The assessee, a company, received Rs. 35 lakhs towards share allotment. As the shareholders did not respond to summons, the AO assessed the said sum as an unexplained credit u/s 68. On appeal, the CIT(A) and Tribunal relied on Lovely Exports 216 CTR 195 (Del) & Divine Leasing 299 ITR 268 (SC) held that as the assessee had furnished the PAN, bank details and other particulars of the share applicants, it had discharged the onus of proving the identity and credit-worthiness of the investors and that the transactions were not bogus. It was also held that the AO ought to have made enquiries to establish that the investors had given accommodation entries to the assessee and that the money received from them was the assessee's own undisclosed income. On appeal by the department to the High Court, HELD reversing the CIT(A) & Tribunal:
Though in previous decisions (Lovely Exports) it was held that the assessee cannot be faulted if the share applicants do not respond to summons and that the Revenue authorities have the wherewithal to compel anyone to attend legal proceedings, this is merely one aspect. An assessee's duty to establish the source of the funds does not cease by merely furnishing the names, addresses and PAN particulars, or relying on entries in the Registrar of Companies website. The company is usually a private one and the share applicants are known to it since the shares are issued on private placement basis. If the assessee has access to the share applicant's PAN or bank account statement, the relationship is closer than arm's length. Its request to such concerns to participate in income tax proceedings, would, from a pragmatic perspective, be quite strong. Also, the concept of "shifting onus" does not mean that once certain facts are provided, the assessee's duties are over. If on verification, the AO cannot contact the share applicants, or the information becomes unverifiable, the onus shifts back to the assessee. At that stage, if it falters, the consequence may well be an addition u/s 68 (A. Govindarajulu Mudaliar 34 ITR 807 followed).