The meaning of actually be occupied under section 23(3) of the Income Tax Act is not defined in the act itself. But we can take guidance from decisions by various high courts. Here are excerpts of courts orders in which the Hon’ble Income Tax Appellate Tribunal tried to explain the meaning of actually be occupied.
Meaning of actually be occupied defined by court
The phrase ‘actually be occupied‘ used in section 23(3) of the Income Tax Act came up before hon’ble ITAT-Bangalore in Raval Padmanabha Shastri Adiga vs. ITO  13 ITD 355 (Bang. – Trib.) and it explained.
Meaning : The meaning of the phrase ‘actually occupied’ used in section 23(3) can be clearly understood by the acceptable reason given in the section itself, viz., ‘By reason of the fact that owing to his employment, business or profession carried on at any other place, he has to reside at that other place in a building not belonging to him’. This shows that where the assessee is required to have a double establishment, the statute intended to give the assessee relief in respect of the house in which he himself was not residing.
Section 23(3) of the Income Tax Act
Annual value how determined.
23. (1) For the purposes of section 22, the annual value of any property shall be deemed to be—
(a) the sum for which the property might reasonably be expected to let from year to year; or
(b) where the property or any part of the property is let and the actual rent received or receivable by the owner in respect thereof is in excess of the sum referred to in clause (a), the amount so received or receivable; or
(c) where the property or any part of the property is let and was vacant during the whole or any part of the previous year and owing to such vacancy the actual rent received or receivable by the owner in respect thereof is less than the sum referred to in clause (a), the amount so received or receivable :
Provided that the taxes levied by any local authority in respect of the property shall be deducted (irrespective of the previous year in which the liability to pay such taxes was incurred by the owner according to the method of accounting regularly employed by him) in determining the annual value of the property of that previous year in which such taxes are actually paid by him.
Explanation.—For the purposes of clause (b) or clause (c) of this sub-section, the amount of actual rent received or receivable by the owner shall not include, subject to such rules74 as may be made in this behalf, the amount of rent which the owner cannot realise.
(2) Where the property consists of a house or part of a house which—
(a) is in the occupation of the owner for the purposes of his own residence; or
(b) cannot actually be occupied by the owner by reason of the fact that owing to his employment, business or profession carried on at any other place, he has to reside at that other place in a building not belonging to him,
the annual value of such house or part of the house shall be taken to be nil.
(3) The provisions of sub-section (2) shall not apply if—
(a) the house or part of the house is actually let during the whole or any part of the previous year; or
(b) any other benefit therefrom is derived by the owner.
(4) Where the property referred to in sub-section (2) consists of more than two houses—
(a) the provisions of that sub-section shall apply only in respect of two of such houses, which the assessee may, at his option, specify in this behalf;
(b) the annual value of the house or houses, other than the house or houses in respect of which the assessee has exercised an option under clause (a), shall be determined under sub-section (1) as if such house or houses had been let.
(5) Where the property consisting of any building or land appurtenant thereto is held as stock-in-trade and the property or any part of the property is not let during the whole or any part of the previous year, the annual value of such property or part of the property, for the period up to two years from the end of the financial year in which the certificate of completion of construction of the property is obtained from the competent authority, shall be taken to be nil.
In this article, you can get guidance from high courts on the meaning of actually be occupied under section 23(3) of the Income Tax Act.
Updated up to Finance Act 2021