Why the constitutional right to keep mum is denied in the case of revenue matters

For ever so many years I have not been able to get any satisfactory answer to the following question.

Indian Constitution gives the right to its citizens to keep mum when charged with any offence. No individual can be forced to give evidence against oneself. It is for the prosecution to prove the “charge”.

revenue legislation Bizarre Revenue Legislations


This privilege is available even to a person who is suspected to have committed the most heinous crime. It is strange that under the Revenue Legislations (violation of which can at best be termed as ‘civil offence’) the citizens are forced under the threat of punishment to furnish their fullest financial details periodically to the revenue authorities so that they can assess and decide whether the individual has made an honest declaration and whether tax payable has been correctly assessed by him/her and paid.

Even a slight delay in submission of “tax returns” is punishable. Over and above the tax authorities have a summary power to decide how much is the tax base and what tax has to be paid. The individual has to first pay the tax amount arbitrarily decided by the authority and then go in appeal. Why the constitutional right to keep mum is denied in the case of revenue matters.”

By S Vishwanathan

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