K. Lahiri, J.
1. We propose to dispose this bunch of civil rules by a common order, as they involve similar question of facts and law.
2. In short, the petitioners have filed appeals, against orders of assessment passed by the Senior Superintendent of Taxes, Agartala, Dharmanagar and Udaipur, for different assessment periods, to the Assistant Commissioner of Taxes, Tripura, at Agartala. Learned Assistant Commissioner of Taxes demanded 65 per cent in some cases and 70 per cent in the other cases of the tax assessed to be deposited before entertaining the appeals. The matter was taken to the Tripura Sales Tax Tribunal, which dismissed all the appeals preferred by the petitioners.
3. Mr. B. Das, learned counsel for the petitioners, has questioned the validity of the said demand on the ground that there is no provision of law empowering the appellate authority to demand payment of a specified percentage of the assessed tax before entertaining the appeal and has also contended that the discretionary power has to be reasonably exercised, on just and reasonable grounds. Mr. P.K. Mazumdar, learned Government Advocate, Tripura, submits that the power can be exercised by the appellate authority under the first proviso to Section 20 of the Tripura Sales Tax Act, 1976 (as amended). We extract the relevant provision :
20. Appeal.-(1) Any dealer objecting to an order of assessment or penalty passed under this Act, may, within thirty days from the date of the service of such order, appeal to the prescribed authority against such assessment or penalty:
Provided that no appeal shall be entertained by the said authority unless he is satisfied that the amount of tax assessed or the penalty levied, if not otherwise directed by him, has been paid.
Under Sub-section (1), a dealer or an assessee has a right to prefer an appeal against the order of assessment or penalty. However, the proviso, inter alia, permits the appellate authority not to entertain an appeal against the order of assessment or penalty when the assessee does not pay the amount of tax assessed. The power to determine what amount of tax or penalty, if at all, is to be paid by an assessee is the discretion of the appellate authority. As such, when an application is filed along with an appeal, the appellate authority must consider the same and make an order giving reasons for the decision. He must be 'satisfied' that the appellant is to deposit either the whole of the tax assessed or part thereof and ought to give reasons for reaching the conclusion. Power under the said proviso to Sub-section (1) of Section 20 is a quasi-judicial power and the discretion must be exercised not according to whim or humour but in a fair and reasonable manner. In view of the law laid down by different High Courts and the Supreme Court of India in Krishnappa Naicker v. Deputy Commercial Tax Officer  14 STC 162, Mahalingam Chettiar v. Third Income-tax Officer : 66ITR287(Mad) , Vetcha Sreeramamurthy v. Income-tax Officer : 30ITR252(AP) and Hardeodas v. State of Assam : 2SCR261 we hold that the exercise of power under the proviso is quasi-judicial in nature and character and it should be exercised judiciously and reasonably. In the instant case, the demand of 65 per cent and 70 per cent of the amount of tax assessed, as made by the authorities, is not supported by any reason. However, we do not express any further opinion on the validity of the order in view of the concession made by Mr. P.K. Mazumdar, learned Government Advocate, appearing on behalf of the respondents, that the appeal will be heard and disposed of on 17th September, 1984, only as an exceptional case if the petitioners in all the appeals deposit 15 per cent of the amount of tax assessed as the State Government desires early disposal of the cases and realisation of the tax at the earliest possible opportunity.
4. Without interfering with any of the orders made by the Tripura Sales Tax Tribunal as well as the 'Assistant Commissioner of Taxes (the appellate authority), on the concession made by the learned counsel for the parties, we direct that all the appeals shall be heard by the Assistant Commissioner of Taxes, Tripura, at Agartala, on 17th September, 1984. Mr. Das, learned counsel for the petitioners assures that all the petitioners shall appear before the appellate authority on the aforesaid date and no adjournment shall be asked for. Accordingly, we suspend the operation of the relevant order (marked annexures C and D) and direct the petitioners to pay 15 per cent of the taxes assessed within two weeks from today and produce the necessary chalans to the appellate authority.
5. The appeals will be heard on the 17th September, 1984, disposed of as expeditiously as possible. However, if any of the appeal is not heard due to any negligence or lapse on the part of any of the petitioners, in those cases the order rendered by the Tripura Sales Tax Tribunal (vide annexure D) shall forthwith come into operation and those petitioners shall have to deposit 70 per cent or 65 per cent of the tax, as the case may be, before his or their appeals are entertained, heard and disposed of.
6. We appreciate the manner in which Mr. Mazumdar, learned Government Advocate; has conducted the case and has uphold the interest of the State in pursuing that the due taxes are collected as expeditiously as possible. However, we would observe that the decision rendered here permitting the petitioners to deposit 15 per cent of the tax assessed shall not be a precedent in any future case.
7. With these observations, the petitions are disposed of. There will be no order as to costs.