Skip to content


G.M. Gopalkrishna Vs. Wealth-tax Officer, Mysore - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectDirect Taxation
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petition Nos. 243 and 256 of 1959 with Writ Petition No. 1166 of 1960
Judge
Reported in[1964]51ITR575(KAR); [1964]51ITR575(Karn)
ActsWealth Tax Act 1957 - Sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 5(1) and 6
AppellantG.M. Gopalkrishna
RespondentWealth-tax Officer, Mysore
Appellant AdvocateG.K. Govinda Bhat, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateD.M. Chandrasekhar, Adv.
Excerpt:
- section 168; [ram mohan reddy, j] award of compensation under the head loss of dependency - legal representatives of the claimant were not dependent on the income of the deceased-finding of the tribunal awarding compensation under the head loss of dependency legality of- held, if the claimants were not dependent on the income of the deceased, compensation under the head loss of dependency cannot be granted. at best in such circumstances, a nominal sum as compensation towards loss to estate can be granted by applying an appropriate multiplier. further, where the claimants who are dependents of the deceased, claim loss of dependency and where the claimants who are not the dependents of the deceased claim only loss to estate. on facts, held, the claimants were not the dependents on the.....1. these petitions raise common questions of law and hence they could be conveniently deal with in one judgment. 2. the petitioner in w. ps. nos. 243 and 256 of 1959 (common petitioner) is the son of the petitioner in w. p. no. 166/60. they are coffee planters in coorg district. the wealth-tax officer, mysore, has assessed the petitioner in w. ps. nos. 243 and 256 of 1959 for the assessment years 1957-58 and 1958-59 as per his order dated january 28, 1959. for the assessment year 1957-58, the net wealth of that petitioner as on march 31, 1957, was determined at rs. 4,79,657 and a tax of rs, 1,389.29 was levied. for the assessment year 1958-59, his net wealth as on march 31, 1958, was determined at rs. 4,25,303 and a tax of rs. 1,126.52 was levied. he was served with a notice of demand on.....
Judgment:

1. These petitions raise common questions of law and hence they could be conveniently deal with in one judgment.

2. The petitioner in W. Ps. Nos. 243 and 256 of 1959 (common petitioner) is the son of the petitioner in W. P. No. 166/60. They are coffee planters in Coorg District. The Wealth-tax Officer, Mysore, has assessed the petitioner in W. Ps. Nos. 243 and 256 of 1959 for the assessment years 1957-58 and 1958-59 as per his order dated January 28, 1959. For the assessment year 1957-58, the net wealth of that petitioner as on March 31, 1957, was determined at Rs. 4,79,657 and a tax of Rs, 1,389.29 was levied. For the assessment year 1958-59, his net wealth as on March 31, 1958, was determined at Rs. 4,25,303 and a tax of Rs. 1,126.52 was levied. He was served with a notice of demand on February 7, 1959, requiring him to pay the tax demanded on or before the dated specified therein. He has paid on February 11, 1959, the taxes demanded. These assessments are the subject-matters of challenge in W. Ps. Nos. 243 and 256 of 1959. W. P. No. 243/59 relates to the assessment year 1957-58 and W. P. No. 256 of 1959 relates to the assessment year 1958-59. In these petitions (W. Ps. Nos. 243 and 256 of 1959), the petitioner therein prays for the issue of writs of certiorari or any other appropriate writs, orders or directions calling for the records of the proceedings in the case, i.e., the Wealth-tax Assessment No. 2/g/57-58 dated January 28, 1959, and quashing the same or to direct the respondent to redetermine his 'net wealth' in the relevant years after excluding from consideration the 'points' declared in favour or him by the Coffee Board.

3. The Wealth-tax Officer, Coorg Circle (respondent), has taken steps to determine the net wealth of the petitioner in W. P. No. 1166/60 for the assessment years 1959-60 and 1960-61. He had preferred appeals under the Wealth-tax Act (to be referred to as the Act hereinafter) in respect of those assessments. The petitioner therein prays for the issue of a writ of prohibition or any other appropriate writ, order or direction prohibiting the respondent from taking into consideration the 'points' declared in his favour by the Coffee Board in computing his 'net wealth'.

