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Sridhar (Decd.) (by Lrs. Narendra Dhar) Vs. Commissioner of Wealth-tax - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectDirect Taxation
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Miscellaneous Application No. 2359 of 1985 in Wealth-tax Reference No. 54 of 1983
Judge
Reported in(1985)48CTR(All)375; [1985]153ITR543(All); [1985]23TAXMAN384(All)
ActsWealth Tax Act, 1957 - Sections 27(1); Constitution of India - Article 227
AppellantSridhar (Decd.) (by Lrs. Narendra Dhar)
RespondentCommissioner of Wealth-tax
Appellant AdvocateR.K. Gulati and ;M.C. Gupta, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateBharatji Agarwal and ;M. Katju, Advs.
Excerpt:
- - the applicant did not feel satisfied with the order of the aac and challenged the said order in appeal before the income-tax appellate tribunal, delhi bench 'e',delhi. it could well be said that when section 254 confers appellate jurisdiction, it impliedly grants the power of doing all such acts, or employing such means, as are essentially necessary to its execution and that the statutory power carries with it the duty in proper cases to make such orders for staying proceedings as will prevent the appeal if successful from being rendered nugatory. it is a well recognised principle of interpretation of statutes that where a statute confers a power on an authority, such ancillary or incidental powers must be implied as are necessary for the effective and complete exercise of that.....ojha, j. 1. an appeal was preferred by the asses see-applicant against an order of assessment passed by the wto in regard to the assessment year 1975-76 before the aac of wealth-tax. this appeal was allowed by the aac and the matter was remanded to the wto for passing a fresh order of assessment. the applicant did not feel satisfied with the order of the aac and challenged the said order in appeal before the income-tax appellate tribunal, delhi bench 'e', delhi. the tribunal dismissed the appeal. however, on an application made by the applicant under section 27(1) of the w.t. act (hereinafter referred to as ' the act'), the tribunal drew up a statement of case and referred two questions to this court for its opinion. this reference has been numbered as wealth-tax reference no. 54 of 1983......
Judgment:

Ojha, J.

1. An appeal was preferred by the asses see-applicant against an order of assessment passed by the WTO in regard to the assessment year 1975-76 before the AAC of Wealth-tax. This appeal was allowed by the AAC and the matter was remanded to the WTO for passing a fresh order of assessment. The applicant did not feel satisfied with the order of the AAC and challenged the said order in appeal before the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal, Delhi Bench 'E', Delhi. The Tribunal dismissed the appeal. However, on an application made by the applicant under Section 27(1) of the W.T. Act (hereinafter referred to as ' the Act'), the Tribunal drew up a statement of case and referred two questions to this court for its opinion. This reference has been numbered as Wealth-tax Reference No. 54 of 1983. It is in this reference that the present application has been made with the prayer that the reassessment proceedings under the orders of the AAC may be stayed pending disposal of the reference in this court.

2. A preliminary objection has been raised by Shri Bharatji Agarwal, senior standing counsel appearing for the Revenue, regarding the maintainability of this application. It has been urged that this court while hearing a reference under Section 27 of the Act acts only in an advisory jurisdiction and, consequently, the prayer contained in this application cannot be allowed. According to him, while hearing a reference under Section 27 of the Act, this court cannot as an interim measure issue an order either of stay or of injunction.

3. Shri R.K. Gulati, appearing for the assessee-applicant, has, however, urged in reply to the said preliminary objection that even though Section 27 of the Act does not specifically confer any power on this court to pass an interim order such as prayed for in the present application, this courtbeing a court has an inherent power to grant the relief prayed for. In the alternative, it has been urged that the prayer contained in this application can be granted even under Article 227 of the Constitution.

