04 April 2020
New Delhi: A day after the Supreme Court quashed the Income Tax (I-T) notice sent to NDTV, sources said on Saturday that the Union Finance Ministry has decided to issue a fresh notice to the media outlet in connection with a tax re-assessment case.
A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court had clarified on Friday that though it had quashed the 2015 I-T notice on technical ground, it left it open for the revenue department to issue a fresh notice under the pertinent I-T provisions.
According to sources in the Finance Ministry, the apex court has endorsed the view of the I-T Department that "there were reasons to believe that income had escaped assessment" in the case of NDTV for the assessment year 2008-2009.
According to the sources, the decision of the department came as after the reopening of the case in March 2015, it was reportedly found that funds amounting to Rs 405.09 crore introduced into the books of NNPLC, a UK based subsidiary of NDTV, was nothing but NDTV's own undisclosed income.
The source added that NDTV by way of a scheme had designed to re-introduce or re-route its undisclosed income over three assessment years by layering it through its various subsidiary companies with the ultimate destination being NDTV.
Ministry sources claimed that the Supreme Court has in a way held that "the notice issued to NDTV shows sufficient reasons to believe on the part of the assessing officer to reopen the assessment", and accordingly it has given liberty to the revenue department to issue fresh notice under the second proviso of Section 147 to reopen the assessment of this year.
A bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta said, "We accordingly allow the appeal by holding that the notice issued to the assessee (NDTV) shows sufficient reasons to believe on the part of the assessing officer to reopen the assessment but since the revenue department has failed to show non-disclosure of facts, the notice having been issued after a period of four years is required to be quashed."
"The revenue department may issue a fresh notice taking benefit of the second proviso if otherwise permissible under law," said the apex court.
The assessing officer had issued notices to NDTV under Section 148 of the Income Tax Act on the ground of escaping income from assessment.
The apex court said that these notices were time-barred, hence unsustainable. NDTV had urged that no income was derived from the foreign entity and a loan cannot be termed to be an asset or an income and had submitted that the notice cannot be said to have been issued under the second proviso.