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Raja Ragavendra Singh Vs. State of Punjab and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectDirect Taxation
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetters Patent Appeal No. 76 of 1973
Judge
Reported in[1976]102ITR40(P& H)
ActsIncome Tax Act, 1922 - Sections 2(6C) and 14(1); Income Tax Act, 1961 - Sections 2(24) and 10(2)
AppellantRaja Ragavendra Singh
RespondentState of Punjab and ors.
Appellant Advocate U.S. Sahney, Adv.
Respondent Advocate D.N. Awasthy, Adv.
Cases ReferredRajkumar Lakshminarayan Bhanja Deo v. Commissioner of Income
Excerpt:
.....further appeal shall lie. even otherwise, the word judgment as defined under section 2(9) means a statement given by a judge on the grounds of a decree or order. thus the contention that against an order passed by a single judge in an appeal filed under section 104 c.p.c., a further appeal lies to a division bench cannot be accepted. the newly incorporated section 100a in clear and specific terms prohibits further appeal against the decree and judgment or order of a single judge to a division bench notwithstanding anything contained in the letters patent. the letters patent which provides for further appeal to a division bench remains intact, but the right to prefer a further appeal is taken away even in respect of the matters arising under the special enactments or other instruments..........income of the family, as also on the ground that the erstwhile state of patiala was an impartible estate and that this fund was being paid out of the income of the holder of the estate belonging to the family. this petition was dismissed by a learned judge of this court and hence this appeal under clause 10 of the letters patent.8. it was urged on behalf of the appellant that the state of patiala was an impartible estate of the property of the joint hindu family of which the appellant was a member. this property was regulated by the rule of primogeniture in matters of succession. according to this rule, the eldest son succeeds to the gaddi as a ruler and the younger ones, called the maharaj kumars, were entitled to suitable maintenance allowances out of the income of the impartible.....
Judgment:

M.R. Sharma, J.

1. After India attained independence on August 15, 1947, the erstwhile Princely States of Patiala, Kapurthala, Jind, Malerkotla, Nabha, Faridkot, Kalsia and Nalagarh entered into a covenant with the Union of India and formed a State commonly known as the Patiala and East Punjab States Union. The then His Highness the Maharaja of Patiala, by common agreement, was appointed as the Raj Pramukh of the State. The ruling Princes of the covenanting States surrendered their sovereignty, the State properties and the territories forming their respective States. The Government of India, in turn, agreed to pay privy purses to the ruling Princes and allowances to their dependants or their relations. The Ruler of the erstwhile State of Patiala, pursuant to this agreement, was informed by letter dated April 2, 1949, by the Ministry of States, Government of India, regarding its decision with regard to the privy purse allowance admissible to him as Raj Pramukh and allowances for Rajmatas and other relations.

2. The privy purse of the then His Highness the Maharaja of Patiala was fixed at Rs. 17 lakhs per annum and his allowance as Raj Pramukh was fixed at Rs. 5 lakhs per annum. The latter allowance was exclusive of the cost of the staff required for the private secretary's office which was to be paid for separately by the PEPSU Government. Both these allowances were personal to the then Raj Pramukh and in case of his demise they were to be refixed for his successor.

3. For the other relations of the Raj Pramukh, a sum of Rs. 5 lakhs was sanctioned. The dowager Maharani was allowed a sum of Rs. 50,000 a year and the remaining sum of Rs. 41/2 lakhs was to be distributed between all other relations of late His Highness the Raj Pramukh. Originally, this sum of Rs. 5 lakhs was being drawn by late His Highness the Raj Pramukh and then distributed between his relations till 1953. Thereafter, the Maharaja of his own accord declined to undertake this job and the members of the family started drawing their respective allowances directly from the Patiala Treasury without any deduction of income-tax at source.

4. The appellant, Raja Raghavendra Singh, is half brother of late His Highness the Raj Pramukh. He was sanctioned an amount of Rs. 2,000 per month as allowance out of the sum of Rs. 5 lakhs set apart for the relations of the then His Highness the Raj Pramukh,

5. Pursuant to the circular issued by the Finance Department on May 17, 1955, the Treasury Officer, Patiala, started making advance deductions of income-tax from the allowance admissible in the case of the appellant.

6. Aggrieved by these deductions, the appellant filed a representation before the Commissioner of Income-tax, Patiala, who held that there wasno specific provision exempting this allowance from payment of income-tax and hence rejected this representation on August 25, 1965.

