Shah, J. -
(1.)C. A. Abraham hereinafter referred to as the appellant and one M.P. Thomas carried on business in food grains in partnership in the name and style of M. P. Thomas and Company at Kottayam. M. P. Thomas died on October 11, 1949. For the account years 1123, 1124 and 1125 M. E. corresponding to August 1947-July 1948, August 1948-July 1949 and August 1949-July 1950, the appellant submitted as a partner returns of the income of the firm as an unregistered firm. In the course of the assessment proceedings, it was discovered that the firm had carried on transactions in different commodities in fictitious names and had failed to disclose substantial income earned therein. By order dated November 29, 1954, the Income Tax Officer assessed the suppressed income of the firm in respect of the assessment year 1124 M.E. under the Travancore Income Tax Act and in respect of assessment years 1949-50 and 1950-51 under the Indian Income Tax Act and on the same day issued notices under S. 28 of the Indian Income Tax Act in respect of the years 1949-50 and 1950-51 and under S. 41 of the Travancore Income Tax Act for the year 1124 M.E., requiring the firm to show cause why penalty should not be imposed. These notices were served upon the appellant.
(2.)The Income Tax Officer after considering the explanation of the appellant imposed penalty upon the firm of Rs. 5,000/- in respect of the year 1124 M.E., R. 2,000/- in respect of the year 1950-51 and Rs. 22,000/- in respect of the year 1951-52. Appeals against the orders passed by the Income Tax Officer were dismissed by the Appellate Assistant Commissioner. The appellant then applied to the High Court of Judicature of Kerala praying for a writ of certiorari quashing the orders of assessment and imposition of penalty. It was claimed by the appellant inter alia that after the dissolution of the firm by the death of M. P. Thomas in October, 1949, no order imposing a penalty could be passed against the firm. The High Court rejected the application following the judgment of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Mareddi Krishna Reddy vs. Income Tax Officer, Tenali, 1957-31 ITR 678. Against the order dismissing the petition, this appeal is preferred with certificate of the High Court.
(3.)In our view the petition filed by the appellant should not have been entertained. The Income Tax Act provides a complete machinery for assessment of tax and imposition of penalty and for obtaining relief in respect of any improper orders passed by the Income Tax authorities, and the appellant could not be permitted to abandon resort to that machinery and to invoke the jurisdiction of the High Court under Art. 226 of the Constitution when he had adequate remedy open to him by an appeal to the Tribunal. But the High Court did entertain the petition and has also granted leave to the appellant to appeal to this court. The petition having been entertained and leave having been granted, we do not think that we will be justified at this stage in dismissing the appeal in limine. On the merits, the appellant is not entitled to relief. The Income Tax Officer found that the appellant had, with a view to evade payment of tax deliberately concealed material particulars of his income. Even though the firm was carrying on transactions in food grains in diverse names, no entries in respect of those transactions in the books of account were posted and false credit entries of loans alleged to have been borrowed from several persons were made. The conditions prescribed by S. 28 (1) (c) for imposing penalty were therefore fulfilled. But says the appellant, the assessee firm had ceased to exist on the death of M. P. Thomas, and in the absence of a provision in the Indian Income Tax Act whereby liability to pay penalty may be imposed after dissolution against the firm under S. 28 (1)(c) of the Act, the order was illegal. Section 44 of the Act at the material time stood as follows:
"Where any business . . . . . . . . . carried on by a firm . . . . . . has been discontinued . . . . . . . every person who was at the time of such discontinuance . . . . . .. a partner of such firm, . . . . . . . shall in respect of the income profits and gain of the firm be jointly and severally liable to assessment under Chapter IV for the amount of tax payable and all the provisions of Chapter IV shall, so far as may be, apply to any such assessment."