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Bombay High Court Rejects Attempt to Stall Reassessment Over Seized Documents

Introduction

In a pivotal decision, Francisco Xavier Pacheco v. State of Goa[i], a writ petition (‘WP’) was filed by Francisco Xavier Pacheco (‘Petitioner’) before the Hon’ble Bombay High Court (‘BHC’). The Petitioner sought a stay on reassessment proceedings on the grounds that the Crime Branch (‘CB’) had seized certain documents. However, the BHC dismissed the WP, stating that the Petitioner intended to stall reassessment proceedings.

Brief facts

  • The reassessment proceedings against the Petitioner were initiated by the income tax authorities following the issuance of notices.

  • The Petitioner contended that the CB’s seizure of documents, computers, and hard disks hindered his ability to respond effectively to reassessment notices.

  • The Petitioner prayed for the release of seized items and requested a halt to reassessment proceedings until their release.

Held

  • The BHC dismissed the WP,  imposing costs of Rs. 25,000/- on the Petitioner for attempting to stall reassessment proceedings without justifiable cause.

  • It found the WP to be an abuse of the judicial process. It noted that the Judicial Magistrate had already directed the release of the seized items on 06.02.2018, subject to conditions including the furnishing of an indemnity bond.

  • The BHC observed that the Petitioner had not pursued the release of the documents seriously over the past six years, despite the clear court order. Further, even after a remand by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal in August 2022, the Petitioner failed to take substantial steps to obtain the required documents.

Our Analysis

The judgment highlights the importance of diligently pursuing legal remedies and complying with court orders. It underscores the principle that courts cannot aid parties in endeavours aimed at delaying legal processes. The imposition of costs emphasizes the consequences of filing frivolous petitions and wasting judicial time. This ruling serves as a precedent against the abuse of the legal system through delaying tactics in tax reassessment cases.



End Note

[i]  [2024] 161 taxmann.com 288 (Bombay) [27-03-2024]




Authored by Manmohan Bhola, Advocate at Metalegal Advocates. The views expressed are personal and do not constitute legal opinion.

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