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THE COMMISSIONER OF INCOME

High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh

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THE COMMISSIONER OF INCOME-TAX, PATIALA v. M/S MAHALAXMI RICE FACTORY, PATRAN, (PAT - ITR-26-1990 [2006] RD-P&H 3351 (22 May 2006)

I.T.R. NO. 26 OF 1990 [1]

IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH

I.T.R. NO. 26 OF 1990

DATE OF DECISION: 3.5.2006

THE COMMISSIONER OF INCOME-TAX, PATIALA

....PETITIONER

VERSUS

M/S MAHALAXMI RICE FACTORY, PATRAN, (PATIALA) ....RESPONDENT

CORAM: HON'BLE MR.JUSTICE ADARSH KUMAR GOEL
HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE RAJESH BINDAL

PRESENT: NONE FOR THE PARTIES

JUDGEMENT:

In terms of the direction given by this Court in I.T.C. No. 1 of 1984 vide order dated 24.8.1988, the following question of law arising out of Tribunal's order dated 22.8.1983 in I.T.A. No.429 of 1980, for the assessment year 1977-78, was referred to this Court for it's opinion: "Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the Appellate Tribunal was right in law in holding that the provisions of section 80 J (6A) of the Income-tax Act, 1961, are directory and not mandatory and in allowing the assessee's claim under section 80 J in that view ?"

The assessee, which is a registered firm, filed it's return of income on 31.8.1977 declaring net income of Rs. 81,190/-. Though, as per provisions, it was required to be filed on or before 31.7.1977. In the return, a claim of deduction under Section 80 J of the Income Tax Act (for short 'the Act") was made. Along with the return, the assessee did not furnish any audit report. The claim of the assessee with regard to deduction under Section 80 J of the Act was disallowed by the Assessing Officer with the observations that "relief under Section 80 J of the Act has not been allowed as the assessee did not get its accounts audited as required under Section 80 J (6A) of the Act". Accordingly, vide assessment order dated 19.12.1978 the income of the assessee was computed at Rs. 1,09,010/-, as against I.T.R. NO. 26 OF 1990 [2]

returned income of Rs. 81,190/-, The assessee went in appeal before the Commissioner of Income Tax (Appeals), who upheld the order passed by the Assessing Officer, holding that the provisions contained in Section 80 J (6) are mandatory in character.

Further appeal by the assessee before the Tribunal was accepted and it was held that Section 80 J of the Act is a beneficial piece of legislation giving certain incentives for encouragement of certain types of new industries. It is not mandatory in nature, hence, non-compliance of the provisions will not in any way affect the right of the assessee for deduction merely because the assessee did not furnish the audit report but otherwise gave necessary particulars on which deduction under Section 80 J of the Act was to be computed. Accordingly, it was directed that since the audit report had filed by then, the deduction under Section 80 J of the Act be computed in accordance with law.

When the case was taken up for hearing, no one appeared for either of the parties.

The relevant provisions of Section 80 J of the Act as stood at the relevant time, Act are reproduced hereunder: "80J. (1) Where the gross total income of an assessee includes any profits and gains derived from an industrial undertaking or a ship or the business of a hotel, to which this section applies, there shall, in accordance with and subject to the provisions of this section, be allowed, in computing the total income of the assessee, a deduction from such profits and gains (reduced by the deduction, if any, admissible to the assessee under section 80HH) (or section 80HHA) of so much of the amount thereof as does not exceed the amount calculated at the rate of six per cent per annum on the capital employed in the industrial undertaking or ship or business of the hotel, as the case may be, computed in the prescribed manner in respect of the previous year relevant to the assessment year (the amount calculated as aforesaid being hereafter, in this section, referred to as the relevant amount of capital employed during the previous year): Provided that in relation to the profits and gains derived by an assessee, being a company, from an industrial undertaking which begins to manufacture or produce I.T.R. NO. 26 OF 1990 [3]

articles or to operate its cold storage plant or plants after the 31st

day of March, 1976, or from a ship which is first brought into use after that date, or from the business of a hotel which starts functioning after that date, the provisions of this sub-section shall have effect as if for the words "six per cent", the words "seven and a half per cent" had been substituted.]

