Decided on January 30,1962


Referred Judgements :-



Chainani - (1.)THE facts giving rise to this Criminal revision application briefly are that the Income-tax Officer, Jamnagar, was holding proceedings under Section 23 of the Income-tax Act, 1922, in regard to the assessment of the income of me second respondent, hereinafter referred to as the respondent. During the course of those proceedings the income-tax Officer, Jamnagar, came to Bombay and examined the petitioner on oath. THE respondent's case is that the petitioner then made statement, which to the knowledge of the petitioner, were false. He, therefore, filed a complaint against the petitioner for an offence under Section 193 I.P.C., in the Court of Presidency Magistrate, 19th Court. An objection was raised to the maintainability of the complaint by the petitioner. It was contended by him that an Income-tax Officer is a Revenue Court within the meaning of Clause (b) in Sub-section (1) of Section 195 Criminal P.C. and that consequently the Court could not take cognizance of any offence under Section 193 I.P.C. alleged to have been committed by the petitioner in the course of proceedings before the Income-tax Officer, except on a complaint In writing by the Income-tax Officer or of some other authority to whom he was subordinate. This objection was overruled and the learned Magistrate rejected the application made by the petitioner, in which he had raised this preliminary objection. Against the order made by film the present application has been made.
(2.)THE question, which we have to determine, is whether an Income-tax Officer, while holding proceedings under Section 23 of the Indian Income-tax Act, is a Court within the meaning of Clause (b) in Sub-section (1) of Section 195 Criminal P.C. THE word "Court" is not defined in the Code. Section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act, defines "Court" as including alt Judges and Magistrates and all persons except arbitrators legally authorised to take evidence. This definition has been held to be not exhaustive but framed only for the purposes of the Evidence Act and is not to be extended beyond its legitimate scope; see Queen Empress v. Tulja, ILR 12 Bom 36, and Brajnandan Sinha v. Jyoti Narain, (1955) 2 SCR 955 at 961 : ((S) AIR 3956 SC 66 at p. 69). As pointed out by Fry, L.J. in Royal Aquarium and Summer and Winter Garden Society Ltd. v. Parkinson, (1892) 1 QB 431, there are many Courts which, though not Courts of Justice, are nevertheless Courts according to law. THE word "Court" does not, therefore, have a uniform meaning in all the enactments. THE question whether a particular tribunal is a Court must, therefore, be decided in each case having regard to the provisions of the enactment under which that tribunal is constituted.
Section 195(1) (b) provides as follows: "(1). No Court shall take cognizance ....(a) of any effence punishable under any of the following sections of the same Code, namely, Sections 193, 194, 195, 196, 199, 200, 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 211 and 228, when such offence Is alleged to have been committed, in, or in relation to, any proceeding in any Court, except on the complaint in writing of such Court or of some other Court to which such Court is subordinate." Sub-section (2) of Section 195 is in the following terms :

"(2). In Clauses (b) and (c) of Sub-section (1), the term 'Court' includes a Civil, Revenue or Criminal Court, out does not include a Registrar or Sub-Registrar under the Indian Registration Act, 1877."

The object of this section is to protect persons from being harassed by baseless and vexatious prosecutions at the instance of individuals actuated by malice, illwill or motives of revenge and to save the time of the Courts from being wasted by frivoious and needless prosecutions. Having regard to this object, it has been held that the word "Court" in Section 195 should be given a wide meaning, See Raghoobuns Sahoy v. Kokil Singh, ILR 17 Cal 872, in which at p. 875 it was observed:

"The word 'Court' is not defined in the Criminal Procedure Code, and it certainly has a wider meaning than a Court of Justice as defined In the Penal Code. Having regard to the obvious purpose for which Section 195 was enacted, we think that the widest possible meaning should be given to the word 'Court' as therein mentioned, and that it would include a tribunal empowered to deal with a particular matter and authorised to receive evident' bearing on that matter in order to enable it to arrive at a determination."

