Thursday, November 7, 2013

Voluntary disclosures don’t absolve one from concealment penalty; plea as to ‘buy peace’ is irrelevant

Voluntary disclosure does not lead to assessee being free from mischief of penal proceedings under section 271(1)(c)
The Supreme Court held as under:

1) Explanation to section 271(1) raises a presumption of concealment, when a difference is noticed by the Assessing Officer, between reported and assessed income. The burden then shift on the assessee to show otherwise, by cogent and reliable evidence;

2) When the initial onus placed by the Explanation, has been discharged by assessee, the onus shifts on the revenue to show that the amount in question constituted the income and not otherwise;

3) The Assessing Officer shall not be carried away by the plea of the assessee like ‘voluntary disclosure’, ‘buy peace’, ‘avoid litigation’, ‘amicable settlement’, etc., to explain its conduct;

4) Assessee had only stated that he had surrendered the additional sum with a view to avoid litigation, buy peace and to channelize the energy and resources towards productive work and to make amicable settlement with the income-tax department. Statute does not recognize those types of defences under the Explanation 1 to section 271(1)(c);

5) It is trite law that the voluntary disclosure does not free the assessee from the mischief of penal proceedings under section 271(1)(c). The law does not provide that when an assessee makes a voluntary disclosure of his concealed income, he has to be absolved from penalty;

6) The surrender of income in this case was not voluntary in the sense that the offer of surrender was made in view of detection made by the Assessing Officer in the search conducted in the sister concern of the assessee;

7) The Assessing Officer had to satisfy whether the penalty proceedings were initiated or not during the course of the assessment proceedings and the Assessing Officer was not required to record his satisfaction in a particular manner or reduce it into writing. Thus, there was no illegality in action of department in initiating penalty proceedings - MAK Data (P.) Ltd. v. CIT (2013) 38 448 (SC)

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