Sabyasachi Mukharji, J. -
(1.)I am concerned in this application with the validity of the notice under Section 154 of the Income-tax Act, 1961, issued on 15th November, 1971. The notice relates to the assessment year 1963-64, the relevant accounting year for which ended on 31st March, 1963, The petitioner was assessed under Section 143(3) of the Income-tax Act, 1961, in which the petitioner's total income was computed at Rs. 96,03,460. The petitioner is a public limited company and carries on business, inter alia, of manufacturing textile goods and chemical products. During the period relevant for the assessment year 1960-61, the petitioner had set up a new unit for manufacturing, inter alia, soda ash, caustic soda and other chemicals at Porbandar in Saurashtra. In the order of assessment for the assessment year 1963-64, the Income-tax Officer had allowed to the petitioner relief under Section 84 of the Income-tax Act, 1961, as it stood in the relevant year in respect of the said chemical unit set up at Porbandar, The relief was allowed under Section 84 of the Act by the said order and was to the extent of Rs. 8,72,753. Being aggrieved by certain disallowances, the assessee preferred an appeal from the said order of the Income-tax Officer. In the meantime, there was an order of rectification under Section 154 on 2nd February, 1968. The point on which the said order was rectified is not relevant for the present purpose. The Appellate Assistant Commissioner passed the appellate order on 31st October, 1969. In the meantime it appears that pursuant to a notice under Section 148 of the Income-tax Act, 1961, there was an order of reassessment for the said year on 25th March, 1969, The impugned notice which is the subject-matter, of challenge in the instant case before me was issued, as mentioned before, on the 15th November, 1971. The said notice indicated the nature of the mistake which was proposed to be rectified as follows :
"Nature of mistake proposed to be rectified.--The relief under Section 84 of the Income-tax Act, 1961, was allowed without taking into account the past losses, unabsorbed depreciation, etc., incurred by the new industrial undertaking. This mistake is apparent from the records and rectification in the computation of tax is called for."
(2.)The first ground of challenge to the notice is that the impugned notice has been issued beyond the period of limitation. It was contended that the order of reassessment dated 25th March, 1969, did not affect or alter the ground on which rectification was proposed, and in the instant case the period of limitation should be computed from the order dated. 29th April, 1967, and on that basis the impugned notice was issued beyond the period of limitation. I am unable to 'accept this contention. It appears to me that the reassessment order dated 25th March, 1969, was the effective order of assessment which is sought to be rectified, and the same is within the period of limitation prescribed. The impugned notice, therefore, cannot be challenged on this ground. On behalf of the revenue, however, reliance was placed on the decisions in the case of Lalji Haridas v. Income-tax Officer and in the case of Lalji Haridas v. R.H. Bhatt, in aid of the submission that the question of limitation should be raised before the authorities concerned and was not a matter to be adjudged in a writ application under Article 226 of the Constitution. Where the question, whether any particular proceeding has become barred by lapse of time, depends upon investigation of certain facts or determination of certain facts, then it is proper that such a question should be agitated before the forum created under the particular statute. But, where the action of an officer is barred on admitted facts or on the face of it, then as the jurisdiction of the officer to act depends on initiation of the proceeding within the time, in such a case resort to Article 226 for obtaining relief is not inappropriate provided the other conditions for seeking relief under Article 226 are fulfilled. In the view I have taken on the question of limitation, it is not necessary for me to examine this question any further.
(3.)The main contention urged in support of this application was that the mistake proposed was not a mistake which could come within the purview of Section 154 of the Income-tax Act, 1961. Section 154 permits rectification only if there is a mistake apparent from the record. The scope and occasions for such rectification have been examined by the Supreme Court and several High Courts. A mistake to be corrected under Section 154 must be obvious, patent and self-evident. A mistake on which conceivably there can be two views cannot be rectified by virtue of Section 154 of the Act. Reliance in this connection may be placed on the observations in the cases of T.S. Balaram v. Volkart Brothers, India Foils Ltd. v. Income-tax Officer , Harbans Lal Malhotra & Sons P. Ltd. v. Income-tax Officer and Income-tax Officer v. Raleigh Investment Co. Ltd. . Whether, however, a mistake is one which is patent or obvious or self-evident or one on which two views are conceivably possible depends upon the facts and the circumstances of each case.