1. By this reference under Section 256(1) of the I.T. Act, 1961, hereinafter called the Act, the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal, Indore Bench, has referred the following question of law to this court for its opinion :
' Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the rejection of the assessee's explanation showing reasonable cause was sufficient for the imposition of penalty Under Section 273(c) of the Income-tax Act, 1961, and whether there was no onus on the revenue to establish mem rea in the quasi-criminal penalty proceedings before the penalty could be legally imposed '
2. The material facts giving rise to this reference briefly are as follows: For the assessment year 1973-74, a penalty of Rs. 1,800 was imposed by the ITO on the assessee for default under Section 273(c) of the Act. This penalty was imposed as the ITO, after considering the explanation given by the assessee, came to the conclusion that the assessee had not shown reasonable cause for failure to furnish an estimate of the advance tax payable by her in accordance with the provisions of Sub-section (3A) of Section 212 of the Act. On appeal, the AAC confirmed the order passed by the ITO. On further appeal to the Tribunal, the Tribunal came to the conclusion that it was for the assessee to show reasonable cause and the element of mens rea was not required to be taken into consideration while imposing penalty under Section 273(c) of the Act. The Tribunal, therefore, held that the penal provisions were attracted to the case of the assessee. At the instance of the assessee, the Tribunal has referred the aforesaid question of law to this court for its opinion.
3. Having heard learned counsel for the parties, we have come to the conclusion that this reference must be answered in the affirmative and in favour of the department. In Nemichand Ganeshmal v. CIT : 124ITR438(MP) , a Division Bench of this court held that mens rea or guilty intent was not a necessary ingredient of the penalty provision contained in Section 271(1)(a) of the Act. We, respectfully agree with the view taken in that decision. There is no material difference in the language of Section 271(1)(a) and Section 273(c) of the Act, so far as this aspect of the question is concerned. The Tribunal was, therefore, justified in holding, in our opinion, that the element of mens rea was not required to be taken into consideration while imposing penalty under Section 273(c) of the Act.
4. Our answer to the question referred to us is, therefore, in the affirmative and against the assessee. In the circumstances of the case, parties shall bear their own costs of this reference.