Income Tax Prosecution for not disclosing foreign bank accounts. Petition for Joint Trial rejected in complaints u/s 276C and 277

Income Tax Prosecution for not disclosing foreign bank accounts. Special Judge rejects petition for Joint Trial in all complaints u/s 276C and 277

ABCAUS Case Law Citation:
ABCAUS 2292 (2018) (04) AC

In the instant case, the petitioner husband and wife (collectively called “accused”) had filed revision petitions against the order passed by the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACCM or Trial Court) in six complaints pending against them.

These complaints were filed for offences under Section 276C(1), wilful attempt to evade tax and under section 277, false statement in verification. It was alleged that they attempted to evade payment of income tax and also made a statement in verification knowing the same to be false and which they did not believe to be true and willfully did not file required details in reply to show cause notices under Section 279(1) of Income Tax Act, 1961 (the Act) in respect of foreign bank account with HSBC, Geneva, Switzerland and thereby concealed income tax for several assessment years.

Income Tax Prosecution for not disclosing foreign bank accounts

The Trial Court had rejected prayer of the accused for the joint trial on assimilation of all the six complaints. The Trial Court  observed that the provisions of Section 218 and 219 of CrPC and decision of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court were not applicable in the case and the test of offences forming part of same transaction also failed, as the accusation for evasion of Income Tax were for different assessment years and no prejudice was caused to the accused , if they were to be tried in separate complaints.

The accused submitted that the Trial Court should have exercised discretion for joint trial of the petitioners in all six complaints to avoid embarrassment to them.

The learned Special Judge observed that in view the punishment of imprisonment which may extend to seven years for the alleged offences, the complaints were admittedly to be tried as warrants cases (The terms summons case and warrant case are used in reference to the procedure adopted for the trial of the case. “Warrant-case” means a case relating to an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term exceeding two years and the difference between the “summon cases” and “warrant cases” can be seen from the point of view of their trial procedures)

The learned Special Judge observed that there was no illegality or infirmity in the impugned order vide which prayer of the petitioners for joint trial in respect of all the six complaints was rejected. Accordingly he dismissed all the six petitions.

However, the learned Special Judge directed that the Trial Court may consider taking up warrants cases on the same date to avoid repeated appearance of the petitioners. Similarly, Trial Court may consider taking up summons cases on same date (other than the one in warrant cases) to avoid repeated appearance of the petitioners. In case notice is ultimately served in the summons case and in case charge is framed in warrant cases and the same are to be listed for evidence, Trial Court may consider listing the summons cases as well as warrants cases on the same date to avoid repeated appearance of the petitioners.

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