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Commissioner of Wealth-tax Vs. Rani Krishna Devi - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectDirect Taxation
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWealth-tax Reference No. 150 of 1967
Judge
Reported in[1972]84ITR94(All)
ActsWealth Tax Act, 1957 - Sections 24(5), 24(6) and 24(10)
AppellantCommissioner of Wealth-tax
RespondentRani Krishna Devi
Appellant AdvocateB.L. Gupta, ;Gopal Behari and ;R.R. Misra, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateNone
Excerpt:
- .....as it thinks fit. in the circumstances, we are of the opinion that the tribunal had jurisdiction to recall its order dated april 27, 1961, and to proceed to decide the dispute about valuation raised in the appeal itself.3. in the circumstances, we answer the question referred to us in the affirmative and in favour of the assessee. since no one has appeared on behalf of the assessee we make no order as to the costs of this reference. counsel's fee is, however, assessed at rs. 200.
Judgment:

H.N. Seth, J.

1. At the instance of the revenue the Appellate Tribunalhas referred the following question for the opinion of this court, under Section 27(1) of the Wealth-tax Act, 1957,

' Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the Tribunal was competent to recall its order dated April 27, 1961 '

The assessee, being aggrieved by the order of the Appellate Assistant Commissioner, valuing certain buildings, preferred two appeals in respect of assessment years 1958-59 and 1959-60 before the Tribunal. The Tribunal, by its order dated April 27, 1961, suo motu, referred the question of valuation to two valuers under Sub-section (6) of Section 24 of the Wealth-tax Act, 1957. The revenue appointed its valuer but the assessee expressed her inability to do so and requested the Tribunal to recall its order referring the matter to the valuers and to value the property itself. The revenue opposed the said request on the ground that the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to recall its order dated April 27, 1961. The Tribunal held that it was competent to recall its order dated April 27, 1961, and recalled it. Thereafter, the Tribunal valued the properties and disposed of the appeals. The revenue then moved an application under Section 27(1) of the Wealth tax Act and got the aforesaid question of law referred to this court for opinion.

2. The contention on behalf of the Commissioner of Wealth-tax is that, under the Wealth-tax Act, there was no power in the Tribunal to review an order once passed by it. It is contended that the order recalling the reference to valuers under Section 24(6) is an order of review, which the Tribunal could not pass.

Section 24(6), as it stood at the relevant time, ran as follows:

' Where, the appellant objects to the valuation of any property, the Appellate Tribunal may, and if the appellant so requires shall, refer the question of the disputed value to the arbitration of two valuers, one of whom shall be nominated by the appellant and the other by the respondent, and the Tribunal shall, so far as that question is concerned, pass its orders under Sub-section (5) conformably to the decision of the valuers:

Provided that if there is a difference of opinion between the two valuers, the matter shall be referred to a third valuer nominated by agreement, or, failing agreement, by the Appellate Tribunal, and the decision of that valuer on the question of valuation shall be final.'

It will be seen that, according to this section, once it is decided to refer the dispute to valuers, one of them is to be appointed by the assessee and the other by the department. There is no provision in the Act to indicate as to what is to happen if one of the two parties declines to appoint a valuer. The Tribunal was not empowered either to appoint or to compel any party to appoint a valuer. It is, therefore, clear that in a case where one of the parties refuses to appoint a valuer, the order referring the question about the valuation of the properties to valuers becomes infructuous, and the Tribunal can proceed to decide the case according to theprovisions of the Act, unless there was a specific bar in the Act preventing it from so proceeding. The Tribunal would no doubt experience some difficulty in adjudicating upon the valuation of the properties in those cases where it suo motu referred the question of valuation of the property to the valuers under Section 24(6) of the Act in the opinion that the matter was one which instead of being decided by it should more properly be referred to the valuers. However, the order referring a dispute to the valuer does not decide any issue between the parties and as such it cannot partake of the nature of a final decision about the rights of the parties and the principle that a judicial or quasi-judicial authority cannot review its decision unless the statute permits it, cannot apply to the facts of this case. Provision of Section 24(10) to the effect that, save as provided in Section 27 any order passed by the Tribunal on appeal shall be final, merely means that any order passed by the Tribunal while disposing of the appeal finally cannot be called in question except as provided in Section 27. No such finality attaches to the interim orders made by the Tribunal. Section 24(5) gives wide powers to the Tribunal to make such orders as it thinks fit. In the circumstances, we are of the opinion that the Tribunal had jurisdiction to recall its order dated April 27, 1961, and to proceed to decide the dispute about valuation raised in the appeal itself.

3. In the circumstances, we answer the question referred to us in the affirmative and in favour of the assessee. Since no one has appeared on behalf of the assessee we make no order as to the costs of this reference. Counsel's fee is, however, assessed at Rs. 200.


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