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income-tax Officer and anr. Vs. GargidIn Jwala Prasad and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectDirect Taxation
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Miscellaneous Writ No. 38 of 1975
Judge
Reported in(1979)10CTR(All)283; [1980]124ITR203(All)
ActsIncome Tax Act, 1922 - Sections 35
Appellantincome-tax Officer and anr.
RespondentGargidIn Jwala Prasad and ors.
Appellant AdvocateAshok Gupta, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateNone
Excerpt:
.....the income-tax officer to take up the matter at the point at which the illegality supervened and to correct his proceedings. 19. for the reasons given, we allow this petition and quash the order of the delhi bench of the tribunal, dated 30th september, 1974, as well as the application made by opposite party no......in the nature of certiorari for quashing an order dated 30th september, 1974, passed by the delhi bench (b) of the income-tax appellate tribunal, delhi, in a miscellaneous application filed by opposite party no. 1 under section 35 of the indian i.t. act, 1922. the petitioners have further prayed for such other and further orders as this court may, in the circumstances of the case, deem just and proper.2. the material facts leading up to this petition are that opposite party no. 1, m/s. gargidin jwala prasad, a registered partnership firm, hereinafter referred to as the assessee, for the assessment year 1948-49 filed a return showing a loss of rs. 17,131. petitioner no. 1 completed the assessment on a net loss of rs. 8,382. as a result of the voluntary capital disclosure scheme.....
Judgment:

Yashoda Nandan, J.

1. By means of this writ petition, the ITO, Sita-pur and the Commissioner of Income-tax, Lucknow-I, Lucknow, pray for the issue of a writ, order or direction in the nature of certiorari for quashing an order dated 30th September, 1974, passed by the Delhi Bench (B) of the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal, Delhi, in a miscellaneous application filed by opposite party No. 1 under Section 35 of the Indian I.T. Act, 1922. The petitioners have further prayed for such other and further orders as this court may, in the circumstances of the case, deem just and proper.

2. The material facts leading up to this petition are that opposite party No. 1, M/s. Gargidin Jwala Prasad, a registered partnership firm, hereinafter referred to as the assessee, for the assessment year 1948-49 filed a return showing a loss of Rs. 17,131. Petitioner No. 1 completed the assessment on a net loss of Rs. 8,382. As a result of the Voluntary Capital Disclosure Scheme launched by the Government of India, the assessee disclosed suppressed income to the tune of Rs. 45,000. After some negotiations with petitioner No. 1, the assessee increased the disclosure to Rs. 50,000. Petitioner No. 1 not being satisfied with the disclosure made by the assessee made enquiries and then informed the assessee that the concealed income was much more. The assessee disagreed. After investigating into the matter, the ITO ultimately made the assessment by holding that the concealed income for the year was Rs. 85,937. The assessee appealed. The AAC held that the information possessed by the ITO against the assessee had not been disclosed to it and no opportunity had been provided to it to rebut the same. In the view taken by him, the AAC remanded the matter to the ITO for a further report. After having entered into a series of correspondence with the assessee, the ITO submitted a report consequent on the order of remand. The AAC ultimately dismissed the appeal of the assessee. The assessee appealed to the Tribunal at Allahabad, but failed. Ultimately, at the instance of the assessee, a Bench of this court directed the Tribunal to draw up a statement of the case and refer to it the questions of law for the opinion of this court. In consequence of the order of this court, the Tribunal submitted the following questions of law for the opinion of this court:

1. Whether the assessee got reasonable opportunity to meet the case that the department had set up against it.

2. Whether there was any material before the Tribunal for arriving at its conclusion that the concealed income of the assessee from black market transactions amounted to Rs. 85,937 ?'

