Summon U/s 131 of Income Tax Act


Summon U/s 131 of Income Tax Act

Section 131 of the Income Tax Act empowers the income tax authorities to conduct inquiries. It provides powers to summon persons / witnesses, examine them under oath, compel production of books of account and documents, and issue commissions. The power of enforcing attendance of a person under this section is the same as available under the Code of Civil Procedure.

Generally it is seen that assessees are represented by their advocates / CAs / authorized representatives during proceedings before the income tax authorities. However, if it is felt that for inquiry in a particular matter, it is essential to examine the concerned person or a witness, then powers under section 131 are required to be invoked. If summons are issued and served on a person for personal attendance under section 131, it is binding on him to attend in person. He cannot be represented by a lawyer or an authorized representative. Further, a person can also be compelled to produce books of account or documents by issuing a notice under section 131. Non-compliance with the summons / notice issued under section 131 may result in levy of penalty of rupees 10,000 for such a default.

Here it is also important to clarify that an assessing officer can invoke section 131 for making inquiries only in a case where proceedings are pending before him. For example, during the course of ongoing assessment proceedings, the assessing officer can summon a third party for verifying facts presented before him by the assessee. He can also summon the assessee to his office for recording his statement on any of the issues relevant to the assessment. On the other hand, officers of the investigation wing can exercise these powers even if no proceedings are pending with them. They can invoke this section during the course of a search or during a survey for examining any person under oath. During post search inquiry or any other inquiry, the section can be resorted to for summoning persons and recording their statements or for enforcing production of books of account or any other records. Section 131 is thus a very powerful tool available to the income tax authorities in their quest for the truth.
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12 Comments

  • 603 (#)
    November 8th, 2013

    Why does an officer summon a person under section 131 – what is the ground of summons u/s 131?
    I have never received a summon or income tax letter before and this is my first. Can anyone tell me why would an office do something like this for the first time to a taxpayer?

    • gangwarco (#)
      November 8th, 2013

      This a tool to check correctness of evidence produced by the assessee:

      For example, during the course of ongoing assessment proceedings, the assessing officer can summon a third party for verifying facts presented before him by the assessee.

      • 603 (#)
        November 8th, 2013

        But I am the assessed according to the letter not a witness. And is it fine to send an authorized representative rather than appearing myself.

        • gangwarco (#)
          November 8th, 2013

          Sure if notice not served as witness then you can send an authorised representative.

          • 603 (#)
            November 9th, 2013

            Sorry but I am enquisitive about why it has been sent to me when I don’t have a pending case nor have I ever not replied to any of their enquiries and all my books have been cleared. I just don’t want to get into a trap which is why the questions.

          • gangwarco (#)
            November 9th, 2013

            Welcome sir no problem

            Eg suppose you raised bill to xyz and proceeding of xyz is going on then the authority can issue notice in your name us 131 to ensure correctness of your bill or invoice raised by u to xyz.

          • 603 (#)
            November 9th, 2013

            That makes sense. Thank you very much.

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  • K v v sarma (#)
    February 9th, 2016

    Under section 131 can an assessee be summoned withoit goving sufficient time. I.e next day to tje date of summon. If so under which section the time limit provoded to tje it authorities. Is it not mandatory to give suffocient time. If not given uffocoent time isbthe nitoce valid one. Pls clarify

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