PRINCIPAL DIRECTOR OF INCOME TAX (INVESTIGATION) & ORS. VERSUS LALJIBHAI KANJIBHAI MANDALIA

PRINCIPAL DIRECTOR OF INCOME TAX (INVESTIGATION) & ORS. VERSUS LALJIBHAI KANJIBHAI MANDALIA

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले



REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4081 OF 2022
(ARISING OUT OF SLP (CIVIL) NO. 25046 OF 2019)
PRINCIPAL DIRECTOR OF INCOME TAX
(INVESTIGATION) & ORS.
.....APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
LALJIBHAI KANJIBHAI MANDALIA .....RESPONDENT(S)
J U D G M E N T
HEMANT GUPTA, J.
1. The challenge in the present appeal is to an order dated 22.02.2019
passed by the High Court of Gujarat at Ahmedabad whereby the
warrant of authorization dated 07.08.2018 issued by the appellant1
under Section 132 of the Income Tax Act,19612
 was quashed.
Consequently, all actions taken pursuant to such warrant of
authorization were ordered to be rendered invalid.
2. The respondent3
in its writ petition challenged the act of authorization
for search and seizure on the ground that it is a fishing enquiry and the
1 For short, ‘Revenue’
2 For short, ‘Act’
3 For short, ‘Assessee’
1
conditions precedent as specified in Section 132 of the Act are not
satisfied. It is the stand of the assessee that he was looking for an
avenue to invest some money and the M/s. Goan Recreation Clubs
Private Ltd4
. was in need of finance for setting up of its business and
hence consequently approached the assessee herein for a loan. As a
security, the borrower company offered that another company would
give its property to the assessee. It may be noticed that there is no
allegation of mala-fides against the officers of the Revenue.
3. In the counter-affidavit filed by the Revenue, giving the history of
transaction, it was stated that the “chain of events raised credible
doubt on the transaction entered into by the petitioner (assessee) with
the company in question as it is the familiar modus operandi being
practiced by the entry operators”. It was also stated that the assessee
was not expected to comply with the notice of the Revenue as the
assessee would have brought the alibi of jurisdiction to evade or not
comply with the notice. It was in the interest of revenue that it was not
expected to disclose to any outside agency/body or to any of the
members directly or indirectly involved in the cob-web of financial
transactions with the core groups, viz. Sarju Sharma and associated
group of companies. Any inkling of action contemplated by the
Revenue was likely to compromise the confidentiality and secrecy of
the case intact. It was further stated that the apparent investment
4 For short, ‘Company’
2
made by the assessee was found to be not a judicious investment
choice from the point of view of a prudent businessman as the
company to which loan was provided by the assessee had no
established business, no goodwill in the market, nor was it enlisted in
any of the stock exchanges, nor did the assessee had any financial
dealings with the company previously. The quick repayment of loan
shows that the investment was not meant to earn steady interest
income. The investment and nature of transaction entered into by the
assessee was akin to the familiar modus operandi employed by the
entry operators to provide an accommodation entry to bring the
unaccounted black money to books for brief period to run the business
till sufficient fund is generated by running the business or some fund
from any other unaccounted source comes later on. This is the angle of
the investigative process underway in which trail of the money being
paid by the assessee is being investigated.
4. The undisputed facts are that the assessee during the financial year
2016-17 transferred a sum of Rs. 6 crores on 01.06.2016 and Rs. 4
crores on 21.06.2016 to M/s Goan Recreation Clubs Private Ltd. The
assessee secured the loan by way of a mortgage of the property
forming part of Survey No. 31/1-A situated in Village Bambolim, Distt.
North Goa. It is an admitted fact that the assessee became the Director
of the Company on 18.05.2016 and then ceased to be so on
3
23.06.2016. It is also admitted that amount of Rs.10 crores was repaid
on different dates starting from 06.10.2016 till 31.03.2017 and after
repayment of the loan, mortgage was released on 10.07.2017. The
Company paid interest as well. It is admitted that the assessee has
filed his income-tax return showing the interest income of
Rs.42,51,946/- which has been taxed as well. The assessment was
finalized under Section 143(3) of the Act on 02.03.2021.
5. In terms of the authorization after recording reasons to believe in the
satisfaction note, search was conducted on 10.08.2018 at the
residential premises of the assessee which continued till 3:00 am on
11.08.2018 in terms of Section 132 of the Act. The satisfaction note
was not supplied to the assessee nor was required to be disclosed in
terms of Explanation to Section 132(1) of the Act inserted by the
Finance Act, 2017 with retrospective effect i.e. on 01.04.1962. The
reasons recorded were produced before the High Court and before this
Court.
6. The High Court has reproduced the stand of the Revenue to explain the
action of search and seizure against the assessee as under:
“a) The authorized officers/ investigating officers conducted
search and seizure operation at various spots across various
states related to the case of Shri Sarju Sharma & other
associated group ‘of companies which had financial transactions
with Shri Sarju Sharma (PANAKOPS3325A) and M/s. Goan
Recreation Clubs Pvt Ltd., Goa (PAN-ANYPS6038F), hereinafter
referred to as ‘the company’. Shri Sarju Sharma is a leading
business entrepreneur of Siliguri, Dist-Jalpaiguri, engaged in the
4
hospitality business of Hotel, Restaurant and Bar running
business under the name and style of M/s Hotel Alishan and
Restaurant. The company M/s. Goan Recreation Clubs Pvt Ltd.
after being incorporated in the year 2015 has stepped into the
world of gaming & entertainment unit of Casino industry. The
casino business is being operated from the premises of Grand
Hyatt Hotel, Bambolin, Goa w.e.f. 29th Ju1y, 2016.
b) The name of M/s Goan Recreation Clubs Pvt Ltd. appeared in
the credible information on high value cash deposits/ data of
suspicious cash deposits post demonetization period
disseminated by the DGIT(Inv.), W.B., Sikkim & NER, wherein it
was found that the said company had deposited cash to the tune
of Rs.13,79,10,500/- into its two bank accounts maintained with
ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank, North Goa.
