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Wealth-tax Officer Vs. Rasiklal Dahyabhai Amin - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtIncome Tax Appellate Tribunal ITAT Ahmedabad
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1983)5ITD308(Ahd.)
AppellantWealth-tax Officer
RespondentRasiklal Dahyabhai Amin
Excerpt:
.....any consideration.from page 1 of the assessee's paper book, i.e., letter dated 12-4-1973 of the ugandan government, it appears that the property at 23, kampala road, was vested in the government of uganda. subsequently, there was an agreement between the government of india and the government of uganda in respect of claim for compensation filed by the indian nationals who left uganda in 1972. but the difficulty in the case of this assessee is that the assessee was a british subject. for that the procedure was that they should make enquiries with the british government and claim through them. from the letter of the british government dated 1-2-1977 at page 4 of the assessee's paper book it appears that there was a break in the diplomatic relation with uganda and there was no prospect.....
Judgment:
1. This is an appeal by the revenue against the order of the AAC dated 14-7-1981. The assessment year involved is 1975-76. The only issue raised for our consideration is whether the AAC has erred in holding that the foreign assets of the assessee do not constitute his assets during the assessment year 1975-76 and in directing to delete the value of foreign assets from the total wealth. The assessee's wealth consists of immovable property, i.e., agricultural and non-agricultural lands and movable property, i.e., shares, loans and advances to third parties and some property in Uganda. For the wealth in Uganda the assessee claimed that as the said wealth has been seized by and had vested in the Military Government of Uganda, they are no longer owned by the assessee. The ITO did not agree with the claim of the assessee. He included the wealth of the assessee which he had in Uganda. Being aggrieved, the assessee carried the matter before the AAC. According to the AAC, the foreign assets of the assessee do not constitute his assets during the year under consideration in view of the facts of this case. Being aggrieved, the revenue came in appeal before us.

2. The submission of the learned departmental representative, Shri Deodhar, was that the assessee had some property in Uganda. He has not parted with his right of ownership. Still correspondence are going on.

Therefore, the relevant property in Uganda still belongs to the assessee and should be taxed as the assessee's wealth. He relied on the decision of the Delhi High Court in Dewan Labh Chand v. CED [1972] 83 ITR 538 (FB) and the decision of the Gujarat High Court in Jayantilal Amritlal v. CWT [1982] 135 ITR 742. On the other hand, the submission of the learned counsel of the assessee, Shri J.P. Shah, was that the assessee was expelled from Uganda together with all Asians of Indian origin in September 1972 and President Idi Amin of the Military Government of Uganda passed a decree declaring all Asian property in Uganda as abandoned property from the date of expulsion and vested the said property in the Government of Uganda without any consideration. He further submitted that even today the assessee has not received a single paisa for the said property nor his property is returned to him.

Therefore, in the year under consideration that property cannot be taxed as wealth of the assessee.

3. We have heard the rival submissions and considered the material on record. The assessee was expelled from Uganda together with all Asians of Indian origin in September 1972 and the assessee being a displaced person came to India and settled down immediately after the expulsion of all Asians. The property which the assessee had in Uganda is as under :866 shares in Uganda Stores Ltd. at the rale of Rs. 354 3,06,564Credit balance in Uganda Stores Ltd. 1,06,298Parshottamdas & Sons.

50,000J.P. Amin 90,000 ___________ After the expulsion of all Asians President Idi Amin of the Military Government of Uganda passed a decree declaring all Asian property in Uganda as abandoned property from the date of expulsion and vested the said property in the Government of Uganda without any consideration.

From page 1 of the assessee's paper book, i.e., letter dated 12-4-1973 of the Ugandan Government, it appears that the property at 23, Kampala Road, was vested in the Government of Uganda. Subsequently, there was an agreement between the Government of India and the Government of Uganda in respect of claim for compensation filed by the Indian nationals who left Uganda in 1972. But the difficulty in the case of this assessee is that the assessee was a British subject. For that the procedure was that they should make enquiries with the British Government and claim through them. From the letter of the British Government dated 1-2-1977 at page 4 of the assessee's paper book it appears that there was a break in the diplomatic relation with Uganda and there was no prospect of an early settlement of claims or compensation by U.K. nationals and in the last line it is stated that the British authorities are sorry for not helping in the matter. From this letter it appears that the claims of the assessee are in jeopardy.

The learned departmental representative relied on the case of Dewan Labh Chand (supra). In that case the issue was whether the property of displaced persons from Pakistan passed on the death of the deceased when that assessee has not received the claim in fact. Their Lordhships held that the death was after coming into force of the Compensation and Rehabilitation Act. Their Lordships held that the right of A and B to be paid compensation under the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act was property passing on their death and, therefore, liable to estate duty. The second case relied on by the learned departmental representative was Jayantilal Amritla's case (supra) of the Gujarat High Court. In this case some gold was seized by the Central Excise officials. Gold was only seized and returned later and not confiscated on relevant dates. Their Lordships held that mere possibility of confiscation does not impair ownership of the assessee in the articles. Market value of gold on relevant valuation dates is to be included in the net wealth. The facts of both the cases cited by the learned departmental representative are not identical to the facts of the case under consideration. In the first case the right was under the statute and that is enforceable in the court of law. The point was only that the quantum of claim shall be decided according to the statute. in the second case there was no confiscation. Property was only seized and their Lordships held that, that does not impair ownership of the assessee in the articles while in the case under consideration from page 1 of the assessee's paper book it is apparent that the property was vested in the Government of Uganda. Not only that, the assessee was a British subject and he has to claim through British Government. There is a break in the diplomatic relations of the British and the Ugandan Governments. In the letter dated 1-2-1977, it is mentioned that there were no prospects of an early settlement of claims for compensation by U.K. nationals. Further, in the case under consideration, the assessee cannot approach any Court in India where he can enforce his right forcefully. He is at the, mercy of Ugandan Government. Uganda is a sovereign country and, therefore, neither Indian nor British Government can compel the Ugandan Government to return the property or compensation there of to the assessee. Looking to the facts of this case, the right of compensation is contingent and once the property is vested in the Government of Uganda the said property no longer remains with the assessee. There fore, the foreign property in Uganda should not be included in the wealth of the assessee in the year under consideration. However, as and when the assessee receives the property back or compensation thereof the same should be included in the wealth of the assessee. Accordingly, we confirm the view taken by the AAC.


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