(2) The deduction specified in sub-section (1) shall be allowed in computing the total income in respect of the assessment year relevant to the previous year in which the industrial undertaking begins to manufacture or produce articles or to operate its cold storage plant or plants or the ship is first brought into use or the business of the hotel starts functioning (such assessment year being hereafter, in this section, referred to as the initial assessment year ) and each of the four assessment years immediately succeeding the initial assessment year:

Provided that in the case of an assessee, being a co- operative society, the provisions of this sub-section shall have effect as if for the words "four assessment years", the words "six assessment years" had been substituted.

(3) Where the amount of the profits and gains derived from the industrial undertaking or ship or business of the hotel, as the case may be, included in the total income (as computed without applying the provisions of section 64 and before making any deduction under Chapter VIA or section 280-O) in respect of the previous year relevant to an assessment year commencing on or after the 1st

day of April, 1967 (not being an assessment year prior to the initial assessment year or subsequent to the fourth assessment year as reckoned from the end of the initial assessment year ) fall short of the relevant amount of capital employed during the previous year, the amount of such shortfall, or where there are no such profits and gains, an amount equal to the relevant amount of capital employed during the previous year (such amount, in either case, being hereafter, in this I.T.R. NO. 26 OF 1990 [4]

section, referred to as deficiency) shall be carried forward and set off against the profits and gains referred to in sub-section (1) as computed after allowing the deductions, if any, admissible under section 80 HH or section 80 HHA and the said sub-section (1) in respect of the previous year relevant to the next following assessment year and, if there are no such profits and gains for that assessment year, or where the deficiency, exceeds such profits and gains, the whole or balance of the deficiency, as the case may be, shall be set off against such profits and gains for the next following assessment year and if and so far as such deficiency cannot be wholly so set off, it shall be set off against such profits and gains assessable for the next following assessment year and so on:

Provided that-

(i) in no case shall the deficiency or any part thereof be carried forward beyond the seventh assessment year as reckoned from the end of the initial assessment year;

(ii)where there is more than one deficiency and each such deficiency relates to a different assessment year, the deficiency which relates to an earlier assessment year shall be set off under this sub- section before setting off the deficiency in relation to a later assessment year:

Provided further that in the case of an assessee being a co-operative society, the provisions of this sub-section shall have effect as if for the words "fourth assessment year", the words "sixth assessment year" had been substituted .

(4) This section applies to any industrial undertaking which fulfils all the following conditions, namely:- (i) it is not formed by the splitting up, or the reconstruction, of a business already in existence; (ii)it is not formed by the transfer to a new business machinery or plant previously used for any purpose; (iii)it manufactures or produces articles, or operates one I.T.R. NO. 26 OF 1990 [5]

or more cold storage plant or plants, in any part of India, and has begun or begins to manufacture or produce articles or to operate such plant or plants, at any time within the period of thirty three year next following the 1st

day of April, 1948, or such further

period as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify with reference to any particular industrial undertaking;

(iv)in a case where the industrial undertaking manufacturers or produces articles, the undertaking employs ten or more workers in a manufacturing process carried on with the aid of power, or employs twenty or more workers in a manufacturing process carried on without the aid of power:

Provided that the condition in clause (i) shall not apply in respect of any industrial undertaking which is formed as a result of the re-establishment, reconstruction or revival by the assessee of the business of any such industrial undertaking as is referred to in section 33 B , in the circumstances and within the period specified in that section:

Provided further that, where any building or any part thereof previously used for any purpose is transferred to the business of the industrial undertaking, the value of the building or part so transferred shall not be taken into account in computing the capital employed in the industrial undertaking.