c) M/s Goan Recreation Clubs Pvt. Ltd. was incorporated on
28.09.2015 with a nominal paid up share capital of Rs
2,00,000/-. The initial Directors were Sarju Shanna and Shri Rohit
Gurubhakta Sharma. During the initial year of its incorporation,
i.e., in the financial year 2015-16 the company raised huge
unsecured loan of Rs 5.77 crore from various individuals and
companies in a very peculiar manner, as the company at that
juncture was yet to commence any substantive business
activities. Again, in the financial year 2016- 17 the company
raised an unsecured loan of Rs.34.10 crore from various
individuals and companies which includes an amount of Rs.10
crore from the petitioner viz. Shri Laljibhai Kanjibhai Mandalia
from Ahmedabad. The details of unsecured loan received by the
company and credited into the bank accounts of the company
are given below:
xx xx xx
d) From the above chart it is noticed that the company raised
huge unsecured loans within two years of its incorporation from
various individuals and companies.
e) Whereas, in the pre search analysis, on going through the
records available with the MCA (Ministry of Corporate Affairs)
and ITBA (Income Tax Business Application) it came to light that
the company M/s Goan Recreation Clubs Pvt. Ltd. During the
financial year 2016-17 have introduced three new Directors
along with the exit of then existing Director Shri Rohit
5
Gurubhakta Sharma on 03.03.2017, the details given in the
following table:
xx xx xx
(f) xx xx xx
(g) xx xx xx
The search and seizure operation in the premises of the
petitioner was contemplated and carried out on the basis of the
information gathered as explained in the above point nos. (a) to
(g) of this para.
From the above though it is found that Shri Mandalia had
resigned as Additional Director of the company on 25.06.2016
and the loan was repaid by the company in the same year as
noticed from the table given at point no. (g) of this para but the
chain of events raises credible doubt on the transactions entered
into by the petitioner with the company in question as it is the
familiar modus operandi being practiced by the entry operators.
Therefore, from the foregoing paras it can be concluded that the
department initiated the search and seizure operation in the
premises of the petitioner after conforming to all the criteria
mentioned in the Section 132 sub-section 1 clause (s), (b) and
(c) of the Income Tax Act, 1961. The search and seizure action
was initiated after detailed analysis of information, duly
recording of reasons in the Satisfaction Note and approval of the
same by the competent authorities.”
7. The Company was incorporated on 28.09.2015 with two Directors
holding 10,000 shares each of the face value of Rs.10. The stand of the
Revenue shows that the said Company stepped into the business of
gaming and entertainment and launched a casino in Goa on
29.07.2016 without having any adequate capital. The allegation
against the company is in relation to cash deposits of total
6
Rs.13,79,10,500/- soon after demonetization on 08.11.2016. The
satisfaction note prepared by DDIT (Investigation), Unit-1, Jalpaiguri
was approved by Additional Director of Income Tax (Investigation) Unit5, Kolkata and further approved by DGIT (Investigation), Kolkata on
07.08.2018. The High Court also quoted paragraph 4.3 from an
affidavit in-reply filed by the Revenue which reads thus:
“5.3. As far as the investment opportunity is concerned, it is
quite glaring that the petitioner invested 10 crores within a span
of one month on 01.06.2016 and 21.06.2016 by way of loan on
interest given to M/s Goan Recreation Clubs Pvt. Ltd. The
investment was made from the Kotak Mahindra Bank A/c No.
80116714807 of the petitioner and deposited into the HDFC
Bank A/c No. 50200015405430 of the company, M/s Goan
Recreation Clubs Pvt. Ltd. Interestingly, the loan was repaid by
the latter in five installments from 06.10.2016 to 31.03.2017 [as
shown in point no. (g) of para 4.1]. The apparent investment
made by the petitioner is found to be not a judicious investment
choice from the point of view of a prudent business man as the
company to which the petitioner provided loan, had no
established business, no goodwill in the market, nor was it
enlisted in any of the stock exchanges, nor did the petitioner
have had any financial dealings with the company previously.
The quick repayment of the loan shows that the investment was
not meant to earn steady interest income. All this goes on to
suggest that the investment and nature of transaction entered
into by the petitioner was akin to the familiar modus operandi
being employed by the entry operators to provide an
accommodation entry to bring the unaccounted black money to
books for brief period to run the business till sufficient fund is
generated by running the business or some fund from any other
unaccounted source came later on. That is the angle of the
investigative process underway in which fund trail of the money
paid by the petitioner is being investigated”
8. The High Court found that none of the reasons to believe to issue
authorization met the requirement of Section 132(1)(a), (b) and (c).
7
The said Section reads thus:
“132. Search and seizure - (1) Where the Principal Director
General or Director General or Director or the Principal Chief
Commissioner or Chief Commissioner or Principal Chief
Commissioner or Commissioner or Additional Director or
Additional Commissioner, or Joint Director or Joint Commissioner
in consequence of information in his possession, has reason to
believe that-
(a) any person to whom a summons under sub-section (1) of
section 37 of the Indian Income Tax Act, 1922 (11 of
1922), or under sub-section (1) of section 131 of this Act,
or a notice under sub-section (4) of section 22 of the
Indian Income Tax Act, 1922 (11 of 1922), or under subsection (1) of section 142 of this Act was issued to
produce, or cause to be produced, any books of account or
other documents has omitted or failed to produce, or
cause to be produced, such books of account, or other
documents as required by such summons or notice, or
(b) any person to whom a summons or notice as aforesaid
has been or might be issued will not, or would not,
produce or cause to be produced, any books of account or
other documents which will be useful for, or relevant to,
any proceeding under the Indian Income Tax Act, 1922 (11
of 1922), or under this Act, or
(c) any person is in possession of any money, bullion,
jewellery or other valuable article or thing and such
money, bullion, jewellery or other valuable article or thing
represents either wholly or partly income or property
which has not been, or would not be, disclosed for the
purposes of the Indian Income Tax Act, 1922 (11 of 1922),
or this Act (hereinafter in this section referred to as the
undisclosed income or property).
Explanation- For the removal of doubts, it is hereby
declared that the reason to believe, as recorded by the
income-tax authority under this sub-section, shall not be
disclosed to any person or any authority or the Appellate
Tribunal.
………………………..”