3. The reference was heard by a Bench of this court consisting of Satish Chandra J. (as he then was) and A. Banerji J. The Bench answered the first question in the negative, in favour of the assessee and against the department and further held that in view of answer to question No. 1, question No. 2 had become one of academic importance only and was consequently left unanswered. On receipt of the order of this court, dated 8th August, 1973, in Income-tax Reference No. 174 of 1971 (Gargi Din Jwala Prasad v. CIT : [1974]96ITR97(All) ) the Allahabad Bench of the Tribunal consisting of Sarvashri T. P. Sugla and O. V. Subramanian, after hearing the parties, on the 12th December, 1973, under Section 66(5) of the Act purporting to act in conformity with the opinion of this court, set aside the assessment order and remanded the matter to the ITO for a fresh assessment according to law. Undisputedly thereafter the assessee filed in this court Civil Misc. Writ No. 517 of 1974, M/s. Gargi Din Jwala Prasad v. Income-tax Appellate Tribunal, on the 21st January, 1974. The material prayers made in the petition were for a writ of certiorari to quash the notice dated 5th January, 1952, the assessment order dated 14th February, 1953, the Tribunal's order dated 12th December, 1973, the memo of the ITO dated 3rd January, 1974, and the notice dated 3rd January, 1974, issued by the ITO under Section 143(2) of Act No. 42 of 1970. A prayer was further made for a writ of prohibition and/or mandamus directing the ITO, Sitapur, not to make any reassessment for the year 1948-49 and to refund the tax collected from the partners of the petitioner-firm by reassessment on the basis of the assessment order dated 14th February, 1953. One of the grounds taken in the petition was that the Tribunal's order dated 12th December, 1973, was mala fide and against the judgment of this court dated 8th August, 1973 (Gargi Din Jwala Prasad v. CIT : [1974]96ITR97(All) ). The petition was dismissed in limine in the following terms :

'We find no substance in this petition. It is accordingly rejected.'

4. The factswhich further emerge from Civil Misc. Writ No. 517 of 1974 and the counter-affidavits filed on behalf of, opposite party No. 2 are that the assessee had made an application dated 8th January, 1972, addressed to the Secretary, Government of India, Ministry of Law and Justice, New Delhi, requesting for the grant of Government sanction under Section 197 of the Cr. PC read with Article 367(1) of the Constitution for prosecution ofSri T. D. Sugla, Judicial Member of the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal, Allahabad, under Section 219 of the Indian Penal Code. The request was turned down on the 23rd May, 1972, by the Government.

5. After the dismissal of Civil Misc. Writ No. 517 of 1974, by this court on the 21st January, 1974, the assessee on the 25th February, 1974, filed an application under Section 35 of the Act for the rectification of an alleged mistake apparent on the face of the record in the order dated 12th December, 1973, before the Tribunal's Bench at Allahabad. On the 26th February, 1974, the assessee made an application before the President, Income-tax Appellate Tribunal, Bombay, for the transfer of all the proceedings for rectification of the order of the Allahabad Bench of the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal on the ground that it would not get justice from the Tribunal at Allahabad of which Sri T. D. Sugla happened to be a member. The prayer was that the assessee's application under Section 35 of the Act may be decided by the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal at Delhi. The President of the Tribunal passed an order under r. 4 of the Income-tax (Appellate Tribunal) Rules, 1963, directing transfer of the assessee's application for disposal to the Delhi Benches of the Tribunal. The assessee's application under Section 35 of the Act was heard by a Delhi Bench of the Tribunal consisting of Sarvashri G. Krishnamurthy and B.L. Maurya and was allowed by an order dated 30th September, 1974. The Delhi Bench of the Tribunal seems to have taken the view that the earlier order of the Bench of the Tribunal at Allahabad under Section 66(5) of the Act was not in conformity with the opinion of this court and passed an order, the relevant part of which is in the following terms:

'In view of the answer to question No. 1 wherein their Lordships have held that the proceedings were vitiated by violation of the principles of natural justice, we hereby hold that the entire assessment proceedings are quashed and nothing survives for consideration.'

6. The order of the Delhi Bench was served, according to the petition, on the second petitioner on the 16th October, 1974, and on the first petitioner on the 31st October, 1974. Aggrieved by the order passed by the Delhi Bench of the Tribunal, the petitioners presented this petition in this court on the 15th January, 1975.

7. Counter-affidavits have been filed on behalf of the assessee but none of the basic facts essential for disposal of this petition are really in controversy.

8. Before we proceed to consider the contentions raised by counsel for the parties on the merits of the petition, we shall dispose of certain preliminary objections raised on behalf of opposite party No. 1.

9. One of the contentions raised by way of preliminary objection is to the effect that the petition was unduly delayed and was consequentlyliable to be dismissed on the ground that there had been unexplained laches on the part of the petitioners. It has been brought to our notice that the order under challenge was passed on the 30th September, 1974, while the petition itself was presented in this court on the 15th January, 1975. The petition thus was filed in this court nearly three and a half months after the impugned order was passed. It has been stated in the petition that the copy of the order was served on the petitioners in the month of October, 1974. In any event, there is no prescribed period of limitation for presentation of a writ petition as already stated ; at best the petition was presented in this court three and a half months after the passing of the order under challenge. In pur opinion, the petition cannot be considered to be unduly delayed.

