Notice under Section 131

Response on the Summon issued

Section 131 of the Income Tax Act empowers the Income Tax Authorities to issue summons for various purposes, such as to enforce attendance, examine a person under oath, compel the production of books of account and other documents, and issue commissions. Understanding how to respond to such a notice properly is crucial for compliance and legal reasons.

Reference to Section 131 of the Income Tax Act, 1961

Section 131 of the Income Tax Act 1961 provides the Income Tax Authorities in India with extensive powers similar to those vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. These powers are specifically related to the assessment proceedings where the authority is looking into the tax affairs of an assessee. Here’s a breakdown of these powers:

Powers Under Section 131

  1. Enforcement of Attendance: The Income Tax Authorities can enforce the attendance of any person, including an officer of a company or a bank, to appear before them about any tax proceedings.
  2. Examination on Oath: The authorities can examine any person under oath. This is critical when they require verbal explanations or details regarding the financial documents and transactions relevant to tax matters.
  3. Compelling Production of Books and Documents: Tax officers can compel a person to produce any books of account or documents deemed necessary for any tax investigation or assessment.
  4. Issuing Commissions: The authorities are also empowered to issue commissions, just as courts can, to carry out specific inquiries or to inspect books and records that are not directly available.


  • During Investigation and Assessment: These powers are typically exercised during the assessment, reassessment, or investigation stages of tax handling.
  • Scope and Limitation: While these powers are broad, they must be exercised in accordance with the law and with respect to the taxpayer’s rights. The exercise of these powers is subject to legal scrutiny and must adhere to the principles of natural justice.

Legal Context

  • Purpose: The purpose of these powers is to ensure that the Income Tax Department has all the necessary information and documentation to assess tax liabilities and prevent tax evasion accurately.
  • Check and Balance: While Section 131 empowers tax authorities significantly, its use is balanced by the assessee’s right to appeal against any action or order resulting from exercising these powers.


  • A business owner receives a summons to provide all previous financial year transaction records to the tax authority for examination. This may be in the context of a detailed audit or an investigation into alleged discrepancies or non-compliance.

Notice Content

  • Identifying Information: Taxpayer details such as name, address, and PAN.
  • The purpose of the Summons is to clearly state what is required of the taxpayer—personal appearance, specific documents, or both.
  • Specified Date and Time: The exact date and time the individual must comply with the summons.
  • Location for Compliance: The specific location where the taxpayer must appear or deliver documents.

Actions to Be Initiated

  1. Review the Summons Carefully: Ensure all details are understood clearly.
  2. Gather Required Documents: Collect all documents as specified in the summons.
  3. Seek Legal Advice: If the summons involves complex legal issues or significant potential liabilities, consult with a tax advisor or lawyer.
  4. Comply Timely: Adhere to the specified dates and times for compliance.


Penalties for Non-Compliance

  • Penalty under Section 272A(1):
      • Failure to Comply with Summons: A penalty can be levied if a person fails to comply with a summons issued under Section 131. The penalty is typically ₹10,000 for each failure.
      • Failure to Produce Books of Account or Documents: If the taxpayer does not produce the books of account or documents as required by the summons, the same penalty of ₹10,000 for each failure can apply.
  • Penalty under Section 271(1)(b):
    • Failure to Comply with the Terms of the Notice: If the taxpayer fails to comply with the terms of any notice under Section 131 and does not provide a satisfactory explanation for such failure, the taxpayer may be penalised. Depending on the specifics of the non-compliance, the penalty can range from 100% to 300% of the tax evaded or could be based on fixed monetary terms.


In cases where the non-compliance is severe, especially where it pertains to tax evasion or deliberate obstruction of the tax assessment process, the taxpayer could also face prosecution:

  • Prosecution under Section 276D:
      • Willful Attempt to Evade Compliance: If a willful attempt to evade any process of law or any duty imposed by a summons under Section 131 is proven, the person can be prosecuted. This could lead to imprisonment ranging from three months to two years, with or without fines.
  • General Prosecution for Obstruction:
    • In addition to specific tax-related prosecution, general provisions under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) might apply if the actions constitute obstruction of justice or fraud.

Do’s and Don’ts


  • Respond Promptly: Always respond within the time frame specified in the summons.
  • Maintain Record: Keep copies of all documents provided and correspondence with the tax authorities.
  • Be Honest: Provide complete and accurate information during examinations.


  • Ignore the Summons: Pay attention to a summons from the Income Tax Department.
  • Provide Incomplete or False Information: Misrepresenting facts or providing incomplete documents can lead to severe consequences.
  • Delay Response: Delaying compliance can compound problems and lead to penalties.



Receiving a Notice under Section 131 is a serious matter that requires immediate and careful attention. Compliance should be handled promptly and thoroughly to avoid penalties or prosecution. Taxpayers should consider professional advice to ensure they meet all legal requirements and handle the summons correctly. This approach helps comply with the law and maintain a good standing with tax authorities.

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