K.K. Desai, J.
1. The petitioner was one of the candidates from Ward No. 27 Vakharbhag, Sangli, for the municipal elections to be held on May 10, 1967. The petitioner was the owner of the immovable properties situated in the Municipal area and bearing city survey Nos. 95 - A and 253. For the period ending with March 31, 1968, i.e., for the year 1967 - 68, having regard to the assessment levied and fixed in respect of the above two immovable properties, the petitioner was liable to pay respectively as tax the sum of Rs. 801.75 and Rupees 226.40. The petitioner filed nomination for his candidature prior to May 10, 1967. The scrutiny of the nomination papers was fixed for May 13, 1967. On May 8, 1967 the petitioner was served with a bill dated April 27, 1967 bearing No. 12141 in respect of the immovable property bearing City Survey No. 95 - A for the tax of Rs. 801.75 for 1967 - 68. On May 10, 1967 the petitioner was served with bill dated April 28, 1967 bearing No. 12294 in respect of the property bearing City Survey No. 253 for Rupees 226.40 for 1967 - 68. At the time of the scrutiny of the petitioner's nomination paper on behalf of the other contesting candidates it was contended that the petitioner was disqualified from becoming a candidate and/or a councilor at the above election on the ground that the petitioner was in arrears of the above two sums due by him to the council after the presentation of the above two bills on him under Section 150 of the Maharashtra Municipalities Act, 1965. The Returning Officer accepted the above contention and rejected the petitioner's nomination paper by his order dated May 13, 1967. The above order of the Returning Officer was challenged before the learned District Judge, who by his appellate Judgment and impugned order dated May 29, 1967 rejected the petitioner's appeal.
2. Mr. Patankar for the petitioner has relied on the provisions in Sections 16 (1) (h), 150, 151, 169, 170 and 327 of the above Act and contended that the above decisions of the Returning Officer as well as the learned District Judge are unwarranted in law. His submission was that in connection with the above dues in respect of the taxes on the above properties default of payment had not been completed by the petitioner for the period of 15 days mentioned in the bills. In that connection he relied on the language used in Sections 150 and 151 and provisions in Sections 167 and 170 where a period of 15 days is mentioned. The substance of his submission was that simple arrears of payment of taxes could never be default in payment, since the bills mentioned a period of 15 days for payment of the dues mentioned in the bills. There was neither default nor arrears in that connection. The reasoning in the decisions of the Returning Officer and the learned District Judge are contrary to the above provisions of law and liable to be set aside.
3. Mr. S. N. Naik for respondents Nos. 1 and 3 as well as Mr. Joshi and Mr. B. N. Naik for respondent Nos. 2 and 5 have strenuously submitted that on a true construction of the provisions in Section 16 (1) (h), the disqualification in respect of a candidate at the election arises immediately upon presentation on him of the bill for the taxes due. The disqualification and the arrears mentioned in that section has no relevance to the period of time mentioned in Sections 150, 151 and the provisions in Section 169 and 170.
4.The relevant parts of the above Sections run as follows :-
'16(1) No person shall be qualified to become a Councillor whether by election, co-option or nomination, who -(h) is in arrears .......of any sum due to him to the Council after the presentation of a bill thereof to him under Section 150.'
'150 (1) When any amount becomes due to the Council,................the Chief Officer shall, with the least practicable delay, cause to be presented to the person liable for the payment thereof, a bill for the sum claimed as due.
(2) Every such bill shall specify the period for which, and the property, occupation or thing in respect of which the sum is claimed and shall also give notice of the liability incurred in default of payment and of the time within which an appeal may be preferred as hereinafter provided such claim.
(3) If a person to whom such bill is presented pays, within fifteen days from the presentation thereof; the whole sum claimed as due, then a discount ................shall be paid by the Council to him.'
151. If the person to whom a bill has been presented as provided under the last preceding section does not, within fifteen days from the presentation thereof, either ................
