1. These appeals are by the Inspecting Assistant Commissioner (Acquisition Range), Dharwad, and are directed against a common order made on June 30, 1976, by the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal, Bangalore Bench, Bangalore ('the Tribunal'), in Appeals Nos. I.T. (Acq.) 1 and 2/Bangalore/1976-77.
2. In a proceeding under Chapter XXA of the Income-tax Act, 1961 ('the Act'), the Inspecting Assistant Commissioner, after notifying the transferors, transferees and tenants in occupation of a building bearing CTS No. 1750/IB situated at Ward III of Bijapur city, made an order on March 23, 1976, under section 269F(6) directing the acquisition of the said property on the ground that the fair market value of the same exceeded the apparent consideration stipulated in the instrument of transfer by more than 25% which order was not challenged by the transferor and the transferee in an appeal under the Act.
3. Against the said order of the Inspecting Assistant Commissioner, one K. B. Nagarala of Bijapur and an unregistered association called 'Chunilal Compound Tenants' Association, Bijapur', who are respondents before us, either as a tenant or as an association safeguarding the interests of the tenants in the occupation of the building, filed appeals under section 269G of the Act in Appeal I.T. (Acq.) Nos. 1 and 2/Bangalore/ 1976-77 before the Tribunal. In these appeals, the Inspecting Assistant Commissioner who was the sole respondent raised a preliminary objection as to the maintainability of those appeals under the Act, which found favour with the Tribunal. But, still, the tribunal proceeded to examine the merits of the contention urged by the respondents and expressed thus :
'It appears to us that the tenants cannot be ejected under section 269-I of the Act.'
4. With these observations, the Tribunal dismissed the appeals filed by the respondents as incompetent. Aggrieved by the observations made by the Tribunal in favour of the respondents, the Inspecting Assistant Commissioner has filed these appeals under section 269H of the Act.
5. On the contentions urged before us, only one point arises for our determination and, that is, 'Whether the Tribunal, having held that the appeals filed by the respondents were incompetent and not maintainable under the Act, had competence to hold and observe that the tenants cannot be ejected under section 269-I of the Act, 'We will not proceed to examine this point.
6. Shri G. Sarangan, learned counsel for the appellant, contends that the Tribunal having rightly upheld the preliminary objection of the Inspecting Assistant Commissioner that the appeals filed by the respondents were not maintainable and incompetent, should have refrained from examining their grievances on the merits and expressing any opinion in their favor, that was wholly uncalled for and unjustified.
7. Sri S. P. Bhat, learned counsel for the respondents, sought to justify the order of the Tribunal.
8. We have earlier noticed that the Tribunal is upholding the objections urged by the Inspecting Assistant Commissioner found that the appeals filed by the respondents before it were not maintainable and incompetent and had dismissed them on that view of the matter. Whatever be the legality of that order, the respondents have not filed appeals against that part of the order of the Tribunal which has gone against them. We cannot, therefore, examine the validity of the order of the tribunal upholding the objections urged by the Inspecting Assistant Commissioner and only proceed to examine these cases on the basis of the order made by the Tribunal.
9. An appellate authority under the Act or under any enactment can examine the merits only when it finds that the appeals filed before it are competent and not otherwise. When once the tribunal found that the appeals were incompetent, it should have refrained from dealing with the merits and expressing any opinion on any of the questions raised by the respondents in support of their appeals. From this, it follows that the Tribunal committed an error of law in dealing with the merits and holding in favor of the respondents and other tenants. we have, therefore, no choice except to direct the offending portion of the order of the Tribunal to be deleted.
10. In the result, we allow these appeals in part, set aside only that part of the order of the Tribunal that held that the tenants cannot be ejected under section 269-I of the Act and all its observations touching on the same and maintain the said order in all other respects. But, by this, we should not be understood as having examined the correctness of the view expressed by the Tribunal on the maintainability of the appeals filed by the respondents and expressed our concurrence with the view or other wise.
11. ITA Nos. 21 and 22 are disposed of in the above terms. But in the circumstances of the cases, we direct the parties to bear their own costs.