BASI REDDY, J. - The common question which falls for determination in these writ petitions is whether the Income-tax Officer, Vizianagaram Circle, was right in treating the petitioner as the legal representative of his mother Mahalakshmamma, and in that view holding him liable to pay half the income-tax assessed on her for the three years 1950-51, 1951-52 and 1952-53. The provision of law under which the petitioner is sought to be made liable is sub-section (1) of section 24B of the Indian Income-tax Act, which provides :
'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 tax assessed as payable by such person, or any tax which would have been payable by him under this Act if he had not died.'
The undisputed facts are as follows :
The petitioner (V. V. Rama Rao Naidu) and his brother (V. V. Narayana Rao Naidu) are the sons of the late V. Kameswara Rao Naidu. During the lifetime of the letter, a partition of the joint family properties was effected under a registered partition deed dated April 25, 1949. In the said partition Kameswara Rao Naidu was allotted the properties covered by schedule 'A' therein. Subsequently he died on November 15, 1949. Prior to his death he in respect of the entire property mentioned in schedule 'A' in favour of his wife, Mahalakshmamma, with a vested remainder in favour of the petitioner and his brother.
The petitioners mother was in enjoyment of the said properties during her lifetime. She had entrusted the management of her estate and the income therefrom to the petitioners brother, Narayana Rao, under a power of attorney. Later she executed a will dated July 12, 1949, disposing of all her stridhana properties in favour of her daughters and several others. By a subsequent codicil dated September 15, 1950, she bequeathed all income, case jewelry and produce from the lands and salt pans and all other movable properties to the petitioners brother, Narayana Rao. Mahalakshmamma died on November 7, 1953. Subsequent to her death in pursuance of the said codicil, the petitioners brother came into possession of the properties bequeathed to him and has been in enjoyment of the same. The petitioner, however, had no manner of right or interest in those properties.
While so the Income-tax Officer, Vizianagaram (the second respondent herein), served a notice of demand dated March 3, 1955, in G.I. No. 166M50-51 and another notice dated April 28, 1955, calling upon the petitioner to pay half of the income-tax assessed on the income of the late Mahalakshmamma for the three assessment years 1950-51, 1951-52 and 1952-53. The petitioner thereupon made representations to the Income-tax Officer that the demand made on him was illegal inasmuch as he was not the legal representative of the estate of the late Mahalakshmamma within the meaning of section 24B of the Income-tax Act since he had not become entitled to or come into possession of any of the properties of his mother or of the income therefrom. The Income-tax Officer overruled the objection and directed the petitioner to pay half the tax immediately.
Thereupon, the petitioner filed a revision application before the Commissioner of Income-tax under section 33A of the Income-tax Act. The Commissioner, however, dismissed the revision taking the erroneous view that the assessment was made on the income from the property and business of the late Kameswara Rao, which was enjoyed by Mahalakshmamma; that the said property was divided between her two sons after her death and that by the codicil executed by Mahalakshmamma what was bequeathed was not the property of Kameswara Rao but only the stridhana property of Mahalakshmamma.
Now, under sub-section (1) of section 24B of the Act the executor, administrator or other 'legal representative', which term would include an heir, is liable to pay out of the estate of the deceased the tax payable by the deceased. Under the will and codicil executed by the petitioners mother, the petitioner got nothing from the estate of the mother and the assessments in question related to the income of the mother during the three years 1950-51, 1951-52 and 1952-53. The petitioner cannot, therefore, be regarded as the 'legal representative' of his mother and the fact that he was one of the legatees under the will executed by his father does not make him the legal representative of his mother.
It follows that the petitioner is not liable to pay half the tax assessed as payable by the petitioners mother. The writ petition are, therefore, allowed and a writ of mandamus will issue in each case as prayed for. The petitioner will get his costs only in writ petition No. 460 of 1958 but not in the other two writ petitions. Advocates fee Rs. 100. Costs awarded shall be payable by the second respondent.