1. This reference application has been moved under Section 27(3) of the Wealth-tax Act, whereby the Revenue has prayed that the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal may be directed to refer the following question to this court:
'Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the present case, the Tribunal was justified in cancelling the penalty of Rs. 4,668 levied under Section 18(1)(a) of the Wealth-tax Act, 1957 ?'
2. The facts, briefly stated, are that in respect of the assessment year 1971-72, the assessee submitted the return on November 15, 1971. The said return should have been filed on or before June 30, 1971, and there was a delay of 41/2 months in the filing of the return. The Wealth-tax Officer issued a show cause notice for imposing penalty on the assessee and in response to the said show cause notice, the assessee filed a reply wherein the assessee stated that she was under the bona fide belief that her wealth was below the taxable limit and that as and when she came to know that the wealth was taxable, she immediately filed returns for the years 1963-64 to 1971-72 suo motu on a single date, i.e., November 15, 1971. The Wealth-tax Officer did not accept the said explanation of the assessee and imposed penalty of Rs. 4,668, The said penalty as affirmed in appeal by the Appellate Assistant Commissioner. The Tribunal, on further appeal by order dated August 23, 1980, cancelled the said penalty and allowed the appeal of the assessee. It may be mentioned that penalty was also imposed on the assessee for the assessment year 1970-71 and that penalty was also cancelled by the Tribunal by order dated August 8, 1980. Shri H. P, Gupta, the learned counsel for the assessee, has placed before us a copy of the order dated August 8, 1980 passed by the Tribunal in relation to the assessment year 1970-71. In the said order, the Tribunal has noticed that the wealth of the assessee consisted of jewellery for personal use worth Rs. 1,40,000 and deposits with her late husband of the amount of Rs. 74,221 and that excluding the value of thesetwo assets, the wealth of the assessee was admittedly below taxable limit The Tribunal has also noticed the contention of the assessee that the assessee had, ho knowledge about the taxability of these two assets and, therefore, the belief was formed that the wealth was below taxable limit. The Tribunal has also noticed that by the Finance No. (2) Act, 1971, personal jewellery was made taxable and that as regards the deposits of Rs. 74,221, the assessee had submitted that when the Maharaja died, an account of his estate was filed by the assessee and in that return the deposit of Rs. 74,221 belonging to the assessee was shown and that this fact was not brought to the knowledge of the assessee earlier. The Tribunal held that from the explanation of the assessee it appeared that she was prevented from filing the return by reasonable cause and the fact that the assessee filed returns for the years 1963-64 to 1971-72 together in November, 1971, suo motu goes to show the bona fides of the assessee.
3. In the order dated August 23, 1980, the Tribunal has referred to its earlier order dated August 8, 1980, and has observed that there is no difference in the facts of the case relating to the year 1971-72 and the case of the assessee relating to the assessment year 1970-71 except that in the assessment year 1970-71, there was a deposit only of Rs. 74,000 whereas the deposits in the year 1971-72 were to the tune of Rs. 1,05,977. Following the assessment order dated August 8, 1980, the Tribunal by its order dated August 23, 1980, accepted the appeal of the assessee and cancelled the penalty.
4. The Revenue filed a petition before the Tribunal for reference to this court. The said application was rejected by the Tribunal by order dated April 8, 1981, on the view that no question of law arises out of the order dated August 23, 1980, passed by the Tribunal. In its order dated April 8, 1981, the Tribunal has mentioned that in respect of the assessment year 1970-71, reference application had been moved and the said application had been dismissed by order dated January 29, 1981, on the ground that no question of law arises from the order dated August 8. 1980. Feeling aggrieved by the aforesaid order dated April 8, 1981, refusing to make the reference, the Revenue has filed this application.
5. We have heard Shri R. N. Surolia, learned counsel for the Revenue and Shri H. P. Gupta, learned counsel for the assessee. In our opinion, the Tribunal was justified in rejecting the application for making a reference on the ground that no question of law arises from the order dated August 23, 1980, inasmuch as the question as to whether the explanation offered by the assessee for late filing of the return was reasonable or not, is a pure question of fact. In the facts and circumstances of the case, the Tribunal has held that the said explanation given by the assessee was reasonable and the assessee acted bona fide in not filing the return till November, 1971. In our opinion, therefore, no ground is made outfor directing the Tribunal to refer to this court the question mentioned in the application. The application is, therefore, dismissed. No order as to costs.