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From Suspicion to Substantiation: ITAT holds that Proof Prevails over Presumption in Tax Law


The case of Alchemist Touchnology v. ACIT[i] is a significant one brought before the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Delhi Bench (‘ITAT’). The appeal, filed for the Assessment Year (‘AY’) 2013-14, contested the addition made by the Assessing Officer (‘AO’) under s. 69 of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (‘Act’). The crux of the matter revolved around whether the funds received by Alchemist Touchnology (‘Assessee’) through Foreign Direct Investment (‘FDI’) were unexplained investments, as alleged by the tax authorities.

Brief Facts

  • A search and seizure action under s. 132 of the Act was conducted at the Assessee’s premises by the investigation wing of Chandigarh. Notices under s. 153C of the Act were issued to the Assessee, following the search operation and the Assessee subsequently filed its return of income for AY 2013-14 declaring Nil income.

  • Despite several notices and questionnaires, the Assessee did not respond until furnishing Forn 34BA, indicating an application before the Income-tax Settlement Commission, which was rejected. The AO scrutinized the FDI received by the Assessee based on the data seized from the Assessee’s office premises and concluded that the amounts sent by the Assessee through FDI were undisclosed investments purportedly sent through hawala routes.

  • The Assessee contended that the funds were received from LGF Lodestone Global Fund Limited, Cyprus, under the FDI route. The Assessee provided documents such as foreign inward remittance certificates, share certificates, Reserve Bank of India documents, and certificates from independent professionals to substantiate the FDI transactions.

  • Despite the explanation provided by the Assessee, the AO made an addition of Rs. 1,19,88,60,000/- under s. 69 of the Act, alleging that the funds sent abroad were undisclosed investments routed back through the FDI route. This decision was further upheld by the Commissioner of Income-tax (Appeals).


  • The ITAT ruled in favour of the Assessee, directing the deletion of the addition made under s. 69 of the Act. The ITAT found no evidence to prove that the amounts sent were through hawala transactions and noted that the revenue’s addition was purely based on suspicion and lacked substantive evidence.

  • The ITAT observed that the Assessee had diligently provided documentation to support the FDI transactions, including certificates from relevant authorities. It was emphasized that the burden of proof cannot be shifted entirely to the Assessee and that the revenue must substantiate its allegations with concrete evidence.

  • The ITAT highlighted the lack of evidence connecting the alleged hawala transactions with the FDI receipts and considered the actions taken by the CBDT Foreign Tax Division, which confirmed the legitimacy of the FDI transactions.


This case underscores the importance of documentary evidence in tax assessments in order to establish the source of funds and transactions. While the burden of proof initially rests on the Assessee, tax authorities must substantiate their claims with concrete evidence. Mere suspicion, without supporting evidence, is insufficient to justify additions under the Act. The ITAT’s decision reaffirms the principle that assessments must be based on facts and evidence, not conjecture or presumption.

End Note

[i] [2024] 160 422 (Delhi - Trib.) dated 11.03.2024.

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


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