In that case it was held that a Collector acting is appraisement proceedings under Sections 69 and 70 of the Bengal Tenancy Act, is a Court within the meaning of the term as used in Section 195. The observations made in the above case that the widest possible meaning should be given to the word "Court" occurring in Section 195 were cited with approval in Nanchand Shivchand in re., ILR 37 Bom 365, in which a District Judge hearing an election petition under Section 22 of the Bombay District Municipalities Act, was held to be a Court within the meaning of Section 195(1) (b) Cr.P.C. Wide meaning to the were "Court" has also been given in other cases. In Queen-Empress v. Munda Shetti, ILR 24 Mad 121, a Tahsildar, when holding an inquiry as to whether a transfer of names in a land register should be made or not, was held to be a Revenue Court. A similar view was taken in Emperor v. Narayan Ganapaya, ILR 39 Bom 310 : (AIR 1914 Bom . 232), in which it was held that the mamlatdar holding an inquiry relating to Record of Rights, under Chapter XII of the Land Revenue Code, is a Revenue Court within the meaning of Section 195(1)(c) Criminal P.C., see also Emperor v. Rachappa Yellappa, AIR 1936 Bom 221. I may here mention that Sub-section (2) of Section 195 originally defines ..... the term "Court" as meaning a Civil, Revenue or Criminal Court. By Act 18 of 1933 the word "includes" was substituted for the word "means". The definition was, therefore, enlarged to bring within the scope of Section 195 tribunals, which are not Courts in the accepted sense of the word "Court".

An Income-tax Officer is not a Civil or Criminal Court. The question, therefore, arises as to whether he can be said to be a Revenue Court. The term "Revenue Court" is not defined in the Cr.P.C. The question as to what meaning should be given to this term was considered by a Full Bench of this Court in In re Punamchand Maneklal, ILR 38 Bom 642 : (AIR 1914 Bom 138) (FB). At p. 651 (of ILR Bom) : (at p. 140 of AIR) Scott C.J. observed:

"The term 'Revenue Court' is not in general use, but it has been, used occasionally by local legislatures in this country in connection with the decision of questions relating to revenue by officers specially and exclusively empowered to decide them. See, for example, the City of Bombay Revenue Act and the Revenue Code of Oudh, the United Provinces and the Punjab (U.P. Act II of 1901, Sections 59-62; U.P. Act III of 1901, Section 189 at. seq.; Oudh Act XXII of 1886, Section 109; Punjab Act XVI of 1887, Section 101). Speaking generally, revenue questions are removed from the cognisance of Civil Court and the Officer charged with the duty of deciding disputed questions relating to revenue between me individual and the Government would be invested with the functions of a Revenue Court."

In that case, it was held that a Collector holding proceedings under Chapter IV of the Income-tax Act 1882 was a Revenue Court within the meaning of that term as used in causes (b) and (c) of Section 195(1) Cr.P.C. At p. 652 (of ILR Bom) : (at p. 140 of AIR) it was observed :

"We also think that inquiries conducted according to the forms of judicial procedure under Chapter IV of the Income-tax Act and execution proceedings under Chapter V (which provides that an order passed by a Collector on a petition under Chapter IV shall have the force of a decree of a Civil Court in suit in which the Government is the plaintiff and the defaulter is the defendant) are proceedings in a Revenue Court."

This decision of the Full Bench has been followed by a Division Bench of this Court in State v. Nemchand Pashvir, 57 Bom LR 1056 : (AIR 1956 Bom 326), in which a Sales-Tax Officer appointed under the Bombay Sales-tax Act, 1953, was held to be a Court, within the meaning of Section 195(1) (c) Cr.P.C. At p. 1059 Shah J. observed, "that the Sales-tax Officers under the Bombay Sales-tax Act, 1953, are authorised to decide questions relating to revenue cannot be denied, and the jurisdiction of other Courts to deal with those questions has been expressly excluded by Section 29 of that Act. It is clear, therefore, that the Sales-tax Act confers jurisdiction to decide questions relating to revenue upon officers specially and exclusively empowered to decide them. The Sales-lax Officers having been invested with powers, which are the normal attributes of a Court or tribunal authorised to adjudicate upon disputed questions of law or fact relating to rights of citizens must be regarded as a Revenue Court, within the meaning of Section 195(1) (c) Cr.P.C.".

