1. By this reference under Section 27(1) of the Wealth-tax Act (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'), the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal, Indore Bench, Indore, has referred the following question of law for the opinion of this court:
'Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the Tribunal was justified in holding that penalty under Section 18(1)(a) for the period of default occurring after March 31, 1969, for the assessment years 1964-65 to 1968-69 should be calculated with reference to the provisions of Section 18(1)(a) prior to its amendment with effect from April 1, 1969 ?'
2. The facts giving rise to this reference as set out in the statement of the case are as follows : The assessee was assessable under the provisions of the Act for the assessments years 1964-65 to 1968-69. The returns were due on or before 30th June, 1964, 30th June, 1965, 30th June, 1966, 30th June, 1967, and 30th June, 1968. They were filed late on 3-11-70, 3-11-70, 17-3-70, 17-3-70 and 17-3-70, respectively. The WTO started penalty proceedings for default in filing returns under Section 18(1)(a) of the Act for each year. He imposed penalties in respect of delay in filing the returns for each assessment year by separate orders passed on March 16, 1973. The penalties were levied in accordance with the amended provisions of Section 18(1)(a) of the Act which came into force on April 1, 1969. The assessee preferred appeals against the order of the WTO to the AAC. The appeals were allowed and it was held that the penalty was imposable in accordance with the provisions of Section 18(1)(a) of the Act as it stood prior to its amendment. The appeals preferred by the department were dismissed by the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal. At the instance of the Commissioner, the aforesaid question of law has been referred for the opinion of this court.
3. In Addl. CWT v. Smt. Manjuladevi Muchhal : 119ITR43(MP) , a Division Bench of this court has held that the non-filing of the return on the 30th June of the corresponding year is a complete default and not a continuing default and the law for the purpose of penalty that would be applicable will be the law in force on such date and not one which has been brought into force on April 1, 1969. We respectfully agree with the view taken in the said decision. In the present case, the returns for all the five years became due before April 1, 1969, and, therefore, the penalty was rightly held imposable under the provisions of Section 18(1)(a) of the Act as it stood prior to its amendment on April 1, 1969.
4. As a result of the discussion aforesaid, our answer to the question referred to us is in the affirmative and against the department. There shall be no order as to costs of this reference.