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CIT vs. Triveni Engineering & Industries Ltd (Allahabad High Court)
June, 06th 2014

S. 271(1)(c)/ 271(1B): If, in the assessment order, AO directs initiation of penalty on specific issues but not on others, he is not entitled to levy penalty on the other issues

S. 271(1)(c) empowers the AO, where he is satisfied in the course of any proceedings under the Act that the assessee had concealed the particulars of his income or furnished inaccurate particulars of such income, to direct the payment of penalty. Sub-section (1B) was inserted with retrospective effect from 01.04.1989 to provide that where any amount is added or disallowed in computing the total income or loss of an assessee and the assessment order contains a direction for initiation of penalty proceedings, such an order of assessment shall be deemed to constitute satisfaction of the AO for initiation of penalty proceedings under s. 271(1)(c). In order that the deeming fiction in sub-section (1B) must apply, two requirements must be fulfilled. The first requirement is that an amount must have been added or disallowed in computing the total income or loss of an assessee in any order of assessment or reassessment. The second is that the order of assessment must contain a direction for the initiation of penalty proceedings under clause (c) of sub-section (1) of s. 271. Where both the conditions as aforesaid are fulfilled, the order of assessment must be deemed to constitute satisfaction of the AO for initiating penalty proceedings.

In the present case, it is abundantly clear that in respect of those heads where the AO considered it appropriate to initiate penalty proceedings u/s 271(1)(c), he made a specific direction to that effect. In respect of the claim of interest on the SDF loan, there is no direction by the AO. The absence of a reference to the initiation of proceedings u/s 271(1)(c) is not an inadvertent omission since it is clear that in respect of several other heads, where the AO did consider it appropriate to initiate penalty proceedings, he made an observation to that effect. In fact, even in the concluding part of his order, the AO issued a direction for initiating penalty notice u/s 271(1)(c) “as discussed above”. The expression “as discussed above” is material because it refers to those heads in respect of which a specific direction was issued by him for initiating steps u/s 271(1)(c). Undoubtedly, as held in Mak Data 358 ITR 593 (SC), the AO has to satisfy himself whether penalty proceedings should be initiated or not during the course of assessment proceedings and he is not required to record his satisfaction in a particular manner or reduce it into writing. However, in the present case there is no direction whatsoever by the AO in respect of the specific head of interest on the SDF loan, on which the penalty was deleted by the Tribunal. This omission in the case of the SDF loan stands in sharp contrast to those items where the AO has specifically directed the initiation of penalty proceedings u/s 271(1)(c). Consequently, the Tribunal was justified in deleting the penalty u/s 271(1)(c) in respect of the SDF loan.

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