1. This departmental appeal relates to the estate duty assessment of Smt. Soonabai C. Gazdar, who died on 5-1-1967. Smt. Gazdar owned some of the properties which passed on the death of Mrs. Mody who died on 9-7-1966. Since the same property was involved in the estate duty assessments relating to successive deaths, the Assistant Controller had to work out the quick succession relief under Section 31 of the Estate Duty Act, 1953 ('the Act') in respect of the present accountable person. In so doing it would appear that the Assistant Controller deducted from the value of the property entitled to the quick succession relief computed at Rs. 2,63,634 a sum of Rs. 21,369 on account of proportionate estate duty liability relating to the asset included in both the assessments. The Controller (Appeals) accepted the accountable person's claim that there is no justification for subtracting the estate duty payable on the first estate from the value of the second estate. The department has challenged this order.
2. We do not have the estate duty assessment made in the case of Mrs.
Mody or even Mrs. Gazdar in full. The assets included in the two assessments, however, according to the details given by the parties before us, relate to the deposits with Voltas and Gurudeo Co-operative Housing Society Ltd. of Rs. 8,65,000 and balance with the Central Bank of India Rs. 34,834, totalling Rs. 8,99,834. Admittedly, other assets are included in both the assessments as passing on the death. As seen from the order giving effect to an earlier appellate order, the Assistant Controller computed 50 per cent of the sum of Rs. 8,99,834 as liable to duty. From this he worked out the doubly assessed sum at Rs. 4,49,917. Since on the second deceased's death deduction for proportionate duty on the said amount passing on the first deceased's death was computed at Rs. 1,86,283, the Assistant Controller arrived at the sum entitled to quick succession relief at Rs. 2,63,634. From this, as mentioned above, he deducted an amount on account of proportionate liability.
3. After hearing the parties, we uphold the order of the Controller (Appeals) though not for the reasons stated by him. In the first place, the Assistant Controller fixed the assets common to both the assessments as consisting of deposits with Voltas and Gurudeo Co-op.
Housing Society Ltd. and balance with the Central Bank of India. The deposits are subject to accrual of interest. Naturally the balance with the Central Bank also must be subject to change depending on payments into or drawings out of the bank. There is a time lag of about six months between the two deaths. We are told that during the interim period there was a trustee in charge of these deposits looking after the interests of the second deceased as a beneficiary. The details as to why a trustee was appointed and why the administration and distribution took a long time or at any rate whether administration, etc., expenses of the trustees would not have affected the trust property as against accretion on account of the interest, etc., are not clear. As pointed out above, in the second assessment, the Assistant Controller included half the amounts of deposits and the balance in the bank as passing. Balance with the bank as well as cash on hand indeed do pass on a death but it will be difficult to say especially when applying the quick succession relief as to what asset is common to both the assessments. To be more specific if there is a cash or bank balance in the first assessment, the monies having to go in and out of the estate after the death it would be almost impossible to say whether the same cash included in the first assessment is sought to be included in the second assessment. The position would not change if instead of cash balance it is a bank balance. The more specific question would be out of an amount of cash or bank balance say Rs. 34,834 in this case, every rupee going to make Rs. 34,834 is 'any property' as specified in Section 31 or the entire Rs. 34,834 would qualify for it. Basically, therefore, where cash is involved, it becomes difficult to fix the property common to the two successive assessments. Be that as it may, apart from the above and in spite of the fact that the administration in connection with the earlier death has not been completed, the Assistant Controller has included half the value of these properties in the estate passing on the second death. The simple question is when he has included half the property without any deduction on account of estate duty therefrom in the second death, how could there be any deduction of estate duty or any other liability from that amount for the purpose of granting quick succession relief Quick succession relief relates to the same property included in both assessments. When the Assistant Controller has not reduced the amount included in the second asssesment by any proportionate or other extent of estate duty payable on the first death, naturally, the same amount has to be considered for quick succession relief also. Thus, apart from the fact that the amount included in both the assessments is almost an estimated figure, even on the ground that the same amount should be considered for the relief, the department's stand cannot be accepted.