10. It was next contended that the petition had not been filed by a proper person in the sense that Sri Deoki Nandan, Advocate, who had signed it was the standing counsel for the income-tax department and could not represent the petitioners who were merely officers of the department. The contention, in our view, is wholly misconceived. Sri Deoki Nandan in his capacity as the standing counsel of the department was competent to present the petition, in our opinion, on behalf of officials of the department seeking to enforce rights of the department to assess and collect revenues due to the department in exercise of their statutory powers.

11. It was further contended that the officers who had filed the petition were not competent to do so and it could be filed only on behalf of the department or the Government. This objection is also, in our opinion, unsustainable. The officers on whose behalf this petition has been filed are, as already stated, officers of the department charged with the duty of assessing revenues payable to the department by the assessees concerned and taking due steps for realisation thereof. It cannot consequently be held that they had no rights which they could enforce under the provisions of the Act. The rights the petitioners are seeking to enforce are not personal rights but they are discharging duties imposed on them by statutory provisions in filing the writ petition.

12. It was next urged that the order impugned had been passed by a Bench of the Tribunal functioning at Delhi beyond the jurisdiction of this court and consequently the petition in this court was not maintainable. This objection, in our opinion, is equally unsound. If a part of the cause of action on which the writ petition is based arises within the jurisdiction of this court, this court is competent to grant relief to an aggrieved party. The facts that a party must allege and prove in order to obtain relief constitute his cause of action. In the instant case, the petitioner's case mainly is based on the decision of this court in Civil Misc. Writ No. 517 of 1974 and their claim is that a Bench of this court having in substance foundthat the decision of the Bench of the Tribunal at Allahabad was in accord with the opinion expressed by this court in the income-tax reference, it was no longer open either to the Bench of the Tribunal at Allahabad or at Delhi to hold otherwise in purported exercise of powers under Section 35 of the Act. These allegations constitute part of the petitioners' cause of action. We consequently hold that the petition is maintainable in this court.

13. It was further urged that since the petitioners had an alternative remedy under Section 35 of the Act by seeking rectification of the impugned order from the Delhi Bench of the Tribunal, this petition under Article 226 of the Constitution was barred in view of the amendment introduced therein by the 42nd Constitution Amendment Act, 1976. We are unable to accept this contention. The department was heard by the Bench of the Tribunal at Delhi in the application made by opposite party No. 1 and in spite of opposition by it, it was allowed. The petitioners consequently could not conceivably expect to obtain any relief from the Tribunal at Delhi in proceedings under Section 35 of the Act. In fact during the pendency of the petition in this court, the petitioners did apply under Section 35 of the Act before the Delhi Bench of the Tribunal and by an order dated 25th September, 1978, the application was dismissed. The Tribunal's Bench at Delhi held as follows;

'The question as to how to give effect to the order of the High Court in dismissing the writ petition is a debatable one. Even the department has applied for a writ petition to the High Court for quashing the order of the Tribunal dated 30-9-1974 and has moved the present application for rectification of the order of the Tribunal dated 30-9-1974. We are, therefore, of the view that even if there is any mistake in the order of the Tribunal dated 30-9-1974 it is a debatable one and in view of the decision of the Supreme Court reported in the case of T. S. Balaram, ITO v. Volkart Brothers : [1971]82ITR50(SC) , we are of the view that there is no apparant mistake in the order of the Tribunal dated 30-9-1974 and that order cannot be rectified....'

14. The application under Section 35 of the Act made on behalf of the department was dismissed after contest by opposite party No. 1. In these circumstances, it is not possible to hold that the petitioners had an alternative remedy provided under the Act which they have failed to avail of. The Delhi Bench of the Tribunal has chosen to leave intact the impugned order and has held that the petitioners were not entitled to the review of the order on the basis of the application under Section 35 of the Act.