8
9. Mr. Balbir Singh, learned Additional Solicitor General of India, appearing
for the Revenue argued that the High Court has completely misdirected
itself in quashing the authorization as the jurisdiction of the High Court
while exercising judicial review is very limited. It was contended that
the High Court erred in law in finding that clauses (b) and (c) of Section
132(1) of the Act are not satisfied when it recorded as under:
“16……Thus, as rightly submitted by the learned counsel for the
petitioner, the belief that the petitioner would not respond to a
summons or notice issued as envisaged under clause (b) of subsection (1) of section 132 is not based upon any information or
other material but is based upon conjectures and surmises that
the petitioner would take the alibi of lack of jurisdiction on the
part of the respondents. This contention of the first respondent
also lends support to the contention raised on behalf of the
petitioner that powers under section 132 of the Act have been
resorted to because that is the only provision which vests
jurisdiction in the Kolkata authorities for taking action against
the petitioner. Evidently, therefore, the circumstance envisaged
under clause (b) of sub-section (1) of section 132 of the Act does
not exist in the present case.
17…..There is nothing on record to indicate that any belief has
been formed by the competent authority to the effect that the
petitioner has in his possession any money, bullion, jewellery or
other valuable article or thing which would not have been
disclosed by him for the purposes of the Act. On the contrary, in
the facts of the present case, from the record of the case as
produced by the respondents as well as by the petitioner, it is
evident that the loan transaction whereby the petitioner had
advanced Rs.10,00,00,000/- to the borrower company has been
duly reflected in the books of account of the petitioner. In his
return of income, the petitioner has duly shown the interest
income from such transaction. The tax deducted at source in
respect of such interest income, has been credited to the
account of the petitioner by the concerned authority. Therefore,
the entire transaction has been disclosed by the petitioner. There
is no other material on record on the basis the respondents could
have formed the belief as contemplated under clause (c) of sub9
section (1) of section 132 of the Act. Evidently, therefore the
circumstance envisaged under clause (c) of section 132(1) of the
Act also does not exist in the present case.”
10. Mr. Balbir Singh referred to the judgments of this Court reported as
N.K. Jewellers and Another v. Commissioner of Income Tax, New
Delhi
5
, Commissioner of Income Tax, Allahabad and Ors. v.
Vindhya Metal Corporation and Ors.
6
, Income Tax Officer,
Special Investigation Circle-B, Meerut v. Seth Brothers and
Ors.
7
 and Director General of Income Tax (Investigation), Pune
and Ors. v. Spacewood Furnishers Private Limited and Ors.
8
 to
contend that though it is open to the Court to examine the question
whether “reasons to believe” have any rational connection or a
relevant bearing to the formation of the belief and that such reasons
are not extraneous or irrelevant as the officer has to produce relevant
evidence to sustain his belief in case the reasons to believe are
questioned in court, however, it was argued that the jurisdiction of the
High Court is to examine the existence of reasons not the legality of
the same.
11. On the other hand, Mr. Datar, learned senior advocate appearing for
the assessee argued that the High Court has rightly held that none of
the pre-requisite conditions for search and seizure under Section 132 of
the Act are satisfied. It was argued that it is not the case of the
5 (2018) 12 SCC 627
6 (1997) 5 SCC 321
7 (1969) 2 SCC 324
8 (2015) 12 SCC 179
10
Revenue that clause (a) of sub-section (1) of Section 132 of the Act is
applicable, whereas the High Court has recorded a finding that even
clause (b) and clause (c) of sub-section (1) of Section 132 of the Act
are not satisfied. Since the view of the High Court is based upon
established principles of law, no case for interference is made out in
the present appeal under Article 136 of the Constitution of India. Mr.
Datar referred to the following judgments, namely, Seth Brothers &
Ors. etc.; Vindhya Metal Corporation & Ors; Ajit Jain v. Union of
India
9
, Union of India v. Ajit Jain & Anr.
10
, Dimondstar Exports
Ltd. v. Director General of Income-Tax (Investigation)
11
, MECTEC
v. Director of Income-Tax (Investigation)
12
, L.R. Gupta & Ors. v.
Union of India & Ors.
13
 and Janak Raj Sharma v. Director of
Inspection (Investigation) & Ors.
14
.
12. We have heard learned counsel for the parties and find that the view of
the High Court that the authorization to search the premises of the
assessee is invalid, cannot be sustained. The expression “reasons to
believe” is a component of many statutes such as in the case of
reassessment of Income under the Act or its predecessor statute, the
Essential Commodities Act, 1955; the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act,
1973 as well as in respect of action of the Revenue in the matter of
9 (2000) 242 ITR 302 (Del.)
10 (2003) 260 ITR 80 (SC)
11 (2005) 278 ITR 36 (Bom.)
12 (2021) 433 ITR 203 (Telangana)
13 (1991) SCC OnLine Del. 584 : (1992) 194 ITR 32 (Del.)
14 (1995) 215 ITR 234 (P&H)
11
search and seizure.
13. In S. Narayanappa v. CIT,
15 a case of re-assessment for the reason
that income had escaped assessment, this Court held the Revenue
must have reason to believe that the income, profits or gains
chargeable to income tax had been underassessed. The Court held as
under:
“2. ….. ….. But the legal position is that if there are in fact some
reasonable grounds for the Income Tax Officer to believe that
there had been any non-disclosure as regards any fact, which
could have a material bearing on the question of
underassessment that would be sufficient to give jurisdiction to
the Income Tax Officer to issue the notice under Section 34.
Whether these grounds are adequate or not is not a matter for
the court to investigate. In other words, the sufficiency of the
grounds which induced the Income Tax Officer to act is not a
justiciable issue. It is of course open for the assessee to contend
that the Income Tax Officer did not hold the belief that there had
been such non-disclosure. In other words, the existence of the
belief can be challenged by the assessee but not the sufficiency
of the reasons for the belief. Again the expression “reason to
believe” in Section 34 of the Income Tax Act does not mean a
purely subjective satisfaction on the part of the Income Tax
Officer. The belief must be held in good faith: it cannot be merely
a pretence. To put it differently it is open to the court to examine
the question whether the reasons for the belief have a rational
connection or a relevant bearing to the formation of the belief and
are not extraneous or irrelevant to the purpose of the section. To
this limited extent, the action of the Income Tax Officer in starting
proceedings under Section 34 of the Act is open to challenge in a
court of law. (See Calcutta Discount Co. Ltd. v. Income Tax Officer,
Companies District I, Calcutta [41 ITR 191]
xxx xxx xxx
15 AIR 1967 SC 523
12
4. ………….. The earlier stage of the proceeding for recording the
reasons of the Income Tax Officer and for obtaining the sanction
of the Commissioner are administrative in character and are not
quasi-judicial. The scheme of Section 34 of the Act is that, if the
conditions of the main section are satisfied a notice has to be
issued to the assessee containing all or any of the requirements
which may be included in a notice under sub-section (2) of Section
22. ………….”
