H.N. Seth, J.
1. At the instance of the Controller of Estate Duty, the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal, Allahabad, has in connection with the estate duty assessment of the estate of Sri Bhagwan Das, stated the case and has referred the following question for the opinion of this court :
' Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the Tribunal was correct in holding that M/s. Mosaram Bhagwan Das and M/s. Jagdish Prasad, Sitapur, had no goodwill? '
2. The deceased, Bhagwan Das, was a partner in three different firms, namely, Jagdish Prasad Sitaram, Dhrangadhra, Mosaram Bhagwan Das and Jagdish Prasad Sitaram, Sitapur. The Assistant Controller held that the share of the deceased in the goodwill of these firms was liable to be included in his estate. The goodwill of M/s. Jagdish Prasad, Dhrangadhra, was found to be nil. The share of the deceased in the goodwill of M/s. Mosaram Bhagwan Das was computed at Rs. 24,423 and that in M/s. Jagdish Prasad Sitaram, Sitapur, at Rs. 4,962. These amounts were, accordingly, included in the estate of the deceased.
3. The accountable person appealed to the Appellate Controller. He pointed out that the two firms dealt with petrol, diesel oil and kerosene under an agency agreement with M/s. Burmah-Shell and one of them also dealt in foreign liquor in accordance with a licence granted under the U.P. Excise Act, none of the businesses carried on by the two firms was transferable and that the two firms did not have any goodwill. The Appellate Controller rejected the contention of the accountable person but then he modified the value of the share of the deceased in the goodwill of the two firms as computed by the Assistant Controller.
4. The accountable person then went up in appeal before the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal which held that M/s. Mosaram Bhagwan Das wasa licensee of M/s. Burmah-Shell for the sale of petrol, diesel oil, etc., and it was sole dealer in liquor under a licence obtained from the Govt. and M/s. Jagdish Prasad Sitaram had the agency of M/s. Burmah-Shell for the sale of kerosene oil. The right to carry on the business by the two firms was a very temporary right depending upon the agency agreements entered into with M/s. Burmah-Shell and the licence issued by the State Govt. These licences and the agency agreements were not capable of being sold or transferred. Further, the Excise Rules specifically prohibited transfer of the licence. In the circumstances, the right to carry on such a business did not create a goodwill, any share of which could, on the death of a partner, pass on to his heirs or legal representatives.
5. Goodwill is the benefit and advantage of the good name, reputation and connection of business. In our opinion, the Tribunal was right in holding that in a case where the business was being done under a licence or under an agency agreement which was not transferable and which was for a short period and which could be cancelled at the sweet will of the grantor, there was no such benefit or advantage which a person carrying on that business derived because of the good name, reputation or connection in the business and, as such, the two firms did not have any goodwill.
6. In the result, we answer the question referred to us in the affirmative and in favour of the accountable person. As no one has appeared on behalf of the accountable person, we direct the parties to bear their own costs.