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The Commissioner of Income-tax Vs. Navajbai N. Gamadia - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectDirect Taxation
CourtMumbai
Decided On
Case NumberIncome-tax Reference No. 6 of 1946
Judge
Reported in(1948)50BOMLR304
AppellantThe Commissioner of Income-tax
RespondentNavajbai N. Gamadia
Excerpt:
.....income-tax act (xi of 1922), sections 4(3), (i) and 2(l5) - 'received,' meaning of-actual receipt-income deemed to be received-whether a parsi can make revocable trust of personalty.;the word 'received' in sub-section (3) of section 4 of the indian income-tax act, 1922, means not only actual receipt but also what is deemed to be received under the act.;the definition of 'total world income' in section 2(15) of the indian income-tax act makes it clear that the class of income enumerated in section 4(3) is not chargeable to income-tax and to which the act is not made applicable.;it is open to a parsi to make a revocable trust of personalty in favour of charity.;tudor on charities, p. 851, halsbury, law of england, vol. iv, p. 200, referred to.;a parsi lady made an oral revocable trust of..........with section 4(1), this artificial income created by section 16(1)(c) would form part of the total income of the assessee. but section 4(3) exempts certain classes of income from the total income of the assessee and sub-section (3) states that any income, profits or gains falling within the following classes shall not be included in the total income of the person receiving them, and clause (i) of that sub-section with which we are concerned exempts the class of income which is derived from property held under trust or other legal obligation wholly for religious or charitable purposes, and in the case of property so held in part only for such purposes, the income applied, or finally set apart for application thereto. now the whole argument of the advocate general is that whereas the.....
Judgment:

M.C. Chagla, C.J.

1. This reference is based on the following facts. Bai Navajbai, the assessee, made an oral trust in December 1940 in respect of securities of the face value of five lacs of rupees and the object of the trust was to pay the income to a Parsi Hunnarshala. A deed of trust was executed on August 25, 1943. Before the Tribunal, the Income-tax Department challenged the contention of the assessee that there was an oral trust prior to the execution of the trust deed, but that contention was overruled, and the Tribunal found as a fact that there was an oral trust in December 1940. The question that arises is whether the income received from these securities is exempt from tax or not. The deed of trust contains a clause, Clause 10, which enables the settlor to revoke this trust, either wholly or partially, and it is common ground that the oral trust made by the assessee in December 1940 was also subject to this power of revocation. It is contended by the Advocate General on behalf of the Income-tax Department that under Section 16(1)(c) the income which is derived from these securities is deemed to be the income of the assessee. Although the income arises to the trustees and not to the assessee, by a legal fiction the Income-tax Act makes this the income of the assessee. To that extent the Advocate General is right because the whole basis of the Indian Income-tax Act is to deal with not only actual income but also artificial income. Then we come to Section 4 of the Act which is the charging section and it charges to tax, as far as the residents in India are concerned, all income, profits and gains, from whatever source derived, which accrue, or arise, or are deemed to accrue or arise in British. India during such year, and there can be no doubt that reading Section 16(1)(c) with Section 4(1), this artificial income created by Section 16(1)(c) would form part of the total income of the assessee. But Section 4(3) exempts certain classes of income from the total income of the assessee and Sub-section (3) states that any income, profits or gains falling within the following classes shall not be included in the total income of the person receiving them, and Clause (i) of that sub-section with which we are concerned exempts the class of income which is derived from property held under trust or other legal obligation wholly for religious or charitable purposes, and in the case of property so held in part only for such purposes, the income applied, or finally set apart for application thereto. Now the whole argument of the Advocate General is that whereas the charging section deals with income both actual and artificial, the exempting sub-section only deals with the actual income and not artificial income. Therefore, according to the Advocate General, although the assessee may be charged under Section 4 on the income both actually received by him as also the income artificially deemed to have been received by him under Section 16(1)(c), when it comes to exemption under Section 4(3) the only income which can be exempted is the income actually received by the assessee. There is no doubt in this case that the income which the assessee says should not be charged is derived from property held in trust or under a legal obligation wholly for charitable purposes. The question only is whether that income has been received by the assessee. Now it is impossible to put upon the expression 'received' in Section 4(3) the construction which the Advocate General contends for. In our opinion 'received' in that sub-section means not only actual receipt but also what is deemed to be received under the Act. If we were to accept the contention of the Advocate General, though agricultural income is one of the classes of income exempted under the Act, if a revocable trust had been created with regard thereto, the assessee would not be exempted in connection with that agricultural income, because, according to the Advocate General, the assessee does not actually receive that income but is only deemed to have received it under Section 16(1)(c). Now that would be a construction totally repugnant to all one's conceptions of the Income-tax Act, because it has been held over and over again that agricultural income is totally outside the ambit and purview of the Income-tax Act. But a simpler answer to the Advocate General's contention is the definition of 'total world income' contained in Section 2(15) where 'total world income' is defined as including all income, profits and gains wherever accruing or arising except income to which under the provisions of Sub-section (3) of Section 4, this Act does not apply. Therefore, that definition makes it clear that the exemptions contained in Section 4(3) would have the result of the Income-tax Act not applying to these classes which are enumerated in that sub-section. In other words that income, or that class of income which is mentioned in Section 4(3) is not made chargeable to tax and to which the Act is not made applicable. Therefore in our opinion the Tribunal was right in deciding that the income which was derived from the securities settled on this trust was not liable to tax.

2. The other contention raised by the Advocate General is whether this particular trust is a charitable trust at all. The argument advanced by the Advocate General is that it is not open to a Parsi in India to make a revocable trust of personalty for a charitable purpose. Now it is well-established that a Parsi has no personal law which governs him in British India, and he is either governed by the statutory law of this country or, in the absence of statutory law, he is governed by the common law of England, and under the common law, as stated both by Tudor on Charities (p. 551) and in Haslbury's Laws of England, Vol. IV, p. 200, it is open to a person to make a trust of personalty in favour of charity which is a revocable trust. Therefore, in our opinion, the answer to the question raised by the Tribunal must be in the affirmative. The Income-tax Department must pay the costs of the reference.


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