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CIT vs. Hiralal Doshi (Bombay High Court)
February, 24th 2016

S. 271(1)(c): Penalty is not leviable on income declared during survey and offered in return. Law laid down in Mak Data 358 ITR 593 (SC) is distinguishable on facts and not universally applicable. A mere change of head of income does not attract penalty

(i) The reliance by the Revenue upon the decision of the Apex Court in Mak Data P. Ltd 358 ITR 593 (SC) to contend that the justification of having deleted and accepted the amount of Rs.1.62 Crores as business income, to buy peace is not available. We find that the facts in that case are completely distinguishable and the observations made therein would not be universally applicable. In that case, a sum of Rs.40.74 lakhs had never been disclosed to the Revenue. During the course of survey, the assessee therein had surrendered that amount with a covering letter that this surrender has been made to avoid litigation and buy peace with the Revenue. In the aforesaid circumstances, the Apex Court held that the words like “to avoid litigation and buy peace” is not sufficient explanation of an assessee’s conduct. It held that the assessee had to offer an explanation for the concealment of income and/or furnishing of inaccurate particulars of income by leading cogent and reliable evidence. The Apex Court further records that in the facts of the case before it the surrender of income was not voluntary but was made only on the account of detection by the Assessing Officer during the course of survey. Further, the Apex Court also records the fact that the survey was conducted more than 10 months before the assessee filed its return of income. However, the assessee therein had not declared this income in its return of income filed subsequent to the survey which again indicated the fact that he had no intention to declare its true income. In any event, the facts in the present case as found by the CIT(A) and the Tribunal is that the Respondent assessee had disclosed an amount of Rs.1.62 Crores in the original return by crediting the same to its capital account being Long Term Capital Gain on the sale of share. Thus, the Appellant was under bonafide belief that the income from long term capital gain was exempt from tax. Thus, the decision of the Apex Court would not apply to the facts arising in the present case .

(ii) The contention on behalf of the Revenue that in case there is a tax impact by virtue of change of head during the assessment proceedings then penalty is imposable and the decision of this Court in M/s. Bennett Coleman (supra) would not apply. In such a case, Mr. Malhotra, for the Revenue emphasized the fact that in M/s Bennett Coleman (supra) the Court was dealing with the change of head of income but not with regard to a claim for full exemption from payment of tax as in this case. We are unable to accept the aforesaid submission. According to us, the distinction sought to made on behalf of the Revenue is not acceptable as the ratio of the decision in M/s Bennett Coleman (supra) is where complete disclosure of income had been made in the return of income and head of the income undergoes a change at the hands of the Assessing Officer would not by itself justify the imposition of penalty under Section 271(1)(c) of the Act.

(iii) We find that the Commissioner of Income Tax(A) during the penalty proceedings had again examined the issue whether the claim of capital gain made in the regular return of income to the extent of Rs.1.62 Crores with the particulars in support of the same. On examination, the CIT(A) reaches a prima facie conclusion that the income could be regarded as long term capital gain. Once the aforesaid conclusion has been reached coupled with two further facts viz. the authorities have rendered a finding of fact that the Respondent-assessee had not concealed its income nor filed inaccurate particulars attributable to capital gains in its regular return of income, the view taken to delete the penalty is a possible view.

(iv) In the present fact, the view taken by the CIT(A) as well as the Tribunal is a reasonable and possible view. Nothing has been shown to us to hold that the findings of the CIT(A) and Tribunal was perverse and/or arbitrary warranting any interference by this Court. It may be pointed out that even in the Memo of Appeal, it is not urged by the Revenue that the finding of the CIT(A) and Tribunal are in any manner perverse.

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