G.P. Singh, C.J.
1. The question of law referred by the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal (Board of Revenue) is as follows :
Whether in the facts and circumstances of the case the expression 'electric motors, refrigerators and allied machines' would include air coolers and whether the Tribunal was justified in setting aside penalty under Section 10A of the Central Sales Tax Act ?
2. The assessee's registration certificate mentioned the following articles : 'Petrol, motor parts, refrigerators and allied machines w.e.f. 22nd August, 1957.
Lubricants, greases, tyres, diesel engines, new cars and trucks, buses, electric motors, frigidaire parts.
3. The assessee imported air coolers between 10th January, 1968, and 9th April, 1971, and issued declarations in C form. The assessing authority imposed penalty under Section 10A read with Section 10(b) of the Central Sales Tax Act, on the ground that air coolers were not covered by the registration certificate of the assessee. The assessee's appeal was rejected by the Appellate Assistant Commissioner of Sales Tax. In second appeal, the Tribunal came to the conclusion that the assessee was under a bona fide belief that air coolers were covered under the description 'electric motors, refrigerators and allied machines' as occurring in the registration certificate. On this finding, the Tribunal cancelled the penalty.
4. Section 10(b) provides for an offence if any person being a registered dealer, falsely represents when purchasing any class of goods that goods of such class are covered by his certificate of registration. Now the expression 'falsely represents' clearly shows that the element of mens rea is a necessary component of the offence. If the registered dealer honestly believed that any particular goods are embraced by the certificate of registration and under this belief makes a representation, he cannot be held guilty of the offence under Section 10(b) and no penalty can be imposed under Section 10A. The question whether the assessee acted under an honest belief, is a question of fact. As the Tribunal has found that the assessee honestly believed that air coolers were covered by the registration certificate, in our opinion, it was right in cancelling the penalty.
5. For the reasons stated above, we answer the question as follows :
The Tribunal was justified in cancelling the penalty on the finding that the assessee honestly believed that air coolers were covered by the expression 'electric motors, refrigerators and allied machines.
There will be no order as to costs of this reference.