1. These three petitions arise out of three orders passed under s. 35 of the Karnataka Agrl. I.T. Act, 1957 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'), by the Commr. of Agrl. I.T., Karnataka. Since common questions of law and facts arise for consideration, they are disposed of by this common order.
2. Shivappa Karachi was the owner of the lands with which we are concerned in these case. He had leased them out in favour of Ugar Sugar Works Ltd., in the year 1947. By efflux of time the said lease came to an end on March 31, 1967. On March 27, 1967, during the subsistence of the lease, there was a partition amongst Shivappa Karachi and his sons. At that partition the lands in question were allotted to the share of A. S. Karachi and J. S. Karachi, the sons of Shivappa Karachi, who are petitioners in these three petitions. The lessee did not hand over possession of the lands to the petitioners herein immediately after the expiry of the period of lease. After some negotiations they were handed back to the possession of the petitioner on September 2, 1967, along with the standing sugarcane crop. The petitioners carried on some further agricultural operations on the lands and ultimately harvested the sugarcane by the end of December, 1967, or by beginning of January, 1968, and realised its value by selling by Messr. Ugar Sugar Works Ltd. In their individual returns which they filed under the provisions of the Act for the year 1968-69, they claimed that they were not liable to be taxed under the provisions of the Act in respect of the income derived by them individually by selling the sugarcane referred to above. Their contention was that the income was not agricultural income as defined under the Act as they had not planted the sugarcane and carried on other basic agricultural operations till September 2, 1967. The Agrl. ITO rejected their contention and included the income derived by them by selling the sugarcane grown on the lands in question during the previous year in the assessable income and passed orders of assessment accordingly. Aggrieved by the orders of the Agrl. ITO, the petitioners filed appeals before the Dy. Commr. of Agrl. I.T. He allowed the appeals holding that the income in question was not agricultural income. Thereafter, the Commr. of Agrl. I.T. initiated action under s. 35 of the Act and after hearing the petitioners passed orders reversing the orders passed by the Dy. Commr. of Agrl. I.T. and restoring the orders of the Agrl. ITO. Hence, these three revision petitions.
3. The undisputed facts in these cases are that the petitioners were the owners of the lands on which sugarcane had been grown; that they had carried on agricultural operations after September 2, 1967; and, that they had received the income during the relevant year. S. 2(1)(a)(2)(i) of the Act defines 'agricultural income' as any income derived from land which is used for growing any commercial crop by agriculture. It is not disputed that the sugarcane in question had been raised by the petitioners by carrying on agricultural operations though the lessee had carried on such operations till September 2, 1967. Subsequent to September 2, 1967, agricultural operations had been carried on by the petitioners in order to derive the income in question. It is seen from the facts narrated above that all the ingredients which are required to make an income 'agricultural income' are available in these cases, namely, agricultural land, agricultural operations and income derived from commercial crops grown on agricultural land, and income has been derived by that person who has an interest in the agricultural land by carrying on agricultural operations. The mere fact that some part of the agricultural operations required for raising the crop in question had been carried only by the former lessee till September 2, 1967, would not make the income derived by the petitioner by selling the sugarcane in questions non-agricultural income, since it has not been shown that without carrying on the necessary agricultural operations after September 2, 1967, it would have been possible in these cases for the petitioners to derive the income in question.
4. G. Sarangan, learned counsel for the petitioner, in C.R.P. No. 2627 of 1974 relied upon decision of the Madras High Court in CIT v. V. Maddi Venkatasubbayya : 20ITR151(Mad) , in support of the proposition that the petitioners who had not actually planted the sugarcane could not be subjected to tax under the Act. In that case, the assessee who had purchased the standing tobacco crop just about the time of the harvest claimed that the income derived by him from the sale of the said tobacco could not be taxed under the Indian I.T. Act, 1922, as it was agricultural income. The High Court of Madras rejected the said contention by holding that the operations which he claimed to have carried on were not agricultural operations, but were only incidental to the harvesting of the tobacco crop and that he had no interest in the land as owner, tenant or mortgagee with possession, etc. That is not the case, however, in these cases. There was a time lag of nearly four months between the date on which the petitioners got possession of the land from the lessees and the date on which the sugarcane crop was harvested by them and the sugarcane crop was not ripe for harvesting on the date on which they got possession of the lands. Hence, no assistance can be derived by the petitioners from the decision of the High Court of Madras.
5. One another urged by G. Sarangan is that since the sugarcane crop which was standing on the land was allowed to be harvested by the lessors (petitioners) in lieu of the compensation payable by the lessee for being in possession from April 1, 1967, to September 2, 1967, the income derived from the sugarcane crop in question could not be considered as agricultural income. There is no merit in this contention also because the petitioners in order to derive the agricultural income also had to carry on agricultural operations subsequent to September 2, 1967, without which they would not have been able to receive the income in question. It is also seen from the orders of the Agrl. ITO that whatever expenditure was proved to have been incurred by Messrs. Ugar Sugar Works Ltd. for cultivation has also been deducted as expenditure incurred by the petitioners and there is no recital in the agreement, under which the lessee surrendered the lands in question, that the standing sugarcane crop had been allowed to be taken over by the petitioners in lieu of the compensation the lessees had to pay for remaining in possession of the lands between April 1, 1967, and September 2, 1967. We, therefore, reject the above contention also. We do not, therefore, find any ground to interfere with the view taken by the Commr. of Agrl. IT that the income in question was agricultural income within the meaning of the Act.
6. Since no other point arises for consideration in C.R.P. N0. 2627 of 1974, it is dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 100.
7. In C.R.P. Nos. 1306 and 1781 of 1975, one other point arises for consideration. It relates to the allowances to be given under s. 13 of the Act as it stood at the relevant point of time. It is seen from the orders passed by the Agrl. ITO in these two cases that earned income relief has been denied on the sole ground that there was no proof of personal cultivation by the petitioners during the relevant period. Since we have held that agricultural operations had been carried on subsequent to September 2, 1967, we are of the opinion, that the petitioners are entitled to claim relief under s. 13 of the Act and we grant the said relief even though it has not been specifically urged in the course of the petition. On going through the orders of assessment passed by the Agrl. ITO we find that in these two cases, each of the petitioners is entitled to claim exemption in this account to the extent of Rs. 2,000 from out of the total agricultural income. It follows that the liability of the petitioner in C.R.P. No. 1306 of 1975 gets reduced by Rs. 740 (Rs. 500 towards tax and Rs. 240 towards super tax) and in C.R.P. No. 1781 of 1975, the liability of the petitioner gets reduced by Rs. 300. The orders of assessment in these two cases shall stand modified accordingly. Subject to the above modification, these two petitions are also dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 100 in each case.