1. The petitioner has challenged the legality of the notices issued under Section 281B of the income-tax Act (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'), by the Income-tax Officer, respondent No. 2, on March 14, 1984, vide which various bank deposits (F.D.Rs.) of the assesses lying in six different banks at Patiala and Chandigarh have been attached. Section 281B of the Act reads as under:
'281B. (1) Where, during the pendency of any proceeding for the assessment of any income or for the assessment or reassessment of any income which has escaped assessment, the Income-tax Officer is of opinion that for the purpose of protecting the. interests of the Revenue it is necessary so to do, he may, with the previous approval of the Commissioner, by order in writing, attach provisionally any property belonging to the assessee in the manner provided in the Second Schedule.
(2) Every such provisional attachment shall cease to have effect after the expiry of a period of six months from the date of the order made under Sub-section (1):
Provided that the Commissioner may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, extend the aforesaid period by such further period or periods as he thinks fit, so, however, that the total period of extension shall not in any case exceed two years.'
2. It is contended by Mr. Mahajan, learned counsel for the petitioner, that the impugned notices have been issued without applicability of mind by the Income-tax Officer, respondent No. 2. It is also submitted by the learned counsel that after the issuance of notices, six months' period has expired and that no extension has been granted by the Commissioner, as provided in Sub-section (2) of Section 281B of the Act.
3. On the other hand, it is submitted by Mr. Ashok Bhan, Sr. Advocate, learned counsel for the Department, that the Commissioner must have passed some order giving reasons for extending the period of provisional attachment and that no case for quashing the notices has been made out.
4. After hearing the learned counsel for the parties, in the circumstancesof the case, we find force in the contention of the learned counsel forthe petitioner. A bare perusal of the impugned notices would show thatthe Income-tax Officer has passed the order of the provisional attachmentof the F.D.Rs. till further orders. According to the aforesaid provision,this provisional attachment remains operative only for a period of sixmonths, but this period could be extended by the Commissioner in exerciseof his powers under Sub-section (2) of Section 281B of the Act, afterrecording reasons for the extension of such period. In the instant case,the period of six months has since expired. Mr. Ashok Bhan, SeniorAdvocate, learned counsel for the Department, has not been able to produce today before us any order of the Commissioner by which the extension of the provisional attachment may have been granted. As the periodof six months has expired, the provisional attachment ceases to be of anyeffect.
5. Regarding the contention of Mr. Mahajan, learned counsel for the asses-see, that the impugned notices were issued without applicability of mind, again has some merit; inasmuch as we find that there is no material on the record to show that the Income-tax Officer had formed an opinion on the basis of some material and that it was necessary to attach the property in order to protect the interests of the Revenue.
6. Thus, viewed from any angle, the impugned notices, in the circumstances of the case, cannot legally be sustained. Consequently, we allow this petition with costs and quash he impugned notices, Counsel's fee Rs. 300.