4. We shall first consider the nature of the jurisdiction which this court exercises while hearing a reference under Section 27 of the Act. Section 66 of the Indian I.T. Act, 1922, and Section 256 of the I.T. Act, 1961, dealing with reference are in pari materia with Section 27 of the Act. Consequently, cases dealing with the nature of the jurisdiction and the extent and the scope of the power of this court under Section 66 of the Indian I.T. Act, 1922, or under Section 256 of the I.T. Act, 1961, would obviously be relevant for determining the nature of the jurisdiction and the extent and the scope of the power of this court while hearing a reference under Section 27 of the Act. In CIT v. Scindia Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. : [1961]42ITR589(SC) , it was held by the Supreme Court that the High Court, hearing a reference under Section 66 of the Indian I.T. Act, 1922, does not exercise any appellate or revisional or supervisory jurisdiction over the Tribunal. It acts purely in an advisory capacity.

5. In Venkataraman & Co. (P.) Ltd. v. State of Madras : [1966]60ITR112(SC) , it was held by the Supreme Court that the jurisdiction conferred upon the High Court by Section 66 of the Indian I.T. Act, 1922, is a special advisory jurisdiction and its scope is strictly limited by the section conferring the jurisdiction.

6. In Sarathy Mudaliar v. CIT : [1966]62ITR576(SC) , it was held by the Supreme Court that the High Court in a reference under Section 66 of the Indian I.T. Act, 1922, exercises only an advisory jurisdiction. It does not sit in appeal over the judgment of the Tribunal. If a question is raised by the Tribunal and referred to it, it is the function of the High Court to answer that question. The Tribunal will thereafter give effect to the opinion of the High Court.

7. In Rameshwar Prasad Bagla v. CIT : [1973]87ITR421(SC) , it was held by the Supreme Court that the High Court and the Supreme Court, in an appeal against the judgment of the High Court given in a reference under Section 66 of the Indian I.T. Act, 1922, were not constituted courts of appeal against the order of the Tribunal. These courts only exercised advisory jurisdiction in such references.

8. In view of the law laid down by the Supreme Court in the aforesaid decisions, it is apparent that the only power which this court can exercise under Section 27 of the W.T. Act is to give its opinion about the questions referred to it in an advisory capacity by answering those questions in favour of the assessee or the Department, as the case may be.

9. Now, we come to the submission made by the counsel for the assessee-applicant that this court even while hearing a reference under Section 27 of the Act has jurisdiction to pass an interim order such as is prayed for in the present application under its inherent power. While dealing with this submission, it may be pointed out that there are three stages which are relevant to be taken into consideration while dealing with the question of inherent powers of this court: (1) whether the court has any inherent power while hearing a reference under Section 27 of the Act; (2) if it has inherent power, what is its extent and scope ; and (3) even if the prayer contained in an application for an interim order comes within the purview of the inherent power, whether a case on merits has been made out for involving the inherent power.

10. As regards the first question, we are clear in our mind particularly in view of the decision of the Supreme Court in Jaipur Mineral Development Syndicate v. CIT : [1977]106ITR653(SC) that this court, even while hearing a reference under a taxing statute, has inherent power. That was a case where upon a reference being made to the High Court at the instance of the assessee, notice was sent to the assessee to file paper books within three months of the receipt thereof. The paper books were, however, not filed and when the reference came up for hearing, no one appeared for the assessee. The High Court passed an order declining to answer the question because the appellant had not put in appearance and had also not filed paper books. Subsequently, an application was made for recalling the said order. The High Court took the view that it had no jurisdiction while acting in an advisory capacity to recall that order. The view taken by the High Court was reversed and it was held by the Supreme Court that the High Court was not functus officio in entertaining the application for rehearing the reference and disposing of the matter on merits.

11. The same view was taken by this court in Lakshmi Industries & Cold Storage Co. (P.) Ltd., In re : [1980]124ITR828(All) . In that case, the name of the counsel for the assessee was not shown in the cause list when the reference was taken up for hearing as a result of which he could not appear and the hearing took place ex parte. An application was thereafter made for recalling the ex parte order. It was held that every court and tribunal has inherent power to correct a mistake committed by it which has resulted in injustice to a party. Though the High Court's jurisdiction under Section 256 of the I.T. Act, 1961, is advisory in nature, it does not deprive it of its judicial character. It was incumbent on the court to give an opportunity of hearing to the opposite party and if it does not do so, the order is vitiated and becomes non est in the eye of law.