4. In computing 'net wealth' of the petitioners, the Wealth-tax Officer has taken into consideration the 'points' declared in their favour by the Coffee Board. As mentioned earlier the petitioners in these petitions are coffee planters. They are the registered owners under the Coffee Act compels every registered owner to deliver his entire surplus produce to the Coffee Board. Section 25(1) of the Coffee Act prescribes :

'All coffee produced by a registered estate in excess of the amount specified in the internal sale quota allotted to the estate or when no internal sale quotas have been allotted to estates, all coffee produced by the estate, shall be delivered to the Board for inclusion in the surplus pool by the owner of the estate or by the curing establishment receiving the coffee from the estate.'

5. In the instant case, no internal sale quotas have been allotted to the estates concerned. As per section 26, the Coffee Board is required to take all practical measures to market the coffee included in the surplus pool and all sales thereof should be conducted by or through the Board. The Board is required to maintain two separate funds, a general fund and a pool fund. All sums realised by sales by the Board of coffee from the surplus pool is required to be credited to the pool fund, subject to the deduction of duty of excise on coffee payable by the registered owners of estates. The pool fund has to be applied only to :

'(a) the making to registered owners of estate of payments proportionate to the value of the coffee delivered by them for inclusion in the surplus pool;

(b) the costs of storing, curing and marketing coffee deposited in and of administering the surplus pool;

(c) the purchase of coffee not delivered for inclusion in the surplus pool :

Provided that where, after meeting the above requirements, if there remains any excess in the pool fund, the Board may, with the previous sanction of the Central Government, transfer the whole or any part of such excess to the credit of the general fund'.

6. Section 34 of the Coffee Act lays down :

'34. (1) The Board shall at such times as it thinks fit make to registered owners who have delivered coffee for inclusion in the surplus pool such payments out of the pool fund as it may think proper.

(2) The sum of all payments made under sub-section (1) to any one registered owner shall bear to the sum of the payments made to all registered owners the same proportion as the value of the coffee delivered by him out of the year's crop to the surplus pool bears to the value of all coffee delivered to the surplus pool out of that year's crop :

Provided that in calculating the sum of all payments made under sub-section (1) and the value of the coffee delivered to the surplus pool out of the year's crop, respectively, any payment accepted by a registered owner as final payment in immediate settlement for coffee delivered by him for inclusion in the surplus pool and the value of any such coffee shall be excluded.'

7. On an examination of the provisions of the Coffee Act, the following conclusions are available : (1) the registered owners are compelled to deliver to the Coffee Board their entire surplus produce, (2) coffee delivered to the Coffee Board for inclusion in the surplus pool remains under the control of the Board which is responsible for its storage, curing and marketing, the Board is required from time to time to prepare a differential scale for the valuation of coffee, and in accordance with that scale classify the coffee in each consignment delivered for inclusion in the surplus pool according to its kind and quality, and assess its value bases on its quantity, kind and quality, and (3) when coffee is delivered or is treated as having been delivered for inclusion in the surplus pool, the registered owner whose coffee has been so delivered retains no rights in respect of such coffee except his right to receive the payments as provided in section 34.

8. From the supplementary affidavit filed by the petitioner in W. P. No. 1166 of 1960, who was at one time a member of the Coffee Board, we get the following :

'Pooling the coffee grown by all the registered growers and marketing the same by the Board and payment from the pool fund to the registered growers are the main features of the coffee marketing scheme operated under the Coffee Act, 1942. It is obligatory on every registered grower to deliver his coffee to the coffee pool. The growers deliver their coffee to the 'pool agents' appointed by the Board. The pool agents cure the coffee and there-after samples are drawn from each lot and assessed by a panel of assessors appointed by the Board with reference to the 'differential scale for the valuation of coffee' prepared periodically by the Coffee Board under the powers conferred by clause (4) of section 25 of the Coffee Act. Since there are two types and in each type several grades of Coffee, the 'differential scale' has fixed 'points' for the different types and grades. Points are fixed with reference to cured coffee in terms of 50 kilos (formerly in terms of hundred weights).

