Even if documents are seized, non filing of Income Tax Returns can attract prosecution: Sessions Court
- Section 276CC of the Income Tax Act provides for punishment (prosecution) in cases where a person wilfully fails to furnish the income tax return in due time, which he is required to furnish under Section 139 (1) or in pursuance of the notice issued under Section 153A.
- The accused/ assessee, Hema Chetan Shah, was issued a notice under Section 153A of the Income Tax Act for filing Income Tax Return for the relevant accounting year within 30 days from the receipt of the notice.
- The assessee submitted before the Sessions Court that he was prevented from filing the Income Tax Return since the relevant files/papers were in custody of the Income Tax Department after search and seizure operations were conducted against the Company in which the accused stood as a director.
- The department had given the assessee adequate opportunity to collect the ne ready Xerox of the seized documents for the purpose of filing the returns and complying with Sec 153A.
- Since the assessee, failed to file a response to Sec 153A notice, a show cause notice was issued. Since the assessee failed to file a response to the same, an offence under Section 276CC read with Section 278E of the Income Tax Act was registered against him and prosecution for wilful failure to furnish Income Tax Return was initiated.
The Sessions Court held as under:
- Inspite of the correspondence and affording of opportunity to collect the relevant copies, the accused had failed to comply with the notice.
- In this case, the factum of wilful default is well propelled and the complainant agency has succeeded in proving their case beyond reasonable doubt.
- The accused undoubtedly failed to comply with the notice under Section 153A and therefore, is an offender under Section 276CC also that in a prosecution of offence as in the instant case it can be well presumed the existence of Mens rea and it is for the accused to prove the contrary.