(3.)IT seems to us that the principle underlying these two decisions will also apply to an Income-tax Officer holding assessment proceedings under Section 23 of the Income-tax Act 1922. In this connection, it is necessary to refer to the relevant provisions of this Act. Section 22 provides for the submission of returns of income by persons whose total income during the previous year exceeded the maximum amount, which is not chargeable to Income-tax. Sub-section (1) of Section 23 provides that if the Income-tax Officer is satisfied that a return made under Section 22 is correct and complete, he shall assess the total income of the assessee and shall return. Sub-section (2) states that if the Income-tax Officer is not satisfied without requiring the presence of the person who made the return or the production of evidence that a return made under Section 22 is correct and complete, he shall serve on such person a notice requiring him to attend the Income-lax Officer's office or to produce, or to cause to be there produced, any evidence on which such person may rely in support of the return. Sub-section (3) is in the following terms:
"On the day specified in the notice issued under Sub-section (2), or as soon afterwards as may be, the Income-tax Officer, after hearing such evidence as such person may produce and such other evidence as the Income-tax Officer may require, on specified points, shall, by an order in writing assess the total income of the assessee, and determine the sum payable by him on the basis of such assessment."

Sub-section (4) empowers the Income-tax Officer to make the assessment to the best of his judgment, if a person has failed to make a return under Section 22 or has failed to comply with the notice issued to him under Sub-section (2). Section 30 provides for an appeal against the assessment made under Section 23. The proviso to Sub-section (3) of Section 31 states that at the hearing of any appeal against an order of an Income-tax Officer, the Income-tax Officer shall have the right to be heard either in person or by a representative Sub-section (2) of Section 33 provides that the Commissioner may, if he objects to any order passed in appeal by an Appellate Assistant Commissioner under Section 31, direct the Income-tax Officer to appeal to the Appellate Tribunal against such order. Sub-section (1) of Section 37 confers on the Income-lax Officer, the powers vested in a Court under the C.P.C. of discovery and inspection, of enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath, of compelling the production of account books and other documents, and of issuing commissions. Sub-section (2) authorises an Income-tax Officer, to enter and search any building or place where he has reason to believe that any books of account or other documents, which in his opinion will be useful for or relevant to any proceeding under this Act, may be found and examine them, if found, to seize any such books of account or other documents or place marks of identification thereon or make extracts or copies therefrom, and to make a note or an inventory of any other article or thing found in the course of any search under this section, which in his opinion, will be useful for or relevant to any proceeding under this Act. Sub-section (4) states that any proceeding before any authority referred to in this section, shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding within the meaning of Sections 193 and 228, and for the purposes of Section 196 of the I.P.C. Section 46 contains provisions regarding the mode of recovery of tax to which a person has been assessed. Sub-section (2) states that the Income-tax Officer may forward to the Collector a certificate under his signature, specifying the amount of arrears due from an assessee, and the Collector on receipt of such certificate Shall proceed to recover the amount specified therein as if it were an arrear of land revenue. The proviso to this sub-section confers upon the Collector all the powers, which a Civil Court has under the Code of Civil Procedure for the purpose of the recovery of an amount due under a decree. Sub-section (5-A) empowers the Income-tax Officer to require any person, from whom money is due or may become dug to the assessee, to pay the Income-tax Officer so much of the money, as is sufficient to pay the amount due by the assessee in respect of arrears of Income-tax and penalty. Section 67 bars the jurisdiction of a Civil Court to entertain any suit to set aside or modify any assessment made under the Act. IT will be seen from these provisions that the power to determine the amount of Income-tax payable by an assessee is vested In the Income-tax Officer. If he is not satisfied with the return submitted by the assessee, he has to hear the assessea and allow him to produce any evidence, on which the assessee may wish to rely, In support of the return submitted by him before he can make an order against him. He has also the same powers as are vested in a Civil Court, to enforce the attendance of any person, to examine persons on oath, to compel the production of documents, and to issue commissions. The relevant provisions of this Act are similar to those of the earlier Income-tax Act II of 1883. The differences have been pointed out to us. Under the earlier Act, the power to assess the tax was vested in the Collector, who was a Revenue Officer. Under the present Act, the assessment has to be made by an Income-tax Officer appointed under Section 5 of the Act. Secondly, under the former Act, the assessing Officer, that is, the Collector, could himself take steps to recover the tax assessed by him. Under the present Act, the Income-tax Officer has to send a certificate to the Collector and ask the Collector to recover the tax due from the assessee. He himself has limited powers of execution under Sub-section (5-A) of Section 46 of the Act. These differences are, however, not such as would justify us in holding that the decision of the full Bench in ILR 38 Bom 642: (AIR 1914 Bom 133) (FB), which was followed in State v. Ramchand Pashvir, 57 Bom LR 1056 : (AIR 1956 Bom 326), is no longer good law.