4. The differential scale of valuation for 1959-60 is given below :

----------------------------------------------------------------------Plantation Grade Arabica Robusta Robusta-------------- Cherry Cherry Parchment.Grade Points----------------------------------------------------------------------PB 85 PB 70 56 58A 80 Flats, clean 66 54 56B 77 garbled 64 52 54T 71 bulk, 5% 48 46 47Blacks triage basis blacksand bits 53 and browns bits 38 36 37----------------------------------------------------------------------

9. For 1 cwt. (now 50 Kilos) of Arabica Plantation A of fair average quality, 80 points are awarded; for Pea Berry it is 85 points and for lesser grade the points are less. If the quality falls below the fair average quality, the assessors awarded lesser points. Plus points are awarded for qualities above the fair average. 'For each lot delivered to the pool, the total number of points is separately worked out depending upon the type, grade, quality and quantity of coffee. The total of all the points awarded to a registered grower for one coffee seasons is aggregated after the final deliveries and that total number represents the points awarded to a registered grower. The grand total of all the points awarded to all the registered growers is made up at the end of the crop year. The net sale proceeds of the entire coffee pooled in respect of each year's crop is divided by the grand total of all the points awarded to all the growers and the average value per point is determined.

10. The payments by the Board are made in installments as and when funds are available for distribution and these are popularly called 'dividends'. When funds are available the Board declares the amount for payment. Soon after the payment is declared, the pool agents are asked to furnish claim statements of amounts payable to the growers who have pooled coffee with them. Claim statements are checked by the office of the Board and the cheques are sent to the pool agents who credit the amounts to the accounts of the registered growers. It is only after the payments are declared by the Board, claim statements could be filed on the basis of the number of the points awarded and until such declarations are made the registered growers have no right to claim any amount from the Board.

11. The differential scale of valuation is prepared on the basis of the market performance of the different types and grades of coffee in the previous years. The differential scale now in force has been in existence for the past several years. Since the entire coffee available for marketing is pooled and the net sale proceeds have to be distributed in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (2) of section 34, the common denominator for the pooled coffee has to be determined and 'points' are awarded.'

12. The question for consideration is whether the 'points' allotted to the owners can be considered as the capital assets of the owners in the respective years.

13. The charging section in the 'Act' is section 3. That section says :

'Subject to the other provisions contained in this Act, there shall be charged for every financial year commencing on and from the first day of April, 1957, a tax (hereinafter referred to as wealth-tax) in respect of the net wealth on the corresponding valuation date of every individual, Hindu undivided family and company at the rate or rates specified in the Schedule.'

14. 'Net wealth' is defined thus in section 2(m) of the Act :

''Net wealth' means the amount by which the aggregate value computed in accordance with the provisions of this Act of all the assets, wherever locate, belonging to the assessee on the valuation date, including assets required to be included in his net wealth as on that date under this Act, is in excess of the aggregate value of all the debts owed by the assessee on the valuation date other than, -

(i) debts which under section 6 are not to be taken into account; and

(ii) debts which are secured on, or which have been incurred in relation to, any asset in respect of which wealth-tax is not payable under this Act.'

15. 'Net wealth' has to be computed as provided in section 4 of the Act. Section 5 provides for certain exemptions. In particular we would like to notice the exemptions mentioned in sections 5(1)(v) and 5(1)(vi). Section 5(1)(v) exempts, in the computation of 'net wealth', the rights under any patent or copyright belonging to the assessee, provided that they are not held by him as assets of a business, profession or vocation and no income or benefit accrues to him therefrom. Section 5(1)(vi) excludes the right or interest of the assessee in any policy of insurance before the moneys covered by the policies become due and payable to the assessee in the matter of computing 'net wealth'.

16. From the foregoing, it follows that in computing the 'net wealth' of the assessee, assets tangible and intangible have to be taken into account. If the 'points' allotted to the petitioners can be considered as 'assets', then will have to be valued while computing their 'net wealth' during the relevant years.

