What is a Search or Seizure under section 132 of the Income-tax Act, 1961.

The terms ‘Search’ and ‘Seizure’ have not been defined in the Income-tax Act. The word ‘Search’ has varied meanings and it should be given the general meaning ‘to look for’ or ‘seek’ which are well known meanings attributable to the word”. “Seizure is an expression which implies a forcible exaction or taking possession from either the owner or one who has the possession and who is unwilling to part with possession”.

The object of search action and consequent seizure, as envisaged by exercise of power can be understood as that search is a process for curbing offences relating to evasion of taxes and duties and to unearth unaccounted income and wealth. Seizure is obtaining the possession under the provisions of law, the unaccounted incomes and assets acquired and owned. 

Section 132 of Income-tax Act, is a comprehensive procedural provision. The exercise of power under the provision requires caution and care in strict compliance with the prescribed procedure. It provides for the circumstances under which the warrant of authorization has to be issued. The section also contains the procedure for search action and seizure.

The object of the provision under section 132 is to prevent evasion of payment of tax, and for that purpose to get hold of evidence sought to be withheld from the Assessing Authorities relating to evasion and unearth the unaccounted income or assets and seize the assets acquired and owned by utilising such unaccounted income. Considerable restraints were prescribed by law so that the power is not abused.

Such income believed to have not been disclosed when unearthed by conducting Search Action, the same shall be subjected to tax to ensure the recovery of tax evaded or sought to be evaded in terms of the specified assessment proceedings as envisaged in the respective provisions of the Act.