Skip to content


Rowji Sojpal Vs. Commissioner of Income-tax, Bombay - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectDirect Taxation
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberIncome-tax Ref. No. 46 of 1956
Judge
Reported inAIR1957Bom294; (1957)59BOMLR445; ILR1957Bom447
ActsIncome-tax Act, 1922 - Sections 9, 12(B) and 12B(1); Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908; Hindu Law
AppellantRowji Sojpal
RespondentCommissioner of Income-tax, Bombay
Appellant AdvocateN.A. Palkhivala and N.F. Damania, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateAdv. General and ;G.N. Joshi, Adv.
Excerpt:
.....proviso - certain property on partition in 1932 coming to share of assessee and forming part of joint family property of hindu family consisting of assessee and his sons--same property coming to share of assessee on partition in 1944 between assessee and sons--assessee selling property in 1947 and making capital gain--whether assessee entitled to exemption under second proviso to section 12b(1) as being in possession of property for seven years prior to sale--possession contemplated by proviso whether juridical possession or actual possession--construction of statute--whether permissible to construe a section in light of difficulties created by a particular construction of the section.;in 1932 a partition was effected between the assessee and his brothers who formed a joint hindu..........the father may be in actual possession, the juridical possession is still with the father and the sons jointly; it is not solely' with the father. if our right in the view that we take -- and that aspect of the case is not challenged by mr. palkhivala --that the possession that we are dealing with here is juridical and not actual possession, then we jail to see what difference it would make to this argument if the father is in actual possession, but not in juridical possession, of the whole of the property.4. mr. falkhiwala has drawn our attention to the difficulties and anomalies that might be created by our placing this construction on the section when a question arises as to tenants-in-common or joint tenant. it is unnecessary to decide more than what actually arises for our decision.....
Judgment:

Chagla, C. J.

1. This is one of those cases which goes to show that the legislature in enacting a taxing staute does not -- possibly cannot -- take into consideration all eventualities and all contingencies. The assessee was joint with this brother prior of 1932. On the 19th of April 1932 there was a partition and the propety in question came to his share on that partition. At the date of the partition the assessee had sons and therefore on the partition taking place the property became joint family property as between the assessee and his sons. There was a partition between the assessee and his sons on the nth of June 1944 and on that partition again the property came to the share of the as-cessee. On the 22nd of August 1947 the assessee sold the property and made admittedly a capital gain of Rs. 97,251/-. The Department seeks, to bring this capital gain to tax.

2. It is not disputed by the assessee that he is liable to pay the tax, unless his case falls within the second proviso to Sub-section (1) of Section 12B; and that proviso runs as follows:

'Provided further that the tax shall not be payable by an assessee in respect of any profits or gains arising from the sale, exchange or transfer of a capital asset, being property the income of which is chargeable under Section 9 and which has been possessed by the assessee or a parent of his for not less than 7 years before the late on which the sale, exchange or transfer took place: ......

Therefore, in order to attract the application of this proviso, the assessee must establish, first, that the Capital asset is a propertv which is chargeable under Section 9, and, secondly, that he or his parent has been in possession of the property for not less than seven years. Now the first' condition is satisfied because this is a property which is chargeable under Section 9. The difficulty in the way of the assessee is to establish that he or his parent was in possession of this property for not less than seven years before the date of the sale. Now undoubtedly on the partition taking place between him and his sons, the assessee was in possession of this property and he continued to be in possession till the 22nd of August 1947. But the question is whether it could be said that he was in possession with regard to the remaining prior period which is necessary to make up the seven years prescribed by this proviso. Now during that remaining period the property belonged to the undivided Hindu family consisting of, the assessee and his sons', and the narrow question that arises for our consideration is whether it could be said that the assessee was in possession of this property when he was not the sole owner or exclusive owner of this property and the property belonged to the joint family.

3. Now it is been settled Jaw as to the rights-of coparceners in a joint Hindu family that it cannot be predicated of any property of any joint Hindu family that a particular share in it belongs to a particular coparcener. Hindu law recognises both community of interest and unity of possession in the joint family properties between all the members of the family. In other words, all coparceners are owners of the property and all coparceners are entitled to possession of the property. Could it, therefore, be said that during this period, when the Joint family was the owner of this property, the assessee was in possession of it? It is clear that the expression 'possessed by the assessee' used in the second proviso means 'possessed juridically'. The possession contem-plated is a juridical possession and not actual possession. The juridical possession' of this pro-perty was not with the assessee, but with the assessee along with his sons who were the coparcenens and who constituted the Joint and undivided Hindu family at the material time. Now Mr. Palkhivala's argument is that there is no warrant for reading into this Section the qualification that the possession contemplated by this section is an exclusive possession. Mr. Palkbivalii says that his client was in possession of this property even though he may have been in possession jointly with others. Now it would not be correct to say that a person, owns a property or is in possession of a property unless the ownership or the possession was exclusive. If the ownership or possession was not exclusive, then the ownership or possession would have to be qualified or limited by appropriate words. In not so qualifying or limiting the expression 'possession' it is clear that the Legislature contemplated the exclusive possession on the part of the assessee or his parent. Mr. Palkhivala drew our attention to the provision of Hindu law where a coparcenary is constituted by a father and his sons, and he emphasized the fact that in the case of such a coparcenary the father is entitled to possession of the property. It is perfectly true 'that, when you have a father constituting a joint family with his sons, he has a right to fie In possession of joint family property and exclude the possession of the sons and the sons cannot have any grievance against any such exclusion so long as the joint family continues. But the possession here is not juridical, but actual possession. Although the father may be in actual possession, the Juridical possession is still with the father and the sons jointly; it is not solely' with the father. If our right in the view that we take -- and that aspect of the case is not challenged by Mr. Palkhivala --that the possession that we are dealing with here is Juridical and not actual possession, then we Jail to see what difference it would make to this argument if the father is in actual possession, but not in juridical possession, of the whole of the property.

4. Mr. Falkhiwala has drawn Our attention to the difficulties and anomalies that might be created by our placing this construction on the section when a question arises as to tenants-in-common or Joint tenant. It is unnecessary to decide more than what actually arises for our decision on this reference. We realise the hardship of the assessee in case where he is the owner of this property and had rights of ownership in this property for a very long time even longer than the seven years required by the proviso. But it is a mistake to attempt to gather the intention cf the Legislature or to construe a section by considering what difficulties will arise if a particular construction was given to this section. Undoubtedly if two views are possible and two constructions are possible, it is better to lean in favour of that construction which would lead to the least amountof difficulty and, which would be most favourto the assessee. But if the construction isthen it is for the Legislature to amend toso as to avoid hardships being caused totain type of assessees.

5. Mr. Palkhivala says that he does not to give up the contention that was put of before the Tribunal that a Hindu undivided would fall in the category of 'a parent' re to in the proviso. How the sons of the as who were Joint with him can become a under the proviso it is rather difficult for understand, and however much we may stretch the language of a proviso in favour assessee, we cannot convert sons into parer

6. We, therefore, agree with the view by the Tribunal that the case of the assessee not fall within the second proviso to Section 12] We must answer the question submitted to the negative. Assessee to pay the costs.

7. Answer in ne(sic)


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //