UOI vs. Dharmendra Textile (Supreme Court 3 Judges)

DATE: (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: October 18, 2008 (Date of publication)

Held by 3 Judge Bench in the context of Section 11AC of the Central Excise Act, 1944 {which corresponds to s. 271 (1) (c)} that:

(i) In Dilip Shroff vs. JCIT, the SC held that the order imposing penalty was quasi-criminal in nature and thus the burden lies on the department to establish that the assessee had consciously concealed his income. This view is not correct.

(ii) The object behind enactment of s. 271 (1) (c) read with Explanations indicate that the said section has been enacted to provide for a remedy for loss of revenue and they create the element of strict liability on the assessee for concealment or for giving inaccurate particulars while filing return. The penalty under that provision is a civil liability. Wilful concealment is not an essential ingredient for attracting civil liability unlike the matter of prosecution under Section 276C.

(iii) Dilp N. Shroff‘s case (supra) has not considered the effect and relevance of s. 276C.

(iv) It cannot be said that the absence of specific reference to mens rea is a case of casus omissus. The law on two principles of construction – one relating to casus omissus and the other in regard to reading the statute as a whole has been considered in detail.

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