1. This is an application for revision under Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
2. The petitioner is a lessee of a plot of land belonging to the Poona Municipal Corporation. Under a lease-deed he has taken the plot on lease for the purpose of using it for his timber business and has agreed to pay rent to the Corporation at the rate of Rs. 440 per annum. The Corporation determined the rateable value of this plot of land for the purpose of municipal taxation at Rs. 440 and has levied a tax of Rs. 51 or so thereon. The petitioner challenged his liability to pay the tax and also the amount of the tax and sought redress from the various tribunals indicated in the Act. He has, therefore, come up to this Court in revision.
3. Mr. Pendse contended that since the land in question is vested in the Corporation and belongs to it, it has no liability to pay any municipal tax whatsoever because the Corporation cannot tax its own property. The ordinary conception undoubtedly is that a person cannot tax himself but where a tax is imposed by a statute then it is the duty of the Court to give effect to that statute in preference to any conception of jurisprudence. Section 129 of the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporations Act Provides that subject to the exceptions, limitations and conditions provided in subsequent sections, property taxes set out under Section 127 of the Act will be levied on all buildings and lands in the city. Now, Section 129 provides for three kinds of property taxes:-(1) water tax, (2) conservancy tax and (3) general tax. It is, therefore, clear from this section taken by itself that buildings and lands belonging to the Corporation are also liable to pay property taxes. Section 132 of the Act, however, provides for certain exceptions. The relevant one is contained in Clause (c) of Sub-section (7). The opening words of Sub-section(1) and the terras of Clause (c) are as follows:-
132. (1) The general tax shall be levied in respect of all buildings and lands in the City except-
(a) & (b) ...
(c) buildings and lands vesting in the Government used solely for public purposes and not used or intended to be used for purposes of trade or profit or vesting in the Corporation, in respect of which the said tax, if levied, would under the provisions hereinafter contained be primarily leviable from the Government or the Corporation, respectively.
Thus, this provision makes it clear that though property taxes are levied in respect of lands and buildings belonging to the Corporation they cannot be levied where the primary liability to pay them would fall upon the Corporation. Section 139 deals with the primary liability for the payment of property taxes. The relevant portion of that section139(7) runs thus:-
139. (1) Subject to the provisions of Sub-section (2) property taxes assessed upon any premises shall be primarily leviable as follows, namely:-
(a) if the premises are held immediately from the Government or from the Corporation, from the actual occupier thereof:
We are not concerned here with Sub-section (2) because it deals with lands which have been built upon and the land in question has not been built upon. Under Sub-section (1) the primary liability to pay tax held by a lessee from the Corporation is clearly upon that lessee where, as here, he is himself in occupation of the demised land. Reading Sections 129, 132 and 139 together it is thus clear that a lessee from a Corporation of land belonging to and vesting in the Corporation is liable to pay the property taxes.
4. Mr. Pendse's next contention was that the rateable value of the property in his hand is nil because he has to pay to the Corporation Rs. 440 per annum as lease-money and if he were to let out this land to some one else at Rs. 440 per annum he would make no profit thereupon. This argument assumes that the rateable value of property is to be determined with, reference to any profit from the land which the lessee is entitled to make. The relevant rule bearing on the question of determination of reteable value is Rule 7 of the Rules in Chap. VIII. These Rules are statutory rules. Sub-rule (1) of Rule 7, which is relevant for the purpose, reads thus:-
7. (1) In order to fix the rateable value of any building or land assessable to a property-tax there shall be deducted from the amount of the annual rent for which such land or building might reasonably be expected to let from year to year a sum equal to ten per cent. of the said annual rent, and the said deduction shall be in lieu of all allowance for repairs or on any other account whatever.
It is thus clear from this provision that for determining the rateable value the annual rent at which the land might reasonably be expected to be let from year to year is to be the criterion. Since the Corporation has leased out the land to the petitioner at Rs. 440 per annum it has fixed the annual rent as the reasonable letting value thereof. What the Corporation has done is thus perfectly in accordance with the rules and no objection can be taken thereto. Had the rules said that the rateable value was to be determined by taking into consideration the profit which a person may make on the land leased out to him the matter would have been different. That is not the case here.
5. There is thus no substance in this application. It is accordingly dismissed and the rule discharged with costs.