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Decriminalisation of section 276A of Income Tax Act, 1961 – Budget 2023

Section 276A of the Act makes provision for prosecution with rigorous imprisonment up to two years in the case of a person, being a liquidator who fails to give notice in accordance with sub-section (1) of section 178, or fails to set aside the amount as required by sub­section (3) of the said section or parts with any of the assets of the company or the properties in contravention of the provisions of the said section.

2. It has been the stated policy of the Government to decriminalise minor offences as a step towards improving ease of business. In this regard, the provisions of the Act have been examined. Section 276A provides for prosecution of liquidator for non-compliance with section 178. Section also imposes personal liability on such liquidator for the same non­compliance. Further, with the operationalisation of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC), waterfall mechanism for payment of dues is now in place for companies under liquidation and sub-section (6) of section 178 (the parent section) provides that this section shall not have effect when provisions of the IBC are in contrary. Moreover, the liquidator is now working under the oversight of this specific law.

3. In view of this, it is proposed to amend section 276A by providing a sunset clause on the section with effect from 31.03.2023. Hence, it is proposed that no fresh prosecution shall be launched under this section on or after 1st April, 2023. The earlier prosecutions will however continue.

4. This amendment will take effect from 1st April, 2023.

[Clause 118]

Extract of relevant clause of Finance Bill 2023

Clause 118 of the Bill seeks to amend section 276A of the Income-tax Act relating to failure to comply with the provisions of sub-sections (1) and (3) of section 178.

The said section provides for punishment for non-compliance of the provisions of sub­sections (1) and (3) of section 178.

It is proposed to insert a second proviso to the said section so as to provide that no proceeding shall be initiated under this section on or after 1st April, 2023.

This amendment will take effect from 1st April, 2023.

Extract of Relevant Amendment Proposed by Finance Bill, 2023

118. Amendment of section 276A.

In section 276A of the Income-tax Act, after the proviso, the following proviso shall be inserted, namely:–

“Provided further that no proceeding shall be initiated under this section on or after the 1st day of April, 2023.”.


Source : Finance Bill 2023 / Union Budget 2023


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July 2024