14. Seth Brothers is referred to by both Revenue and the assessee
relating to the act of search and seizure. It was held that the exercise
of power is a serious invasion upon the rights, privacy and freedom of
the tax-payer. The power must be exercised strictly in accordance with
law and only for the purposes for which law authorizes it to be
exercised. The High Court had accepted that the correctness of the
opinion actually formed by the Income Tax Officer was not open to
scrutiny in a writ petition, but the search and seizure of documents and
books of accounts held to be made in excess of the powers conferred
upon the Income Tax Officer was mala fide. This Court found no merit
in such finding in view of the sworn affidavits by the concerned Income
Tax Officers that they did in fact form the requisite opinion under
Section 132 of the Act. This Court set aside the findings recorded by
the High Court, when it was held as under:
“8. The section does not confer any arbitrary authority upon the
Revenue Officers. The Commissioner or the Director of Inspection
must have, in consequence of information, reason to believe that
the statutory conditions for the exercise of the power to order
search exist. He must record reasons for the belief and he must
issue an authorisation in favour of a designated officer to search
the premises and exercise the powers set out therein. …………....
13
If the action of the officer issuing the authorization, or of the
designated officer is challenged the officer concerned must satisfy
the Court about the regularity of his action. If the action is
maliciously taken or power under the section is exercised for a
collateral purpose, it is liable to be struck down by the Court. If
the conditions for exercise of the power are not satisfied the
proceeding is liable to be quashed. But where power is exercised
bona fide, and in furtherance of the statutory duties of the tax
officers any error of judgment on the part of the Officers will not
vitiate the exercise of the power. Where the Commissioner
entertains the requisite belief and for reasons recorded by him
authorises a designated officer to enter and search premises for
books of account and documents relevant to or useful for any
proceeding under the Act, the Court in a petition by an aggrieved
person cannot be asked to substitute its own opinion whether an
order authorising search should have been issued. Again, any
irregularity in the course of entry, search and seizure committed
by the officer acting in pursuance of the authorisation will not be
sufficient to vitiate the action taken, provided the officer has in
executing the authorisation acted bona fide.
xxx xxx xxx
21. These proceedings were brought before the High Court by way
of a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution before any
investigation was made by the Income Tax Officers pursuant to
the action taken by them. In appropriate cases a writ petition may
lie challenging the validity of the action on the ground of absence
of power or on a plea that proceedings were taken maliciously or
for a collateral purpose. ……………………”
15. In The Income Tax Officer, I Ward, District VI, Calcutta and Ors.
v. Lakhmani Mewal Das
16
, this Court was examining the scope of the
expression “reason to believe” in the context of reopening of
assessment on the ground that income had escaped assessment. It
was held that the powers of the Income Tax Officer to reopen
16 (1976) 3 SCC 757
14
assessment, though wide, but are not plenary. The words of the statute
are “reason to believe” and not “reason to suspect”. It was held that no
doubt the Court cannot go into the sufficiency or adequacy of the
material and substitute its own opinion for that of the Income Tax
Officer on the point as to whether action should be initiated for
reopening assessment, but at the same time, it is not any and every
material, howsoever vague and indefinite or distant, remote and
farfetched, which would warrant the formation of the belief relating to
escapement of the income of the assessee from assessment. This
Court held as under:-
“11. As stated earlier, the reasons for the formation of the belief
must have a rational connection with or relevant bearing on the
formation of the belief. Rational connection postulates that there
must be a direct nexus or live link between the material coming
to the notice of the Income Tax Officer and the formation of his
belief that there has been escapement of the income of the
assessee from assessment in the particular year because of his
failure to disclose fully and truly all material facts. It is no doubt
true that the court cannot go into the sufficiency or adequacy of
the material and substitute its own opinion for that of the Income
Tax Officer on the point as to whether action should be initiated
for reopening assessment. At the same time we have to bear in
mind that it is not any and every material, howsoever vague and
indefinite or distant, remote and farfetched, which would warrant
the formation of the belief relating to escapement of the income
of the assessee from assessment. ……. The reason for the
formation of the belief must be held in good faith and should not
be a mere pretence.
12. The powers of the Income Tax Officer to reopen assessment
though wide are not plenary. The words of the statute are “reason
to believe” and not “reason to suspect” The reopening of the
assessment after the lapse of many years is a serious matter. The
Act, no doubt, contemplates the reopening of the assessment if
15
grounds exist for believing that income of the assessee has
escaped assessment. The underlying reason for that is that
instances of concealed income or other income escaping
assessment in a large number of cases come to the notice of the
Income Tax Authorities after the assessment has been completed.
The provisions of the Act in this respect depart from the normal
rule that there should be, subject to right of appeal and revision,
finality about orders made in judicial and quasi-judicial
proceedings. It is, therefore, essential that before such action is
taken the requirements of the law should be satisfied. The live
link or close nexus which should be there between the material
before the Income Tax Officer in the present case and the belief
which he was to form regarding the escapement of the income of
the assessee from assessment because of the latter's failure or
omission to disclose fully and truly all material facts was missing
in the case. ……………...”
16. In Partap Singh (Dr) v. Director of Enforcement
17
, this Court was
considering the action of search and seizure under the Foreign
Exchange Regulation Act,1973. It was held that when an officer of the
Enforcement Department proposes to act under Section 37, he must
have reason to believe that the documents useful for investigation or
proceeding under the Act are secreted. It was further held that the
reasons must be sufficient for a prudent man to come to the conclusion
that income escaped assessment and that the Court can examine the
sufficiency or adequacy of the reasons on which the Income Tax Officer
has acted. This Court held as under:-
“9. When an officer of the Enforcement Department proposes to
act under Section 37 undoubtedly, he must have reason to
believe that the documents useful for investigation or proceeding
under the Act are secreted. The material on which the belief is
17 (1985) 3 SCC 72
16
grounded may be secret, may be obtained through Intelligence or
occasionally may be conveyed orally by informants. ………….. ….
The Court in terms held that whether these grounds are adequate
or not is not a matter for the court to investigate.
