1. M. K. Srikanta Setty of Tumkur, who is the petitioner before me, is an assessee under the Income-tax Act, 1961 ('the I.T. Act'), in the status of a Hindu undivided family (HUF) from about 1954.
2. On December 30, 1975, the petitioner forwarded a declaration accompanied by necessary proof of tax payment to the Commissioner of Income-tax, Karnataka-I, Bangalore ('the Commissioner'), by registered post with acknowledgment due disclosing an income of Rs. 25,000 and for a consequential acceptance of the same under the Voluntary Disclosure of Income and Wealth Act, 1976 (Central Act 8 of 1976) ('the Act'), which was received by the latter on January 1, 1976. On March 24, 1980, the Commissioner rejected the same refusing to condone the delay in making the same (annexure G). In this petition under article 226 of the Constitution, the petitioner has challenged the order dated March 24, 1980, of the Commissioner and has sought a mandamus to him to condone the delay and treat the same as a valid declaration under the Act.
3. The petitioner has asserted that the declaration forwarded by him on December 30, 1975, by registered post with acknowledgment due though received on January 1, 1976, should be treated as a valid declaration made on the very day it was forwarded by him treating the Government Postal Department as the agent of the Commissioner and in any event on the very next day, i.e., on December 31, 1975, on which day it should have normally been received by the Commissioner.
4. The respondent has resisted this writ petition.
5. Sri G. Sarangan, learned counsel for the petitioner, contends that the words 'make' and 'made' occurring in sections 3 and 4 of the Act should be liberally construed and the declaration forwarded by his client on December 30, 1975, should be treated as made on that very day and should be deemed to have been made on December 31, 1975, on which day it should have normally been received by the Commissioner. In support of his contention, Sri Sarangan strongly relied on the two Division Bench rulings of this court in Esthuri Aswathiah v. CIT : 50ITR764(KAR) and K. N. K. Reddy v. CIT : 97ITR450(KAR) and a ruling rendered by me in Vanivilas Co-operative Sugar Factory Ltd. v. Union of India  ELT 290 (Kar).
6. Sri K. Srinivasan, learned senior standing counsel for the Income-tax Department appearing for the respondent, contends that the terms 'make' and 'made' occurring in sections 3 and 4 of the Act must be strictly construed and the absolute period of limitation prescribed by section 3 of the Act cannot be extended on any legal principle.
7. Section 3 of the Act provides for making a declaration in accordance with the provisions of section 4 of the Act before January 1, 1976, or on or before December 31, 1975. The time specified in section 3 of the Act for making a declaration is an absolute period which cannot be extended or condoned by any one under any circumstance.
8. In the context, the words 'make' and 'made' occurring in sections 3 and 4 of the Act mean that a declaration under the Act should be filed or presented on or before December 31, 1975, and not beyond that date.
9. On the object of prescribing a limitation, Justice Story in his treatise 'Conflict of Laws', 8th edition, page 794, that has become classical, has stated thus :
'.... They proceed upon the presumption that claims are extinguished or bought to be held extinguished whenever they are not litigated within the prescribed period. They quicken diligence by making it in some measure equivalent to right. They discourage litigation by burying in some common receptacle all the accumulations of past times which are unexplained and have now from lapse of time become inexplicable. It has been said by John Voet that controversies are limited to a fixed period of time, lest they should be immortal, while men are mortal.'
10. In Nagendra Nath Dey v. Suresh Chandra Dey , the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council stated the rule of construction to be followed in interpreting articles of the Act in these words (at p. 167) :
'... The fixation of periods of limitation must always be to some extent arbitrary, and may frequently result in hardship. But, in construing such provisions, equitable considerations are out of place and the strict grammatical meaning of the words is, their Lordships think, the only safe guide.'
11. In more than one case, our Supreme Court has restated these principles. On these principles that govern, this court is bound to place a strict construction on the period of limitation stipulated by section 3 of the Act. Any hardship to be caused is totally irrelevant and must be ignored by the court.
12. In the two cases decided under the Income-tax Act, this court was dealing with the exercise of power by an authority under the Income-tax Act and not the exercise of a right conferred on a person as in the present Act and the ratio in those cases do not really bear on the point and assist Sri Sarangan.
on any principle, the day on which the declaration was forwarded by post or should have normally been received, if the postal authorities had acted diligently, cannot be construed as the day of making or filing before the Commissioner.
13. Whether a declaration is filed in person or forwarded by post whichever course is adopted, such a declaration must actually be filed or received by the Commissioner on or before December 31, 1975.
14. In Vanivilas Co-operative Sugar Factory Limited v. Union of India  ELT 290 (Kar), this court was not dealing with the exercise of a right conferred by the Act and the ratio in that case does not really bear on the point.
15. Whatever be the circumstances in which the petitioner's declaration Was received on January 1, 1976, that has hardly any relevance to decide whether that was made before January 1, 1976, or on or before December 31, 1975. In the absence of a provision for condonation of delay, the Commissioner cannot condone the delay, whatever be the circumstances in which that delay occurred. If the Commissioner had no power to condone the delay, this court also cannot exercise that power and extend the period of limitation.
16. On any view, the impugned order of the Commissioner does not call for my interference.
17. AS all the contentions urged for the petitioner fail, this writ petition is liable to be dismissed. I, therefore, dismiss this writ petition and discharge the rule issued in the case. But, in the circumstances of the case, I direct the parties to bear their own costs.