12. The second question which now falls for our consideration is about the extent and scope of the inherent power of this court while hearing a reference under Section 27 of the Act. The nature of the jurisdiction which this court exercises while hearing such a reference has already been indicated above. In Raja Soap Factory v. Shantharaj : [1965]2SCR800 , it was held (p. 1451):

'By 'jurisdiction' is meant the extent of the power which is conferred upon the court by its constitution to try a proceeding ; its exercise cannot be enlarged because what the learned judge calls an extraordinary situation 'requires' the court to exercise it.'

13. In view of this decision, we are of the opinion that the nature of the jurisdiction which this court exercises as a court in various proceedings would be relevant for determining the extent and scope of the inherent power which this court may exercise in its respective jurisdictions.

14. Certain cases have been cited by counsel for the parties dealing with the extent and scope of the inherent power of a court while hearing an appeal or a revision. We, however, do not find it necessary to refer to all those cases. Even so, reference may be made to a few of them to appreciate the reason why some orders which a court exercising appellate or revisional jurisdiction may pass in its inherent power cannot be passed by this court while hearing a reference under Section 27 of the Act in its advisory jurisdiction.

15. In ITO v. Mohammed Kunhi [1969] 71 ITR 815, while dealing with the power of the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal under Section 255(5) of the I.T. Act, 1961, it was held (at p. 822) :

'Section 255(5) of the Act does empower the Appellate Tribunal to regulate its own procedure, but it is very doubtful if the power of stay can be spelt out from that provision. In our opinion, the Appellate Tribunal must be held to have the power to grant stay as incidental or ancillary to its appellate jurisdiction. This is particularly so when Section 220(6) deals expressly with a situation when an appeal is pending before the Appellate Assistant Commissioner, but the Act is silent in that behalf when an appeal is pending before the Appellate Tribunal. It could well be said that when Section 254 confers appellate jurisdiction, it impliedly grants the power of doing all such acts, or employing such means, as are essentially necessary to its execution and that the statutory power carries with it the duty in proper cases to make such orders for staying proceedings as will prevent the appeal if successful from being rendered nugatory.'

16. In the same case, it was further, held by the Supreme Court that the right of appeal is a substantive right and the questions of fact and law areat large and are open to review by the Appellate Tribunal. Indeed, the Tribunal has been given very wide powers under Section 254(1), for it may pass such orders as it thinks fit after giving full hearing to both the parties to the appeal.

17. In Baleshwar Dayal v. State of U.P. [1971] ALJ 1074; AIR 1972 All 12, a question came up for consideration before a Full Bench of this court whether under the Uttar Pradesh (Temporary) Control of Rent and Eviction Act the State Government has jurisdiction to make interim orders or not. It was held (p. 13 of AIR):

'The power given to the State Government under this section is in very wide and general terms. After the State Government calls for the record under this section, it gets the jurisdiction to make such orders as may appear to it necessary in the ends of justice. This power, in our opinion, includes the power to make interim orders which may appear to the State Government to be necessary in the ends of justice. There does not seem to be any reason to confine the jurisdiction of the State Government to the making of final orders alone. It is a well recognised principle of interpretation of statutes that where a statute confers a power on an authority, such ancillary or incidental powers must be implied as are necessary for the effective and complete exercise of that power. The Kerala High Court acted upon this principle in the case of Mohammad Kunhi v. Income-tax Officer : [1966]59ITR171(Ker) , and held that the Income-tax Tribunal has the power to stay recovery of tax pending the disposal of an appeal before it; and, although such power is not expressly provided under the Act, it is ancillary and incidental to the appellate powers of the Tribunal. This decision of the Kerala High Court has since been affirmed by the Supreme Court in appeal [1969] 71 ITR 815. Such a power to make interim order will be more readily inferred in a case where the jurisdiction to make order has been worded in such wide language as in Section 7F of the Act.'

