1. In this writ petition, the petitioner has prayed that this court may be pleased to issue a writ of certiorari or a direction in the nature of certiorari quashing the assessment order dated March 25, 1961, passed on him for the assessment year 1957-58 in file No. CMA. 2. M. 14/57-58 by the Agricultural Income-tax Officer, Chickmagalur.
2. In the affidavit filed in support of the petition, the petitioner has set out various grounds in support of the prayer made by him. It is unnecessary to consider the several grounds pleaded and urged on behalf of the petitioner, as in our judgment this petition has to succeed on the simple ground that the petitioner was assessed to tax under a wrong statute.
3. In the instant case agricultural income-tax was levied on the petitioner for the assessment year 1957-58, the accounting year ending on March 31, 1957. The income in question arose within the old Mysore State. In 1955 the legislature of the old Mysore State enacted the Mysore Agricultural Income-tax Act, 1955. This Act was in force till September 31, 1957. In 1957, the legislature of the new Mysore State enacted the Mysore Agricultural Income-tax Act, 1957 (Act No. 22 of 1957). This Act applied to the entire State of Mysore (new State of Mysore). Previously, there was no law imposing agricultural income-tax in the 'Bombay area' of the Mysore State. In other areas agricultural income-tax was being imposed on the basis of the enactments which had been passed by the legislatures of the States of which these areas were parts before October 1, 1956. The Mysore Agricultural Income-tax Act, 1957 brought about uniformity in the matter of agricultural income-tax.
4. For very good reasons the charging section, namely, section 3 of the Mysore Agricultural Income-tax Act, 1957, was made retrospective. It became operative from April 1, 1957. This is what section 3(1) say :
'Agricultural income-tax at the rate or rates specified in Part I of the Schedule to this Act shall be charged for each financial year commencing from the first April, 1957, in accordance with and subject to the provisions of this Act, on the total agricultural income of the previous year of every person.'
5. This provision is unambiguous. In view of this provision the income realised in the accounting year ending March 31, 1957, was liable to tax under the 1957 Act, though that Act came into force only on October, 1957. Language of section 3(1) is so plain as to exclude all questions of interpretation or construction. We have to merely apply that provision.
6. The learned Assistant Advocate-General contended that there is a conflict between section 3(1) and section 69(1)(d). Section 69 deals with repeal and savings. Clause (d) of that section say :
'Any investigation, legal proceeding (including assessment proceeding) or remedy in respect of any such right, privilege, obligation, liability, forfeiture or punishment as aforesaid; and any such investigation, legal proceeding or remedy may be instituted, continued or enforced, and any such penalty, forfeiture or punishment may be imposed as if this Act had not been passed.'
7. Section 69 is a general section whereas section 3 is a special one. The former deals with the numerous consequences arising from repeal of the Acts mentioned in that provision, whereas the latter deals with the question of charges. Therefore, section 69 will have to be read subject to section 3.
8. It was urged on behalf of the revenue that the interpretation that commends itself to us is likely to cause serious in convenience to the assessee. It was said that many assessments might have been made even before the 1957 Act came into force, and if our interpretation is correct, those assessments may have to be reopened, which step is likely to cause inconvenience to numerous assessees. The argument of inconvenience has no relevance in a matter like this. All that we have to see is whether the letter of the law imposes a charge. If so, for what period. Every tax legislation is bound to adversely affect the persons who have to pay the tax. But that is not a relevant consideration in interpreting the provision. Even after hearing the learned Assistant Advocate-General, we have not found any ambiguity in section 3(1). Therefore, we have had no occasion to reconcile that provision with any other provision in the 1957 Act.
9. For the reasons mentioned above, we have to hold that the petitioner should have been assessed under the 1957 Act and not under the 1955 Act as has been done.
10. In view of our above conclusions, we have not considered the various other arguments advanced by Sri K. Srinivasan, the learned counsel for the petitioner.
11. In the result the impugned assessment is set aside. But does not preclude assessing authorities to assess the petitioner afresh, under the 1957 Act if it is otherwise permissible under law.
12. In the circumstances of the case, we make no order as to costs.