10. The expression “reason to believe” is not synonymous with
subjective satisfaction of the Officer. The belief must be held in
good faith; it cannot merely be a pretence. In the same case, it
was held that it is open to the court to examine the question
whether the reasons for the belief have a rational connection or a
relevant bearing to the formation of the belief and are not
extraneous or irrelevant to the purpose of the section. To this
limited extent the action of the Income Tax Officer in starting
proceedings under Section 34 is open to challenge in a court of
law. ……………… The last part of the submission does not
commend to us because the file was produced before us and as
stated earlier, the Officer issuing the search warrant had material
which he rightly claimed to be adequate for forming the
reasonable belief to issue the search warrant.
xxx xxx xxx
14. Assuming that it was obligatory to record reasons in writing
prior to directing the search, the file submitted to the court
unmistakably shows that there was material enough before the
officer to form a reasonable belief which prompted him to direct
the search. That the documents seized during the search did not
provide sufficient material to the officer for further action cannot
be a ground for holding that the grounds which induced the
reasonable belief were either imaginary or fictitious or mala fide
conjured up.
xxx xxx xxx
16. In this behalf, the appellant further contended that if the
search was genuine or bona fide for carrying out the purposes of
the Act, it is surprising that when the matter was before the High
Court, the Enforcement Directorate submitted that it does not
wish to take any further action in respect of the material seized
during the search. There is no warrant for the assertion that every
search must result in seizure of incriminating material. Such an
17
approach would be a sad commentary on human ingenuity. There
can be cases in which search may fail or a reasonable explanation
in respect of the documents may be forthcoming. ……..”
17. This Court in a judgment reported as Phool Chand Bajrang Lal and
Anr. v. Income Tax Officer and Anr.
18 was examining the reasons to
be recorded for the purpose of re-assessment of the Income Tax
already assessed. It was only on the basis of specific, reliable and
relevant information coming to the knowledge of Income Tax Officer
subsequently, he has reasons which must be recorded, to believe that
due to omission or failure on the part of the assessee to make a true
and full disclosure of all material facts necessary for his assessment
during the concluded assessment proceedings, any part of his income,
profit or gains chargeable to income tax has escaped assessment. This
Court held as under:-
“25. ……. Since, the belief is that of the Income Tax Officer, the
sufficiency of reasons for forming the belief, is not for the Court to
judge but it is open to an assessee to establish that there in fact
existed no belief or that the belief was not at all a bona fide one
or was based on vague, irrelevant and non-specific information. To
that limited extent, the Court may look into the conclusion arrived
at by the Income Tax Officer and examine whether there was any
material available on the record from which the requisite belief
could be formed by the Income Tax Officer and further whether
that material had any rational connection or a live link for the
formation of the requisite belief. It would be immaterial whether
the Income Tax Officer at the time of making the original
assessment could or, could not have found by further enquiry or
investigation, whether the transaction was genuine or not, if on
the basis of subsequent information, the Income Tax Officer
arrives at a conclusion, after satisfying the twin conditions
prescribed in Section 147(a) of the Act, that the assessee had not
18 (1993) 4 SCC 77
18
made a full and true disclosure of the material facts at the time of
original assessment and therefore income chargeable to tax had
escaped assessment……..”
18. This Court in a judgment reported as N. Nagendra Rao & Co. v.
State of A.P.
19
, was examining the provisions of Essential
Commodities Act, 1955. This Court considering the objective of the Act,
the provisions dealing with search, seizure and confiscation and the
nature of their powers and manner of its exercise to assist in
determining if the statutory authorities are responsible for any loss or
damage to the stocks, held as under:-
“5. ……… The expression “reason to believe” has been
interpreted by this Court to mean that even though formation of
opinion may be subjective but it must be based on material on
the record. It cannot be arbitrary, capricious or whimsical. It is,
thus, a check on exercise of power to seize the goods. The
procedure after seizure is provided for by Section 6-A of the Act.
………….
……………………But what needs to be mentioned is that since the
power is very wide as a person violating the Control Orders is to
be visited with serious consequences leading not only to the
confiscation of the seized goods, packages or vessel or vehicle in
which such essential commodity is found or is conveyed or
carried, but is liable to be prosecuted and penalised under Section
7 of the Act, it is inherent in it that those who are entrusted with
responsibility to implement it should act with reasonableness,
fairness and to promote the purpose and objective of the Act.
Further, it should not be lost sight of that the goods seized are
liable to be confiscated only if the Collector is satisfied about
violation of the Control Orders. The language of the section and its
setting indicate that every contravention cannot entail
confiscation. That is why the section uses the word ‘may’. A trader
indulging in black marketing or selling adulterated goods etc.
should not, in absence of any violation, be treated on a par with
19 (1994) 6 SCC 205
19
technical violations such as failure to put up the price-list etc. or
even discrepancies in stock”.
19. In a judgment reported as Union of India v. Agarwal Iron
Industries
20
it was noticed that it is difficult to appreciate how the
denial in the counter-affidavit filed by the Revenue could be treated as
an admission by implication to come to a conclusion that no reason
was ascribed for search and seizure and, therefore, action taken under
Section 132 of the Act was illegal. The relevant confidential file, if
required and necessary, could have been called for and examined. The
Revenue in the counter-affidavit was not required to elucidate and
reproduce the information and details that formed the foundation of
search. It was further held that the issuance of search and seizure on
the basis of formation of opinion which a reasonable and prudent man
would form for arriving at a conclusion to issue a warrant was done by
way of an interim measure. The search and seizure is not to be treated
as confiscation. This Court held as under:-
“10. The provision contained in Section 132(1) of the Act enables
the competent authority to direct for issuance of search and
seizure on the basis of formation of an opinion which a reasonable
and prudent man would form for arriving at a conclusion to issue
a warrant. It is done by way of an interim measure. The search
and seizure is not confiscation. The articles that are seized are the
subject of enquiry by the competent authority after affording an
opportunity of being heard to the person whose custody it has
been seized. The terms used are “reason to believe”. Whether the
competent authority had formed the opinion on the basis of any
acceptable material or not, as is clear as crystal, the High Court
has not even remotely tried to see the reasons. Reasons, needless
20 (2014) 15 SCC 215
20
to say, can be recorded on the file and the Court can scrutinise
the file and find out whether the authority has appropriately
recorded the reasons for forming of an opinion that there are
reasons to believe to conduct search and seizure. As is evincible,
the High Court has totally misdirected itself in quashing the
search and seizure on the basis of the principles of non-traverse.”