Explanation 1 : For the purpose of clause (ii) of this sub-section, any machinery or plant which was used outside India by any person other than the assessee shall not be regarded as machinery or plant previously used for any purpose, if the following conditions are fulfilled, namely :-

(a) such machinery or plant was not, at any time, previous to the date of the installation by the assessee, used in India;

(b) such machinery or plant is imported into India from any country outside India: and

I.T.R. NO. 26 OF 1990 [6]

(c) no deduction on account of depreciation in respect of such machinery or plant has been allowed or is allowable under the provisions of the Indian Income-tax Act, 1922(11 of 1922), or this Act in computing the total income of any person for any period prior to the date of the installation of the machinery or plant by the assessee.

Explanation 2: Where in the case of an industrial undertaking, any machinery or plant or any part thereof previously used for any purpose is transferred to a new business and the total value of the machinery or plant or part so transferred does not exceed twenty per cent of the total value of the machinery or plant used in the business, then, for the purposes of clause (ii) of this sub- section, the condition specified therein shall be deemed to have been complied with and the total value of the machinery or plant or part so transferred shall not be taken into account in computing the capital employed in the industrial undertaking.

(5) This section applies to any ship, where all the following conditions are fulfilled, namely:- (i) it is owned by an Indian company and is wholly used for the purposes of the business carried on by it; (ii)it was not, previous to the dat of its acquisition by the Indian company owned and used in Indian territorial waters by a person resident in India; and (iii)it is brought into use by the Indian company at any time within a period of thirty-three years next following the 1st

day of April, 1948.

(6) This section applies to the business of any total, where all the following conditions are fulfilled, namely:- (a) the business of the hotel is not formed by the splitting up, or the reconstruction, of a business already in existence or by the transfer to a new business of a building previously used as a hotel or of any machinery or plant previously used for any purpose; (b) the business of the hotel is owned and carried on by a company registered in India with a paid-up capital I.T.R. NO. 26 OF 1990 [7]

of not less than five hundred thousand rupees; (c) Omitted by the Finance Act, 1973, w.e.f. 1-4-1974; (d) the hotel is for the time being approved for the purposes of this sub-section by the Central Government;

(e) the business of the hotel starts functioning on or after the 1st

day of April, 1961, but before the 1st

day of

April, 1981.

Explanation: Where in the case of the business of a hotel, any building, or any part thereof, previously used as a hotel, or any machinery or plant, or any part thereof, previously used for any purpose, is transferred to a new business and the total value of the building, machinery or plant or part so transferred does not exceed twenty per cent of the total value of the building, machinery or plant used in the business, then, for the purposes of clause (a) of this sub-section, the condition specified therein shall be deemed to have been complied with and the total value of the building, machinery or plant or part so transferred shall not be taken into account in computing the capital employed in the business of the hotel.

(6A) Where the assessee is a person other than a company or a co-operative society, the deduction under sub-section (1) from profits and gains derived from an industrial undertaking shall not be admissible unless the accounts of the industrial undertaking for the previous year relevant to the assessment year for which the deduction is claimed have been audited by an accountant, as defined in the Explanation below sub- section (2) of section 288, and the assessee furnishes, along with his return of income, the report of such audit in the prescribed form duly signed and verified by such accountant. (emphasis supplied)

Section 80 J of the Act provides for grant of certain deduction to new industrial undertakings. One of the condition laid down under Section 80 J (6) of the Act is that an assessee has to get his account audited and furnish the audit report along with returns. The primary I.T.R. NO. 26 OF 1990 [8]

question required to be considered by this Court is as to whether the rigors of Section 80 J (6A) of the Act requiring the accounts to be audited and submissions of the audit report thereof alongwith returns are directory or mandatory in nature ?

