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V.C. Ramachandran Vs. Commissioner of Wealth-tax, Karnataka - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectDirect Taxation
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Case NumberT.R.C. No. 94 of 1975 connected with T.R.C. No.20 of 1976
Judge
Reported in[1980]126ITR157(KAR); [1980]126ITR157(Karn)
ActsWealth tax Act - Sections 7, 7(1) and 26(1); Karnataka Rent Control Act, 1961; Land Acquisition Act - Sections 23; Estate Duty Act
AppellantV.C. Ramachandran
RespondentCommissioner of Wealth-tax, Karnataka
Excerpt:
.....of ascertaining the market value of a building which have come into existence are the rental value method and the land and building method. 9. in order to ascertain the market value of immovable properties there are well settled guidelines laid down in several decisions of the supreme court, while dealing with the question of ascertaining market value for purposes of payment of compensation for the land acquired, under s. ramachandran [1966]60itr103(kar) ,held that market value has to be ascertained by the court in each case with due regard to the conditions of time and factors which affect transactions between a willing seller and an intending buyer and in any case the decision at best is to be regarded as approximate and not a mathematically accurate estimate. 110) :a well..........wealth-tax under the w.t. act should have been ascertained under capitalisation of annual rental value method, and not by adopting the land and building method, is the precise question of law arising for consideration in these two references made by the income-tax appellate tribunal, in respect of the assessment years 1970-71 and 1971-72, pertaining to the same assessee under s. 26(1) of the w.t. act hereinafter referred to as 'the act'). 2. the assessee owns several house properties in the city of bangalore. one of them is occupied by the assessee. it is no.5, richmond road, bangalore. the area of the site is 23,280 square feet. the built area is 3,845 square feet. for the five assessment years, 1965-66 to 1969-70, the assessee had furnished a report from a registered valuer as to the.....
Judgment:

Rama Jois, J.

1. Whether the market value of a residential building under self-occupation of the owner-assesses for purposes of levying wealth-tax under the W.T. Act should have been ascertained under capitalisation of annual rental value method, and not by adopting the land and building method, is the precise question of law arising for consideration in these two references made by the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal, in respect of the assessment years 1970-71 and 1971-72, pertaining to the same assessee under s. 26(1) of the W.T. Act hereinafter referred to as 'the Act').

2. The assessee owns several house properties in the City of Bangalore. One of them is occupied by the assessee. It is No.5, Richmond Road, Bangalore. The area of the site is 23,280 square feet. The built area is 3,845 square feet. For the five assessment years, 1965-66 to 1969-70, the assessee had furnished a report from a registered valuer as to the valuation of that property. The value of the building was given at Rs. 83,907. The valuer valued the site at qf Rs. 5.25 per square feet. But he had taken into account only the actual built area. The WTO accepted the valuation of the building and also the rate per square feet for the site. He, however found no justification to exclude the unbuilt area of the site. Taking the valuation of unbuilt area also he assessed the market value of the building at Rs. 2,06,127. The assessment for the five years was finalised together. On appeal by the assessee, this valuation was confirmed by the AAC. This order was not challenged further by the assessee. For the assessment year 1970-71 the assessee furnished the value of the building at Rs. 1,00,000 and submitted that capitalisation of annual rental value method was applicable even to the self-occupied house in view of the decision of this court in CWT v. V. C. Ramachandran : [1966]60ITR103(KAR) , in which case, the assessee himself was the party. Similarly, for the assessment year 1971-72 also, the assessee furnished valuation of the building at Rs. 1,00,000 but furnished the annual rental value at Rs. 2,500. For both the assessment years, the WTO held that the value of the building as fixed by the AAC for the previous five assessment years should be adopted and assessed the tax accordingly. The assessee preferred appeals before the AAC. On the wrong assumption that capitalisation of annual rental value method had been adopted for the earlier five assessment years, he directed that the same method should be adopted for the assessment years 1970-71 and 1971-72 also. The WTO preferred appeals against these orders to the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal. The Tribunal, by a common order, allowed the appeals holding that the adoption of the land and building method was justified on the facts and in the circumstances of the case and rejected the plea of the assessee that the market value should have been ascertained only by capitalisation of the rental value method. Thereafter, at the instance of the assessee, the following question of law is referred for our opinion

'Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the Tribunal was right in law in holding that the valuation of the self-occupied property was correctly made by the Income-tax Officer on the land and building method ?'

