ANDLEY C.J. - The Income-tax Appellate Tribunal (Delhi Bench 'C') has submitted a statement of the case referring the following question to this court :
'Whether, on the fact and in the circumstances of the case, the penalty levied under section 271(1) (a) of the Income-tax Act, 1961, could validity be reduced from Rs. 15,535 to Rs. 2,500 ?'
The assessed year concerned is 1958-59. The assessed, a registered firm, was served with a notice under section 22(2) of the Indian Income-tax Act, 1922, on the 1st of August, 1958. Time was allowed to it for filing its return up to May 14, 1959. The return was, however, filed on July 1, 1960. The assessed was completed on March 30, 1963, and on the same date, the Income-tax Officer issued notices under section 271 read with section 274 of the Income-tax Act, 1961, to the assessed and thereafter a penalty of Rs. 15,535 was levied on it. The Appellate Assistant Commissioner, on appeal, held the penalty imposed. On second appeal, the Tribunal held that although penalty under section 271(1) (a) of the Income-tax Act, 1961, was attracted, the quantum of penalty was excessive. It repelled the contention of the department that since the quantum of penalty levied was strictly in accordance with the provisions of section 271(1) (i), it could not be interfered with. The Tribunal held that the punishment for an offence must be in accordance with the law as was in force at the time of the commission of the offence which, in this case, was the Indian Income-tax Act, 1922, and thereforee, the quantum of penalty must be determined in accordance with this Act. The Tribunal took into consideration what according to it were extenuating factors and reduced the penalty to Rs. 2,500.
The matter appears to us to be covered by the opinion given by this court in Commissioner of Income-tax v. Maya Rani Punj (Income-tax Reference No. 50 of 1968 decided by Ansari and Kapur JJ. on December 21, 1972). After going through the entire case law, the learned judges were of the opinion that the Tribunal could not reduce the penalty 271(1) (i) of the Income-tax Act, 1961. This opinion was expressed upon the question :
'Whether on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the Tribunal was in law competent to reduce the penalty levied under section 271(1) (a) to a figure lower than the sum equal to 2% of the tax for every month during which the default continued but not exceeding in the aggregate 50% of the tax ?'
The question is almost identical to the question which has been referred to us. thereforee, following the opinion given by this court, we answer the question referred to us in the negative.
Since there is no appearance before us on behalf of the assessed, we make no order as to costs.
Question answered in the negative.