7. The appellant then filed Civil Writ No. 657 of 1967 in this court challenging the imposition of income-tax on the ground that he was being paid this allowance as a member of the Hindu undivided family out of the income of the family, as also on the ground that the erstwhile State of Patiala was an impartible estate and that this fund was being paid out of the income of the holder of the estate belonging to the family. This petition was dismissed by a learned judge of this court and hence this appeal under Clause 10 of the Letters Patent.

8. It was urged on behalf of the appellant that the State of Patiala was an impartible estate of the property of the joint Hindu family of which the appellant was a member. This property was regulated by the rule of primogeniture in matters of succession. According to this rule, the eldest son succeeds to the gaddi as a Ruler and the younger ones, called the Maharaj Kumars, were entitled to suitable maintenance allowances out of the income of the impartible estate. This right had been recognised from the time when the erstwhile State of Patiala was carved out of its first Ruler. Subsequently, on October 13, 1860, the Rulers of the erstwhile States of Patiala, Nabha and Jind entered into a voluntary agreement styled as Dastur-Ul-Amal granting statutory recognition to this right. In this document, it was provided that the authority in respect of the matters relating to the affairs of the State and its maintenance shall vest in the ruling chief, and all members, zaildars and subordinates shall be under his power and authority. The maintenance allowance (guzara) of the Kanwars and other relations of the ruling chief should be fixed according to the norms stated in that document.

9. Even if it were held that the provisions of this document were not justiciable in a court of law, they do furnish an evidence of custom in favour of the relations of the Ruler regarding claims for maintenance allowances. The trend of the judgments of the Privy Council is that an ancestral impartible estate is a joint family property notwithstanding the fact that there is neither a right to partition nor a right to restrain any alienation (See in this connection Baijnath Prasad Singh v. Tej Bali Singh, AIR 1921 PC 62, Komammal v. Annadana Jadaya Gounder, AIR 1928 PC 68, Shiba Prasad Singh v. Rani Prayag Kumari Debi and Collector of Gorakhpur v. Ram Sunder Mal ). Even after the merger of the erstwhile State of Patiala in the Union of India, the appellant continued to get an allowance of Rs. 2,000 per mensem under the letter dated April 2, 1949, issued by the Ministry of States, Government of India. Under those circumstances, it must be heldthat when the erstwhile State of Patiala was in existence, the appellant was receiving maintenance allowance in accordance with the principles of the customary law governing the family.

10. The questions which now remain to be seen are whether this amount in the hands of the appellant can be regarded as income for the purpose of the Income-tax Act and, further, whether there is any statutory exemption in favour of the appellant from payment of income-tax on this amount.

11. Section 2(6C) of the Indian Income-tax Act, 1922, and Section 2(24) of the Income-tax Act, 1961, give inclusive definitions of the word ' income'. Whenever a term is given such a definition in a statute, it means not only the things mentioned therein but also includes in its ambit the meaning of the term as generally understood. The word ' income ' has been defined in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, third edition, volume I, as follows:

' That which comes in as the periodical produce of one's work, business, lands or investments (commonly expressed in terms of money); annual or periodical receipts accruing to a person or corporation ; revenue.'

12. In Commissioner of Income-tax v. Shaw Wallace and Company, [1932] 2 Comp Cas 273 (PC), Sir George Lowndes defined the term 'income' as follows :

' Income............in this Act connotes a periodical monetary return'coming in' with some sort of regularity, or expected regularity, from definite sources.'

13. In Kamakshya Narain Singh v. Commissioner of Income-tax, [1943] 11 ITR 513 it was observed:

' The multiplicity of forms which income may assume is beyond enumeration.'

14. In other words, the word ' income ' has to be given a very wide meaning. In this context, the allowance drawn by the appellant which is a periodical receipt would have to be regarded as his income.

15. A tax is a burden or a charge imposed by the legislature upon persons or property to raise money for public purposes.

16. In Jagannath Ramanuj Das v. State of Orissa : [1954]1SCR1046 it was observed as follows:

'A tax is undoubtedly in the nature of a compulsory exaction of money by a public authority for public purposes, the payment of which is enforced by law. But the essential thing in a tax is that the imposition is made for public purposes to meet the general expenses of the State without reference to any special benefit to be conferred upon the payers of the tax. The taxes collected are all merged in the general revenue of theState to be applied for general public purposes. Thus, tax is a common burden and the only return which the taxpayer gets is the participation in the common benefits of the State.'

