Analysis, Income Tax

Judge Spotlight: Justice Sripathi Ravindra Bhatt

Justice S. Ravindra Bhatt is one of the four judges elevated to the Supreme Court in the latest round of appointments. The elevation took place on September 23, 2019. Here is a brief background, experience, and insights on cases.


Justice Bhatt completed his LLB from Delhi University and was enrolled in the bar in 1982. He has appeared as a lawyer before Delhi High Court and Supreme Court and has served as an additional and permanent judge of Delhi High Court and Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court.

Before being elevated to the Supreme Court, Justice Bhatt served as the Chief Justice in the Rajasthan High Court. He was also on the Bench in the Delhi High Court from 2006-2019. While serving as a judge in Delhi High Court, Justice Bhatt decided more than 2000 cases pertaining to tax laws. He will be one of the most experienced judges (in terms of number of cases) in the Supreme Court

We shall now explore the profile of Justice Bhatt at length and provide some analytical insights using the Riverus Strategic Income Tax Research Tool.

Top 3 most cited cases of Justice Bhat

1. Joint Investments (Pvt) Ltd. v. Commissioner of Income Tax

Section 14 of the Act or rule 8D cannot be interpreted so as to mean that the entire tax-exempt income of the assessee is to be disallowed. The disallowance of expenditure under Sec. 14A of the Act has to be worked out in the backdrop of the exempt income earned by the assessee and cannot be allowed to exceed the same. The computation of the assessee or claim that no expenditure was incurred for earning exempt income should be examined with reference to accounts and only if the assessee’s explanation is unsatisfactory, only then the AO can proceed further

2. CIT v. Agile Properties Pvt. Ltd.

Assessment could not be based on the background of suspicion and in the absence of any evidence to support the same.

3. CIT v. Orient Craft Ltd

Even an assessment made under section 143(1) of the Act can be reopened under section 147 if the Assessing Officer has reason to believe that income chargeable to tax has escaped assessment, is sound. The finality of intimation under section 143(1) of the Act can be disturbed under section 147-148 of the Act only if the Assessing Officer has reason to believe that certain income chargeable to tax has been escaped

Top Three most Referred Case Laws by Justice Bhatt

1. CIT(Central) v. Kabul Chawla (cited 52+ times by Justice Bhatt)

Once a search takes place under Section 132 of the Act, notice under Section 153A(1) will have to be mandatorily issued to the person in respect of whom search was conducted requiring him to file returns for six assessment years immediately proceeding the previous year relevant to the assessment year in which the search takes place.

2. M/s Sahara India Financial Corporation v. CIT (cited 48+ times by Justice Bhatt)

The assessee has to be provided a reasonable opportunity of being heard before passing an under section 142(2A). Even an administrative order has to be consistent with the rules of natural justice. Before dubbing the accounts to be complex or difficult to understand, there has to be a genuine and honest attempt on the part of the Assessing Officer to understand accounts maintained by the assessee; to appreciate the entries made herein and in the event of any doubt, to seek an explanation from the assessee.

3. Director of Income Tax v. New Skies Satellite B.V.

Without making the corresponding amendments to the DTAA, the amendments made to the Act cannot be read into the DTAA. Unilateral amendment made by the Parliament of a one-state will not automatically amend the DTAA’s signed by that state with the other states. Unless Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement is jointly amended by both the countries to incorporate particular income partaking the nature of royalty or amend definition in a manner so that such income automatically becomes royalty, The Finance Act, 2012 which inserted several explanations to section 9 (1) (vi) by itself would not affect the meaning of the term royalty as mentioned in article 12 of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement.

Written by Soumya Shekhar, legal writer @ Riverus

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