18. Such is obviously not the power vested in this court while hearing a reference under Section 27 of the Act in view of the nature of the jurisdiction which this court exercises under the said section as already indicated above. And it is in this view of the matter that we are of the opinion that the extent and scope of the inherent power which can be exercised by an appellate or revisional court cannot be the same as the extent and scope of the inherent power of this court while exercising not an appellate or revisional jurisdiction but only an advisory jurisdiction such as is conferred by Section 27 of the Act. In our opinion, in the very nature of things, the inherent power which this court can exercise while hearing a reference under Section 27 of the Act is to be confined to, (1) the procedure about the hearing of thereference, and (2) to passing such orders as are ancillary or incidental to the advice which this court proposes to give while answering the questions referred to it by the Tribunal. It would be apt to give certain illustrations to clarify these two categories. The cases of Jaipur Mineral Development Syndicate : [1977]106ITR653(SC) and Lakshmi Industries & Cold Storage Co. (P) Ltd. : [1980]124ITR828(All) fall in the first category. They relate to the procedure to be adopted by this court while hearing a reference under a taxing statute.

19. Now, we may refer to certain cases which illustrate the nature of the inherent power that may be exercised by this court while deciding the question referred to it for its opinion which will fall in the second category.

20. In CIT v. Greaves Cotton & Co. Ltd. : [1968]68ITR200(SC) , it was held (p. 209):

'We have therefore reached the conclusion that the question of law referred to the High Court cannot be answered in view of the defective finding by the Appellate Tribunal which is recorded without consideration of all the evidence. It will be open to the Appellate Tribunal to rehear the appeal under Section 66(5) of the Act and record a clear finding after hearing the parties and after considering all the relevant material in the case as to whether the amount of Rs. 18 lakhs paid by the respondent-company to the managing agents on the termination of the managing agency agreement was an admissible deduction under Section 10(2)(xv) of the Income-tax Act. After recording a clear finding on the question, the Appellate Tribunal will finally dispose of the appeal.'

21. In CIT v. Indian Molasses Co. P. Ltd. : [1970]78ITR474(SC) , it was held held by the Supreme Court (p. 482):

'Two courses are now open to us : to call for a supplementary statement of the case from the Tribunal; or to decline to answer the question raised by the Tribunal and to leave the Tribunal to take appropriate steps to adjust its decision under Section 66(5) in the light of the answer of this court. If we direct the Tribunal to submit a supplementary statement of the case, the Tribunal will, according to the decisions of this court in New Jehangir Vakil Mills Ltd. v. Commissioner of Income-tax : [1959]37ITR11(SC) , Petlad Turkey Red Dye Works Co. Ltd. v. Commissioner of Income-tax : [1963]48ITR92(SC) and Keshav Mills Co. Ltd. v. Commissioner of Income-tax : [1965]56ITR365(SC) , be restricted to the evidence on the record and may not be entitled to take additional evidence. That may result in injustice. In the circumstances, we think it appropriate to decline to answer the question on the ground that the Tribunal has failed to consider and decide the question whether the expenditure was laid outor expended wholly and exclusively for the purpose of the business of the company, and has not considered all appropriate provisions of the statute applicable thereto. It will be open to the Tribunal to dispose of the appeal under Section 66(5) of the Income-tax Act, 1922, in the light of the observations made by this court after determining the questions which ought to have been decided.'

22. In CIT v. George Henderson & Co. Ltd. : [1967]66ITR622(SC) , it was held by the Supreme Court that even though the court was bound to proceed normally on the findings of fact which were mentioned in the statement of the case, if the statement of the case does not correctly summarise or interpret the finding recorded in the order of the Appellate Tribunal which had been made part of the case, the court was entitled to look at the order itself in order to satisfy itself as to what was actually the finding of the Appellate Tribunal.

23. These cases illustrate that the power which was exercised therein was incidental or ancillary to the power of this court while answering the question of law in its advisory jurisdiction. For the aforesaid reasons, the inherent power which was exercised in the aforesaid cases does not justify us to take the view that while hearing a reference under Section 27 of the Act, this court has the further inherent power to pass interim orders restraining the orders passed either by the AAC or by the Tribunal being given effect to.

