu Trading Company Pvt. Ltd., with Sprit Textiles Pvt. Ltd., Despite this, the ld. AO proceeded to frame the assessment u/s.143(3) of the Act on 31/03/2015 in the name of amalgamating company i.e. Churu Trading Company Pvt. Ltd. determining the total income of assessee at ₹ 376,56,43,090/-. The appeal was preferred before the ld. CIT(A) wherein the cause title was clearly mentioned as Churu Trading Company Pvt. Ltd., (Now merged with Sprit Textiles Pvt. Ltd.). However, we find that assessee had not challenged this jurisi .....

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..... ransferee has assumed the liabilities of the transferor company, including tax liabilities; (iii) Thirdly, the consequence of the scheme of amalgamation approved under Section 394 of the Companies Act 1956 is that the amalgamating company ceased to exist. In Saraswati Industrial Syndicate Ltd., the principle has been formulated by this Court in the following observations: "5. Generally, where only one company is involved in change and the rights of the shareholders and creditors are varied, it amounts to reconstruction or reorganisation of scheme of arrangement. In amalgamation two or more companies are fused into one by merger or by taking over by another. Reconstruction or 'amalgamation' has no precise legal meaning. The amalgamation is a blending of two or more existing undertakings into one undertaking, the shareholders of each blending company become substantially the shareholders in the company which is to carry on the blended undertakings. There may be amalgamation either by the transfer of two or more undertakings to a new company, or by the transfer of one or more undertakings to an existing company. Strictly 'amalgamation' does not cover the mere acqu .....

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..... of a non-existent company which renders it void. This, in the view of the High Court, was not merely a procedural defect. Moreover, the participation by the amalgamated company would have no effect since there could be no estoppel against law : "11. After the sanction of the scheme on 11th April, 2004, the Spice ceases to exit w.e.f. 1st July, 2003. Even if Spice had filed the returns, it became incumbent upon the Income tax authorities to substitute the successor in place of the said 'dead person'. When notice under Section 143 (2) was sent, the appellant/amalgamated company appeared and brought this fact to the knowledge of the AO. He, however, did not substitute the name of the appellant on record. Instead, the Assessing Officer made the assessment in the name of M/s Spice which was non existing entity on that day. In such proceedings an assessment order passed in the name of M/s Spice would clearly be void. Such a defect cannot be treated as procedural defect. Mere participation by the appellant would be of no effect as there is no estoppel against law. 12. Once it is found that assessment is framed in the name of non-existing entity, it does not remain a procedura .....

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..... officer did not the take the remedial measure of transposing the transferee as the company which had to be assessed. Instead, the original assessee was described as one in existence and the order mentioned the transferee's name below that of the original assessee. The Division Bench adverted to the judgment in Dimension Apparels wherein the High Court had discussed the ruling in Spice Entertainment. It was held that this was a case where the assessment was contrary to law, having been completed against a non-existent company. 24. A batch of Civil Appeals was filed before this Court against the decisions of the Delhi High Court, the lead appeal being Spice Enfotainment. On 2 November 2017, a Bench of this Court consisting of Hon'ble Mr Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Hon'ble Mr Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul dismissed the Civil Appeals and tagged Special Leave Petitions in terms of the following order : "Delay condoned. Heard the learned Senior Counsel appearing for the parties. We do not find any reason to interfere with the impugned judgment(s) passed by the High Court. In view of this, we find no merit in the appeals and special leave petitions. Accordingly, the ap .....

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..... #39;ble Mr Justice Ashok Bhushan. In assessing the merits of the above submission, it is necessary to extract the order dated 6 April 2018 of this Court: "In the peculiar facts of this case, we are convinced that wrong name given in the notice was merely a clerical error which could be corrected under Section 292B of the Income Tax Act. The special leave petition is dismissed. Pending applications stand disposed of." Now, it is evident from the above extract that it was in the peculiar facts of the case that this Court indicated its agreement that the wrong name given in the notice was merely a clerical error, capable of being corrected under Section 292B. The "peculiar facts" of Skylight Hospitality emerge from the decision of the Delhi High Court. Skylight Hospitality, an LLP, had taken over on 13 May 2016 and acquired the rights and liabilities of Skylight Hospitality Pvt. Ltd upon conversion under the Limited Liability Partnership Act 2008. It instituted writ proceedings for challenging a notice under Sections 147/148 of the Act 1961 dated 30 March 2017 for AY 2010-2011. The "reasons to believe" made a reference to a tax evasion report received fro .....

