1. In this appeal filed by the assessee relating to the assessment year 1977-78, the controversy revolves round the interpretation of Section 4(1)(a)(v) of the Wealth-tax Act, 1957 ("the Act"). The assessee claims to have made a gift of jewellery worth Rs. 22,043 to her daughter-in-law, Smt. Manju Garg, on the date of latter's marriage, but before Saptapathi took place. The contention of the assessee was that Smt. Manju Garg was not her daughter-in-law or the son's wife within the meaning of Sub-clause (v) of Section 4(1)(a) at the time of gift, and, therefore, the said provisions are not attracted to her case. The case was that betrothal ceremony also took place on the same day, when the marriage was celebrated and that gift was made at the time of betrothal ceremony which preceded the marriage. The WTO negatived the case of the assessee and he held that betrothal ceremony was in continuity of the marriage and that the gift was made at the time of marriage. Gift having been made at the time of marriage in the opinion of the WTO, he took the view that at the time of gift, Smt. Manju Garg had become the son's wife or the assessee's daughter-in-law, and, therefore, the provisions of Section 4(1)(a)(v) were fully attracted to the assessee's case. This is how the ITO brought to tax Rs. 22,043 in the hands of the assessee. On appeal, the AAC also took the same view that at the time of gift, Smt. Manju Garg had become the wife of the assessee's son within the meaning of Sub-clause (v) of Section 4(1)(a) and, therefore, the WTO was right in bringing Rs. 22,043 representing the value of the gifted jewellery to tax.
2. Aggrieved, the assessee has come up in appeal to the Tribunal. Shri Jain, learned counsel for the assessee, drew our attention to Sub-section (2) of Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Relying on it, he argues that marriage became complete only after Saptapadi was over. His contention appears to be correct. This is not the case of the revenue that marriage of Smt. Manju Garg took place without Saptapadi.
This is also not the case of the revenue that jewellery was gifted by the assessee after Saptapadi was over. The clear case of the assessee is that before Saptapadi started, jewellery was gifted to Smt. Manju Garg at the time of her betrothal ceremony, which preceded the marriage ceremony on the same day. We agree that before the seventh step is taken, there is no binding marriage under the Hindu Law. We, therefore, hold that jewellery was gifted by the assessee to her prospective daughter-in-law before the marriage ceremony started. Maybe, that there was no considerable gap between the betrothal ceremony and the marriage ceremony, but the uncontroverted facts are that the jewellery had been gifted before the commencement of the Saptapadi, conclusion of which completes the marriage. Shri Swaroop, learned departmental senior representative, argues before us that in view of Section 4(1)(a)(v), it is not necessary that son's wife should be his wife at the time of gift also and what is required by Section 4(1)(a)(v) is that on the valuation date, the asset in question must be held by the son's wife.
He argues that on the valuation date, Smt. Manju Garg was admittedly the assessee's son's wife. We do not agree with Shri Swarup. It is clear from Clause (v) of Section 4(1)(a) that the donee should not only be the assessee's son's wife on the valuation date, but on the date of gift also. The pronoun "whom" occurring in Clause (v) has been clearly used for the noun "son's wife" and that shows that the donee should not only be the son's wife on the valuation date, but at the time of gift also. On analogous provision, viz., Section 16(3)(a)(a) of the Indian Income-tax Act, 1922, the Supreme Court, in the case of Philip John Plasket Thomas v. CIT  49 ITR 97, took the view that relationship of husband and wife must subsist not only at the time of accrual of income from the assets, but also when the transfer of asset is made. On the pari materia principle, the decision of the Supreme Court can be indubitably pressed into services for the purpose of instant case. We, therefore, hold that Section 4(1)(a)(v) is not attracted to the instant case, as Smt. Manju Garg was not the wife of the assessee's son when the gift was made. The impugned value of jewellery, therefore, cannot be brought to tax on the basis of the deeming provision, viz., Section 4(1)(a)(v), in the hands of the assessee.