1. Shri B. L. Nema for the petitioners and Shri J. P. Sanghi for the Commissioner of income-tax heard on admission.
2. In these two petitions, the petitioners, M/s. Maheshwari Lime works, Katni, and M/s. Shri Venkatesh Trading Co., Katni, have challenged the transfer of their assessment cases from the file of ITO, 'A' Ward, Katni, to the file of ITO, Special Investigation Circle-II, Jabalpur, by the impugned order dated July 25, 1983, by the Commissioner under Section 127 of the I.T. Act, 1961. Notices were issued to the petitioners by the Commissioner for transfer of their cases on June 25, 1983, for the purpose of detailed and co-ordinated assessment. They were directed to submit their written objection on or before July 14, 1983, and also to appear before him in person or through a representative duly authorised in this behalf for a personal hearing. The petitioners submitted their written objections on July 13, 1983, contending : (1) this will entail lot of expenditure to the assessees for travelling from Katni to Jabalpur and back for attending the office of the ITO, Special Investigation Circle-II, Jabalpur, (2) the cases are on the file of a very senior and experienced ITO and the same should not be transferred to a junior officer, and (3) there is no valid ground for transfer on the ground of detailed and co-ordinated investigation. It appears that nobody appeared before the Commissioner on July 14, 1983, and he, therefore, passed the impugned order stating that centralisation of these cases at Jabalpur is necessary to have a thorough scrutiny and detailed investigation before completion of the assessment; however, in order that the assessees are not put to inconvenience, the ITO, Special Investigation Circle-II, Jabalpur, is directed to take up these cases as far as possible at Katni. By these petitions the petitioners further contend that they did appear personally before the Commissioner on July 14, 1983, but since he was not available they were not given any hearing and this fact was brought to his notice by filing an application on that day. This is denied on an affidavit filled on behalf of the Commissioner. According to the respondent, nobody appeared and the Commissioner was present in his office and has attended official work on that day ; the application was, in fact, moved on the next day on July 15, 1983, and not on July 14, 1983. The fact that the application was filed on July 15, 1983, and not on July 14, 1983, was conceded by the petitioner. Therefore, we find no merit in the contention that the petitioners were not given any personal hearing before the impugned orders were passed. Even otherwise we find that no prejudice has been caused to the petitioners by not giving them a personal hearing. They had submitted their written objections which have been duly considered by the Commissioner. Except the grounds mentioned in their written objection, no fresh ground has been urged before us in these petitions.
3. The objection of the petitioners that they have to incur a lot of expenditure in travelling to and fro from Katni to Jabalpur and back has been duly considered by the Commissioner and the ITO, Special Investigation Circle-II, Jabalpur, has been directed to take hearing of these cases as far as possible at Katni. Shri Sanghi, learned counsel for the Commissioner, assured that for the purpose of disposing of these cases, the petitioners would not be required to come to Jabalpur as the ITO, Special Investigation Circle-II, Jabalpur, will be camping at Katni. The petitioners have no legal right to insist that their assessment cases be tried by a particular officer, simply because he is a senior officer. The Commissioner is the best judge as to who should decide these cases. It appears that there was a raid in the premises of the petitioners on May 12, 1981. The search and seizures were challenged in a writ petition in this court, which was dismissed, although the account books were ordered to be returned. On scrutiny it has been found that several parties were concerned with the transactions entered into with the petitioners. Under the circumstances, the Commissioner was justified in ordering that the cases be handled by the ITO, Special Investigation Circle-II, Jabalpur, who generally deals with such cases. It has also been mentioned that because of the routine cases it may not be possible for the ITO, Katni, to complete a thorough scrutiny and detailed investigation before competing the assessment.
4. In Assam Surgical Co. v. CBDT the transfer of case under Section 127 from Gauhati to Delhi was justified for the purpose of facilitating co-ordinated investigation and assessment. There searches were conducted in the business and residential premises of the petitioners in Gauhati, which revealed concealment of large income. Searches conducted on the group based at Delhi has also revealed concealment of income plus the connection of the petitioners with the Delhi group. The Division Bench of this court in Sagarmal Spg. & Wvg. Mills Ltd. v. CBDT : 83ITR130(MP) , is clearly distinguishable where it was held that facility of investigation would not be sufficient reason for transfer of a case and would not be in compliance with the requirements of Section 127. In that case no reason was given for transfer of the case but here the facts are different.
5. Accordingly, the petitions are dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs.