G. K. MISRA C.J. - The facts leading to this reference may be stated in brief. The assessment year is 1959-60. The assessee had taken lease of about 900 acres of land for preparation of salt. These lands were valued at Rs. 1,54,000 for the purpose of wealth-tax on June 30, 1958. The assessee contended that these lands should be excluded from the assets for determining the net wealth under the Wealth-tax Act. This contention was rejected. A reference was also rejected and the assessee ultimately came to the High Court. On September 5, 1966, this court called for a reference on the following question :
'Whether, on the facts and circumstances of the case, revocable transactions like leasehold salt lands could be regarded as assets of the lessee for computation of wealth-tax ?'
An identical case came up for consideration in Commissioner of Wealth-tax v. Srimathi Martinammal Machado, where their Lordships held that a leasehold of the type which is revocable in character is excluded from computation of wealth-tax. This decision has been accepted as good law by the Supreme Court in Commissioner of Wealth-tax v. Srimathi Muthukrishnammal. The main contention urged was that the expression 'is available to an assessee for a period not exceeding six years' in clause (v) of section 2(e) of the Wealth-tax Act means 'is and has been available to an assessee for the period of six years before the date of valuation'. This contention was rejected. Their Lordships observed that the expression must mean that the assessee, though he has interest in property at the valuation date, the interest will remain available for a period not exceeding six years. If it is to remain available for six years or for a shorter period the interest will fall within the exception. There being a term in the lease that the lease could be revoked at the end of each season, it was a revocable grant and the assessee had no interest in the leasehold for more than six years. In this view of the matter, it was held that the impugned leasehold is not assessable to wealth-tax.
We are clearly of opinion that the Tribunal took a wrong view of the matter. The question referred is answered as follows :
'In the facts and circumstances of the case, revocable transactions like leasehold salt lands could not be regarded as assets of the lessee for computation of wealth-tax.'
The reference is disposed of accordingly. There will be no order as to costs.
R. N. MISRA J. - I agree.