(1.)The issue involved in all these appeals is whether the time for payment fixed under section 67 of the Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme, 1997 (referred to hereafter as 'the Scheme') is extendable.
(2.)The issue has given rise to conflicting views taken not only by different High Courts but also by different Benches of the same High court. On the one hand, the decisions Smt. Laxmi Mittal v. Commissioner of Income Tax reported in 238itr 97 (P and H) , E. Prahalatha babu v. Commissioner of Income Tax 241 itr 457 (Mad.) and Commissioner of Income tax v. Prahalatha Babu 249 ITR 309 (Mad.) have held that the period is extendable, whereas on the other hand, the decisions in Kamal soodv. Union of India, 241 ITR 567 (Pandh) ; vyshnaui Appliances Put. Ltd. v. Central board of Direct Taxes and Anr. , 243 ITR 101 (AP) ; Smt. Atamjit Singh v. Commissioner of Income Tax, 247 ITR 356 (Karri.) and M. Kuppan v. Commissioner of Income Tax, 249 itr 543 (Mad.) ; K. Dilip Kumar v. Asstt. Commr. of Income Tax and Ors. 241 ITR 16 (Ker) , have held that the period mentioned for payment of the tax due on the undisclosed income was inflexible.
(3.)The scheme was introduced by and is contained in the Finance Act, 1997. It came into force with effect from 1st July, 1997 and remained in operation till 31st March, 1998. Section 64 of the Scheme provides that subject to the provisions of the Scheme, where any person makes, on or after the date of the commencement of the Scheme, but on or before the 31st December, 1997, a declaration in accordance with the provisions of Sec. 65 in respect of any income chargeable to tax under the Income Tax Act, 1961 for any assessment year in respect of which such person had either (a) failed to furpish a return or (b) failed to disclose in his return such income or which has escaped assessment by reason of omission or failure on the part of such person to make a return under the Income Tax Act or (c) to disclose fully and truly all material facts necessary for the assessment, then such person would be entitled to pay tax on such undisclosed income, if the assessee is an individual, at the rate of 30% thereof. We need not consider the case of a company or a firm, as the assessee before us are all individuals.