Initially a Division Bench of this Court in CIT v. Jaideep Industries, [1989] 180 ITR 81 took very strict view of the matter and held that no deduction under Section 80 J of the Act could be claimed unless the accounts are audited and the report thereof furnished along with the returns. However, a somewhat similar issue came up for consideration before the Full Bench of this Court where similar provision of Section 32 AB (5) of the Act was under consideration which is reproduced hereunder: "32 AB (5) The deduction under sub-section (1) shall not be admissible unless the accounts of the business or profession of the assessee for the previous year relevant to the assessment year for which the deduction is claimed have been audited by an accountant as defined in the Explanation below sub-section (2) of section 288 and the assessee furnishes, along with his return of income, the report of such audit in the prescribed form duly signed and verified by such accountant: Provided that in a case where the

assessee is required by or under any other law to get his accounts audited, it shall be sufficient compliance with the provisions of this sub-section if such assessee gets the accounts of such business or profession audited under such law and furnishes the report of the audit as required under such other law and a further report in the form prescribed under this sub-section ?" While considering the matter, a Full Bench of this Court in C.I.T. v. Punjab Financial Corporation [2002] 254 ITR 6 concurred with the views expressed by Gujrat High Court in CIT v. Gujarat Oil and Allied Industries [1993] 201 ITR 325 and Madras High Court in CIT v. A.N.

Arunachalam [1994] 208 ITR 481 and held that Section 32 AB(5) of the Act is not mandatory in character and over-ruled the view expressed by a Division Bench of this Court in Jaideep Industries' case(supra) which held that similar provisions contained in Section 80 J (6A) of the Act are I.T.R. NO. 26 OF 1990 [9]

mandatory in character.

Before applying the ratio of law laid down, by Full Bench of this Court in the facts and circumstances of the case, it would be necessary to refer a few relevant facts here. The return of income for the year in question was required to be filed on or before 31.7.1977, which was filed belatedly on 31.8.1977. The assessment was completed by the Assessing Authority on 19.12.1978. The audit report dated 14.12.1978 was filed by the assessee on 18.1.1979 i.e. after assessment had been framed.

The relevant extract from Gujrat High Court in Gujarat Oil and Allied Industries's case (supra), which was referred to and approved in the judgement of the Full Bench of this Court in Punjab Financial Corporation's case (supra) are extracted below:

" In our view, the first part of section 80J is mandatory in nature but the second part thereof which is procedural in nature and requires the assessee to submit a report of the audit along with return is merely directory in nature and it calls for only substantial compliance. The reasons are obvious. It is possible that at the time when the returns of income are filed, by some mischance or negligence of the clerk or for any other reason, even though the audited report is available, it might not have been annexed to the return and on such mistake being found out, the report may be tendered on the next day or even a few days thereafter to the Income-tax Officer. If any literal compliance with the words 'assessee furnishes report along with his return of income' is insisted upon, then, in such an unforeseen contingency, the assessee would be denied benefit of section 80J of the Act. One other illustration can be considered to highlight the position. As per section 139 (1) read with section 139 (5) of the Act, the assessee can file return within the period permitted thereunder and even during the extended period or can file a revised return as per this provision, of course, after following the procedure laid down therein. If the assessee is prompt, he may file the return in time, but at that stage, for reasons beyond his control, the audit report is not ready, he files the return in time but without its being accompanied by the I.T.R. NO. 26 OF 1990 [10]