(a) pay the sum claimed as due in the bill, or
(b) show cause to the satisfaction of the Chief Officer why he is not liable to pay the same, or
(c) prefer an appeal in accordance with the provisions of Section 169 against the claim the Chief Officer may cause to be served upon the person liable for the payment of the said sum a notice of demand in the form of Schedule IV ............'
Sections 152 onwards contain a scheme for compulsory payment and recovery of the amounts mentioned in the bill after service of the notice of demand.
5.Sections 160 and 170 provide for the Tribunals of appeals and the procedure in connection with the institution of appeals. Under sub - clause (c) of Section 170 the appeal filed by an assessee is directed not to be entertained unless the amount claimed from is deposited by him in the municipal office. Now, having regard to the provisions in Section 151 relating to the circumstances in which notice of demand can be issued and that the fact that such notice of demand cannot be issued unless there is default in payment within 15 days, Mr. Patankar's submission was that there could be no arrears and default during the period of 15 days from the presentation of the appeal. Similar contention was made having regard to the period of 15 days in connection with the discount to be granted as mentioned in sub - clause (3) of Section 150. There is no doubt that notice of demand contemplated under Section 151 cannot be issued where the assessee makes an application for showing cause to the Chief Officer that he was not liable to pay the amount mentioned in the bill and where he pressers an appeal under Section 169. This provision has the effect of preventing compulsory enforcement of payment of the tax due by machinery mentioned in Section 151 and next following sections. Provision in Section 151 accordingly has no bearing on the question of the assessee being not in arrears during the period of 15 days mentioned in Section 151. The right of discount that is available if payment is made within 15 days, as provided in sub - section (3) of Section 150 only goes to show that even during the period of 15 days mentioned in that sub - section, the amount mentioned in the bill was always payable by the assessee to the Municipal Council. The liability of an appellant - assessee to deposit the amount mentioned in the bill in connection with the appeal that he should file under Section 169 does not help in arriving at a true construction of the provisions in Section 16 (1) (h). Same is true of the contents of Sections 150 and 151. The language of sub - clause (h) of sub - section (1) of Section 16 is clear and unambiguous. The scheme of levy of house - tax as contained in Chapter IX, and the language of Section 150 clearly goes to show that the house - tax fixed and levied under Chapter IX becomes payable by each owner of immovable property to the Municipal Council for the ensuing year as from April 1 of the very year. In respect of such tax due from April 1 of the current year, the bills are required to be prepared in accordance with the provisions in sub - section (1) of Section 150.
Friday, the 11th December 1970.
Apparently the bills must be for the amounts which already have become due. The presentation of the bills has the consequence of making the amounts payable as from the dates of the presentation of the bills. The amounts mentioned in the bills presented accordingly must be held to have become due and payable during the whole of the period of 15 days on which reliance is placed on behalf of the petitioner. The contention that arrears in respect of the amounts mentioned in the bills presented arises only upon expiry of that period of 15 days is prima facie misconceived and erroneous. The arrears grow from the moment of the presentation of the bill and continues in existence from that very moment. This period of 15 days is only relevant in connection with the scheme for compulsory enforcement and recovery contained in Section 151 and next following sections. The period of 15 days mentioned in these sections is entirely irrelevant in connection with the tax which becomes due at a date prior to the issuance of the bills and payable from the date of the presentation of the bills. On a reading of the contents of Section 16 (1) (h) in the light of the above true position, it is clear that the disqualification mentioned in sub - section (h) and the arrears mentioned therein both commence and/or come into existence as from the moment of the presentation of the bill for the tax due. There is no warrant for the submission made by Mr. Patankar that the arrears in respect of the amounts mentioned in the bill do not come into existence at the above moment. There is the result of the scheme for levy of the house - tax for each year with the commencement of April 1 of each year and the scheme in Section 150 onwards for making the house - tax not only due but payable as from the date of the presentation of the bill.
6.Having regard to this position, this petition must fail. Rule is accordingly discharged. There will be no order as to costs.
7. Petition dismissed.