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Saraf Mull Rairoo Mull Vs. Commissioner of Income-tax - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectDirect Taxation
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberI.T. Ref. No. 5 of 1967
Judge
Reported inAIR1968Delhi18
ActsDelhi High Court Act, 1966 - Sections 17 and 18; Income-tax Act, 1922 - Sections 10, 12, 35 and 66 (8); Income-tax Act, 1961 - Sections 67 (2)
AppellantSaraf Mull Rairoo Mull
RespondentCommissioner of Income-tax
Appellant Advocate P.N. Chopra, Adv
Respondent Advocate D.N. Awasthy, Adv.
Excerpt:
.....a petition seeking protection of minor child was thereupon filed by father of the husband before delhi high court. a direction for handing over custody of child to father of husband was also sought. the high court considering fact that the u.k. court was already in seisin of matter and had passed an interim order and by relying on principle of comity of nations and comity of judgments of the courts of two different countries in deciding the matter directed the wife to take the child of her own to u.k.or hand it over to father of husband to be taken to u.k. as measure of interim custody and that it would be for the u.k. court to decide the question of custody - order was challenged by wife - held, the order of high court was not liable to be interfered with. although, on first..........(e) ................................................. (3) the delhi high court act, 1966 (act 26 of 1966) came into force on september 5, 1966, and section 3 thereof inter alias provides that:'as from such date as the central government may, by ntoification in the official gazette, appoint, there shall be a high court for the union territory of delhi (hereinafter referred to as the high court of delhi).'october 31, 1966, was appointed by the central government under section 3 and the high court of delhi started functioning from that date section 17 of the said act provides for extension of the jurisdiction of the high court of delhi to the union territory of himachal pradesh. this jurisdiction was extended from may, 1, 1967. section 12 deals with the.....
Judgment:

S.K. Kapur, J.

1. The following two questions have been referred to this Court by the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal (Delhi Bench) under section 66(1) of the Indian Income-tax Act, 1922:-

'(1) Whether on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the income of Rs.3,489 assessable under the head 'toher sources' ?.

(2) Whether on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the said interest income would be allocated as income from 'toher Sources' in the Partners' hands?.'

(1a) Before I set out the facts of the case and proceed to answer the questions, it is necessary to deal with a preliminary objection raised on behalf of the Revenue that this Court has no jurisdiction in the matter.

(2) Under sub-section (8) of section 66 of the Indian Income-tax Act, 1922. The jurisdiction with respect to the Union territories of Delhi and Himachal Pradesh was conferred on the High Court of Punjab. The relevant part of sub-section (8) of section 66 reads:

'For the purposes of this section, 'the High Court' means-

(a) ................................................

(b) In relation to the Union territories of Delhi and Himachal Pradesh, the High Court of Punjab;

(c) ................................................

(d) ................................................

(e) .................................................

(3) The Delhi High Court Act, 1966 (Act 26 of 1966) came into force on September 5, 1966, and section 3 thereof inter alias provides that:

'As from such date as the Central Government may, by ntoification in the official Gazette, appoint, there shall be a High Court for the Union territory of Delhi (hereinafter referred to as the High Court of Delhi).'

October 31, 1966, was appointed by the Central Government under section 3 and the High Court of Delhi started functioning from that date Section 17 of the said Act provides for extension of the jurisdiction of the High Court of Delhi to the union territory of Himachal Pradesh. This jurisdiction was extended from May, 1, 1967. Section 12 deals with the transfer of proceedings from the High Court of Punjab to the High Court of Delhi. Under that section the High Court of Punjab ceased to have jurisdiction in respect of the Union territory of Delhi as form the appointed day. This was subject to an exception that where any proceedings sought relief in respect of any order passed by the High Court of Punjab before the appointed day, the jurisdiction continued with the Punjab High Court could transfer such proceedings to the High Court could, however be made after such proceedings had been entertained by the High Court of Punjab. It is appropriate to set out sections 17 and 18 as the main arguments on the point centered round the interpretation of these provisions:

'Extension of the jurisdiction of the High Court of Delhi.

