K.N. Goyal, J.
1. The petitioner in this writ petition has questioned the validity of certain notices issued by the ITO, respondent No. 2, to the U.P. State Warehousing Corporation, respondent No. 1, under Section 226(3) of the I.T. Act, 1961, requiring the respondent No. 1 to pay the rent due from it in respect of certain godowns into Government account on account of various assessees named in the notices. The petitioner's contention is that respondent No. 1 was her tenant in respect of these godowns and the rent was due to her and not to the other assessees named in the said notices and accordingly the ITO had no jurisdiction to issue the said notices in connection with the recovery proceedings relating to persons other than herself. Her case is that respondent No. 1 having taken the godowns on lease from her is estopped from disputing her title. According to the petitioner the proceedings taken by the ITO under Section 226(3) at the instance of the U.P. State Warehousing Corporation are ultra vires and the said Corporation is legally bound to pay the rent due to the petitioner instead of to the ITO in compliance with the said notices.
2. The facts appearing on the record are as follows:
The respondent-Corporation was in need of a number of godowns in Meerut. Seven of them were taken on lease under an oral agreement accompanied by delivery of possession on 23rd March, 1976. According to the petitioner it was she who had given these godowns on lease to the Corporation, but this claim is disputed by the respondent No. 1 as well as by certain other persons, as would be seen presently. It is, however, undisputed that a bilateral agreement on printed form, which appears to have been, unstamped and unregistered, was subsequently executed on 21st May, 1976, between the petitioner and the respondent No. 1. This agreement described the petitioner as owner who agreed to let out the godowns to the respondent-Corporation with effect from the date on which possession was taken. In the remarks column it was mentioned that the possession had already been taken on 23rd March, 1976. This agreement also said that the owner agreed to undertake at her cost all essential repairs to the godowns as may be suggested by an officer of the Corporation. The owner also agreed to execute a lease deed if so required by the U.P. State Warehousing Corporation. No such formal lease deed was, however, actually executed. It appears that, while the terms of letting and the date of commencement of tenancy are not in controversy, the identity of the landlord is seriously in dispute.
3. The petitioner's husband is one Hira Lal Mittal who had three sons by his deceased first wife. The petitioner is his second wife and there are several sons by her as well. It appears that a number of business concerns, being partnerships as well as HUF firms, have from time to time been formed with different sets of members of this family as members or partners. The names of the concerns brought out in the affidavits and their annexures are :
HUF firms by the names of :
(a) Hira Lal Mittal,
(b) Satya Prakash Mittal,
(c) Maya Prakash Mittal,
(d) Ved Prakash Mittal.
Partnership firms by the names of:
(a) Hira Lal and Company,
(b) Hira Lal and Sons,
(c) Hira Lal Warehousing Corporation.
4. Almost simultaneously with the inception of the tenancy the respondent-Corporation was flooded with conflicting claims about the ownership of the godowns, as would appear from the annexures to the counter-affidavit filed on its behalf. The leased godowns, according to it, were riot in good shape, and for having urgent essential repairs carried out, it even advanced a sum of Rs. 50,000 to some of the members of this family. The Corporation-respondent says that the actual negotiations for the tenancy had taken place with the firm, Hira Lal and Sons, and it was to the partners of this firm that the said sum of Rs. 50,000 had been advanced. The actual date of the advance is not on the record, but it is undisputed that this sum was not given to the petitioner. According to this respondent the aforesaid agreement dated 21st May, 1976, had been executed with the petitioner merely because of a representation made by her husband on behalf of the firm, Hira Lal and Sons, that there had been a partition in the family and that the godowns had been allotted thereunder to the petitioner. The petitioner filed a suit for recovery of rent for these godowns against the respondent-Corporation in the Small Causes Court at Meerut. The respondent-Corporation appears to have brought the ITO into the picture, and the latter issued three notices to it under Section 226(3) in respect of various income-tax demands claimed by him to be due from several of the above-named individuals or concerns. So far as the petitioner herself is concerned, the demand against her is said to have been insignificant and even that is alleged to have been set aside on appeal.
5. Having regard to the material on the record it appears that the facts are very much in dispute. The plea of estoppel founded on Section 116 of the Indian Evidence Act could arise only when it was first established that the respondent-Corporation had initially been admitted into possession of the godowns as tenant by the petitioner. That is still an open question. On the plea of fact raised by the respondent-Corporation it could not be expected to have filed an objection under Clause (vi) of Section 226(3) before the ITO contending that the amounts of rent were owed by it not to the assessees but to the petitioner. So far as the ITO was concerned, he proceeded on the basis of the prima facie evidence supplied to him by the respondent- Corporation, and as is apparent from his letter to the respondent-Corporation, dated 13th October, 1976, he is still in the process of making an inquiry into the facts. The petitioner is free to lay her case before him. The same facts are also likely to come up for adjudication in the suit filed by the petitioner herself. These complicated questions of fact involving title to immovable property cannot appropriately be decided in this writ petition. Moreover, mere issuance of any notices by the ITO to the respondent-Corporation under this sub-section or the failure of the latter to file an objection under Clause (vi) of that sub-section cannot in any manner prejudice the petitioner's claim. Under Clause (viii) of this sub-section, any payment made to the ITO of any amount in compliance with the notices can discharge the payer, namely, the Corporation, from its liability for rent only to the assessees in respect of whom the notices were issued. If the amount of rent for these godowns was really owed not to those assessee, but in reality to the petitioner and the payment is wrongly made to the ITO on account of those assessees then the petitioner will still be able to recover the rent from the Corporation. There is thus no justification for interference by this court by way of a writ with the proceedings under Section 226(3),
6. Thus, in any view of the matter, the writ petition fails and is hereby dismissed with costs.