B.C. Varma, J.
1. This reference under Section 57(1) of the Stamp Act, 1899, made to this Court by the Chief Controlling Revenue Authority, i.e., Board of Revenue, Madhya Pradesh, arises under these circumstances.
2. One Manohar Kunwar Bai, the applicant made a gift of certain immovable property to Smt. Manju Kunwar Bai under a gift deed dated 9-4-1971. The property was valued at Rs. 5,000/- and stamp-duty was accordingly paid on this valuation. However, in the course of proceedings for assessment of Income-tax, the property was valued at Rs. 49,650/-. The Income-tax Officer apprised the Collector of this under valuation of the gift deed. The Collector thereupon forwarded the same and desired the Collector of Stamps (Sub-Divisional-Officer, Balaghat) to take suitable action, After due notice to the applicant and after hearing her, the Collector of Stamps vide its order dated 31-3-1978, found the correct valuation of the property to be Rupees 49.650/ and directed the applicant to pay the deficit stamp-duty and impose a penalty of Rs. 1,000/-. The order of the Collector of Stamps was challenged by the applicant before the Chief Controlling Revenue Authority (Board of Revenue) under Section 56(1) of Stamp Act. After hearing the applicant, the Chief Controlling Authority reached a positive conclusion that the order of the Collector of Stamps cannot be sustained for the reasons recorded in the order of reference. This is what the Authority said:
'In the opinion of this Court, therefore, the order of the Collector of Stamps dated 31-3-1978 is bad In law and deserves to be set aside.'
After recording this findings the Authority chose to refer the matter for decision to this Court.
3. We are of opinion that this reference is wholly incompetent and need not be answered. The scheme of the Stamp Act is that when the Collector finds that a particular instrument is not duly stamped, he shall direct payment of necessary duty and shall also impose penalty under Section 40, which falls under Chapter IV of the Act. Chapter VI of the Act deals with Reference and Revision. Sub-section (1) of Section 56 provides that the powers exercisable by the Collector under Chapter IV or V and under Clause (a), of the first proviso to Section 26 shall in all cases be subject to the control of the Chief Controlling Revenue Authority. Sub-section (2) of Section 56 permits a Collector acting under Section 31 or 40 or 41 in case he is in doubt as to the amount of duty with which any instrument is chargeable, to draw up a statement of the case and to refer it, with its opinion, for the decision of the Chief Controlling Revenue Authority. The next following Section 57 empowers the Chief Controlling Revenue Authority to state any case referred to it to the High Court if it arises in a State. Section 57 of the Act reads thus :
'57. Statement of case by Chief Controlling Revenue Authority to High Court. -
(1) The Chief Controlling Revenue Authority may state any case referred to it under Section 56, sub-section (2), or otherwise coming to its notice, and refer such case, with its own opinion thereon,--
(a) it it arises in a State, to the High Court for that State;
(b) if it arises in the Union territory of Delhi or Himachal Pradesh, to tha High Court of Punjab;
(c) if it arises in the Union territory of Manipur or Tripura, to the High Court of Assam;
(d) if it arises in the Union territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, to the High Court at Calcutta; and.
(e) If it arises ir the Union territory of Laccadive. Minicoy and Amindivi Islands, to the High Court of Kerala.
(2) Every such case shall be decided by not less than three Judges of the High Court, to which it is referred, and in case of difference the opinion of the majority shall prevail.'
4. According to Section 57 of the Act, the Chief Controlling Revenue Authority may refer a case not only when it comes to it on a reference by the Collector under Section 56(2), but also when it otherwise comes to its notice. A case may be brought to the notice of the Authority even by the person affected for exercise of powers under Sub-section (1) of Section 56. A case coming to the notice of the authority in exercise of revisional powers under Section 56(1) is such a case (See Sarup Singh v. Union of India, AIR 1966 Punj 169 and Union of India v. Sarup Singh, AIR 1968 Delhi 219). The Authority, if moved under Section 57(1) in a case which comes to it either on a reference under Section 56(2) or otherwise comes to its notice, and it is of opinion that the case involves a substantial question of law, is obliged to refer the case under Section 57(1). If the Authority declines to do so, the High Court can command the Authority by issuing a mandamus to state the case and refer the question of law. When the reference is answered by the High Court, the Authority is bound to decide the case in conformity with that judgment.
5. The reference under Section 57(1) of the Stamp Act, is not of an administrative character. It is only when the Chief Controlling Revenue Authority after duly applying its mind to a case feels that a question arising thereunder has not been finally and conclusively decided so far as that Authority is concerned, and further that it feels doubt on that question that it has to refer the question for opinion. The use of the words 'such case' contemplate reference to some precise question. A general and vague reference is not permissible. This is also clear from the provisions of Section 59(1) of the Act. It requires the High Court 'to decide the question raised' by the reference. It has, therefore, always been advised and insisted that the Authority must refer a precise question or questions under decision by the High Court. In V. C. and D. Company v. I. G. of Registration, AIR 1967 Andh Pra 90 (FB) it has been held at p. 91).
'We think it necessary to point out that it is the duty of the Revenue Board as the Chief Controlling Revenue Authority to formulate questions and refer them to the High Court for its opinion. Section 59(1) of the Act says that the High Court upon the hearing of any such case shall decide the questions raised thereby and shall deliver its judgment thereon containing the grounds on which such decision is founded. Though no doubt, this provision does not specifically state that the Board should formulate a question or questions to avoid all controversy as to the exact point or points on which the Board requires the opinion of the High Court arising out of the case stated by it, and also in view of the fact that the jurisdiction of the High Court, as under the Income-tax Act, is advisory in character, the High Court insists on such questions being formulated.'
6. In our opinion the law has been correctly laid down by their Lordships of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in the aforesaid mentioned case.
7. Here the order of reference apparently sets out no question for our opinion. Instead the order would show that the Authority has completely decided the revision before it. Paragraph 5 of the order of reference indicates that after discussing the matter the controversy has been adjudicated and that the Authority has reached a definite conclusion that 'the order of the Collector of Stamps dated 31-3-1978 is bad in law and deserves to be set aside.' It does not appear from the order that the Authority at any point and on any question felt any doubt. It is probably for this reason that it did not formulate any question for our opinion.
8. Therefore, there is nothing in the order of reference which may require our decision under Section 59(1) of the Act, Reference is, therefore, rejected. No costs.