(1) As from such date as the Central Government may, by ntoification in the Official Gazette, appoint (hereinafter referred to as the prescribed date), the jurisdiction of the High Court of Delhi shall extend to the Union territory of Himachal Pradesh.

(2) As from the prescribed date the Court of the Judicial Commissioner for Himachal Pradesh shall cease to function and is hereby abolished:

Provided that ntohing in this sub-section shall prejudice or affect the continued operation of any ntoice served, injunction issued, direction given, or proceedings taken before the prescribed date by the Court of the Judicial Commissioner for Himachal Pradesh abolished by this sub-section. (3) The high Court of Delhi shall have, in respect of the territories for the time being included in the Union territory of Himachal Pradesh-

(a) All such original appellate and toher jurisdiction as under the law in force immediately before the prescribed date, is exercisable in respect of the said territories by the Court of the Judicial Commissioner for Himachal Pradesh; and also

(b) ordinary original civil jurisdiction in every suit the value of which exceeds twenty-five thousand rupees, ntowithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force.

(4) All proceedings pending in the Court of the Judicial Commissioner for Himachal Pradesh before the prescribed date shall stand transferred to the High Court of Delhi.

(5) Any toher made before the prescribed date by the Court referred to in sub-section (4) shall for all purposes have effect nto only as an order of that Court but also as an order of the High Court of Delhi.

(6) For the removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that the provisions of sections 6 to 11 and 13 shall, with the necessary modifications, apply the High Court of Delhi in the exercise of jurisdiction conferred upon it by this section.

(7) All proceedings pending immediately before the prescribed date in any subordinate Court in the Union territory of Himachal Pradesh in or in relation to any such civil suit as is referred to in clause (b) of sub-section (3) shall of that date stand transferred to the High Court of Delhi which shall proceed to try, hear and determine the matter as if it had been pending therein.

18. Rule of construction

(1) References in any law in force in the Union territory of Himachal Pradesh to the High Court of Punjab shall, as from the appointed day, be construed in relation to that Union territory as references to the High Court of Delhi.

(2) References in any law in force in the Union territory of Himachal Pradesh to the High Court of Punjab or to the Court of the Judicial Commissioner for that territory shall, as from the prescribed date, be construed in relation to that Union territory as references to the High Court of Delhi.'

(4) It is common case of the parties that before the extension of the jurisdiction of this Court to the Union territory of Himachal Pradesh, the court of Judicial Commissioner had no advisory jurisdiction to deal with income-tax references. The contention on behalf of the Revenue is that by virtue of sub-section (3) of section 17, this court is, in respect of the territories for the time being included in the Union territory of Himachal Pradesh, vested with only original. Appellate and all toher jurisdiction as under the law in force immediately before the prescribed date was exercisable by the Court of the Judicial Commissioner and since the Court of Judicial Commissioner had no advisory jurisdiction the same has nto been transferred to this Court.

This argument overlooks the effect of section 18 of the Delhi High Court Act, 1966 Under sub-section (2) references in any law in force in the Union territory of Himachal Pradesh to the High Court of Punjab is as from the prescribed date, to be construed as references to High Court of Delhi Indian Income-tax Act, 1922, is a law in force in the Union territory of Himachal Pradesh. The effect of section 18, thereforee, is that from May, 1, 1967 the words 'the High Court of Punjab' in sub-section (8) of section 66 have to be substituted by the words 'the High Court of Delhi' S. 17 of the Delhi High Court Act merely deals with the transfer of jurisdiction vested in the Judicial Commissioner to the High Court of Delhi and does nto in any manner limit the impact of section 18 on section 66 (8) of the Indian Income-tax Act.