3. Though the wording of the question indicates that the assesee questioning the correctness of the market value of the building as ascertained by the land and building method, the real controversy between the assessee and the revenue is as to the correctness of adopting the land and building method of valuation to the self-occupied house instead of capitalisation of annual rental value method as pleaded by the assessee. Therefore, we proceed to answer the reference, taking the real controversy, between the assessee and the revenue into consideration.

4. Sri A. N. Jayaram, learned counsel for the assessee, submitted that the revenue should have ascertained the market value of the self-occupied building by the capitalisation of annual rental value by multiplying the same twenty times (hereinafter referred to as 'the rental value method'.) as had been done in respect of other buildings of the assessee located in the vicinity, which are under occupation of tenants. He argued that having regard to the provision of the Rent Control Act, even the premises now occupied by the asscssee, if let out, could not fetch more than the fair rent which could be fixed under that Act and, therefore, there was no reason why the same basis should not have been adopted in respect of self occupied building. He submitted that the adoption of land and building method was not justified.

5. Sri S. R. Rajasekharamurthy, learned counsel for the revenue, submitted that self-occupied building stands on a different footing as the owner can sell the building to any willing purchaser and give vacant possession whereas it may not be possible to give vacant possession of a tenant occupied building in view of the restrictions on eviction of tenants by the Karnataka Rent Control Act, 1961. He also submitted that in the present case, there was only one method of valuation furnished by the assessee which was accepted by the revenue for the five assessment years 1965-66 to 1969-70, i.e., land and building method and, therefore, the adoption of the same value for the assessment years 1970-71 and 1971-72 was justified and cannot be questioned by the assessee.

6. In this case, the question for consideration is not as to whether the adoption of rental value method to the rented buildings of the assessee was correct, but the question is as to whether the rental value method should also have been adopted to the self-occupied building of the assessee however, we may observe that for purposes of ascertaining market value, tenant occupied buildings, in certain circumstances, may stand on a different footing than the self-occupied buildings, in view of the restriction on the eviction of tenants under the Rent Control Act and the adverse effect it has on the price which might be offered by a willing purchaser. Therefore, we confine ourselves to find out as to whether the adoption of land and building method for ascertaining the market value nf the self-occupied building in these cases was justified.

7. Section 7(1) of the Act which prescribes the method of ascertaining the market value reads :

'7. Value of assets how to be determined. - (1) Subject to any rules made in this behalf, the value of any asset, other than cash, for the purposes of this Act, shall be estimated to be the price which in the opinion of the Wealth-tax Officer it would fetch if sold in the open market on the valuation date.'

8. In view of the wording of s. 7(1) of the Act, when the property liable to wealth-tax under the Act is immovable property, market value of such property has to be estimated in each case. This is obviously for the reason that there could be no ruling market price for immovable properties, as in the case of ordinary articles of commerce. Therefore, the market value of a building like the one with which we are concerned in this case, would be the possible price it would fetch, if the assessee were to sell the property to a willing purchaser. This necessarily means that the market value, for purposes of s. 7 of the Act, has to be estimated approximately, as the actual price would not be known unless the property is sold. But such an estimation has to be on the basis of well-settled principles and the market value estimated must be a reasonable one and cannot be arbitrary. The market value of each land and building varies from the other. It depends upon a variety of factors, such as (1) the size, the nature and the quality of construction; (2) the locality in which the building is situated including its environment; and (3) the open space available apart from the built area, i.e., as to whether there is further scope for utilisation of land in a more beneficial and profitable manner and several other advantageous or disadvantageous factors found to exist in a given case. It also depends on the fact as to whether it is tenant-occupied and if so, the rent which is being paid and whether the enhancement of rent and eviction of tenant is statutorily controlled, because the restriction on enhancement of rent and on the securing of vacant possession, certainly deter a willing purchaser from offering a better price. Therefore, in order to estimate the value of buildings two well-known methods of ascertaining the market value of a building which have come into existence are the rental value method and the land and building method. Some times an average of the two valuation is also adopted. But which of the three methods is appropriate in a given case must always depend upon the facts and circumstances of that case.

