1. This appeal has been filed by the department against the order dated 24-5-1983 of the AAC relating to the assessment year 1980-81, the previous year which ended on 31-3-1980.
2. The assessee is a trust assessed through its trustees in the status of an AOP. The income of the assessee is assessable under section 164(2) of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (the Act) and that is why the status has been taken by the ITO as an AOP.
3. The assessee claimed before the ITO that it should be allowed relief under section 80L of the Act because it came under section 80L (1) (c). The ITO did not allow the relief on the ground that the AOP stated under section 80L (1) (c) refers only to an AOP of Dadra, Nagar Haveli, Goa, Daman and Diu only. As the assessee apparently did not belong to those territories, the ITO declined to give relief under section 80L to the assessee.
4. The assessee appealed to the AAC and contended that its status should have been individual because the word individual is wide enough to include a group of individuals forming a unit. For this proposition, he relied on the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Trustees of Gordhandas Govindram Family Charity Trust v. CIT : 88ITR47(SC) . In this case, the Supreme Court, has held that the word individual includes individuals because the General Clauses Act, 1897 states that the singular includes the plural unless the context points to the contrary. Hence, it was urged that the assessee should be taken as an individual for the purpose of relief under section 80L. Further, reliance was placed on the decision in the case of CIT v. Deghamwala Estates : 121ITR684(Mad) for the proportion that a trust cannot be regarded as a BOI. The case of the assessee was that if the assessee-trust could not be regarded as a BOI, or an AOP, then it should be taken only as an individual, which makes it entitled to relief under section 80L. Reference was also made to the decision of the Tribunal in the case of Gopal Shriniwasan Trust, wherein a similar point has been decided in favour of the assessee, namely, it has been held that the a trust can be regarded as an individual because, as held in the case of Trustees of Gordhandas Govindram Family Charity Trust (supra), individual includes individuals. The AAC found force in the above contention of the assessee, and directed the ITO to allow relief under section 80L, as claimed by the assessee.
5. Mrs. Vijayalaxmi, the learned representative for the department, urged before me that the AAC erred in his decision. According to her, the case of Deghamwala Estates (supra) was wrongly applied to the facts of the case. Further, the AOP referred to in section 80L (1) (c) should belong to one of the territories mentioned in that sub-section. As the assessee admittedly did not belong to one of those territories, the AAC allowed relief erroneously.
6. Shri H. S. Parekh, the learned representative for the assessee, on the other hand, supported the order of the AAC. He stated that the assessee should be regarded as an individual in view of the decision in the case of Trustees of Gordhandas Govindram Family Charity Trust (supra) in which case, it will be entitled to relief under section 80L (1) (a). Alternatively, he stated that the assessee had to be regarded as an AOP as per section 164(2). Even so, the case of the assessee would come under section 80L (1) (c) entitling itself to the relief. He pointed out that ITO has actually taken the status in the assessment order as an AOP and there is no dispute about that. According to him, the words association of persons appearing in section 80L (1) (c) have to be read dis-jointly with what follows thereafter. In other words, the qualifications relating to the system of community of property in the territories referred to in that clause applies only to the BOI but not to the AOP which precedes it in that clause. Hence, he urged that the relief has been properly given by the AAC.
7. I have considered the contentions of both the parties as well as the facts on record. I have gone through the aforesaid order of the Tribunal in the case of Gopal Shriniwasan Trust. I find that the said decision supports the case of the assessee because it is based on the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Trustees of Gordhandas Govindram Family Charity Trust (supra). Apart from the above, the status of the assessee has taken in the assessment order as an AOP and rightly so because of the provisions of section 164(2). Section 80L (1) (c) refers to an AOP after referring to an individual and HUF in clauses (a) and (b). It is after mentioning an AOP, that another entity is envisaged, namely, BOI. In my considered opinion, what follows after the words body of individuals qualify only the words body of individuals and not an association of persons, which stand quite independently. Hence, the assessee is entitled to relief even as an AOP under section 80L (1) (c). For the above, reasons, I uphold the order of the AAC.
8. In the result, the appeal is dismissed.