20. This Court in another judgment in Spacewood Furnishers (P) Ltd.
set aside the order of the High Court, wherein it had interdicted with
the action of search and seizure under Article 226 of the Constitution.
It was held as under:
“12. In the present case the satisfaction note(s) leading to the
issuing of the warrant of authorisation against the respondent
assessee were placed before the High Court. As it would appear
from the impugned order [Spacewood Furnishers (P) Ltd. v. DG of
Income Tax, 2011 SCC OnLine Bom 1610 : (2012) 340 ITR 393] the
contents thereof were exhaustively reproduced by the High Court.
The said satisfaction note(s) have also been placed before us. A
perusal of the file containing the satisfaction note(s) indicate that
on 8-6-2009 the Assistant Director of Income Tax (Investigation),
Nagpur had prepared an elaborate note containing several
reasons as to why he had considered it reasonable to believe that
if summons or notice were issued to the respondent to produce
the necessary books of account and documents, the same would
not be produced. The Assistant Director also recorded detailed
reasons why he entertains reasons to believe that the promoters
of the respondent assessee company would be found to be in
possession of money, bullion, jewellery, etc. which represents
partly or wholly income which has not been disclosed for the
purposes of the Act.
xx xx xx
21. In the light of the views expressed by this Court in ITO v. Seth
Bros. [ITO v. Seth Bros., (1969) 2 SCC 324 : (1969) 74 ITR 836]
21
and Pooran Mal [Pooran Mal v. Director of Inspection
(Investigation), (1974) 1 SCC 345 : 1974 SCC (Tax) 114 : (1974) 93
ITR 505] , the above opinion expressed by the High Court is
plainly incorrect. The necessity of recording of reasons, despite
the amendment of Rule 112(2) with effect from 1-10-1975, has
been repeatedly stressed upon by this Court so as to ensure
accountability and responsibility in the decision-making process.
The necessity of recording of reasons also acts as a cushion in the
event of a legal challenge being made to the satisfaction reached.
Reasons enable a proper judicial assessment of the decision taken
by the Revenue. However, the above, by itself, would not confer in
the assessee a right of inspection of the documents or to a
communication of the reasons for the belief at the stage of issuing
of the authorisation. Any such view would be counterproductive of
the entire exercise contemplated by Section 132 of the Act. It is
only at the stage of commencement of the assessment
proceedings after completion of the search and seizure, if any,
that the requisite material may have to be disclosed to the
assessee.
22. At this stage we would like to say that the High Court had
committed a serious error in reproducing in great detail the
contents of the satisfaction note(s) containing the reasons for the
satisfaction arrived at by the authorities under the Act. We have
already indicated the time and stage at which the reasons
recorded may be required to be brought to the notice of the
assessee. In the light of the above, we cannot approve of the
aforesaid part of the exercise undertaken by the High Court which
we will understand to be highly premature; having the potential of
conferring an undue advantage to the assessee thereby
frustrating the endeavour of the Revenue, even if the High Court
is eventually not to intervene in favour of the assessee.”
21. The judgment of this Court in N.K. Jewellers referred to by Mr. Balbir
Singh is on line of the facts of the case. The proceedings initiated
under Section 132 of the Act were held to be valid as the explanation
given by the appellant regarding the amount of cash of Rs 30 lakhs
found by GRP and seized by the authorities has been disbelieved and
22
has been treated as income not recorded in the books of accounts
maintained by it. In Vindhya Metal Corpn., this Court had not
interfered with the order passed by the High Court that on the
information in possession of the Commissioner, no reasonable person
could have entertained a belief that the amount in possession of the
assessee represented income which would not have been disclosed by
him for purpose of the Act.
22. The judgment of Delhi High Court in Ajit Jain is on the facts of that
case but the law stated is not in dispute. The High Court found the act
of search as invalid on the facts of that case. In that case, a survey
under Section 133-A of the Act was conducted to ascertain whether the
cash of Rs. 8.6 lakhs was reflected in the accounts of the company.
The action of respondent No. 4 in issuing the authorisation under
Section 132(1) of the Act and seizure of Rs. 8.5 lakhs was challenged
on the ground that there was no “information” on record on the basis
whereof respondent No. 4 could form the belief that the said amount
recovered from the petitioner represented wholly or partly income
which had not been or would not have been disclosed for the purpose
of the Act, a condition precedent for exercise of power under Section
132(1) of the Act. The High Court held thus:-
“Thus, for authorising action under Section 132, the conditions
precedent are: (i) the information in the possession of the named
authority; and (ii) in consequence of which he may have reason to
believe that the person concerned is in possession of money,
bullion etc. which represents, either wholly or partly, income
23
which has not been or would not be disclosed for the purpose of
the Act. If either of these conditions are missing or have not been
adhered to, then power under Section 132 cannot be invoked.
Thus, the basis of exercise of power under Section 132(1) has to
be formation of belief and the belief has to be formed on the basis
of receipt of information by the authorising officer that the person
is in possession of money etc. which represents undisclosed
income.
“Information”, in consequence of which the Director General or
the Chief Commissioner etc., as the case may be, has from to his
belief is not only to be authentic but capable of giving rise to the
inference that a person is in possession of money etc. which has
not been or would not be disclosed for the purpose of the Act. In
other words, it must necessarily be linked with the ingredients
mentioned in the Section.
xxx xxx
By now it is well settled that while the sufficiency or otherwise of
the information cannot be examined by the court in writ
jurisdiction, the existence of information and its relevance to the
formation of the belief is open to judicial scrutiny because it is the
foundation of the condition precedent for exercise of a serious
power of search of a private property or person, to prevent
violation of privacy of a citizen……………. But the Court could
examine whether the reasons for the belief have a rational
connection or relevant bearing to the formation of the belief and
search warrant could not be issued merely with a view to making
a roving or fishing enquiry.
The expression ‘reason to believe’ has been explained in various
decisions by the Apex Court and High Courts while dealing with
Sections 132 and 148 of the Act. It has been held that the word
“reason to believe” means that a reasonable man, under the
circumstances, would form a belief which will impel him to take
action under the law. The formation of opinion has to be in good
faith and not on mere pretence. For the purpose of Section 132 of
the Act, there has to be a rational connection between the
information or material and the belief about undisclosed income,
which has not been and is not likely to be disclosed by the person
concerned.”