17. A common burden must be borne by all the citizens unless, of course, there is a legislative mandate to the contrary. In this sense, it may be observed that wherever the legislature grants exemption to an income or to a transaction from payment of tax, the burden lies on the assessee to show that his income falls within an exception to the general rule. In Maharaj Kumar Gopal Saran Narain Singh v. Commissioner of Income-tax, [1935] 3 ITR 237, Lord Russell of Killowen observed :

'Anything which can properly be described as income, is taxable under the Act unless expressly exempted.'

18. In other words, in order to escape liability to payment of tax, the appellant must show that his case falls squarely within the four corners of a statutory exemption.

19. Article 291 of the Constitution of India, Section 4(3)(x)(a), Indian Income-tax Act, 1922, and Section 10(19) of the Income-tax Act, 1961, are of no avail to the appellant because only privy purses have been exempted from payment of income-tax under these provisions.

20. Faced with this situation, the counsel for the appellant relied upon Section 14(1) of the Indian Income-tax Act, 1922, and Section 10(2) of the Income-tax Act, 1961. They read as under :

'14. (1) The tax shall not be payable by an assessee in respect of any sum which he receives as a member of Hindu undivided family where such sum has been paid out of the income of the family or in the case of an impartible estate where such sum has been paid out of the income of the holder of the estate belonging to the family.'

'10. In computing the total income of a previous year of any person, any income falling within any of the following clauses shall not be included--......

(2) any sum received by an individual as a member of a Hindu undivided family, where such sum has been paid out of the income of the family, or, in the case of any impartible estate, where such sum has been paid out of the income of the estate belonging to the family.'

21. A close examination of these provisions shows that only the sums received by an individual as a member of an undivided Hindu family which are paid out of the income of such family or the sums paid out of the income of an impartible estate of such a family, are exempted from payment of income-tax. The erstwhile State of Patiala lapsed when its Ruler executed an instrument of accession in favour of the Union of India.

22. The property of the family or the impartible estate, if any, came to vest in the Union of India. Under a political arrangement, the Union of India agreed to pay maintenance allowances to the relations of the Ruler of the erstwhile State. These allowances were paid out of the consolidated fund of the Union in contradistinction with the income of the joint Hindu family or an impartible estate. The case of the appellant does not fall within the exception to the general rule. In these circumstances, the appellant has been rightly burdened with the liability of payment of income-tax.

23. The judgments relied upon by the appellant for claiming exemption are clearly distinguishable. In In re Gajapatiraj Bahadur : AIR1934All818 the younger brother of the Maharaja of Vizianagaram was allowed exemption from payment of tax on the allowance received by him because the impartible estate out of the income of which this allowance was paid had not been extinguished either by an instrument of accession executed by the Ruler or by operation of law. Commissioner of Income-tax v. Maharaja Visweswar Singh : [1935]3ITR216(Patna) , Commissioner of Income-tax v. Maharani Gyan Manjuri Kuari : [1945]13ITR55(Patna) , Commissioner of Income-tax v. Sarwan Kumar : [1945]13ITR361(All) and Commissioner of Income-tax v. Rani Bijay Raj Kunwari, [1948] 16 ITR 1 were decided on almost similar facts. The appellant cannot derive any assistance from them.

24. On the other hand, the Division Bench decision of the Orissa High Court in Rajkumar Lakshminarayan Bhanja Deo v. Commissioner of Income-tax : [1965]58ITR457(Orissa) goes against the appellant. In that case, maintenance allowance of Rs. 2,000 per month payable to the younger brother of the Ruler of Keonjhar was not exigible to income-tax under the Keonjhar Income-tax Regulation, 1938. After the merger of the Keonjhar State with the Province of Orissa with effect from January 1, 1948, the State Income-tax Regulations were repealed by virtue of Section 7(1) of the Taxation Laws (Extension to Merged States and Amendment) Act, 1949 (67 of 1949), because the Indian Income-tax Act, 1922, was brought into force also in the territories of ex Keonjhar State with effect from April 1, 1949. The court held that by virtue of article 372 of the Constitution, the Indian Income-tax Act, 1922, became applicable with effect from April 1, 1949, and since an allowance was not exempted by any notification issued under Section 60 of that Act, it was exigible to income-tax.

25. As a result of the foregoing discussion, I hold that the appellant is liable to pay income-tax in accordance with law on the maintenance allowance of Rs. 2,000 per month received by him. This appeal deserves tofail find I order according. In the circumstances of the case, there will be no order as to costs.

R.S. Narula, C.J.

26. I agree.


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