9. In order to ascertain the market value of immovable properties there are well settled guidelines laid down in several decisions of the Supreme Court, while dealing with the question of ascertaining market value for purposes of payment of compensation for the land acquired, under s. 23 of the Land Acquisition Act, and in other cases of compulsory acquisition of property for public purpose. The principles on the basis of which market value of an immovable property could be ascertained for the purpose of awarding compensation, to the owner on the compulsory acquisition of property by the State under the Land Acquisition Act has been laid down by the Supreme Court in (i) Spl. Land Acquisition officer v. T. Adinarayan Setty, : AIR1959SC429 , (ii) State of Kerala v. P. P. Hassan Koya, AIR 1968 SC 1201 and (iii) Smt. Tribeni Devi v. Collector, Ranchi, : [1972]3SCR208 . They may be summarised as follows :

1. Method of valuation

(i) Information available through bona fide sale deeds, executed to effect the sale of lands in the vicinity and the comparable benefits and advantages which they possess.

(ii) By capitalisation of rental value, actually received or likely to be received by taking the rent which a similar property located in the neighbourhood is fetching, by multiplying it 20 times as is usually done or at such multiple having due regard to the prevailing rate of interest on gilt-edged security. This method is more appropriate in the case of buildings used for business purposes. A number of years purchase of the actual or immediate by prospective profits of the lands acquired.

(iii) Opinion of experts.

2. These methods, however, do not preclude the taking of any other special circumstances to arrive at an estimate of market value.

3. Even two or all of the methods may be taken into account, in arriving at a reasonable value.

10. In the case of R. C. Cooper v. Union of India : [1970]3SCR530 , the Supreme Court, while dealing with the question of payment of compensation on compulsory acquisition of property under the Banking Companies Acquisition Act, reiterated the principles laid down in the three earlier decisions referred to above in (p.383) and laid down a few more principles. They are :

(i) The method of capitalisation of rental value with an appropriate multiplier is a satisfactory method of valuation of land and buildings, if only the land has been put to full use legally permissible and economically justifiable and the income is commercial and not a controlled return or a return depreciated on account of several circumstances. (vide p. 383)

(ii) If the property is not put to full use or the return is not commercial, capitalisation of rental value pegged down statutorily by the provisions of the rent control legislation yields misleading results and cannot be considered as fair value of the property. (vide pp. 383 & 387)

(iii) Vacant premises have considerably larger value than business premises which are occupied by tenants. (vide p. 387)

11. These principles laid down by the Supreme Court, in respect of ascertaining the market value of immovable properties, apply equally for the purpose of ascertaining market value of the immovable properties as required under s. 7 of the Act.

12. The aforesaid principles have been applied to the valuation of buildings for the purpose of the Act or under the E.D. Act by the High Courts in the following decisions.

(i) In the case of K. Bhoomiamma v. CED : [1978]115ITR703(KAR) , a Division Bench of this court upheld the valuation of a building for purposes of computation of estate duty at the price for which it was purchased chased by the deceased, three years before his death, rejecting the plea of the accountable person that as the building was let out after purchase, rental method of valuation should be adopted, which would have come to less than half the price for which the property was actually purchased.

(ii) In the case of J. N. Bose v. CWT : [1976]104ITR83(Cal) , the Calcutta High Court held that in respect of immovable property there being no fixed market] price, ascertainment of the market value involves some amount of guess work, but it must be intelligible, based on certain objective factors having a rational nexus to the valuation, and out of several methods of valuation, the one which is most suitable with reference to the facts and circumstances of the concerned case should be adopted. Further, it was observed that unless there are circumstances, requiring the change of valuation accepted for earlier years should be adopted for the subsequent years also. On the facts of that case, the court held that valuation accepted for the earlier assessment years on the basis of the valuation report furnished by the expert valuer, ought to have been continued and there were no circumstances to change the value by adopting the rental method, which yielded a higher value in that case.

(iii) In Debi Prosad Poddar v. CWT : [1977]109ITR760(Cal) , the Calcutta High Court expressed views similar to those as expressed in the case of J. N. Bose : [1976]104ITR83(Cal) . But on the facts of that case it was held that as the land could not be sold without demolishing an old building standing on it, and as the building could not be demolished without ejecting the tenants, and as tenants could not be ejected in view of rent restriction law, valuation of property on rental method was proper though such value was less than the price actually paid, as the intention of the assessee to put up multistoried building after the purchase was frustrated.

