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Smt. Yawarunnissa Begum Vs. Wealth-tax Officer, a Ward - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectDirect Taxation
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petition Nos. 220 and 221 of 1973
Judge
Reported in[1975]100ITR645(AP)
ActsWealth Tax Act, 1957 - Sections 18(1), 19(1) and 19(3); Constitution of India - Article 226
AppellantSmt. Yawarunnissa Begum
RespondentWealth-tax Officer, a Ward
Appellant AdvocateA. Mahadev and ;D.V. Sastry, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateP. Rama Rao, Adv.
Excerpt:
.....(3) of wealth tax act, 1957 and article 226 of constitution of india - impugned notice issued to legal representatives of deceased proposing to impose penalty under section 18 - section 18 not applicable to legal representatives - held, proposed action under section 18 was without jurisdiction. - - 1. the short question that arises in these two writ petitions is whether action can be taken against the legal representatives of an assessee under section 18(1)(a) of the wealth-tax act on the ground that the assessee had failed to furnish return of his net wealth without reasonable cause within the time allowed and in the manner required. 18. (1) if the wealth-tax officer, appellate assistant commissioner, commissioner (c)r appellate tribunal in the course of any proceedings under..........the wealth-tax officer issued the impugned notice on october 12, 1972, to the petitioner, as the legal representative of the assessee proposing to levy penalty under section 18 for the alleged default of the assessee in filing the returns in time without any reasonable cause. the said two notices are impugned in these writ petitions on the ground that the wealth-tax officer has no jurisdiction under the provisions of the wealth-tax act to issue the notices. 3. section 18 deals with penalties. section 18(1)(a) is in these terms: '18. (1) if the wealth-tax officer, appellate assistant commissioner, commissioner (c)r appellate tribunal in the course of any proceedings under this act is satisfied that any person- (a) has without reasonable cause failed to furnish the return of his not.....
Judgment:

Obul Reddi, C.J.

1. The short question that arises in these two writ petitions is whether action can be taken against the legal representatives of an assessee under Section 18(1)(a) of the Wealth-tax Act on the ground that the assessee had failed to furnish return of his net wealth without reasonable cause within the time allowed and in the manner required.

2. Nawab Gazi Jung Bahadur was an assessee under the Wealth-tax Act. For the assessment years 1968-69 and 1969-70, he had made an application under Section 14(3) of the Wealth-tax Act for extension of time to file the returns. He finally filed the returns for both the assessment years on September 30, 1970. They were accepted and assessments were made on February 18, 1971, for both the assessment years. In the orders of assessment, there was no reference at all to any default having been committed by the assessee in filing the returns beyond the time prescribed. The assessee died on September 17, 1971. At no time, during his lifetime, was any notice of the proposed action under Section 18 for levy of penalty issued to him. After his death, the Wealth-tax Officer issued the impugned notice on October 12, 1972, to the petitioner, as the legal representative of the assessee proposing to levy penalty under Section 18 for the alleged default of the assessee in filing the returns in time without any reasonable cause. The said two notices are impugned in these writ petitions on the ground that the Wealth-tax Officer has no jurisdiction under the provisions of the Wealth-tax Act to issue the notices.

3. Section 18 deals with penalties. Section 18(1)(a) is in these terms:

'18. (1) If the Wealth-tax Officer, Appellate Assistant Commissioner, Commissioner (c)r Appellate Tribunal in the course of any proceedings under this Act is satisfied that any person-

(a) has without reasonable cause failed to furnish the return of his not wealth which he is required to furnish under Sub-section (1) or subSection (2) of Section 14 or Section 17 or has without reasonable cause failed to furnish it within the time allowed and in the manner required ;...... he or it may, by order in writing, direct that such person shall pay by way of penalty- (i) in the case referred to in Clause (a), in addition to the amount of wealth-tax payable by him, a sum not exceeding one-and-a-half times the amount of sueh tax...'

4. It is contended on behalf of the petitioner that the provisions of Section 18 apply only to the assessee and not to his legal representative. There is nothing in Section 18 to indicate that a person other than the assessee will be liable for penalty in case of contravention of any of the provisions thereof. That is evident from a reading of Sub-sections (1) and (3) of Section 19 which lay down :

'19. (1) Where a person dies, his executor, administrator or other legal representative shall be liable to pay out of the estate of the deceased person, to the extent to which the estate is capable of meeting the charge, the wealth-tax assessed as payable by such person, or any sum, which would have been payable by him under this Act if he had not died......

(3) The provisions of Sections 14, 15 and 17 shall apply to an executor, administrator or other legal representative as they apply to any person referred to in those sections.'

5. So, the liability of a legal representative is only to pay out of the estate of the deceased person to the extent to which the estate is capable of meeting the charge, the tax assessed as payable by the deceased person, or any sum which would have been payable by him under the Act if he had not died. The last limb of Section 19(1), namely, 'any sum which would have been payable by him under the Act if he had not died' cannot be invoked against the legal representative for the reason that Sub-section (3) provides that the provisions of Sections 14, 15 and 17 shall apply to an executor, administrator or other legal representative as they may apply to any person referred to in those sections. In other words, Section 18 as such is not made applicable to the legal representatives. Therefore, the proposed action under Section 18 by the Wealth-tax Officer must be held to be without jurisdiction.

6. The impugned notices are, therefore, quashed and the writ petitions allowed with costs. Advocate's fee is Rs. 100 in each.


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