1. By this reference under Section 256(1) of the J.T. Act, 1961 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'), the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal, Indore Bench, has referred the following questions of law to this court for its opinion;
'Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the Appellate Tribunal was right in holding that the assessee was not entitled to a deduction under Section 54 for the purchase and construction of the house within the stipulated period ?'
2. The material facts giving rise to this reference briefly are as follows :
The assessee is an HUF and the assessment year in question is 1974-75. The ITO, while framing the assessment, allowed deduction under Section 54 of the Act. The Commissioner of Income-tax, exercising powers under Section 263 of the Act, set aside the assessment on the ground that the order was prejudicial to the interest of the Revenue inasmuch as the benefit under Section 54 of the Act was not available to the assessee, being an HUK. Aggrieved by the order passed by the Commissioner, an appeal was preferred before the Tribunal, which was dismissed. Hence, at the instance of theassessee, the Tribunal has referred the aforesaid question of law to this court for its opinion.
3. None appeared on behalf of the assessee. Shri Mukati, learned counsel for the Department, brought to our notice the decision of this court in Shrigopal Rameshwardas v. Addl. CIT : 119ITR980(MP) . In that case, it has been held by a Division Bench of this court that the word 'assessee' used in Section 54 of the Act, construed in its context, refers only to living persons or individuals and not to fictional or artificial juridical persons. We respectfully agree with that decision. In view of this decision it must be held that the Tribunal was right in holding that the assessee was not entitled to deduction under Section 54 of the Act for the purchase and construction of the house within the stipulated period.
4. Therefore, our answer to the question referred to this court is in the affirmative and against the assessee. In the circumstances of the case, parties shall bear their own costs of this reference.