17. It was contended on behalf of the petitioners that 'coffee points' cannot be considered as 'assets'. It was further contended on their behalf that if 'coffee points' were intended to be included within the reach of the 'Act', then the same being 'agricultural income', Parliament was incompetent to legislate in that regard. Let us first address ourselves to the question whether 'coffee points' allotted to the petitioners can be considered as their 'assets'. We have earlier noticed that section 25(6) of the Coffee Act declares that the persons to whom 'coffee points' are allotted have the right to receive the payments referred to in section 34. It is true that the coffee delivered to the Board remains under the control of the Board which is responsible for its storage, curing wherever necessary, and the marketing of that coffee. It would not be correct to say that a registered owner who has delivered coffee is not entitled as of right to get the value of that coffee, or that he should depend on the good graces of the Board for getting the value of the coffee delivered. On an examination of the scheme of the Coffee Act, as well as its provisions, it appears to us that the Coffee Board has a statutory duty to sell the coffee in the most advantageous manner and distribute the prices fetched to those who have delivered coffee. We are clear in our opinion that if the Coffee Board fails to discharge its statutory functions, it can be compelled to do so by interested parties. Under our Constitution, to acquire and dispose of property is a fundamental right. The State can impose only reasonable restrictions on those rights and that in the interest of the general public. We are unable to read the provisions of the Coffee Act as laying down that once the registered owner has delivered his coffee to the Coffee Board, he is left with no rights in respect of that coffee. It is true that he may not know the exact price that his coffee might fetch or when he is to get that price. But without doubt his right is a tangible right and a valuable right. He can sell as well as transfer that right. No restrictions are placed by the Coffee Act on the rights of the owners recognised by the laws of the land. Till final 'dividends' are declared, 'coffee points' have to be valued on the basis of expectations. This is nothing new. It is a conception well known to markets. But the valuation fixed may not be exact. So long as the valuation fixed by the Wealth-tax Officer is a reasonable valuation, it is not open to question.

18. 'Assets' as defined in section 2(3) of the 'Act' includes property of every description, movable or immovable. 'Movable property' has been defined in the General Clauses Act to mean property of every description except immovable property. Therefore 'coffee points' are clearly movable properties.

19. Some controversy was raised as to whether the amounts that may be realisable from the Coffee Board for the 'coffee points' can be considered as 'debts' due from the Coffee Board. Relying on the decision in Indian Coffee Board, Batlagundu v. State of Madras, it was contended by Sri G. K. Govinda Bhat, that the Coffee Board is not a representative of the producers nor does it hold the goods on their behalf; it is an independent 'dealer' and, therefore, it cannot be said that the Coffee Board was in constructive possession of the coffee on behalf of the growers. We do not think that the decision in question has any relevancy on the point under consideration. The coffee that was in the hands of the Coffee Board was not taken into consideration in determining the 'net wealth' of the petitioners. What was taken into consideration is the value of the 'coffee points' allotted to them. The right to the 'coffee points' is itself a valuable right.

20. Relying on a passage in Mulla's Transfer if Property Act (fourth edition, at page 735), it was contended that in order to be a 'debt', it must be an obligation to pay a liquidated or a certain sum of money, a debt may be present or future, if it is present, it is present, it is existent or now due and owing, if it is future, it is existent but accruing or payable in the future.

21. Similarly, reliance was placed on the decision of the Madras High Court in Sabju Sahib v. Noordin Sahib to show that an unliquidated claim was not a debt within the meaning of section 4(1) (a) of the Succession Certificate Act, 1889. Relying on the decision in Sundar Das v. Secretary of State it was urged that all claims are not debts and unless a claim has become a 'debt' the same cannot be attached and cannot be sold under section 60, Civil procedure Code. Advantage was tried to be availed of from the observation 'that there can be no doubt that the word 'debt' in its ordinary legal acceptation means a debt either owing, or accruing, or, as put in the case of Webb v. Stenton, it is either a sum of money now payable or a sum of money which will become payable in the future by reason of a present obligation' of Mookerjee J. in Banchharam Majumdar v. Adyanath Bhattacharjee.

