The meaning of executors under section 159 to 179 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 High Court tried to explain the meaning of meaning of executors.
Meaning of executors defined by court
The phrase ‘executors’ used in section 159 to 179 of the Income Tax Act came up before various high courts as detailed under :
1. Hon’ble Gujarat High Court explained the meaning of ‘executors’ while delivering judgment in CIT Vs. Navnitlal Sakarlal  125 ITR 67 (Guj.) as under :
Meaning : The word ‘executor’ in section 168 means an executor as known under the indian succession act as well as an administrator known under the indian succession act and, what is more, any other person administering the estate of a deceased person is also included in this special definition of the word ‘executor’ though, under the indian succession act, such other person administering the estate of the deceased would never be referred to either as an ‘executor’ or as an ‘administrator’.
2. Hon’ble Madras High Court explained the meaning of ‘executors’ while delivering judgment in CIT Vs. P. Visalakshi  217 ITR 282 (Mad.) as under :
Meaning : The term ‘executor’ in section 168 is not to be understood in any restricted sense as the explanation to the section has given an extended meaning to the word ‘executor’ so as to include an administrator or any other person administering the estate of the deceased person, that is, including the one who is in de facto management of the property of the deceased person.
It is not correct to say that section 168 is applicable only in the case of a specific legatee. The judicial opinion is in favour of an extended meaning given to the word ‘executor’ and even a person who had entered upon such a property on account of default of others or is in possession of the estate of the deceased de facto is included in the definition of the word ‘executor’.
Section 159 of Income Tax Act
159. (1) Where a person dies, his legal representative shall be liable to pay any sum which the deceased would have been liable to pay if he had not died, in the like manner and to the same extent as the deceased.
(2) For the purpose of making an assessment (including an assessment, reassessment or recomputation under section 147) of the income of the deceased and for the purpose of levying any sum in the hands of the legal representative in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (1),—
(a) any proceeding taken against the deceased before his death shall be deemed to have been taken against the legal representative and may be continued against the legal representative from the stage at which it stood on the date of the death of the deceased;
(b) any proceeding which could have been taken against the deceased if he had survived, may be taken against the legal representative; and
(c) all the provisions of this Act shall apply accordingly.
(3) The legal representative of the deceased shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed to be an assessee.
(4) Every legal representative shall be personally liable for any tax payable by him in his capacity as legal representative if, while his liability for tax remains undischarged, he creates a charge on or disposes of or parts with any assets of the estate of the deceased, which are in, or may come into, his possession, but such liability shall be limited to the value of the asset so charged, disposed of or parted with.
(5) The provisions of sub-section (2) of section 161, section 162, and section 167, shall, so far as may be and to the extent to which they are not inconsistent with the provisions of this section, apply in relation to a legal representative.
(6) The liability of a legal representative under this section shall, subject to the provisions of sub-section (4) and sub-section (5), be limited to the extent to which the estate is capable of meeting the liability.
In this article, you can get guidance from high courts on the meaning of executors under section 159 of the Income Tax Act.
Updated up to Finance Act 2021