Skip to content


Commissioner of Income-tax, Mysore Vs. Srimati Rama Bai - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectDirect Taxation
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Case NumberIncome-tax Referred Case No. 16 of 1964
Judge
Reported in[1967]63ITR25(KAR); [1967]63ITR25(Karn); (1966)2MysLJ131
ActsIncome-tax Act - Sections 66(1)
AppellantCommissioner of Income-tax, Mysore
RespondentSrimati Rama Bai
Appellant AdvocateS.R. Rajasekhara Murthy, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateS.P. Bhat, Adv.
Excerpt:
.....educate the children, maintain the family, and apply the income of the estate for the prosperity and well-being of the members of the family. further, the provisions in the will which empowered rama bai to collect the outstandings and discharge the debts after taking possession of the properties on the strength of the bequest contained in the will do not fit into the conclusion reached by the tribunal that the bequest was to the children as well. those obligations, which had to be performed by the wife as the legatee under the will, consisted of the duty to maintain the members of the family, the duty to educate the children and the duty to provide sufficient moneys for the well-being and advancement of the members of the family. 11. but it does not follow that, by the imposition of..........the properties of gopala shetty were bequeathed under the will to the family consisting of his wife, rama bai, and his seven children, and that the assessment should be made on that basis. but the income-tax officer overruled that contention and made the assessment on the interpretation that the bequest under the will was to the wife and not to the family. in this view taken by the income-tax officer, the appellate assistant commissioner concurred, but in the further appeal presented to the appellate tribunal, the assessee succeeded in the contention that the bequest was to the family and to the wife. 4. so the commissioner has made a reference under section 66(1) and the two questions referred to us for our decision read : '(1) whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the.....
Judgment:

Somnath Iyer, J.

1. The source of this reference under section 66(1) of the Income-tax Act at the instance of the Commissioner of Income-tax is an assessment made by the Income-tax Officer with respect to the assessment years 1961-62 and 1962-63.

2, The assessment was made in the following circumstances :

There was one Gopala Shetty, who was a member of an Aliyasanthana family, residing in Udipi, and he died on December 30, 1958. His wife and his seven children survived him. He made a will on December 15, 1958, and we are, in this reference, concerned with the correctness of the interpretation placed on the provisions of that will by the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal.

3. It was contended before the Income-tax Officer that the properties of Gopala Shetty were bequeathed under the will to the family consisting of his wife, Rama Bai, and his seven children, and that the assessment should be made on that basis. But the Income-tax Officer overruled that contention and made the assessment on the interpretation that the bequest under the will was to the wife and not to the family. In this view taken by the Income-tax Officer, the Appellate Assistant Commissioner concurred, but in the further appeal presented to the Appellate Tribunal, the assessee succeeded in the contention that the bequest was to the family and to the wife.

4. So the Commissioner has made a reference under section 66(1) and the two questions referred to us for our decision read :

'(1) Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the properties comprised in the will of Gopala Shetty, dated December 15, 1958, devolved on a Hindu undivided family consisting of Mrs. Rama Bai and her children

(2) Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the assessments for 1960-61 and 1961-62 should have been made on Mrs. Rama Bai as an individual in respect of the income from properties comprised under the will of Gopala Shetty dated December 15, 1958 ?'

5. The answer to the first question depends upon our interpretation of the provisions in the will. Two competing translations were produced before Income-tax authorities of the relevant provisions of the will, and we are of the opinion that there is no substantial difference between the one translation and the other.

6. We have read the will and we find the following to be its outstanding features. In the preamble to the will, the testator stated that he made the will in favour of his wife. He next stated that he had bequeathed all his movable and immovable properties out of his own free will and volition to his very dear wife, Rama Bai. He next proceeded to state that Rama Bai should take possession of all his movable and immovable properties on the strength of his will and collect all the amounts due to him and discharge the debts payable by him. The will contains a further direction that the business carried on by the testator should continue to be conducted by his wife and that she should educate the children, maintain the family, and apply the property of the estate in her own unfettered discretion for the well-being and prosperity of the members of the family.

7. The Tribunal was of the view that the recitals in the will led to the indubitable inference that the bequest was to the family consisting of the wife and the children and that the properties did not vest exclusively in the wife under the terms of the will. This view the Tribunal was impelled to take on the foundation of the direction in the will that the wife should educate the children, maintain the family, and apply the income of the estate for the prosperity and well-being of the members of the family.

8. We take the view that the Tribunal misdirected itself in coming to that conclusion and that the interpretation placed by the Tribunal does not flow from its provisions.

9. The bequest under the will is in favour of the wife. That bequest was made in unqualified language in the opening part of the will by which all the movable and immovable properties were bequeathed to the wife. Further, the provisions in the will which empowered Rama Bai to collect the outstandings and discharge the debts after taking possession of the properties on the strength of the bequest contained in the will do not fit into the conclusion reached by the Tribunal that the bequest was to the children as well.

10. We take the view that the proper way to understand the will is to understand it as incorporating a clear bequest to the wife, burdened with obligations such as those to which the will refers. Those obligations, which had to be performed by the wife as the legatee under the will, consisted of the duty to maintain the members of the family, the duty to educate the children and the duty to provide sufficient moneys for the well-being and advancement of the members of the family. Those obligations, which were imposed by the will on Rama Bai, were imperative obligations and created an enforceable right in the other members of the family in respect of those obligations.

11. But it does not follow that, by the imposition of those obligations on the wife, there was defeasance to any extent of the bequest clearly made to the wife.

12. In our opinion, the answer to the first question should be in favour of the Commissioner and the answer to that question is that the properties comprised in the will of Gopal Shetty did not devolve on a Hindu undivided family consisting of Mrs. Rama Bai and her children and that the bequest was to Mrs. Rama Bai subject to the obligations imposed by the will. Our answer to the first question decides the second, and our answer to that question is that the assessments were properly made on Rama Bai as an individual.

13. In the circumstances, we make no direction in regard to costs.


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