1. Bangalore Chemical and Manufacturing Company (Private) Limited, which is respondent-1 and will be here-after referred to as the owner, inter alia owns a building bearing No. 41 situated on 72nd Cross Road, VI Block, Rajajinagar, Bangalore-10, or Corporation Division No.2 of Bangalore City Admittedly, the building has been constructed on or before 1-10-1969 on a site area measuring 138' x 275' and consists of a built area of 99.50 squares.
2. Under the provisions of the City of Bangalore Municipal Corporation Act, 1949 (Mysore Act No. 69 of 1949) (hereinafter referred to as the old Act) which is now replaced by the uniform Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act of 1976 (Karnataka Act 14 of 1977) (hereinafter referred to as the uniform Act) that came into force in the City ofBangalore on 1-6-1977, the Commissioner of the Corporation of the City of Bangalore (hereinafter referred to as the Commis-sioner) fixed the annual letting value of the said building from 1-10-1969 at Rs. 9050/- and was collecting taxes due thereon on that basis.
3. In the year 1972, there was a general revision of assessment of properties in the City of Bangalore, in which the Assistant Revenue Officer of the Corporation (hereinafter referred to as the ARO) revised the annual letting value of the building to Rs. 24,000/- per annum as against Rs. 9050/-, in conformity with which a demand notice was issued to the owner. Against that revision of assessment made by the ARO, the owner filed a first appeal before the Deputy Revenue Officer, the first appellate authority under the old Act, who on an examination of the same allowed the said appeal in part and reduced the annual letting value of the building to Rs. 15,000/- per annum. Against the said orders, the owner filed a second appeal before the then Taxation Appeal Committee of the Corporation, the power of which came to be exercised by the then Administrator of the Corporation. After some intermediate proceedings, the narration of which is not necessary, the Administrator by his order dated 20-5-1977 (Exhibit-A) dismissed the said appeal and affirmed thedecision of the first appellate authority. Against the said order of the Administrator, the owner filed an appeal under Rule 23(a)of Part-VI of Schedule III read with Section 146 of the old Act in M.A. No. 46 of 1977 before the III Additional District Judge, Bangalore, who by his order dated 6-4-1978 has allowed the said appeal and has remitted the case to the Administrator for fresh disposal. Aggrieved by the said order of the learned District Judge, the Corporation of the City of Bangalore, has presented this Writ Petition under Article 227 of the Constitution before this Court.
4. Sri K. L. Manjunath, learned Counsel for the petitioner, strenuously contends that in holding that the revision of the assessment was without jurisdiction, the learned District Judge has committed a manifest error of jurisdiction and illegality apparent on the face of the record.Elaborating his contention, Sri Manjunath maintained that the power of general revision conferred by Rule 5 was notcircumscribed by the earlier construction of the building or an earlier determination made though that determination was within a period of five years from the date of earlier assessment of the building and that Rule 6 far from restricting the power to revise, saves the power to revise even if the building had been constructed before five years or the assessment had been made within 5 years from the date of general revision.
5. Sri V. G. Dharmakumar, learned Counsel for respondent in justifying the order of the learned District Judge contends that the power of general revision must be read as conferring power of revision only in cases where there was no assessment before five years in respect of a building under the Act.
6. In his brief and sketchy order, the learned District Judge has not referred to the material provisions that have a bearing on the determination of the question and hasallowed the appeal on the premise that the learned Counsel that appeared for the petitioner conceded the legal position pressed by the owner, which is seriously disputed by the petitioner Sri Dharmakumar, in my opinion, very fairly does not contend that the learned Counsel that appeared for the petitioner before the learned District Judge made any such concession I , therefore, propose to examine the question as if there was no concession by the learned Counsel for the petitioner before the learned District Judge. Even otherwise, an erroneous concession by a counsel on a question of law cannot and does not bind a party. In this view also, it is necessary to examine the question ignoring the observations of the learned District Judge.
7. Unfortunately, the learned District Judge has not even noticed the statutory provisions and dealt with the material questions that arose before him at all. In this view, it is necessary to examine the questions without the benefit of the views of the learned District Judge.
8. Before me, both sides do not dispute that the building was constructed before 1-10-1969, that the annual letting value of the building for the first time was determined with effect from 1-10-1969 and there was a general revision of assessments of buildings in the City of Bangalore in the year 1972, in which its annual letting value was revised by the original authority. With these facts are not in dispute, it is now necessary to examine the interesting question that arises in the case.
9. The Taxation Rules (hereinafter referred to as the Rules) found in Schedule-III of the old Act that are also part of the enacting provisions, regulate the assessments of immovable properties and recovery of taxes from immovable properties situated within the City of Bangalore. The Rules of the old Act are verbatimreenacted as the Taxation Rules of Schedule-III of the uniform Act.
10 Rule 4 of the Rules directs the Commissioner to maintain assessment books and enter the particulars of assessments in respect of each and every property situated in the City of Bangalore. Rules 5 and 6 of the Rules that are material for the case read thus :
'5. The assessment books shall be completely revised by theCommissioner once in every five years.
6 An assessment once made shall continue in force until it is revised and until the revised assessment takes effect'.
11. Rule 5 peremptorily directs the Commissioner to revise the assessment books in the City of Bangalore once in every five years. The revision of assessment under Rule 5 is popularly called as general revision. In such a revision there will be a revision of all previous assessments on all buildings in the City, under the Act. The power conferred by Rule 5 of theRules, which is an independent power is no way controlled by an earlier assessment made on a building within a period of five years or otherwise. No limitation is placed on the power of general revision required to be done under Rule 5 of the Rules. No other provision in the old Act or the Rules circumscribe the power conferred by Rule 5 of the Rules. In the absence of a limitation in the statute, the Court cannot read a limitation on the power conferred by Rule 5 of the Rules. If the Court were to read such a limitation, though there is no such limitation in the statute itself, then the Court will be plainly legislating in the guise of interpretation, which is not permissible. If the learned District Judge had read the Rules, as he was bound to, it is unlikely he would have reached theerroneous conclusion reached by him.
12. Rule 6 of the Rules far from supporting the owner supports the petitioner. Rule 6 also does not restrict the power of the Commissioner to revise the assessments in a general assessment. From this it follows that the order of the learned District Judge cannot be upheld.
13. Before the District Judge, the only question that arose was whether the revision of assessment in the general assessment of 1972 was justified or not. If that was justified, he should have dismissed the appeal. If that was notjustified he should have allowed the appeal of the owner in its entirety. But, very curiously the learned District Judge has, however, unnecessarily and without any reason, remitted the case to the Administrator for fresh disposal. SriDharmakumar, in my opinion, very rightly did not seek to justify the unjustified remand order made by the learned District Judge.
14. In the light of my above discussion, I hold that the impugned order of the learned District Judge that suffers from a manifest error of jurisdiction and illegality is liable to be quashed. I, therefore, quash theimpugned order by issue of a writ of certiorari.
15. Rule issued is made absolute. But, in the circumstances of the case, I direct the parties to bear their own costs.