Decided on July 07,1994



S. Bandyopadhyay, Accountant Member - (1.) ALTHOUGH nobody appeared during the course of the hearing of this appeal before us on behalf of the assessee, yet Sri S. Parthasarathy, Advocate, volunteered to argue on behalf of the assessee even as an unaccredited representative. We appreciate his services towards the cause of proper discharge of judicial duties.
(2.) The appeal has been filed by the department and is directed against the order of the CIT(A). The assessee-company filed its return of income for assessment year 1986-87 on 30-6-1986 declaring total loss of Rs. 24,31,830. In the assessment, the net loss was however determined at Rs. 18,91,178. The ITO remarked in the assessment order that in as much as the assessee-company had not filed the return of loss before 30-6-1986, as per the requirements of Section 139(1) of the Act, the benefit of carry-forward of loss was not allowable to the assessee-company. In the appeal before him, the CIT(A), noted that as per the provisions of relevant section of the Act, as existing at that time, the assessee should have filed the return of loss before 30-6-1986, whereas the return was actually filed on 30-6-1986. He, however, came to the conclusion that interpreting the expression "before 30-6-1986" as not to include that date also would be too technical an interpretation. He was of the view that the assessee should not loose the benefit of carry-forward of a huge quantity of loss of around Rs. 17,00,000 (excluding depreciation) simply on this technical ground. He, therefore, finally directed the ITO to allow the assessee the benefit of carry-forward of loss. The department has come up in further appeal before us against this particular direction of the CIT(A). The precise point for us to decide is therefore to come to a conclusion as to whether the expression "before 30-6-1986" should include that date also. We would like to refer to the observations made by the Hon'ble High Court of Karnataka in the case of Bhoruka Finance Corporation v. Union of India [1993] 202 ITR 723, albeit in a case relating to purchase of immovable property. At page 726 of the reported case, the learned Karnataka High Court stated as below : Precedents on the interpretation of the effect of a prescription of an act being done before a specified date is not uniform. Having regard to the objects of the enactment in certain cases, it had been held that the word 'before' would mean 'up to' and in others 'previous to the specified date'. In certain decisions, it is held that, when the relevant provision requires the performance of an act before a specified date, the same shall be done at some time preceding the said date so as to delimit the period inside which the event may occur.
(3.) SO we find a judicial support from the abovementioned case decided by the Karnataka High Court that the expression "before" may mean in certain cases even "up to" the date as mentioned in the relevant provision of law. It is, therefore, necessary for us now to come to a conclusion as to whether in the instant case it may be considered that the Legislature had the intention of allowing the assessees to file their returns of income by the 30th June of the relevant assessment year. In other words, it means whether a return filed "in those years" on the 30th June of the assessment year would be treated as one filed within the time as allowed under Section 139(1). We are of the view that it should actually be so. There cannot be any justifiable reason to exclude one day, viz., 30th June from the time limit allowed to the assessees to furnish their returns of income. There is no sanctity about the date 29th of June so that the returns of income must be considered to be required to be filed by that date only. On the other hand, the 30th of June not only constitutes the last day of a calendar month but also represents termination of a half-year from the start of the calendar year and of a quarter-year from the start of the financial year. Hence, it must be considered that the Legislature actually intended to include the day, viz., 30th June within the time limit allowable under Section 139(1). It is an undisputed fact that in the later years, the Legislature started using the expression "on or before" while referring to a limitation date about the filing of the return of income, e.g., "on or before 30th June", "on or before 31st December", etc. We, however, feel that the Legislature started using such inclusive expressions as abundant measure of precaution. We do not at all feel that the use of the expression "on or before" in later years marked a departure from the actual intention of the Legislature relating to the earlier years. We are, therefore, of the view that where the Legislature used the expression "before 30th of June" in some of the years and "on or before the 30th of June" in some other years, the intention of the Legislature remained the same and the interpretation that in both the cases, the 30th of June was inclusive within the period referred to, should hold good.;

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