Is there a difference and what rights do you have?


Searches and investigations are separate operations, and the powers to conduct them come from different sections of the Income Tax Act 1961.

The power to lead a to look for just Article 132 of the Income Tax Act, and its very basic text, it is clear that this is a more intrusive and comprehensive power than a investigation, whose power comes from Article 133A.

This may only be natural, given the circumstances in which a section 132 search is conducted and when a section 133A investigation is conducted.

A search should be carried out when a senior official of the Income Tax Department believes that a person has committed a tax evasion offense or does not disclose their property and, if a search is not carried out, the required information by the tax authorities will not be provided to them.

Tax officials have the power to issue notices and summons to a person if they believe they have not provided the relevant documents regarding their business and income, or if they want them to provide specific documents for inspection. When issuing a summons or notice, it is not automatically necessary to conduct a search.

An investigation, on the other hand, is a much more basic exercise, where a tax official can walk into a business and ask to inspect their books, and verify what cash, stocks and other valuables are on the premises.

The seriousness of a section 132 search is clear from the things that tax officials can do when going to conduct one:

  • Enter and search any building or vehicle or vessel (commercial or residential / personal) where they think they can find relevant information or assets;

  • Break the locks to access this information or valuables;

  • Physically search any person at the place of the search and have them provide any information relating to the search; and

  • Even seize account books or other relevant documents, or any “money, bullion, jewelry or other object or thing of value”.

These invasive powers are absent when it comes to an investigation under Section 133A, which gives them access to a place of business (or the offices of a charity – not a residence), and once there, to his account books and other documents and information. It does not allow a search power for an individual present on the premises.

While account books and other such information can be seized for inspection, money and valuables cannot be seized.

This is where “poll” on Laundry You could say he strayed from the book: as Sekhri said, in addition to desktops with financial information, his personal devices were also examined and “all data relating to them” was downloaded.

This is not something that section 133A seems to contemplate. Tax officials can no doubt argue that in the modern digital age, business information they are allowed to inspect under Section 133A could even be on a personal phone, but if the information were available on desktop devices, there would be no authority to require Sekhri to hand over his individual devices as well.

The power to simply access all of his or her personal or journalistic data would not even necessarily exist under the search power of section 132.

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