Skip to content


Commissioner of Wealth-tax Vs. M.R. Mahajan - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectDirect Taxation
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWealth-tax Reference Nos. 1 to 4 of 1976
Judge
Reported in(1980)18CTR(P& H)253; [1980]126ITR706(P& H)
ActsWealth Tax Act, 1957 - Sections 18(1); ;Finance Act, 1969 - Sections 24
AppellantCommissioner of Wealth-tax
RespondentM.R. Mahajan
Appellant Advocate D.N. Awasthy and; B.K. Jhingan, Advs.
Respondent Advocate N.K. Sodhi, Adv.
Excerpt:
- sections 80 (2) & 89 & punjab motor vehicles rules, 1989, rules 85 & 80: [t.s. thakur, cj, jasbir singh & surya kant, jj] appeal against orders of state or regional transport authority imitation held, a stipulation regarding the period of limitation available for invoking the remedy shall have to be strictly construed. that is because any provision by way of limitation is in the nature of a restraint on the remedy provided under the act. so viewed two inferences are clear viz., (1) sections 80 and 89 of the act read with rule 85 of the rules make it obligatory for the authorities making the order to communicate it to the applicant concerned and (2) the period of limitation for any appeal against the order is reckonable from the date of such communication of the reasons would imply..........the delay in furnishing the return as aforesaid was filed by the assessee before the wto.2. the assessee filed an appeal before the aac who by a common order dated november 11, 1971, confirmed the penalties imposed by the wto after holding that there was no reasonable cause justifying the delays in question. the explanation made by the assessee before the aac in the said four penalty appeals was that he could not file the returns as he was suffering from a heart disease.3. the assessee came in second appeal before the appellate tribunal. the tribunal agreed with the aac that no reasonable cause for the delays in question had been established by the assessee in any of the four cases under consideration. the tribunal, however, held that the lapses to be penalised under section 18(1)(i).....
Judgment:

B.S. Dhillon, J.

1. The assessee is an individual. The last date of the financial year is the relevant valuation date in each case. A consolidated statement of the wealth-tax relating to assessment years 1965-66, 1966-67, 1967-68 and 1968-69 has been made. The returns of the wealth-tax had to be furnished by the assessee by June 30, 1965, June 30, 1966, June 30, 1967, and June 30, 1968, respectively. The returns of net wealth due under Section 14(2) of the W.T. Act (hereinafter called 'the Act') had to be furnished for the said assessment years by August 2, 1965, August 10, 1966, September 4, 1967, and August 28, 1968, respectively. The return for the assessment year 1965-66 was actually furnished by the assessee on February 28, 1970. The returns for the remaining assessment years under consideration were not filed by the assessee at all. The WTO initiated penalty proceedings against the assessee and imposed under Section 18(1)(i) of the Act varying amounts of penalties in relation to the said four assessment years. No explanation for the delay in furnishing the return as aforesaid was filed by the assessee before the WTO.

2. The assessee filed an appeal before the AAC who by a common order dated November 11, 1971, confirmed the penalties imposed by the WTO after holding that there was no reasonable cause justifying the delays in question. The explanation made by the assessee before the AAC in the said four penalty appeals was that he could not file the returns as he was suffering from a heart disease.

3. The assessee came in second appeal before the Appellate Tribunal. The Tribunal agreed with the AAC that no reasonable cause for the delays in question had been established by the assessee in any of the four cases under consideration. The Tribunal, however, held that the lapses to be penalised under Section 18(1)(i) of the Act stood committed for the four years under consideration on dates prior to April 1, 1969, and that, therefore, the law as it stood before the amendment made as per Section 24(c) of the Finance Act, 1969, effective from April 1, 1969, was applicable to the case for the purpose of computation of the penalties that were to be imposed. The Tribunal thus directed that the penalties in relation to the returns furnished for the assessment years 1965-66, 1966-67, 1967-68 and 1968-69 should be recomputed to bring the same in conformity with the provisions of Section 18(1)(i) of the Act as the text stood before April 1, 1969.

4. At the instance of the revenue, the following question of law has been referred to this court for its opinion :

'Whether, on the facts and circumstances of the case, the Tribunal was right in law in directing that the penalties for late furnishing of the returns for the assessment years 1965-66, 1966-67, 1967-68 and 1968-69 be recomputed to bring the same in conformity with the provisions of Section 18(1)(i), Wealth-tax Act, 1957, as they stood before April 1, 1969 ?'

5. After hearing the learned counsel for the parties we are of the opinion that no fault can be found with the view taken by the Tribunal. The moment the last date for filing the return had passed, the offence had been completed. The imposition of penalty for not filing the return in time is not a recurring offence. It was held in a Division Bench judgment of this court in Suresh Seth v. CWT [1977] 108 ITR 86, that a fiscal statute cannot be construed retrospectively unless there are clear words to that effect in the statute itself. Section 18(1)(i) of the W.T. Act, 1957, as amended by the Finance Act, 1969, is not retrospective in its operation. The same view has been taken by the Karnataka High Court in CWT v. C.S. Manvi : [1978]114ITR417(KAR) , by the Allahabad High Court in CWT v. Ram Narain Agrawal : [1977]106ITR965(All) , and in CWT v. Chunni Lal Anand : [1979]116ITR355(All) and by the Madras High Court in CWT v. P.C.M. Sundarapandian : [1978]114ITR367(Mad) . Since the imposition of penalty is not a recurring offence, the offence was complete on the date when the return was not filed as prescribed by law. The said offences were, therefore, committed when the returns were not filed on due dates, and so the penalties had to be computed in accordance with the provisions of law as it prevailed at the time of the commission of the offences.For the reasons recorded above, the question of law referred to us has to be answered in the affirmative, i.e., in favour of the assessee and against the revenue. We order accordingly. There is no order as to costs.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //