Satish Chandra, C.J.
1. This petition is directed against the orders passed by the Commissioner of Income-tax dismissing revisions, which in turn were directed against the appellate orders rejecting the plea that thepetitioner-assessee was not liable to penalty under Section 271(1)(a) for delay in filing the return.
2. For the assessment year 1967-68, admittedly, the return was filed four months late while for the assessment year 1968-69, it was filed 22 months late. The assessee did not appear before the ITO and so he had no occasion to know whether there was any reasonable cause for not filing the return. For the year 1968-69 the only ground taken was that the partner of the firm was unwell. The AAC repelled this ground by adding that there was no evidence showing that there was any serious illness of any of the partners. The grounds were held to be vague and inadequate. The Commissioner affirmed these findings.
3. For the assessment year 1968-69, the explanation furnished for the delay was not found acceptable on facts. It is also argued that since the return was below the taxable limit, the assessee was not liable to penalty under Clause (a) of Section 271(1). It was submitted that the burden of establishing the absence of reasonable cause lay on the Department and no evidence has been led to establish that fact. When the delay is admitted and the default has taken place under Clause (a) of Section 271(1), the penalty is imposable if the assessee had delayed in filing the return without reasonable cause. He has prima facie to satisfy the authorities that he had reasonable cause for the delay in filing the return. Under Clause (a) the penalty is not imposed for any concealment or furnishing inaccurate particulars and, therefore, no question of establishing mens rea by the Revenue arise. The real cause of the delay is specially in the knowledge of the assessee and the Revenue cannot be asked to establish that the cause was or was not reasonable. The assessee has to explain the cause for the delay and it is for the authorities to determine whether the cause was reasonable or not. Here, the finding of fact is that the cause shown was not reasonable.
4. Learned Counsel drew our attention to CIT v. Assam Automobile and Accessories Agency . In that case while examining the cause shown by the assessee for the delay, it was held that there was no lack of bona fide. In substance, the finding was that the assessee was able to satisfy the authorities that the cause was satisfactory. In the present case the position is to the contrary.
5. Though in the first year the return filed was below the exemption limit, yet, admittedly, the assessee was assessed on an income which was higher than the exemption limit. For the second year the revised return was beyond the exemption limit. As such the assessee was not under an obligation to file a return below the exemption limit, yet when he deliberately filed a return he had to file it within time.
6. In the result, the writ petition has no substance and fails. It is accordingly dismissed with costs.