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The Union of India (Uoi) Vs. the Cantonment Board - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectOther Taxes
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 2229 of 1955
Judge
Reported inAIR1967All301
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Sections 9; Cantonments Act, 1924 - Sections 99(2)
AppellantThe Union of India (Uoi)
RespondentThe Cantonment Board
Appellant AdvocateStanding Counsel
Respondent AdvocateA. Banerji, Adv.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Excerpt:
civil - jurisdiction - section 99 (2) of containments act, 1924 - cantonment board not allowed to levy tax on buildings or lands used for public purposes or the government building under section 99(2) - civil court competent to entertain suit challenging act of board without jurisdiction. - - air1948all382 their lordships were of the view that if the assessment complained of is beyond the competence of the board and is, therefore, an illegal imposition the civil court will have jurisdiction to interfere......or lands used for any public purpose which are the property of the central or state government. thus there was a complete prohibition under section 99 (2) to impose a levy on such buildings. it follows that the respondent board had no power or jurisdiction to impose such lax under the provisions of the cantonment boards act in this situation the civil court was competent to entertain the suit in respect of an act of the respondent which was wholly without jurisdiction. the learned civil judge committed a grievous error in holding that the jurisdiction of the civil court was barred. 8. the result is that this appeal mustsucceed. i accordingly allow the appeal, setaside the judgment and decree of the learnedcivil judge and decree the suit for an injunction restraining the defendant.....
Judgment:

D.P. Uniyal, J.

1. The respondent Cantonment Board of Agra levied property tax on a building occupied and used by the General Post Office, Agra in purported exercise of its power under the Cantonments Act. The notice demanding the tax not having been complied with a distress warrant was issued by the respondent on 20-10-1953 for recovery of Rs. 1891/- as property tax from the appellant, which then 'nstituted the present suit challenging the jurisdiction and power of the respondent Board to levy such tax and seeking an Injunction restraining the defendant from realising the same.

2. The principal ground upon which the assessment was challenged was that under Section 99(2) the Post Office building was exempt from any tax on property. The respondent Cantonment Board relied on the provisions of Section 88 which enacts that the order of an appellate authority confirming, setting aside or modifying an order in respect of any valuation or assessment, or liability to assessment or taxation, shall be final. The argument was that the Act had prescribed the procedure for making objections against the assessment; that upon the dismissal of thoseobjections the assessee had been given a right of appeal under Section 84 (1); and the decision of the appellate authority had been made final under Section 88. Since the appellant did not choose to pursue the remedy provided under the Act the civil Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

3. On behalf of the respondent reliance was placed on the case of Cantonment Board, Agra v Kanhaiya Lal. : AIR1933All163 . In that case a Division Bench of this Court held that the jurisdiction of the civil court is excluded in all matters relating to any valuation, assessment, liability to assessment or taxation by a Cantonment Board And if a decree is passed it is wholly without jurisdiction and ultra vires and cannot be put into execution. It may be mentioned that the assessment in the above case was according to law and was not beyond the jurisdiction of the Cantonment Board, and it was, therefore, held that the civil court had no jurisdiction to modify or revise the assessment

4. In District Board, Farrukhabad v. Prag Datt. : AIR1948All382 their Lordships were of the view that if the assessment complained of is beyond the competence of the Board and is, therefore, an illegal Imposition the civil court will have jurisdiction to interfere.

5. The view expressed by Full Bench is in consonance with the pronouncement of the Supreme Court in Firm Seth Radha Kishan v. Administrator, Municipal Committee. Ludhiana : [1964]2SCR273 . In that case their Lordships were called upon to consider the provisions of the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911. Under Section 86 of that Act the liability of any person to be taxed could not be questioned in any manner or by any authority other than that provided in the Act. It was contended that the Act was a self-contained Code conferring a right, imposing a liability and prescribing a remedy for an aggrieved party. It was said that if the party aggrieved did not take recourse to the procedure prescribed under the Act the jurisdiction of the civil court was barred in respect of the levy imposed under the Act. After reviewing a large number of authorities the Supreme Court stated the legal position thus:

'Under Section 9 of the C. P. C. a court shall have jurisdiction to try all suits of civil nature, excepting suits of which cognizance is either expressly or impliedly barred. A statute, therefore, expressly or by necessary implication, can bar the jurisdiction of civil courts in respect of a particular matter. The mere conferment of special jurisdiction on a Tribunal in respect of the subject matter does not in itself exclude the jurisdiction of civil courts. The statute may specifically provide for ousting the jurisdiction of civil courts; even if there was no such specific exclusion if it creates a liability not existing before and gives a special or particular remedy for the aggrieved party the remedy provided by it must be followed. The same principle would apply if the statute had provided for the particular forum in which the remedy could be had. Even in such cases, the civil court's jurisdiction is not completely ousted. A suit in a civil court will always lie to question the order of a tribunal created by a statute, even if its order is expressly or by necessary implication, made final, if the said tribunal abuses its powers or does not act under the Act but in violation of its provisions.'

6. The same view has been reiterated by the Supreme Court in two subsequent cases reported in Firm Illuri Subbayya Chetty and Sons v. State of Andhra Pradesh : [1963]50ITR93(SC) and Provincial Govt. of Madras (now Andhra Pradesh) v. J. S. Basappa : [1964]5SCR517 .

7. In the instant case there can be no doubt whatsoever that a tax on house property was exempted from buildings or lands used for any public purpose which are the property of the Central or State Government. Thus there was a complete prohibition under Section 99 (2) to impose a levy on such buildings. It follows that the respondent Board had no power or jurisdiction to impose such lax under the provisions of the Cantonment Boards Act In this situation the civil court was competent to entertain the suit in respect of an act of the respondent which was wholly without jurisdiction. The learned Civil Judge committed a grievous error in holding that the jurisdiction of the civil court was barred.

8. The result is that this appeal mustsucceed. I accordingly allow the appeal, setaside the judgment and decree of the learnedCivil Judge and decree the suit for an injunction restraining the defendant CantonmentBoard from realising the impugned tax. Partieswill bear their own costs.


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