Mr.Gupte, who appears for the respondent, has referred to the decision of the Supreme Court in Virindar Kumar v. State of Punjab, (S) AIR 1956 SC 153. In that case, it was held that a Returning Officer deciding on validity of a nomination paper, under Section 36 of the Representation of the People Act, 1961, is not a Court for the purposes of Section 195(1)(b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. At p. 157 it was observed:

"It may be stated broadly that what distinguishes a Court from a quasi-judicial Tribunal is that it is charged with a duty to decide disputes in a judicial manner and declare the rights of parties in a definitive judgment. To decide in judicial manner involves that the parties are entitled as a matter of right to be heard in support of their claim and to adduce evidence in proof of it. And it also imports an obligation on the part of the authority to decide the matter on a consideration of the evidence adduced and in accordance with law."

These attributes are possessed by an Income-tax Officer. The assessee is entitled to be heard as a matter of right and to adduce evidence in support of his contentions. There is also an obligation on the Income-tax Officer, to decide the matter of assessment on a consideration of the evidence adduced and in accordance with law. He has also to make an order determining the sum payable by the assessee. Mr. Gupte, has, however, urged that in proceedings before the Income-tax Officer, there is no lis, in which persons with opposing claims are entitled to have their rights adjudicated in a judicial manner. He has also contended that in any case a lis cannot arise until the Income-tax Officer makes the order of assessment. Similar argument was advanced before the Supreme Court in Hoosein Kasam Dada (India) Ltd. v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 1953 SCR 987 : (AIR 1953 SC 221). At p. 999 (of SCR) : (at p. 225 of AIR), the Supreme Court dealt with this argument in the following terms:

"Finally, Sri Ganapathy lyer faintly urges that until actual assesment, there can be no 'lis' and, therefore, no right of appeal can accrue before that event. There are two answers to this plea. Whenever there is a proposition by one party and an opposition to (hat proposition by another a 'lis' arises. It may be cenceded, though not deciding it, that when the assessee files his return a 'lis' may not immediately arise, for under Section 11(1) the authority may accept the return as correct and complete. But if the authority is not satisfied as to the correctness of the return and calls for evidence, surely a controversy arises involving a proposit on by the assessee and an opposition by the State. The circumstance that the authority who raises the dispute Is himself the Judge, can make no difference, for the authority raises the dispute in the interest of the State and in so acting only represents the Siate." In view of this decision of the Supreme Court, the above argument of Mr. Gupte cannot be accepted.

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