Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: The Bench of P.N. Prakash, J., in a criminal revision case preferred in respect of setting aside the order of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Chennai, stated that,

“The very edifice on which the prosecution was launched against the accused, crumbled like a pack of cards.”

The factual matrix of the case which led to the filing of the present criminal revision case was that, the petitioner herein was accused of the offence under Section 276-C (2) of the Income Tax Act, 1961. It was stated by the IT Department that for the assessment year 1998-1999, accused filed “Income Tax Returns”, wherein his total income was shown to be Rs 48,150. Income Tax Department on conducting an investigation found out that petitioner’s income was Rs 29,05,126, following which the tax payable along with interest was determined to be Rs 16,02,601.

On filing an appeal by the accused before CIT (Appeals) it was determined by the said authority that the income of the accused is Rs 26,69,470 and Rs 14,84,199 is to be paid as tax. Accused in respect of the stated filed an appeal before Income Tax Appellate Tribunal; however the stay petition was dismissed by ITAT and hence accused was liable to be punished under Section 276-C (2) of the IT Act, for non-payment of determined tax.

Reference to the judgment of the Apex Court in CIT v. Bhupen Champak Lal Dalal, (2001) 3 SCC 459 along with Gujarat Travancore Agency v. CIT(1989) 3 SCC 52, in which the Supreme Court considered Section 276 C of the IT Act and held,

“….There can be no dispute that having regard to the provision of Section 276-C, which speaks of wilful failure on the part of the defaulter and taking into consideration the nature of the penalty, which is punitive, no sentence can be imposed under that provision unless the element of mens rea is established.”

Further, it was stated that the accused had pursued the matter to ITAT who had set aside the CIT (Appeals) order and remanded the matter back to CIT who ultimately determined the tax to be payable at income Rs 2,82,650. In reference to the stated, it should be noted that the accused had been knocking doors of these bodies challenging the determination of the income by ITO and at the end of the day the fact-finding body itself came to the conclusion that income of accused for that period was only Rs 2,82,650 and tax payable only Rs 1,10,402.

Therefore, there was no necessity for the Income Tax Department to have launched the prosecution hurriedly since the law of limitation under Section 468 CrPC for criminal prosecution has been excluded by the Economic Offences (Inapplicability of Limitation) Act, 1974.

Thus, the accused was not found wilfully evading payment of tax. But unfortunately, trial court failed to appreciate the accused’s contention. Court allowed the present criminal revision case and discharged the accused from prosecution. [Sayarmull Surana v. CIT, 2018 SCC OnLine Mad 3505, decided on 14-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench comprising of P.N. Deshmukh and M.G. Giratkar, J., partly allowed a criminal appeal which was filed against the judgment of conviction under Section 302 IPC passed by the trial court.

The convict was accused of throwing chilli powder at the deceased and other persons and strangulating the deceased to death. The case was that the accused ran a liquor store, which was objected to by the deceased and other members of a certain samiti. According to the appellant, the deceased was leading a mob of 50 people, trying to enter her house. Apprehending threat and danger, the appellant got frightened and threw chilli powder at the mob. She caught hold of the deceased by her hair and scuffled with her only so that it would act as a deterrent for other persons from entering the house. However, during the said scuffle, the deceased died accidentally. The appellant was tried and convicted under Section 302 IPC. Aggrieved thus, the appellant filed the instant appeal.

The High Court perused the record very carefully. In light of the post-mortem report along with evidence of witnesses, it was proved that death of the deceased was homicidal. However, the Court was of the view that since the defendant did not have any intention to kill the deceased, the conviction of the appellant was liable to modified from that under Section 302 to Section 304 Part II. The order was made accordingly. [Sumitra v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 1550, dated 19-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: The appellant was acquitted of the charges under Section 306 IPC by a Single Judge Bench comprising of Ram Prasanna Sharma, J., holding that there was no live link between the act of the appellant and suicide of the deceased so as to convict the appellant under the section.

The appellant-husband was alleged to have abetted the suicide of the deceased-wife. The statement of witnesses pointed to the fact that the appellant had assaulted the deceased on one previous occasion; however the date of such incident was not clear.

The High Court perused Section 306 along with Section 107 of IPC and observed that the abetment involves a mental process of instigating a person or intentionally aiding a person in doing a thing. Without a positive act on the part of accused to instigate or aid in committing suicide, conviction under Section 306 can not be sustained. In order to convict a person under Section 306, there has to be a clear mens rea to commit offence. It also requires an active act or direct act which leads deceased to commit suicide seeing no option and this act must have been intended to push deceased into such a position that he commits suicide. In the instant case, there was nothing on record as to what had happened on or prior to the date of incident which was unbearable for the deceased. Mens rea on the part of the appellant, requiring direct act and active act which led the deceased to commit suicide, was lacking. Some bitter experience during routine married life is natural and that was not sufficient to hold that since long back of the incident there was quarrel between the parties that is why the deceased took the extreme step. In the present case, there was no live link between the act of the appellant and the act of the deceased.

Accordingly, the appeal was allowed and the conviction and sentence of the appellant passed by the trial court was set aside. [Tulsiram v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2018 SCC OnLine Chh 413, dated 11-04-2018]