(iv) In the case of CED v. Bijoy Kumay Khandelwal [1977] 108 ITR 864, the Gauhati High Court upheld the valuation of a building which was partly let out for non-residential purpose and partly occupied by the deceased for his residence, made by the Income-tax Tribunal on rental method for purposes of computation of estate duty having regard to the law imposing restriction on recovery of rent, rejecting the plea of the revenue that land and building method should have been adopted. This view was taken relying on the decision of the Supreme Court in Adinarayan Setty, : AIR1959SC429 , and Tribeni Debi, : [1972]3SCR208 , and holding that rental method adopted by the Tribunal in that case was the appropriate one having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case.

(v) In the case of Wenger and Co. v. District Valuation officer : [1978]115ITR648(Delhi) , the building property of the assessee situate at Connaught Place area of New Delhi was partly tenanted and partly self-occupied. For purpose of levying wealth-tax, the Valuation Officer valued the tenant-occupied portions on the basis of capitalising rental value. In respect of self-occupied portions, he fixed the value of the building on the basis of prevailing rates for sale of commercial flats in the same locality and the value of the site on the basis of price paid in respect of sale of an adjacent property. The legality of this valuation was questioned by the owner in a writ petition. The Delhi High Court rejected the plea of the petitioner therein that the self-occupied portions also should have been valued by adopting rental value method and upheld the land and building method adopted for ascertaining the market value of portions of the building.

(vi) This court in the earlier case of the assessae, CWT v. V. C. Ramachandran : [1966]60ITR103(KAR) , held that market value has to be ascertained by the court in each case with due regard to the conditions of time and factors which affect transactions between a willing seller and an intending buyer and in any case the decision at best is to be regarded as approximate and not a mathematically accurate estimate.

(vii) In the case of S. Neelaveni v. CIT (T.R.C. No. 48 of 1977 - 26-6-1979) (since reported in : [1980]125ITR665(KAR) decided by us, we held that adoption of the average of the value ascertained by the rental method and land and building method was appropriate. In that case, the assessee was owning two buildings in the city of Bangalore, one was self-occupied and another was permitted to be occupied by students gratuitously. There was great disparity in the valuations of the buildings furnished by the expert valuer, who had furnished the valuation both under the rental method and land and building method, but had suggested the adoption of rental method, on the ground that it is more reasonable in view of the provisions of the Rent Control Act. The assessing authority had rejected the plea of the assessee and adopted the land and building method of valuation. On appeal, the AAC was of the opinion that in view of the great disparity in the valuation, adoption of average value of both the methods for both the buildings was just and proper. On appeal to the Tribunal by the WTO, the Tribunal upheld the adoption of average value in respect of the building under permissive occupation of the students but in so far as it related to the self-occupied building, reversed the order of the AAC and directed the levy of wealth-tax on the basis of its value made according to land and building method solely for the reason that it was self-occupied and also holding that rental value method has no application to self-occupied building. On a reference made to the High Court under s. 26(1) of the W.T. Act, we took the view that there was no difference between the self-occupied building and the building in which students were allowed to stay free of payment by the assessee and, therefore, the reasons which impelled the AAC to take the average value of both the methods for the building under the permissive occupation of students being the same as in respect of the self-occupied building also, and the Tribunal having accepted the average value in respect of the former it was not justified in rejecting the same method in respect of the latter solely on the ground that it was self-occupied. We also held that it would not be correct to say that the rental value method has no application at all in determining the valuation of the self-occupied residential house.

13. As regards the method required to be adopted in ascertaining the market value of a building, the substance of all the aforesaid decisions may be summarised as follows :

(1) Rental value method. - The rental value method of ascertaining the market value of a building is as follows :

(i) by ascertaining rental value of a building either on the basis of the rental value fixed by the local authority concerned or by taking the rent paid when occupied by tenants, or on the basis of rent paid in respect of comparable buildings in the vicinity or on the basis of the opinion of an expert valuer.

(ii) capitalisation of annual rental value so ascertained by an appropriate multiplier.

(2) Land and building method :- Market value of a house property under this method could be ascertained as follows :

(i) on the basis of the information about the price paid in bona fide purchases of comparable properties located in the neighbourhood when available, or

(ii) on the basis of price paid to the same property, if it was purchased, or

(iii) by securing the report of an expert valuer made having due regard to all relevant factors.

(3) Average method :- By taking an average of the value arrived at the aforesaid two methods in case of great disparity in the valuation arrived at by the two methods if only it is not possible to say that any one of such valuation is approximately correct.

