R.S. Narula, J.
1. The short question which arises in this case is whether proceedings for assessment of sales tax which have once commenced before a particular Assessing Authority on the filing of relevant returns can be continued by a different Assessing Authority without any formal order of transfer of the case from the original officer to the new one.
2. Mansa Ram, the sole proprietor of Messrs Mansa Ram Sushil Kumar of Rupa Mistri Street, Ludhiana, doing the business of sale of vegetable oil, is duly registered with the Assessing Authority, Ludhiana. He filed eight quarterly returns for the financial years 1962-63 and 1963-64 in accordance with the rules framed under the Punjab General Sales Tax Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act) with the Assessing Authority, Ludhiana, who had been vested with jurisdiction by Punjab Government notification dated 30th March, 1949, of which a copy has been filed as annexure A to the writ petition. This Assessing Authority gave a notice dated 28th September, 1964, in Form S.T. XIV to the petitioner to produce all the account books for the relevant years and to appear for completing the assessment proceedings before the said authority on 17th October, 1964. The petitioner states that thus the proceedings for the assessment of the relevant quarters were pending before the said Assessing Authority at Ludhiana. Before, however, the conclusion of those proceedings the petitioner received a notice dated nil (copy annexure B to the writ petition) from Shri J. S. Rajyana, Excise and Taxation Officer (Enforcement), Ludhiana (respondent) informing the petitioner that the assessment proceedings in question would be taken up by him on 9th October, 1964, and calling upon the petitioner to attend his office on the appointed time and date along with the relevant books of accounts, etc.
3. It is not disputed in this case that the respondent does have inherent jurisdiction to conduct assessment proceedings in this case by virtue of powers vested in him under notification dated 10th February, 1964, copy of which is annexure C to the writ petition. By this notification, the respondent has been authorised to make any assessment under the Act within the whole of the State of Punjab.
4. Instead of producing his accounts and record before the respondent, the petitioner submitted a letter of protest dated 9th October, 1964, annexure D to the petition, wherein the authority of the respondent to embark upon the assessment proceedings was questioned on the ground that no return had been filed by the petitioner before this authority and the case of the petitioner for assessment of the tax for the relevant period was already pending before the Assessing Authority, Ludhiana. It was, therefore, stated in the petitioner's letter of protest that the respondent had no power to assume jurisdiction over those proceedings under the Act. By letter dated 12th October, 1964 (copy annexure E to the writ petition), the respondent informed the petitioner that the contention raised by the petitioner in his letter of protest had been rejected and the petitioner was directed to appear before the respondent with his accounts etc. on 24th October, 1964. It is on the receipt of this letter that the petitioner filed this writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution in this Court on or about 22nd October, 1964. Relying on the dictum of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Ghanshyamdas v. Regional Assistant Commissioner of Sales Tax, Nagpur and Ors., A.I.R. 1964 S.C. 766 and the judgment of this Court in Kishan Chand & Co. v. S. K. Jain I.L.R. (1965) 1 Punj. 589 it is argued by Mr. Bhagirath Dass, learned counsel for the petitioner, that notice annexure B is liable to be quashed and the respondent is liable to be restrained from proceeding any further with the proposed assessment on the solitary ground that without formal order of transfer the proceedings cannot be taken over by a new Assessing Authority even if he has inherent jurisdiction in the area once any other competent authority is seized of the matter ; and it is further argued that the competent authority, having jurisdiction in the area which issues a notice in Form S.T. XIV and before whom returns are once filed, is seized of the matter.
5. The judgment of this Court in Kishan Chand's case I.L.R. (1965) 1 Punj. 589 was principally based on the observation made in the above-mentioned Supreme Court judgment. In Kishan Chand's case I.L.R. (1965) 1 Punj. 589 the subsequent Authority, whose jurisdiction was challenged, had called upon the Amritsar dealer to appear before him at Chandigarh. Of course, no order transferring the case to the Chandigarh authority had been passed though the Chandigarh authority in that case had also been vested with jurisdiction under the Act to pass orders of assessment in cases arising out of the whole of the State of Punjab. It was held by this Court that the action of the officer at Chandigarh operated to the serious prejudice of the assessee and that the Chandigarh officer should accordingly be restrained from proceeding with the matter. In the instant case, however, both the authorities are at Ludhiana and neither the question of inconvenience to the petitioner on account of being made to run about from place to place arises nor is it disputed that the respondent has inherent jurisdiction to carry on the proceedings. It is only the formality of an order transferring the original proceedings to the respondent that seems to be missing in this case. Similar question arose before a Division Bench of this Court, of which I was a member, in Messrs Kishan Chand & Co. v. Shri K. K. Opal, Excise & Taxation Officer (Enforcement), Amritsar Civil Write No. 2073 of 1964 which was decided by Dua, J., and myself on 25th May, 1965. The circumstances of this case are almost identical with those in Kishan Chand & Co. v. Shri K. K. Opal, Excise & Taxation Officer (E.), Amritsar Civil Write No. 2073 of 1964. The learned Advocate-General appearing for the respondent in this case, does not indeed dispute that I have to follow the said Division Bench judgment, and in the circumstances referred to above the order to be passed in this case must proceed on the lines on which Civil Writ No. 2073 of 1964 was disposed of.
6. It has already been held in the above-mentioned case that once a Sales Tax Officer issues a notice and returns are filed before him in pursuance of the said notice and he is then seized of the matter, no other Sales Tax Authority, even if he has inherent jurisdiction, can proceed with the assessment on the basis of those returns without first obtaining a formal order of transfer of the case from the Commissioner.
7. This writ petition is, therefore, accepted, the notice issued by the respondent to the petitioner is set aside and quashed and it is directed that the respondent may give a fresh notice and may proceed further with the assessments in question only if and after an order of transfer of the case from the original assessing authority to his file has been passed by the competent authority. I make no order as to costs in this case.