PUBLIC PROSECUTOR Vs. K SESHA SHET
HIGH COURT OF MADRAS
K Sesha Shet
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SOMASUNDARAM, J. -
(1.) THIS is an appeal by the State against the acquittal of the respondent by the Sub -Divisional Magistrate, Coondapur, in C. C. No. 234 of 1951 on his file. The respondent was charged before the Sub -Divisional Magistrate for an offence under Section 15 (b), Madras General Sales -tax Act that is. for the non -payment of tax amounting to Rs. 2651 -6 -4 due for the year 1949 -1950 in spite of service of the demand notice dated 12.8.1951. This notice was issued by the Deputy Commercial Tax Officer and was served on the respondent on 13.8.1951 giving three weeks' time for payment. The amount was not paid within that time. An appeal was preferred by the respondent to the Commercial Tax Officer, and that was dismissed on 4.10.1951. The Commercial Tax Officer gave three days' time from the date of service of the order dismissing the appeal for payment of the amount, service being on 15.10.1951. Even then the amount was not paid by the respondent.
Thereafter, this complaint was filed by the Assistant Commercial Tax Officer on 31.10.1951. Subsequent to the filing of this complaint, an appeal was preferred by the respondent to the Sales -tax tribunal and stay was granted on 10.12.1951. The Tribunal stayed the collection of Tax, by the aforesaid order. It is not disputed that the appeal has now been disposed of, dismissing the same. The lower Court acquitted the accused on the ground that in the circumstances the complaint was premature and the accused could not be deemed to have committed any offence by non -payment of the tax when the matter was still pending decision of the higher officers of the Department. The view taken by the Sub -Divisional Magistrate is that the Assistant Commercial Tax Officer should have waited till the passing of the final orders by the Tribunal.
(2.) IT is against this acquittal the State has filed the above appeal. The main contention of the learned Assistant Public Prosecutor is that the fact that the respondent has got a right of appeal to the Commercial Tax officer and thereafter to the Sales -Tax Tribunal does in any way militate against the view that the respondent has already committed the offence when the amount was not paid within the time mentioned. It is true that, if the Sales -tax Tribunal ultimately holds that no tax is payable, no offence could be considered to have been committed. But the provisions of Section 15 (b), as it now stands, is intended to expedite the collection of tax by means of prosecution. If an appeal is preferred by the respondent within the time allowed to him and if at the time the Tribunal passes an order exonerating him from paying the tax, then it is most unlikely that the officers themselves would prosecute the respondent any further. On the wording of Section 15 (b) as it stands, it seems to me that when any person fails to pay within the time allowed any tax assessed on him - which here means assessed by the assessing authority, that is the Deputy Commercial Tax Officer, who, under the Government order is the assessing authority in respect of incomes over Rs. 20,000 - then the offence has been committed. There is no need for the 'Assistant Commercial Tax Officer or the Deputy Commercial Tax Officer' to wait for the assessee to exhaust all his remedies. That would only mean an enormous delay in the collection of Taxes to prevent which, this provision has been introduced. The view of the learned Sub -Divisional Magistrate that the complaint is premature is not correct and the acquittal of the respondent is therefore set aside. It is represented by the learned Assistant Public Prosecutor that only a sum of Rs. 704 -0 -0 is still due out of the tax assessed on the respondent. The respondent is therefore convicted and sentenced under Section 15 (b) to a fine of Rs. 10 plus a sum of Rs. 704 being the tax due to Government. The appeal is allowed. Time for payment of tax six weeks.
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