auditor's report while another assessee who is not prompt enough may not file the return at the first opportunity. In such a contingency, a prompt assessee who files the return in time would stand to suffer only because the auditor's report has not physically accompanied the return while another assessee who waits till the end of the expiry of the period and files the return with the report will stand to gain, as he would get the benefit of section 80J (1) while the assessee who files the return at the first opportunity would stand to suffer though, in both the cases, at the time when the assessments are framed, the audited reports are made available by both the assessees to the Income-tax Officer. This would result in absurdity. Hence, in our view, the Tribunal was right when it took the view that the second part of the provision regarding furnishing of the report of the auditor along with the return is not a mandatory provision and it requires substantial compliance in the sense that it should be made available to the Income-tax Officer before the assessment is framed and, by that time, if the assessee puts his house in order, the Income-tax Officer will be required to consider the case of the assessee for deductions under section 80J (1) of the Act on the merits. It has also to be kept in view that, by the mere non-filing of the auditor's report along with the return of income, the assessee does not stand to gain anything nor does the Revenue stand to lose as even after the return is filed, it is obvious that it may take time before the Income-tax Officer applies his mind to the merits of the return when he sits down to frame assessment. In fact, that is the relevant stage at which the house of the assessee should be in order. If that stage is missed, obviously, the assessee will not be entitled to the benefit of section 80J (1) but, till that time, the return filed would be just lying in the office of the Income-tax Officer awaiting disposal and the Income-tax Officer, in the meantime, was not expected to apply his mind to such a pending I.T.R. NO. 26 OF 1990 [11]

return till he takes it up for consideration. By that time, if the report is already made available, all the procedural requirements of sub-section (6A) can be considered to have been complied with........".(emphasis supplied) Similar view was expressed by Madras High Court in A.N.

Arunachalam's case (supra). The relevant part of which is extracted below: "The opening words of sub-section (6A) of section 80J itself indicate the necessity for submitting an audit report inasmuch as the accounts of companies are audited and assessees other than companies are required to get the accounts audited for the purpose of section 80J. In the case of companies there is no insistence on the audit report accompanying the return for obtaining relief under section 80J. Therefore, if the section is so construed as to make the filing of the audit report along with the return mandatory, it would discriminate between companies on the one hand and other assessees on the other.

Moreover, a section of an Act should not be so construed as to make it unconstitutional. Further, there is no stipulation in the section as to the time when the audit report should be filed except that it should be filed along with the return. Since there is a provision for extending the time for filing the return, all that the assessee is required to do is to delay the filing of the return until the audit report is made available. Where the preparation of the audit report is beyond the control of the assessee, the assessee can justifiably delay the filing of the return itself so that it is accompanied by the audit report. In such an event, the Income-tax Officer cannot deny the claim for relief since the purpose of the section would have been fulfilled even though the return itself is filed beyond the prescribed time. The stress laid by section 80J (6A) is only to have the accounts audited and to make the audit report available to the Income-tax Officer to make a proper assessment.

Hence, the audit report can be made available before the assessment is made. (emphasis supplied) The objective of section 80J (6A) should be carried out by I.T.R. NO. 26 OF 1990 [12]

granting the relief rather than picking out a venial fault for denying the intended to be given by the statute." A perusal of dictum of law as referred to above clearly shows that though the provisions of Section 80 J (6) of the Act have been held to be directory in nature to the extent that audit report, in case not filed along with the return is not fatal for grant of deduction. However, the provisions have been held to be directory only to the extent that in case the audit report is not filed along with return, the same can be filed any time before the assessment takes place, as it is at that time when the Assessing Officer applies his mind on the case. As is evident from the facts of the case, the audit report in the present case was filed on 18.1.1979 after the assessment had already taken place on 19.12.1978, hence, in terms of the discussions above and law laid down by the Gujrat High Court in Gujrat Oils and Allied Industries, case (supra) and Madras High Court in A.N.

Arunachalam's case (supra), which has been approved by a Full Bench of this Court in Punjab Financial Corporation's case (supra), we are of the view that the Tribunal was not right in granting relief to the assessee as admittedly the audit report was filed by the assessee after the assessment had already been framed by the Assessing Officer.

The reference is answered in the above terms.

(RAJESH BINDAL)

JUDGE

03. 05 . 2006 (ADARSH KUMAR GOEL) gsv JUDGE


Copyright

Reproduced in accordance with s52(q) of the Copyright Act 1957 (India) from judis.nic.in, indiacode.nic.in and other Indian High Court Websites

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