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The Borough Municipality of Ahmedabad Vs. the Ahmedabad Manufacturing and Calico Printing Co., Ltd. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectOther Taxes
CourtMumbai
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revision Application No. 469 of 1938
Judge
Reported inAIR1939Bom478; (1939)41BOMLR1015
AppellantThe Borough Municipality of Ahmedabad
RespondentThe Ahmedabad Manufacturing and Calico Printing Co., Ltd.
Excerpt:
.....of clause (b)(i) to water-rate assessed on buildings or lands- no application, to standing committee within prescribed time in public notice-whether appeal lies to magistrate.;the expression 'a rate on buildings or lands' in section 110, sub-section (2), clause (b)(i), of the bombay municipal boroughs act, 1925, includes a tax in the form of a rate on buildings or lands. the provisions of clause (b)(i) apply not merely to a rate on buildings or lands, but also to a water-rate imposed in the form of a rate assessed on buildings or lands.;where an application, as required by section 110(2)(b)(i) of the bombay municipal boroughs act, is not made to the standing committee of a municipality, within the time prescribed in a public notice, under section 81 or 82 of the act for..........of section 110 (2)(b)(i) apply not merely to a rate on buildings or lands, but also to a water-rate imposed in the form of a rate assessed on buildings or lands, and the question involves the consideration whether those two expressions as used in the act have a different significance. prima facie, when two different expressions are used in an act of parliament, the court ought to assume that they are intended to bear distinct meanings, but, on the other hand, it may appear from the context that two expressions are used interchangeably, and are not intended to have a different meaning. now, in this act the two expressions are used in different sections. in section 78 it is provided that when a rate on buildings or lands or both is imposed, the chief officer has to prepare an.....
Judgment:

John Beaumont, Kt., C.J.

1. These are seven applications in revision against a decision of the Additional Sessions Judge of Ahmedabad, and the question raised is as to the construction of certain sections in the Bombay Municipal Boroughs Act, 1925. The learned Judge held that appeals preferred by the respondents, who are rate-payers of Ahmedabad, to a Magistrate Under Section 110 of the Act were competent. The learned Magistrate himself in the case of five of the appeals held that the appeals were not competent, but in the case of the other two appeals, on second thoughts inspired by a decision of a former Sessions Judge of Ahmedabad, which was cited to him, held that the appeals were competent, and dealt with them on the merits. In revision the learned Judge preferred the second thoughts of the learned Magistrate and held that all the appeals were competent.

2. Section 110, under which appeals lie, provides in Sub-section (2)(b) that no appeal shall lie unless, amongst other things, an application in writing, stating the grounds on which the claim of the Municipality is disputed, has been made to the standing committee either (i) in the case of a rate on buildings or lands or both within the time fixed in the notice given Under Section 81 or 82, or (ii) in the case of any other claim within fifteen days after the presentation of the bill of demand. In the present appeals, application was made to the standing committee within the time specified in the second of those alternatives, but not within the time specified in the first, and, therefore, if the case falls Under Section 81 or 82, the appeals were incompetent, because the appellants had not complied with a condition precedent.

3. Under Section 73 of the Act, it is provided that a Municipality may impose under sub-para, (i) a rate on buildings or lands or both situate within the municipal borough, and, under sub-para. (x), a general water-rate or a special water-rate or both for water supplied by the Municipality, which may be imposed in the form of a rate assessed on buildings and1 lands or in any other form,. It is admitted that in the case of the Ahmedabad Municipality the water-rate has been imposed in the form of a rate assessed on buildings and lands. The question really is whether the provisions of Section 110 (2)(b)(i) apply not merely to a rate on buildings or lands, but also to a water-rate imposed in the form of a rate assessed on buildings or lands, and the question involves the consideration whether those two expressions as used in the Act have a different significance. Prima facie, when two different expressions are used in an Act of Parliament, the Court ought to assume that they are intended to bear distinct meanings, but, on the other hand, it may appear from the context that two expressions are used interchangeably, and are not intended to have a different meaning. Now, in this Act the two expressions are used in different sections. In Section 78 it is provided that when a rate on buildings or lands or both is imposed, the Chief Officer has to prepare an assessment-list. Then in Section 81 it is provided that the Chief Officer shall, at the time of the publication of the assessment-list, give public notice of a date before which objections to the valuation or assessment in such list shall be made, and then in Sub-section (2) it is provided that objections to the valuation and assessment of any property in such list shall be made to the standing committee before the time fixed in the aforesaid public notice, and that is the procedure referred to in Section 110(2)(b)(i).

4. Then Section 83 deals with the case of a building liable to the payment of a rate on buildings or lands or both being demolished, and in Section 85 we get for the first time the other expression 'a tax imposed in the form of a rate on buildings or lands or both.' That section provides that a tax imposed in the form of a rate on buildings or lands or both shall be leviable primarily from the actual occupier. Now, that is the only section, as far as I can see, which deals with liability for the tax, and if that section only applies to a rate levied Under Section 73 (x) in the form of a rate assessed on buildings and lands, there is no section imposing liability in the case of a rate on buildings or lands, and such an omission cannot be supposed to have been within the intention of the legislature. It is argued that the expression in Section 85. 'A tax imposed in the form of a rate on buildings or lands' may include a tax on buildings or lands, but that the converse need not apply, and that the expression 'a tax on buildings or lands' should not be held to include a tax in the form of a rate on buildings or lands. I think that argument is difficult to support. I find great difficulty in seeing any actual difference between a rate on buildings or lands, and a tax in the form of a rate on buildings or lands. But, in my opinion, the argument that the two expressions have a different meaning is completely disposed of by a reference to Sections 89 and 112. Section 89 is dealing with the case covered by the earlier sections of a transfer of property subject' to tax and provides under Sub-section (1) that the liability for payment of a rate on buildings or lands or both shall continue in the absence of any notice of transfer, and then Sub-section (2) is in these terms:

But nothing in this section shall be held to diminish the liability of the transferee for the said rate or to affect the prior claim of the municipality on the said buildings :and lands conferred by section 112, for the recovery of the rate on the lands or buildings or both.

5. So you have there a reference to the prior claim of the Municipality conferred by Section 112 for the recovery of the rate on the lands or buildings or both, but when one looks at Section 112, which makes the tax a charge on the building or land, it refers only to a tax imposed in the form of a rate on lands or buildings or both. It seems to me that those two sections make it perfectly plain that the draftsman of this Act was not seeking to convey a different meaning by the two expressions which he chose to use, but was apparently only endeavouring to provide a little variety for anyone whose duty or pleasure it might be to read his work.

6. In my opinion, therefore, the expression 'a rate on buildings or lands' in Section 110(2)(b)(i) includes a tax in the form of a rate on buildings or lands, and in consequence the appeals in these cases to the learned Magistrate were not competent.

7. It has been argued that I ought not to interfere in this case in second revision, and I should not have done so but for the fact that the question involved is one of construction of a general Act, and is of considerable importance to Municipalities and rate-payers in the province. The right of this Court to interfere under the Act in second revision was established by a recent ruling of a bench of this Court, although that bench laid down that cases of interference should be rare,-a view with which I entirely agree.

8. The applications will be allowed and the appeals dismissed.

9. There will be no order as to costs in all these applications.


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