22. Next, reliance was placed on a passage in the address of Viscount Haldane in Commissioners of Inland Revenue v. Blott. The passage in question runs thus :

'If there were any doubt as to the power of the company, in point of principle, to convert such accumulated profits into capital, it seems to me that the principle is recognised by section 40 of the Act of 1908, which expressly enables a company to return accumulated profits in reduction of the paid up capital of the company. Clearly on such a return the profits cease to be income and become capital. But the general principle does not rest merely on this section; it appears to follow from reasons of a wider kind. A shareholder is not entitled to claim that the company should apply its undivided profits in payment to him of dividend. Whether it must do so or not is a matter of internal management to be decided by the majority of the shareholders. He cannot sue for such a dividend until he has been given a special title by its declaration. Until then, no doubt, the profits are profits in the hands of the company until it has properly disposed of them, and it is assessable for income-tax in respect of these profits. But if, acting within its powers, it disposes of these profits by converting them into capital instead of paying them over to the shareholders, that, as I conceive it, is conclusive as against all the outside world, including the Crown, and the form of the benefit which the shareholder receives from the money in the hands of the company is one which is for determination by the company alone.'

23. Support was also sought from the decision in Spencer v. Coleman. Therein the portion of the surplus assets of a company in liquidation, which belonged to a shareholder who could not be found, was in compliance with sub-section (3) of section 15 of the Companies (Winding Up) Act, 1890, paid by the liquidator to the 'companies liquidation account' with the Bank of England. It was held that it was not a 'debt' due to the shareholder, and it could not be attached by his judgment-creditor by means of a garnishee order under Order 45, rule 1, of the Rules of the Supreme Court.

24. The controversy whether the value of the 'coffee points' to which the registered owners are entitled to is a 'debt' due from the Coffee Board does not appear to us to be relevant for our present purpose. In determining the 'net wealth' of the assessee, the relevant question is whether they are the 'assets' of the assessee, on the valuation date, wherever they might have been located. A 'debt' due to an assessee is undoubtedly an item of his 'asset'. But the word 'asset' has a larger connotation. Valuable rights are also 'assets'. Even a claim which is not attachable, if it is otherwise valuable, is undoubtedly an 'asset'.

25. Under section 3 of the Transfer of Property Act, ''actionable claim' means a claim to any debt, other than a debt secured by mortgage of immovable property or by hypothecation or pledge of movable property, or to any beneficial interest in movable property not in the possession, either actual or constructive, of the claimant, which the civil courts recognize as affording grounds for relief, whether such debt or beneficial interest be existent, accruing, conditional or contingent.'

26. It has been laid down in a large number of decisions that the right to recover the insurance money on the death of the assured person or on the expiry of the endowment period is an actionable claim and the same is transferable : see K. Soma Shekharrao v. K. S. Mishra and Varjivandas Jamnadas v. Maganlal Chhabildas.

27. A right or interest in a contract is held to be an actionable claim : see Hunsraj Morarjee v. Nathoo Gangaram, Jaffer Meher Ali v. Budge-Budge Jute Mills Co. and Alkash Ali Khalifa v. Nath Bank Ltd.

28. In Muttapukuntla Chinnappareddi v. Masineni Venkataramanappa Somayya J. held that where a sale is set aside, a contract to repay the purchase money must be taken to be an implied term of the contract of sale between the vendor and the vendee; the right of the vendee to claim enforcement of this contract is an actionable claim within the meaning of section 130 (of the Transfer of Property Act) and is, therefore, clearly assignable. Such a right is not a mere right to sue within the meaning of section 6(e) (of the Transfer of Property Act).

29. The provisions of section 5 of the 'Act' which provides for exemptions in respect of certain assets pointedly indicate that 'assets' as defined in the 'Act' include also 'actionable claims'. If it is otherwise, there was no point in exempting the right or interest of the assessee in any policy of insurance before the moneys covered by the policies become due and payable to the assessee.

