1. In these petitions under article 226 of the Constitution, the petitioner has challenged the validity of section 171 of the Income-tax Act, 1961 ('the Act') as violative of article 14 of the Constitution.
2. The petitioner is the karta of a joint Hindu family consisting of himself, his wife, his sons and daughters which was an assessee on the file of the IInd Income-tax Officer, Chickmagalur. According to the petitioner, there were partial partitions in the Hindu undivided family on September 25, 1978, September 26, 1978, September 27, 1978, and they have not been recognised by the Income-tax Officer, the validity of which are being separately challenged before the authorities constituted under the Act. Even before those proceedings are concluded, the petitioner contends that section 171 of the Act that discriminates Hindu undivided families that are assessed to tax and Hindu undivided families that are not assessed to tax is violative of article 14 of the Constitution and is liable to be struck down.
3. Sri Kishore Mallya, learned counsel for the petitioner, strenuously contends that section 171 of the Act that discriminates Hindu undivided families that are assessed to tax but partitioned and those that are not assessed to tax was violative of article 14 of the Constitution. In support of his contention, Sri Mallya relies on a large number of rulings of the Supreme Court and other courts that have explained the true scope and ambit of article 14 of the Constitution.
4. Section 171 of the Act regulates the assessments of Hindu undivided families that had been assessed to tax under the Act, but are later partitioned. The Hindu undivided families previously assessed to tax, but after their partition, cannot be compared to Hindu undivided families before partition or to such families that are not assessed to tax also. When one examines the validity of section 171 of the Act in the light of the principles enunciated on the scope and ambit of article 14 of the Constitution in taxation measures, reviewed and restated by the Supreme Court in The Twyford Tea Co. v. State of Kerala, : 3SCR383 , followed in all the later cases, it is abundantly clear that the challenge of the petitioner to the said section as infringing article 14 of the Constitution is ill-conceived and is devoid of merit.
5. Even otherwise, section 171 of the Act that treats all undivided Hindu families that were previously assessed to tax, but are partitioned alike, cannot be condemned as offending the principles of permissible classification or as arbitrary also. In this view also, the challenge to section 171 of the Act has no merit.
6. As the only contention urged for the petitioner fails, these writ petitions are liable to be rejected. I, therefore, reject these writ petitions at the preliminary hearing stage without notice to the respondents.