1. This rule must be made absolute and for the following reasons : It appears that the petitioner before us is a member of a family who carry on an ancestral business in the district of Dacca as cloth merchants and moneylenders. The firm in question were asked by the income-tax authorities to submit a return of their income for purposes of assessment of income-tax. A return was filed, but thereafter a notice was served on the firm under the provisions of Section 23(2), Indian Income tax Act, 1922, requiring the production of certain account books for the 1329 and 1330 B.S. The petitioner before us as stated above is a member of the firm but he is also a legal practitioner at Narainganj. It appears that the petitioner on two-days, namely, the 8th September 1925 and the 25bh November 1925, produced certain books belonging to the firm in question before the additional income tax officer. It is said that he attended before the additional income tax officer for the purpose of explaining the accounts contained in the said books to the additional income tax officer. It was-found, however, in the course of further investigation by the income-tax authorities that the books in question were false account books and had been prepared for the purposes of the assessment, of income-tax. Thereafter the petitioner along with another person was prosecuted for having committed an1 offence punishable under Section 196, I.P.C. He was convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 500 and to be detained in Court till the rising. The petitioner thereafter moved this Court and obtained the present rule.
2. On behalf of the petitioner Sir Provas Mitter has argued that the petitioner could not be convicted under Section 196, I.P.C., having regard to the provisions of Section 37, Indian Income Tax Act. Section 37 of the Act runs as follows:
The income tax officer, Assistant Commissioner and Commissioner shall, for the purposes-of this chapter, have the same powers as are vested in a Court under the Civil Procedure Coda 1908, when trying a suit in respect of the following matters, namely : (a) enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath or affirmation; (b) compelling the production of documents, and (c) issuing commission for examination of witnesses, and any proceeding before an income tax officer, Assistant Commissioner or Commissioner under this chapter shall be deemed to be a 'judicial proceeding' within the meaning of Sections 193 and 228, I.P.C.
3. It would appear from what is contained in Section 37, Indian Income Tax Act, that any proceeding before an income tax officer, Assistant Commissioner or Commissioner under the chapter in which Section 37 finds a place [it may be noted that a proceeding pursuant to a notice under Section 23(2) is a proceeding under the said chapter] would be deemed to be a 'judicial proceeding' for the purpose of sustaining convictions under Sections 193 and 228, I.P.C. As we read Section 37, it seems to us to be clear that the legislature has, for the purpose of punishing offences under Sections 193 and 228, I.P.C. (and under no others), converted proceedings before the officers mentioned therein which are not judicial proceedings ordinarily, into 'judicial proceedings.' Section 37, being a penal section, has to be construed strictly, and as will be seen from what is stated above there is no reference whatsoever in the section itself to Section 196, I.P.C. Therefore having regard to the terms of Section 37, it cannot be said that the proceedings which took place before the additional income tax officer on the production of the account books on the two date referred to above were 'judicial proceedings.' If that is so, having regard to Section 37 there is no room whatsoever in if; for attracting into it the provisions of Section 196, I.P.C.
4. The result therefore is that the conviction and sentence of the petitioner under Section 196, I.P.C., must be set aside and the fine, if paid, will be refunded.