24
23. The judgments of the High Courts relied upon by Mr. Datar are
primarily on the facts of the respective case but in view of the
judgment of this Court, we do not feel the necessity to discuss such
judgments herein.
24. The detailed satisfaction note shows multiple entries in the account
books of Sarju Sharma and others. The manner of Sarju Sharma who
was either in Siliguri (West Bengal) or in Goa contacting the assessee
in Ahmedabad for a loan of Rs.10 crores does not appear to be a
normal transaction. Subsequent repayment of mortgage and the
interest income reflected in the relevant assessment year appears to
be the steps taken by the assessee to give a colour of genuineness but
the stand of the Revenue that such entry was an accommodation entry
is required to be found out and also the cobweb of entries required to
be unravelled including the trail of the money paid by the assessee.
25. The High Court quoted extensively from the counter-affidavit filed by
the Revenue as well as quoted para 4.3 of the affidavit-in reply but still
returned a finding that the Court could not find any other material
whatsoever insofar as the assessee is concerned for the purpose of
recording satisfaction under Section 132 of the Act. We find that
reasons to believe are not the final conclusions which the revenue
would arrive at while framing block assessment in terms of Chapter
25
XIV-B of the Act. The test to consider the justiciability of belief is
whether such reasons are totally irrelevant or whimsical. The reply in
the counter affidavit shows that the intention of the Revenue was to
un-layer the layering of money which is suspected to be done by the
assessee. The Revenue has asserted that the accommodation entry is
a common modus operandi to bring the unaccounted black money to
books for a brief period. The investment of Rs.10 crores for a short
period was not for earning interest income as the same was repaid in
the same assessment year. The Revenue intends to investigate the
fund trail of the money paid by the assessee. Such belief is not out of
hat or whimsical. The assessee’s stand is that it is fishing enquiry and
not a malafide action of the Revenue. The Revenue is specific so as to
find out the genuineness of the transaction believing that it was a
mere accommodation entry.
26. In Partap Singh, the action of search and seizure was found to be
valid. Though the stand of the Enforcement Directorate was that in
view of the material seized during the search, it does not wish to take
any further action, it was found that there was no warrant for the
assertion that every search must result in seizure of incriminating
material. There can be cases in which search may fail or reasonable
explanation of the documents may be forthcoming. At this stage of
search and seizure, the Court has to examine whether the reason to
26
believe are in good faith; it cannot merely be pretence. The belief
recorded must have a rational connection or a relevant bearing to the
formation of the belief and should not be extraneous or irrelevant to
the purpose of the section. In view of the detailed reasons recorded in
the satisfaction note including the investment made by the assessee
for brief period and that investment is alleged to be an accommodation
entry, it cannot be said to be such which does not satisfy the prerequisite conditions of Section 132(1) of the Act.
27. As per the Revenue, Clauses (b) & (c) of Section 132 (1) were satisfied
before the warrant of authorization was approved. The satisfaction
note was recorded in terms of an assessee whose jurisdictional
assessing officer was in the State of the West Bengal. It is the cobweb
of accounts of such assessee which are required to be unravelled. It is
not unreasonable for the Revenue to apprehend that the assessee
would not respond to the summons before the Assessing Officer in the
State of West Bengal. It was also alleged that such summons would
lead to disclosure of information collected by the Revenue against
Sarju Sharma and his group. Therefore, it was a reasonable belief
drawn by the Revenue that the assessee shall not produce or cause to
be produced any books of accounts or other documents which would
be useful or relevant to the proceedings under the Act. Such believe
was not based upon conjectures but on a bona-fide opinion framed in
27
the ordinary conduct of the affairs by the assessee generally. The
notice to the assessee to appear before the Income Tax authorities in
the State of West Bengal would have been sufficient notice of the
material against the Company and its group, to defeat the entire
attempt to unearth the cobweb of the accounts by the Company and
its associates.
28. Even clause (c) of Section 132(1) is satisfied. The assessee was in
possession of Rs.10 crores which was advanced as loan to the
Company. The Revenue wishes to find out as to whether such amount
is an undisclosed income which would include the sources from which
such amount of Rs.10 crores was advanced as loan to a totally stranger
person, unconnected with either the affairs of assessee or any other
link, to justify as to how a person in Ahmedabad has advanced Rs.10
crores to the Company situated at Kolkata in West Bengal for the
purpose of investment in Goa. The Revenue may fail or succeed but
that would not be a reason to interfere with the search and seizure
operations at the threshold, denying an opportunity to the Revenue to
unravel the mystery surrounding the investment made by the
assessee.
28
29. In a celebrated judgment of this Court in Tata Cellular v. Union of
India
21
, on the scope of judicial review, though in the context of
tenders, is very well applicable to the powers or limitations of the
Courts while exercising the jurisdiction under Article 226 of the
Constitution. One of the principles is that of judicial restraint. This
Court held that:
“73. Observance of judicial restraint is currently the mood in
England. The judicial power of review is exercised to rein in any
unbridled executive functioning. The restraint has two
contemporary manifestations. One is the ambit of judicial
intervention; the other covers the scope of the court's ability to
quash an administrative decision on its merits. These restraints
bear the hallmarks of judicial control over administrative action.
74. Judicial review is concerned with reviewing not the merits of
the decision in support of which the application for judicial
review is made, but the decision-making process itself.
xx xx xx
78. What is this charming principle of Wednesbury
unreasonableness? Is it a magical formula? In R. v. Askew [(1768) 4
Burr 2186 : 98 ER 139] , Lord Mansfield considered the question
whether mandamus should be granted against the College of
Physicians. He expressed the relevant principles in two eloquent
sentences. They gained greater value two centuries later:
“It is true, that the judgment and discretion of determining upon
this skill, ability, learning and sufficiency to exercise and practise
this profession is trusted to the College of Physicians and this
Court will not take it from them, nor interrupt them in the due
and proper exercise of it. But their conduct in the exercise of this
trust thus committed to them ought to be fair, candid and
unprejudiced; not arbitrary, capricious, or biased; much less,
warped by resentment, or personal dislike.”
xx xx xx
21 (1994) 6 SCC 651
29
80. At this stage, The Supreme Court Practice, 1993, Vol. 1, pp.
849-850, may be quoted:
“4. Wednesbury principle.— A decision of a public authority will
be liable to be quashed or otherwise dealt with by an appropriate
order in judicial review proceedings where the court concludes
that the decision is such that no authority properly directing itself
on the relevant law and acting reasonably could have reached it.
