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Report No. 88

3.5. Obscurity as to income-tax papers.-

These simple situations may not present much difficulty. But the obscurity of the expression "affairs of State" is illustrated by the decisions that were rendered with reference to other matters. Income-tax returns made to income-tax officers and assessment orders may be cited as an example. Before the enactment of specific statutory provision on the subject, it was held that returns submitted to the income-tax officer, and statements before him or orders made by him, did not refer to "affairs of State" (section 123), nor were they made in official confidence (section 124), and the officer concerned was bound to produce them, if summoned to do so.1-2

It was after these judicial decisions that section 54 of the Income-tax Act, 1922, was enacted. Section 54 of the Income-tax Act, 1922 (now section 137 of the Income-tax Act, 1961) to state only the gist thereof enacted that statements made or returns, accounts or documents produced for evidence before Income-tax authorities shall be treated as confidential and disclosure thereof by any public servant was prohibited, and no official shall be required to produce any such document or to give evidence in respect thereof.

1. Venkatachella v. Sampatu Chettiar, 1909 ILR 32 (62): 19 Mad LJ 263.

2. Jadabaram v. Bulloram, 1899 ILR 26 Cal 281.

Governmental Privilege in Evidence - Sections 123, 124 and 162 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and Articles 74 and 163 of the Constitution Back

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