24. Counsel for the assessee-applicant has placed strong reliance on a decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Polisetti Narayana Rao v. CIT : [1956]29ITR222(AP) . That was a case where the Andhra Pradesh High Court was considering the scope of Section 66(7) of the Indian I.T. Act, 1922, In that connection, it was held that notwithstanding the provision contained in this behalf in the said Section 66(7), the High Court could while hearing a reference under Section 66 of that Act, stay the realisation of the tax during the pendency of the reference either under its inherent power or in exercise of the power conferred on it under Article 227 of the Constitution. As regards passing of an interim order under inherent powers, we have held that this court does not have such an inherent power while exercising its advisory jurisdiction. In regard to the powers conferred on it under Article 227 of the Constitution, it may be pointed out that notwithstanding the phraseology in which the interim order that may be passed by this court on the present application may be couched, the effect of allowing the application would be to direct the WTO not to pass a fresh order of assessment in pursuance of the order passed by the AAC which was affirmed by the Tribunal. The question is whether the passing of such an order under Article 227 of the Constitution would be a proper exercise ofdiscretion by this court. For answering this question, the scope of the power of this court under Article 227 of the Constitution may be considered.

25. In Waryam Singh v. Amarnath, : [1954]1SCR565 , it was held by the Supreme Court that the power of superintendence conferred by Article 227 is to be exercised most sparingly and only in appropriate cases in order to keep the subordinate courts within the bounds of their authority and not for correcting mere errors.

26. The same view was taken by the Supreme Court in Nagendra Nath Bora v. Commissioner of Hills Division : [1958]1SCR1240 , where it was held that under Article 227, the power of interference is limited to seeing that the Tribunal functions within the limits of its authority.

27. In Shaikh Md. Umarsaheb v. Kadalaskar : [1969]3SCR966 , it was held that the High Court's power of superintendence under Article 227 of the Constitution is confined to seeing that the trial court had not transgressed the limits imposed by the Act.

28. In view of the scope of the power which may be exercised by this court under Article 227 of the Constitution, we are of the opinion that it would not be a proper exercise of discretion to direct the WTO not to pass a fresh order of assessment when in pursuance of the order of remand passed by the AAC and affirmed by the Appellate Tribunal, he is under an obligation to pass such an order.

29. Counsel for the assessee-applicant then placed reliance on ITO v. Mohammed Kunhi [1969] 71 ITR 815 and has urged that the Supreme Court has in this case approved the decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Polisetti Narayana Rao's case : [1956]29ITR222(AP) . In this connection, he has referred to the following observation made by the Supreme Court (at p. 821):

'It is interesting that in another case, Pollisetti Narayana Rao v. Commissioner of Income-tax, the same High Court held that stay could be granted by it pending reference of a case by the Appellate Tribunal to the High Court. This power the High Court had under Section 151 of the Civil Procedure Code and under Article 227 of the Constitution.'

30. That was a case where the Supreme Court was considering the scope of the appellate powers of the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal and not a case of the power which this court is competent to exercise in its advisory capacity. Having carefully gone through that case, we find it difficult to hold that the effect of the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Mohammad Kunhi [1969] 71 ITR 815, is of approving the decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in the case of Polisetti Narayana Rao : [1956]29ITR222(AP) and of holding that the High Court has jurisdiction to passinterim orders of stay or injunction while exercising its advisory jurisdiction under a taxing statute. In our opinion, the context in which the aforesaid observation was made in regard to the decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in the case of Polisetti Narayana Rao makes it clear that the Supreme Court was highlighting the anomaly in the stand taken by the said High Court in holding on the one hand in the case of Polisetti Narayana, Rao : [1956]29ITR222(AP) , that even the High Court could pass an order of stay in its advisory jurisdiction and simultaneously holding in the case of Vetcha Sreeramamurthy v. ITO : [1956]30ITR252(AP) that the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal has no jurisdiction to pass such an order.

31. Reliance was also placed by counsel for the assessee-applicant on a decision of the Madras High Court in Thanthi Trust v. CIT : [1983]141ITR101(Mad) . In that case, it was held by the Madras High Court after referring to the passage quoted above in the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Mohammed Kunhi [1969] 71 ITR 815, that from the above passage it was clear that the Supreme Court not only did not disapprove of the decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court referred to already but might be taken to have approved of the decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court. For the reasons already mentioned above, we find it difficult to agree with this view.

