Sitaram Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh
 INSC 40 (5 February 1962)
05/02/1962 KAPUR, J.L.
GUPTA, K.C. DAS DAYAL, RAGHUBAR
CITATION: 1962 AIR 1146 1962 SCR Supl. (3) 21
R 1972 SC2504 (24) R 1974 SC 923 (31)
Criminal Trial--Offence of filing false
return of Sales taxLimitation-If trial barred after three months-C. P. and Berar Sales Tax Act, 1947 (C. P. XXI of 1947), s. 26.
The appellants submitted their returns of
sales tax. More than three months afterwards a complaint was filed against them
under s. 24(1)(b) and (g) of the C. P. and Berar Sales Tax Act' alleging that
the returns filed Were false and that the accounts produced were incorrect.
They contended that the prosecution was barred by s. 26(2) of the Act which
provided that no prosecution shall be instituted against any person in respect
of anything done or intended to be done under the Act unless it was instituted
within three months from the date of the act complained of.
Held, that the prosecution was barred by s.
26(2) of the Act. The words "any person" in s. 26(2) were words of
wide import and included the appellants. There was no reason to restrict them
to Government servants. Both the making of the return and the production of the
accounts were acts done under the Act; the return being filed under s. 10 and
the accounts being produced under s. 15 of the Act. Section 26(2) was thus
clearly applicable to the-case.
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal
Appeals Nos. 146 and 147 of 60.
Appeals by special leave from the judgment
and order dated February 11, 1960, of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Criminal
Revisions Nos. 270 to 274 of 1959.
G. C. Mathur, for the appellants.
I. N. Shroff, for the respondents.
1962. February 5. The Judgment of the Court
was delivered by KAPUR, J. There are two appeals directed against the order of
the High Court of Madhya 22 Pradesh reiecting a Reference made by the Sessions
Judge against the prosecution of. the appellant for contravening the provisions
of the C. P. and Berar Sales Tax Act (C. P.
XXI of 1947), hereinafter called the 'Act'.
A firm of which five brothers including the
two appellants were partners submitted their sales tax returns for the quarters
beginning June 1, 1947, to the quarters ending December 31, 1951. A .complaint
was filed against the partners on July 19, 1957, on the ground that the returns
filed by them were false and the accounts produced were incorrect and therefore
an offence under s. 24(1)(b) and (g) of the Act was committed.
On December 12, 1958, an objection was taken
by the accused.
persons that under s. 26(2) of the Act, the
prosecution could not be instituted as it was barred by time, having been
instituted more than three months after the commission of the offence. The learned,
Magistrate did not go into the objection on the ground that it was not the
proper forum for raising the objection. Four revisions were taken to the
Sessions Judge who on May 4, 1959, made a reference to the High Court for
quashing the proceedings But the High Court rejected the reference on the
ground that a person making a false return neither acts nor purports to act
under the Act and therefore s. 26(2) is not applicable to him. It is against
that order that these peals were brought by Special Leave.
In order to decide this question, it is
necessary to refer to the relevant provisions of the Act. Under s. 10 of the
Act every dealer is required to furnish a return when called upon to do so and
every registered dealer is required to furnish returns by such dates as may be
prescribed. The appellants are registered dealers and they have made returns
under that section. Section 15 deals with 23 production and inspection of
accounts and s. 24 enumerates the offenses under the Act. The alleged offence of
the appellants falls under is. 34(1) (b) and (g). i..e. failing without
sufficient use to submit any return or furnishing false returns and knowingly
producing incorrect accounts, registers or documents or knowingly furnishing
incorrect information. Section 26 relates to the protection of persons acting
in good faith and limitation for suits and prosecutions. The section when
quoted is as follows S. 26 (1) "No suit, prosecution or other legal
proceedings shall lie against any servant of the Government for anything which
is in good faith done or intended to be done under this Act or rules made there
(2) No suit shall be instituted against the
Government and no prosecution or suit shall be instituted against 'any person
in respect of anything done or intended to be done under this Act unless the
suit or prosecution has been instituted within three months from the date of
the act complained of." For the appellants, it was contended that the
words "no prosecution or suit shall be, instituted against any person in
respect of anything done" in sub-s. (2) of s. 26 cover their cases also
and they fall within the words ",any person". The respondent's
submission on this point was that the two sub-sections of s. 26 should be read
together and the intention of the Legislature was to give protection to
Government servants in regard to prosecutions or other legal proceedings. That,
in our opinion, is not *hat the words used in sub-s. (2) mean., They are words
of wider import and would cover cases of all persons including persons other
than Government servants. There are' no words restricting the meaning of
"any person" and no 24 reason has been shown why those words should
not include the appellants.
The ground on which the High Court rejected
the Reference was that in its opinion the appellants neither acted nor
purported to act under any of the provisions of the Act when they filed false
returns or produced false accounts and in fact they were rendering. themselves
liable to punishment under the provisions of s. 24 of the Act. It observed as
follows :"The test whether an act is done or intended to be done under a
certain law might well be whether the person who committed it can, if
challenged, reasonably justify his act under any provision contained in that
This opinion is, in our view, not
sustainable. When the appellants submitted their returns they did so under s.
10 of the Act and when they produced their accounts they did so under s. 15 of
the Act. Therefore both the making of the returns and production of the
accounts were done under the Act and cannot be said to be outside the
provisions of the Act.
In our opinion the High Court was in error in
rejecting the Reference. The appeals are therefore allowed, the order of the
High Court is set aside aid the proceedings in the trial court are quashed.