This is a reference made by the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal on a case stated by it under Section 66 (1) of the Income-tax Act. The facts are very short and may be stated thus :-
A certain Hindu undivided family which was assessed in respect of its income from property became divided in the previous year relevant to the assessment year 1941-42. The Income-tax Officer made an enquiry into the fact of partition in accordance with the provisions of Section 25A of the Income-tax Act and he held that there was a partition in the family as from January 31, 1941. Thereupon an application was made by Mangli Prasad, one of the separated members of the family claiming relief under Section 25 (3) of the Income-tax Act. This application was rejected by the Income-tax Officer and that order was affirmed both by the Appellate Assistant Commissioner and the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal. It is not disputed that the Hindu undivided family was assessed under the Indian Income-tax Act of 1918, but it must be noted that the assessment was made only in respect of income from property. The question which has been referred to us for decision is as follows :-
'Upon the facts found by the Tribunal in this case, is the assessee family entitled to the benefits provided under Section 25 (3) of the Income-tax Act ?'
The material part of that section runs thus :-
'Where any business, profession or vocation on which tax was at any time charged under the provisions of the Indian Income-tax Act, 1918, is discontinued, then...... no tax shall be payable in respect of the income, profits and gains of the period between the end of the previous year and the date of such discontinuance, and the assessee may further claim that the income, profits and gains of the previous year shall be deemed to have been the income, profits and gains of the said period........'
The Income-tax authorities and the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal have concurrently held that Section 25 (3) does not apply to the present case. The reasons given by those authorities and the Tribunal are : (1) that this sub-section applies only to a case where tax was charged under the Indian Income-tax Act, 1918, on business, profession or vocation and it does not apply to a case where tax was charged on income from property and (2) that from the very nature of the case, it could not be said that there was any discontinuance. In our judgment, the view taken by the Tribunal and the Income-tax authorities is perfectly correct and, indeed, no other view was possible upon the language of the statute. It has been contended that it would be anomalous to hold that while relief is granted to persons who carried on business, profession or vocation which attracted the provisions of the Income-tax Act, 1918, the legislature should not have granted under that Act. In our judgment, this contention is ill-founded and is opposed to the well known canon of interpretation of statutes, namely, that where the language employed in a statute is plain it is irrelevant to consider the consequences. It is only in cases where the language is doubtful or ambiguous that it is permissible to take into consideration the various consequences which may flow from the conflicting interpretations of the statute in question. Apart from this, the matter is placed beyond any doubt, if reference is made to Section 6 and the following sections of the Income-tax Act. That section divides the various sources of income chargeable under the Income-tax Act under five heads enumerated in that section. 'Income from property' has been described separately and put under a different head from 'profits and gains of business, profession or vocation.' The method of computation of income from property has been laid down in Section 9, while that for the computation of income from business, profession or vocation has been described in Section 10. From this it is clear that the expression 'business, profession or vocation' used in Section 25 (3) relates to that head of Income, which has been dealt with in Section 10, and is quite distinct from the head of 'Income from property', which has been mentioned in Section 9. In this view of the matter, it is unnecessary to consider whether it could be appropriately said in the present case that the source of income in question was discontinued. To our minds, that question could not arise.
For the reasons indicated above, we are of opinion that the question referred to us must be answered in the negative. The Commissioner of Income-tax is entitled to the costs of this reference from the assessee which we assess at Rs. 100. Counsel for the Department is given six weeks time within which to file his fee certificate.
Reference answered in the negative.