(Associated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd. v. Wednesbury
Corpn. [(1948) 1 KB 223 : (1947) 2 All ER 680] , per Lord Greene,
M.R.)”
xx xx xx
82. Bernard Schwartz in Administrative Law, 2nd Edn., p. 584 has
this to say:
“If the scope of review is too broad, agencies are turned into
little more than media for the transmission of cases to the
courts. That would destroy the values of agencies created to
secure the benefit of special knowledge acquired through
continuous administration in complicated fields. At the same
time, the scope of judicial inquiry must not be so restricted
that it prevents full inquiry into the question of legality. If that
question cannot be properly explored by the judge, the right
to review becomes meaningless. ‘It makes judicial review of
administrative orders a hopeless formality for the litigant. …
It reduces the judicial process in such cases to a mere feint.’
Two overriding considerations have combined to narrow the scope
of review. The first is that of deference to the administrative
expert. In Chief Justice Neely's words:
‘I have very few illusions about my own limitations as a
judge and from those limitations I generalise to the inherent
limitations of all appellate courts reviewing rate cases. It
must be remembered that this Court sees approximately
1262 cases a year with five judges. I am not an accountant,
electrical engineer, financier, banker, stock broker, or
systems management analyst. It is the height of folly to
30
expect judges intelligently to review a 5000 page record
addressing the intricacies of public utility operation.’
It is not the function of a judge to act as a superboard, or with the
zeal of a pedantic schoolmaster substituting its judgment for that
of the administrator.
The result is a theory of review that limits the extent to which the
discretion of the expert may be scrutinised by the non-expert
judge. The alternative is for the court to overrule the agency on
technical matters where all the advantages of expertise lie with
the agencies. If a court were to review fully the decision of a body
such as state board of medical examiners ‘it would find itself
wandering amid the maze of therapeutics or boggling at the
mysteries of the pharmacopoeia’. Such a situation as a state
court expressed it many years ago ‘is not a case of the blind
leading the blind but of one who has always been deaf and blind
insisting that he can see and hear better than one who has
always had his eyesight and hearing and has always used them
to the utmost advantage in ascertaining the truth in regard to the
matter in question’.
The second consideration leading to narrow review is that of
calendar pressure. In practical terms it may be the more
important consideration. More than any theory of limited review it
is the pressure of the judicial calendar combined with the
elephantine bulk of the record in so many review proceedings
which leads to perfunctory affirmance of the vast majority of
agency decisions.”
xx xx xx
94. The principles deducible from the above are:
(1) The modern trend points to judicial restraint in administrative
action.
(2) The court does not sit as a court of appeal but merely reviews
the manner in which the decision was made.
(3) The court does not have the expertise to correct the
administrative decision. If a review of the administrative decision
is permitted it will be substituting its own decision, without the
necessary expertise which itself may be fallible.
(4) …..”
31
30. The power of judicial review and interference by the Courts in the
matters of disciplinary proceedings was being examined in the
judgement of this Court reported as Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. v.
Rajendra D. Harmalkar
22
. It was held that interference was not
permissible unless the order was contrary to law, or relevant factors
were not considered, or irrelevant factors were considered, or the
decision was one which no reasonable person could have taken.
31. In another judgment reported as Utkal Suppliers v. Maa Kanak
Durga Enterprises
23
, this Court was examining tender conditions in a
writ petition. It was held that judicial review in these matters is
equivalent to judicial restraint.
32. In the light of judgments referred to above, the sufficiency or
inadequacy of the reasons to believe recorded cannot be gone into
while considering the validity of an act of authorization to conduct
search and seizure. The belief recorded alone is justiciable but only
while keeping in view the Wednesbury Principle of Reasonableness.
Such reasonableness is not a power to act as an appellate authority
over the reasons to believe recorded.
22 2022 SCC Online SC 486
23 2021 SCC Online SC 301
32
33. We would like to restate and elaborate the principles in exercising the
writ jurisdiction in the matter of search and seizure under Section 132
of the Act as follows:
i) The formation of opinion and the reasons to believe recorded is
not a judicial or quasi-judicial function but administrative in
character;
ii) The information must be in possession of the authorised official
on the basis of the material and that the formation of opinion
must be honest and bona fide. It cannot be merely pretence.
Consideration of any extraneous or irrelevant material would
vitiate the belief/satisfaction;
iii) The authority must have information in its possession on the
basis of which a reasonable belief can be founded that the
person concerned has omitted or failed to produce books of
accounts or other documents for production of which summons
or notice had been issued, or such person will not produce such
books of accounts or other documents even if summons or notice
is issued to him; or
iv) Such person is in possession of any money, bullion, jewellery or
other valuable article which represents either wholly or partly
33
income or property which has not been or would not be
disclosed;
v) Such reasons may have to be placed before the High Court in the
event of a challenge to formation of the belief of the competent
authority in which event the Court would be entitled to examine
the reasons for the formation of the belief, though not the
sufficiency or adequacy thereof. In other words, the Court will
examine whether the reasons recorded are actuated by mala
fides or on a mere pretence and that no extraneous or irrelevant
material has been considered;
vi) Such reasons forming part of the satisfaction note are to satisfy
the judicial consciousness of the Court and any part of such
satisfaction note is not to be made part of the order;
vii) The question as to whether such reasons are adequate or not is
not a matter for the Court to review in a writ petition. The
sufficiency of the grounds which induced the competent
authority to act is not a justiciable issue;
viii) The relevance of the reasons for the formation of the belief is to
be tested by the judicial restraint as in administrative action as
the Court does not sit as a Court of appeal but merely reviews
34
the manner in which the decision was made. The Court shall not
examine the sufficiency or adequacy thereof;
ix) In terms of the explanation inserted by the Finance Act, 2017
with retrospective effect from 1.4.1962, such reasons to believe
as recorded by income tax authorities are not required to be
disclosed to any person or any authority or the Appellate
Tribunal.
34. In view of the above, we find that the High Court was not justified in
setting aside the authorization of search dated 07.08.2018.
Consequently, the appeal is allowed and the order passed by the High
Court is set aside. As a consequence thereof, the Revenue would be at
liberty to proceed against the assessee in accordance with law.
.............................................J.
(HEMANT GUPTA)
.............................................J.
(V. RAMASUBRAMANIAN)
NEW DELHI;
JULY 13, 2022.
35

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