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..... company and not in the name of amalgamating company. In the said situation, the amalgamating company had filed an appeal and issue of validity of Assessment Order was raised and examined. It was held that the assessment order was invalid. This was not a case wherein notice under Section 147/148 of the Act was declared to be void and invalid but a case in which assessment order was passed in the name of and against a juristic person which had ceased to exist and stood dissolved as per provisions of the Companies Act. Order was in the name of non-existing person and hence void and illegal." 29. From a reading of the order of this Court dated 6 April 2018 in the Special Leave Petition filed by Skylight Hospitality LLP against the judgment of the Delhi High Court rejecting its challenge, it is evident that the peculiar facts of the case weighed with this Court in coming to this conclusion that there was only a clerical mistake within the meaning of Section 292B. The decision in Skylight Hospitality LLP has been distinguished by the Delhi, Gujarat and Madras High Courts in: (i) Rajender Kumar Sehgal; (ii) Chandreshbhai Jayantibhai Patel; and (iii) Alamelu Veerappan. 30. There is no .....

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..... d by the assessing officer was issued to a non-existent company. The assessment order was issued against the amalgamating company. This is a substantive illegality and not a procedural violation of the nature adverted to in Section 292B. In this context, it is necessary to advert to the provisions of Section 170 which deal with succession to business otherwise than on death. Section 170 provides as follows: "170. (1) Where a person carrying on any business or profession (such person hereinafter in this section being referred to as the predecessor) has been succeeded therein by any other person (hereinafter in this section referred to as the successor) who continues to carry on that business or profession,- (a) the predecessor shall be assessed in respect of the income of the previous year in which the succession took place up to the date of succession; (b) the successor shall be assessed in respect of the income of the previous year after the date of succession. (2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), when the predecessor cannot be found, the assessment of the income of the previous year in which the succession took place up to the date of succession and of .....

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..... he legal representatives filed returns upon which the assessing officer issued notices under Section 142 (1) and Section 143 (2). These were complied with and no objections were raised to the assessment proceedings. The assessment order mentioned the names of all the legal representatives and the assessment was made in the status of an individual. In appeal, it was contended that the assessment proceedings were void as all the legal representatives were not given notice. In this backdrop, a two judge Bench of this Court held that the assessment proceedings were not null and void, and at the worst, that they were defective. In this context, reliance was placed on the decision of the Federal Court in Chatturam v CIT [1947] 15 ITR 302 (FC) holding that the jurisdiction to assess and the liability to pay tax are not conditional on the validity of the notice : the liability to pay tax is founded in the charging sections and not in the machinery provisions to determine the amount of tax. Reliance was also placed on the decision in Maharaja of Patiala v CIT [1943] 11 ITR 202 (Bombay) ("Maharaja of Patiala"). That was a case where two notices were issued after the death of the as .....

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..... el against law. This position now holds the field in view of the judgment of a co-ordinate Bench of two learned judges which dismissed the appeal of the Revenue in Spice Enfotainment on 2 November 2017. The decision in Spice Enfotainment has been followed in the case of the respondent while dismissing the Special Leave Petition for AY 2011-2012. In doing so, this Court has relied on the decision in Spice Enfotainment. 34. We find no reason to take a different view. There is a value which the court must abide by in promoting the interest of certainty in tax litigation. The view which has been taken by this Court in relation to the respondent for AY 2011-12 must, in our view be adopted in respect of the present appeal which relates to AY 2012-13. Not doing so will only result in uncertainty and displacement of settled expectations. There is a significant value which must attach to observing the requirement of consistency and certainty. Individual affairs are conducted and business decisions are made in the expectation of consistency, uniformity and certainty. To detract from those principles is neither expedient nor desirable. 35. For the above reasons, we find no merit in the appeal .....

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