(4) As to which of the three methods should be adopted in e given case depends on the facts and circumstances of that case.

14. Bearing in mind the above principles, we shall now proceed to consider as to whether the Tribunal was, in the facts and circumstances of this case, justified in adopting the valuation by land and building method arrived at on the basis of expert opinion instead of adoption of rental value method, as pleaded by the assessee. The undisputed facts of the case are, that the building is self-occupied and not given on rent. The land is not fully utilised in that out of the total area of the site which comes to 23,280 square feet only 3,845 square feet is occupied by the building. The same building was valued on the basis of the report furnished by an expert valuer at Rs. 2,06,127 for the five assessment years 1965-66 to 1969-70. The said decision has not been challenged by the assessee. Moreover, the assessee did not furnish the valuation of the building on the basis of rental value method except asserting that rental value method should be adopted by furnishing the value of the building at Rs. 1,00,000. In fact, the only valuation figure furnished by the assessee himself and adopted by the Tribunal is the one furnished by the expert valuer which was according to land and building method. The Tribunal, relying on the principles laid down in Cooper's case : [1970]3SCR530 held that as the land is not fully developed and utilised, and a major portion of the site is left vacant, adoption of rental value method by comparing the rent received in respect of similar buildings which is a controlled return in view of the Rent Control Act, would give a misleading valuation, in respect of the building in question, which is self-occupied and adopted the same valuation at which the assessment was made in the preceding five years. In the circumstanees, in our opinion, it can hardly be said that the Tribunal was not justified in accepting the valuation given by an expert valuer, on the basis of land and building method, which valuation was furnished by the assessee himself.

15. Learned counsel for the assessee, however, placed reliance on the decision of this court in the earlier case of the assessee, CWT v. V. C. Ramchandran : [1966]60ITR103(KAR) , relevant portion of which reads (p. 110) :

'A well recognised basis of valuation of buildings in urban areas is the rent normally realised by these when these are leased out to others and the rent expected to be got if these are in occupation of the owners. The valuation of a land with building thereon by valuing the land and the building separately and adding the value of the one to the other does not furnish a reliable estimate of the property.'

16. We do not think that the aforesaid decision intended to lay down, as an invariable rule, that in respect of self-occupied buildings, capitalisation of rental method should be adopted as the basis for ascertaining the market value of the property. Moreover, in the said ease, the only matter for consideration was, the valuation of buildings of the assesses in the possession of tenants yielding only a fixed rental income. It was held that in respect of rented buildings, capitalisation of annual rental value, by an appropriate multiplier, was the correct method. Therefore, the observation on which the assessee relies is not the ratio of that decision. Moreover, the said observation that in respect of self-occupied buildings also rental value method for ascertaining the market value should be adopted, is contrary to the principles of valuation laid down by the Supreme Court in Cooper's case [1970] 40 Comp Cas 325 on which the Tribunal has rightly relied.

17. Learned counsel for the assessee next submitted that if there are two valuations of the same property arrived at by two different methods, the one which is favourable to the assessee should be accepted. In support of this submission, he relied on the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Jaswant Rai v. CWT . In the said decision, the High Court extended the principle laid down by the Supreme Court in CIT v. Vegetable Products Ltd. : [1973]88ITR192(SC) to the effect that in interpreting the provisions of taxing statutes, if two interpretations are possible, the one which is favourable to the taxpayer should be accepted and held that in cases where there are two valuations of the same property, the one which is in favour of the assessee should be accepted. With utmost respect to their Lordships, we are unable to agree with the aforesaid view. In our opinion the principle applicable for the interpretation of taxing statutes cannot be imported and applied to the valuation of property in a given case, which constitutes a question of fact. If there are more than one valuation of the same property, the one which is reasonable and nearer to the correct market value, having due regard to all the relevant facts and circumstances of the case alone should be acceptcd. Therefore, in such a case if the higher valuation as between several valuations appears to be a reasonable one, the same has got to be accepted. We are unable to accede to the submission that in cases where the value of the property is ascertained under more than one method, the lowest should be accepted.

18. In the result, we answer the question referred for our opinion as follows :

On the facts and in the circumstances of these cases, the Tribunal was right in law in holding that the valuation of the self-occupied property of the assessee, ascertained by adopting the land and building method, should be taken as the valuation of that property for assessing the tax liability under the Wealth-tax Act.


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