30. As seen earlier, the right to get 'dividends' as and when declared by the Coffee Board is a valuable right. It is both enforceable and transferable. Therefore, it is an 'actionable claim'. That being so, the 'coffee points' are 'assets', as defined in the 'Act', the value of which has to be taken into account in computing the 'net wealth' of the assessees.

31. The next ground of attack of Sri G. K. Govinda Bhat is that 'coffee points' being 'agricultural income', Parliament has no competence to levy and tax on them either directly or indirectly and to the extent that 'agricultural income' is required to be included in computing the 'net wealth' of the assessees, the 'Act' is ultra vires of the powers of Parliament. He urged that the source of the power of Parliament to enact the Act is Entry 86 of List I of Schedule VII of the Constitution, which says :

'Taxes on the capital value of the assets, exclusive of agricultural land, of individuals and companies; taxes on the capital of companies.'

32. The power to tax 'agricultural income' is allocated to the States as per Entry 46 of List II of Schedule VII. Therefore Parliament could not do indirectly what it could not do directly. According to him, Parliament had clearly transgressed into the field reserved for the States and as such the 'Act' must be struck down, at any rate to the extent it purports to bring within its reach 'agricultural income' it should be held invalid. The effect of his contention is, if the encroachment is ignored, in course of time, encouraged by the decisions of courts and the helplessness of the States, the Centre is likely to impair the legislative powers reserved for the States and thus make a mockery of the provincial autonomy.

33. Quoting from a passage in Indian Tax Reform (Report of a Survey) by Mr. Nicholas Kaldor, Sri Bhat contended that Mr. Kaldor on whose advice the 'Act' had been enacted had suggested to the Government of India to levy annual taxes on 'capital wealth' as distinguished from tax on 'income'. According to Sri Bhat, the 'income' of the assessment year cannot be a constituent part of the taxable 'capital asset'. If it is otherwise, he urged, it would be double taxation. Further, it was urged that if the 'income' that is taken into consideration is 'agricultural income' it would be robbing the contents of one of the head of taxation reserved for the States. It was lastly urged that 'agricultural income' is a defined expression. The definition of 'agricultural income' as given in section 2(1) of the Indian Income-tax Act, 1922, has been given constitutional recognition and, therefore, any income that falls within that definition should not be considered as 'capital assets'. With a view to emphasise the distinction between 'income' and 'capital', Sri Bhat invited our attention to the decision of the Judicial Committee in Commissioner of Income-tax v. Shaw Wallace and Company. Therein their Lordships stated that 'income' in the Income-tax Act connotes a periodical monetary returns 'coming in' with some sort of regularity, or expected regularity, from definite sources. The source is not necessarily one which is expected to be continuously productive, but it must be one whose object is the production of a definite return, excluding anything in the nature of a mere windfall. Thus 'income' has been likened pictorially to the fruit of a tree, or the crop of a field. It is essentially the produce of something which is often loosely spoken of as capital'; but capital, though possibly the source in the case of income from securities, is in most cases hardly more than an element in the process of production.

34. The contentions of Sri Bhat, interesting as they are from a politico-legal point of view, do not appear to be germane for our present purpose.

35. In computing the 'assets' of an assessee, the Wealth-tax Officer is not precluded from taking into consideration the assessee's 'agricultural income', so long as that income can be considered as an item of the 'assets' of the assessee. As contended by Sri. D. M. Chandrasekhar, the learned counsel for the Revenue, a thin line divides 'income' from 'capital'.

36. As per the charging provision in the 'Act', the 'net wealth' of the assessee on the relevant date is liable to be taxed. We have earlier considered the scope of the expression 'net wealth'. Hence, so long as 'agricultural income' can be considered as a part of the 'assets' of the assessee, the same cannot be excluded from the scope of the expression 'net wealth'.