32. Lastly, reliance has been placed by counsel for the assessee-applicant on a decision of the Delhi High Court in Bansi Dhar & Sons v. CIT : [1978]111ITR330(Delhi) . In that case, the Delhi High Court has simply followed the decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in the case of Polisetti Narayana Rao : [1956]29ITR222(AP) . For the same reason for which we have found it difficult to agree with the view taken by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in the case of Polisetti Narayana Rao, we are unable to agree with this decision either.

33. The view which we take finds support from the decision of a Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court in Dwarka Prasad Bajaj v. CIT : [1980]126ITR219(Cal) . In this case, it was held (p. 230) :

'After due consideration of the submissions made on behalf of the parties as also those of Mr. Ginwalla as amicus curiae and the decisions on the issue, the law on the point appears to us to be as follows :

'(a) It is well settled that a court and in particular this court in exercising its jurisdiction as a 'court' has certain inherent powers.

(b) Such inherent powers are complementary to the powers which are conferred by the CPC or other statutes.

(c) Such inherent powers are to be exercised in very exceptional circumstances for which no particular provisions are laid down by thestatutes concerned and they can only be exercised if they are not in conflict in any way with any express statutory provisions or against the intentions of the Legislature as can be culled out from the legislation concerned.'

34. It was further held that this court in seisin of a reference under the I.T. Act cannot exercise its inherent jurisdiction and issue an order of temporary injunction or stay of proceedings which is an injunction in an indirect form in respect of recovery of taxes.

35. In Nathmal Tolaram v. Superintendent of Taxes [1961] 12 STC 9, the Supreme Court held (p. 12) :

'The High Court, in answering the questions submitted to it, was exercising an advisory jurisdiction and could not and did not give any direction to the Sales Tax Authorities to proceed to assess or not to assess the appellants to sales tax :......'.

36. It is well settled that what the High Court could not do at the time of passing the final order it could certainly not do as an interim measure in the purported exercise of its inherent power.

37. Counsel for the assessee-applicant then urged that unless an interim order was passed staying further proceedings of assessment before the WTO or directing the WTO not to pass an order of assessment, the present reference may become infructuous. We find it difficult to agree with this submission either. Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee v. Raja Shiv Rattan Dev Singh : AIR1955SC576 , was a case where an appeal had been preferred before the Supreme Court on the basis of a certificate granted by the High Court against an order of remand. During the pendency of the appeal before the Supreme Court, a fresh order was passed in pursuance of the order of remand and it seems to have been urged before the Supreme Court that the appeal before it had become infructuous. The argument was repelled and it was held (p. 582);

'But it is further urged that since a decree has already followed upon this remand in favour of the plaintiff and since no appeal has been filed as against the decree so passed, that determination has now become conclusive and prevents us from dealing with this appeal and setting aside or modifying the judgment of the High Court and making a fresh remand to that court ourselves. We are not able to accept this contention in the circumstances of this case.

The application to the High Court for leave to appeal was filed on September 23, 1950, and leave was granted on July 18, 1952. The decree of the trial court after remand was passed, in between, on December 4,1951. The decree must, in the circumstances, be taken to be subject to the result of this appeal. In our opinion, this case falls within the principle recognised by the Privy Council in Shama Purshad v. Hurro Purshad [1865] 10 MIA 203, and not that in Nanganna Naidu v. Venkatapayya, AIR 1923 PC 167.'

38. Even though it is true that the order of the Tribunal affirming the order of remand passed by the AAC is not in appeal before this court, it is settled law that if the answer to the questions referred to us by the Tribunal in the instant reference goes in favour of the assessee, the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal will have to decide the appeal before it in pursuance of and in the light of the answers given by this court. On the same principle as laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee : AIR1955SC576 , any decision by the WTO in pursuance of the order of remand passed by the AAC and affirmed by the Tribunal shall be subject to the result of the opinion of this court which will have to be given effect to by the Tribunal. It is for this reason that we are of the opinion that the instant reference will not become infructuous even if the WTO passes a fresh order of assessment in pursuance of the aforesaid order of remand.

39. For these reasons, we are of the opinion that the prayer contained in the present application cannot be granted. It is accordingly dismissed.


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