15. We shall now proceed to consider the petition on merits.

16. One of the submissions made by the learned counsel for the petitioners before us is that the order impugned was obtained by opposite party No. 1from the Delhi Bench of the Tribunal by fraud and suppression of the fact that Civil Misc. Writ No. 517 of 1974 challenging the order of the Tribunal's Bench at Allahabad dated 12th December, 1973, had been dismissed. He invited our attention to the application under Section 35 of the Act presented by opposite party No. 1 which ultimately was transferred for disposal to the Delhi Bench of the Tribunal wherein no disclosure had been made of the fact that a writ petition had been dismissed by this court. In the counter-affidavit, however, it has been stated that the Delhi Bench of the Tribunal had passed the order impugned after hearing the department's representative also and it had been urged on behalf of the department that a writ petition challenging the order of the Allahabad Bench of the Tribunal dated 12th December, 1973, had been dismissed. It is true that in the order of the Delhi Bench of the Tribunal there is no mention of such a contention having been raised but we do not consider it necessary in the view we propose to take to record a finding on this disputed question.

17. By means of Civil Misc. Writ No. 517 of 1974 as mentioned earlier, opposite party No. 1 had sought the relief also of quashing of the order dated 12th December, 1973. We sent for the record of the petition and from the grounds taken therein it appears that the order of the Allahabad Bench of the Tribunal dated 12th December, 1973, was, inter alia, challenged on the ground that it was against the judgment of this court dated 8th August, 1973 (Gargi Din Jwala Prasad v. CIT : [1974]96ITR97(All) ); it is thus clear that the order of the Tribunal was challenged in the writ petition on the ground that it was not in accordance with the opinion of this court rendered in Income-tax Reference No. 174 of 1971 : [1974]96ITR97(All) ). Though the writ petition was dismissed in limine and the Bench of this court has not given a detailed order by necessary implication it rejected the contention that the order of the Tribunal was not in conformity with the opinion of this court. This court consequently gave its seal of approval to the order dated 12th December, 1973. After the dismissal of the writ petition upholding the order of the Allahabad Bench of the Tribunal dated 12th December, 1973, it no longer remained open either to the Bench of the Tribunal at Allahabad or at Delhi to take, in purported exercise of the power under Section 35 of the Act, a contrary view and to hold that the order of the Tribunal dated 12th December, 1973, passed under Section 66(5) of the Act was not in conformity with the opinion of this court. Under the circumstances, in our judgment, the Delhi Bench of this Tribunal transgressed the jurisdiction vested in it in passing the order dated 30th September, 1974. Moreover, assuming that it was brought to the notice of the Delhi Bench of the Tribunal that a writ petition challenging the order of the Allahabad Bench of the Tribunal had been dismissed, it appears from the order passed by the Delhi Bench dated 25th September, 1978, of which acopy was produced before us, that in its opinion as to what was the impact of the dismissal of the writ petition on the order of the Tribunal's Bench at Allahabad dated 12th December, 1973, was considered by it to be a debatable one. If this was so, it is obvious that there was no mistake apparent in the order of the Tribunal dated 12th December, 1973, calling for rectification in purported exercise of powers under Section 35 of the Act. Civil Misc. Writ No. 517 of 1974 was in our opinion rightly dismissed by the Bench of this court.

18. In Guduthar Bros. v ITO : [1960]40ITR298(SC) , the Supreme Court took the view that an order by the ITO imposing a penalty without affording hearing to the assessee in pursuance of a notice issued under Section 28(l)(a) of the Act having been set aside by the AAC on the ground that it was defective and directing refund of any penalty that might have been recovered did not prevent the ITO from recommencing the proceedings for imposition of penalty. The view was taken that as the AAC had set aside the order of the ITO only on the ground that the proceedings are vitiated because of failure to give a hearing to the assessee, the notice issued under Section 28(1)(a) of the Act did not cease to be operative and it was open to the Income-tax Officer to take up the matter at the point at which the illegality supervened and to correct his proceedings. The order of the Delhi Bench of the Tribunal, dated 30th September, 1974, is entirely in conflict with the view expressed by the Supreme Court in the abovementioned decision. While answering question No. 1 referred to in Income-tax Reference No. 174 of 1971 (Gargi Din Jwala Prasad v. CIT [1974] 96 ITR 197 ) this court thus cannot be held to have expressed the opinion that the notice issued to opposite party No. 1 itself was in any fashion vitiated. As long as the notice remained, legal proceedings consequent thereon could be recommenced and such proceedings could not be affected as a consequence of the answer given by this court on question No. 1 referred to in the income-tax reference mentioned above.

19. For the reasons given, we allow this petition and quash the order of the Delhi Bench of the Tribunal, dated 30th September, 1974, as well as the application made by opposite party No. 1 under Section 35 of the Act leading up to the order. The petitioners are entitled to their costs from opposite party No. 1.


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