37. Sri Bhat's contention that Parliament had no competence to indirectly trench upon the powers reserved for the States is no more res integra. It is now well settled that any incidental encroachment by Parliament on a field reserved for the States or vice versa does not affect the vires of a statute or any provision therein. A case somewhat similar to the one we are considering came up for consideration before the Federal Court in Province of Madras v. Boddu Paidanna & Sons. Therein the question was whether the Provincial Legislature was competent to levy sales tax on the first sale of goods manufactured or produced in the country and thereby encroach upon the right of Parliament to levy Central Duty of Excise. The contention that the Provincial Legislature had no competence in that regard was repelled by the Federal Court. Gwyer C.J., dealing with that contention, observed thus :

'The duties of excise which the Constitution Act assigns exclusively to the Central Legislature are, according to In re Central Provinces and Berar Sales of Motor Spirit and Lubricants Taxation Act, 1938, duties levied upon the manufacturer or producer in respect of the manufacture or production of the commodity taxed. The tax on the sale of goods, which the Act assigns exclusively to the Provincial Legislatures, is a tax levied on the occasion of the sale of the goods. Plainly a tax levied on the first sale must in the nature of things be a tax on the sale by the manufacturer or producer; but it is levied upon him qua seller and not qua manufacturer or producer. It may well be that a manufacturer or producer is sometimes doubly hit; but so is the taxpayer in Canada who has to pay income-tax levied by the province for provincial purposes and also income-tax levied by the dominion for dominion purposes : see Caron v. King, Forbes v. Attorney-General for Manitoba. If the taxpayer who pays a sales tax is also a manufacturer or producer of commodities subject to a central duty of excise, there may no doubt be an overlapping in one sense; but there is no overlapping in law. The two taxes which he is called on to pay are economically two separate and distinct imposts. There is in theory nothing to prevent the Central Legislature from imposing a duty of excise on a commodity as soon as it comes into existence, no matter what happens to it afterwards, whether it be sold, consumed, destroyed or given away.'

38. This decision was approved by the Privy Council in Governor-General-in-Council v. Province of Madras. The Judicial Committee observed that it is not the name of the tax but its real nature, its 'pith and substance', as it has sometimes been said, which must determine into what category it falls.

39. We may next refer to the decision of the Federal Court in Ralla Ram v. Province of Bombay. The question for determination in that case was whether the provisions of the Punjab Urban Immovable Property Tax Act were beyond the powers of the Provincial Legislature which enacted it.

40. The court opined that, in substance, the property tax levied under section 3 of the Punjab Urban Immovable Property Tax Act fell within item 42 of the Provincial List and is not a tax on income falling within item 54 of the Federal List of the Government of India Act, 1953, although the basis of the tax is the annual value of the building. It is not impossible to reconcile the seeming conflict between the provision of the Act in question and the Income-tax Act. The extent of the alleged invasion by the Provincial Legislature into the field of the Federal Legislature is not so great in the case in question as to justify the view that in pith and substance the impugned tax is a tax on income. It was, therefore, within the legislative competence of the Punjab Legislature to levy such a tax.

41. The decisions in Sir Byramjee Jeejeebhoy v. Province of Bombay, J. N. Duggan v. Commissioner of Income-tax, Municipal Commissioner, Municipal Corporation of the City of Ahmedabad v. Gordandas Hargovandas and Mammad Keyi v. Wealth-tax Officer, cited by Sri Bhat do not help the petitioner's case. In fact they are instances of the application of the rule laid down in Boddu Paidanna's case.

42. It is well settled that in interpreting the scope of the entries in the Lists in Schedule VII of the Constitution, the widest possible amplitude must be given to the words used and each general word must be held to extend to ancillary or subsidiary matters which can fairly be said to be comprehended in it. It is well known that the entries in the several Lists are not scientifically drawn up. There is considerable overlapping. This is a way inevitable. Therefore, any minor encroachment ought to be ignored. While investigating into the validity of a statute or any provision therein, the courts have only to determine the true pith and substance of the legislation. In so doing any incidental trenching ought to be ignored. So viewed, the 'Act' purports to levy and collect tax on capital assets. If any 'agricultural income' incidentally falls within the net of taxation, the validity of the 'Act' cannot be properly assailed. We are not satisfied that there are good grounds to hold that any provision in the 'Act' is ultra vires of the powers of Parliament.

43. In the result, these petitions fail and they are dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 250 (one set).

44. Petitions dismissed.


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