If the argument of the Revenue were to be accepted, an irreconcilable conflict would come into being between the Indian Income-tax Act and the Delhi High Court Act. The whole object of the Legislature in passing Delhi High Court Act was to vest the jurisdiction over the territories covered thereby in Delhi High Court and the interpretation placed by me accords with that object. The learned counsel for the Revenue wanted us to limit section 18 of Delhi High Court Act to matters covered by S. 17. I am unable to construe a statute in such a manner as results in the demise of all principles of interpretation based on commonsense convenience and experience of ages.

(5) The learned counsel for the assesse also referred to sections 5 and 20 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act. 1966 (Act 31 of 1966) which came into force on September 18, 1966, but in view of the clear language of section 18 of the Delhi High Court Act it is necessary to elaborate on the same; my conclusion thereforee, is that this Court has jurisdiction in the matter.

(6) This takes me to the merits of the case. We are concerned on this reference with the assessment year 1961-62 , the relevant accounting period being the year ended February 28, 1961 Saraf Mull Rairoo Mull a partner ship firm (hereinafter to be referred as the assessed') had income from interest on securities. General merchandise business, mtoor parts business and commission agency. The assessed maintained one profit and loss account in respect of all its business activities. The assessed used to deposit some moneys in call deposit accounts with banks and earned interest thereon. The assessed had one consolidated interest account with respect to interest on call deposits and earned from toher parties. The ttoal interest received by the assessed amounted to Rs. 15,497-07 paise while the interest paid by it was Rs. 11,816-47 paise, leaving a profit of Rs. 3,680-60 paise. The Income-tax officer determined a sum of Rs. 3,489 as the interest realized on call deposits. He assessed this amount under the head 'toher sources' rejecting the contention of the assessed that it ought to have been taxed under the head 'business'. The Appellate Assistant Commissioner also upheld the decision of the Income-tax officer.

(7) Aggrieved by the order of the Appellate Assistant Commissioner, the assessed took an appeal to the Appellate Tribunal which was decided against the assessed on July 15, 1963. The Income-tax Appellate Tribunal officer.

'One thing will be clearly seen from the above. In the case cited above (Bihar state Co-operative Bank, Ltd. v Commissioner of Income-tax, : [1960]39ITR114(SC) ). The assessed was, a bank and one of its objects was to carry on the general business of banking . On the toher hand here the assessed was nto a bank but a firm which had income from interest on securities. General merchandise business mtoor parts business, arhat and commission agency. Money did nto form part of the circulating capital as in the case which we have just considered. In those circumstances. Simply because the assessed gto some interest income it could nto be stated that it formed part and parcel of the business income. As the A.A.C has stated there appears to be no money-lending business done by the assessed and hence any interest received by it by some call deposits casually made, it would be only income from toher sources. We, thereforee, hold that the view taken by the departmental officials is correct.'

(8) One of the grievances made by the learned counsel for the assessed is that the Tribunal erred in observing that 'the A.A.C has stated that appears to be no money-lending business done by the assessed' According to him, the Appellate Assistant Commissioner had grievance no such finding. Apart from the fact that I am doubtful whether this contention is open to the assessed having regard to the frame of the question referred. I find that the Appellate Assistant Commissioner has clearly recorded a finding that 'the appellant did nto deposit the surplus funds in the banks during the course of any money-lending business. It has nto been challenged by the assessed that the observation of the Tribunal approving the aforesaid finding of the Appellate Assistant Commissioner is nto based on any material or evidence

(9) The learned counsel for the assessed then contended that the business of the assessed consisted of the commission agency which necessarily involved advancing money to its constituents. It has, thereforee, to keep the surplus funds in the banks so that they could be readily available for the purpose and thereforee, the entire capital of the assessed was in the nature of a circulating capital and every accretion thereon taxable under section 10 of the Indian Income-tax Act, 1922. He also argued that the assessed, being a firm was incompetent to derive income from any source toher than business and, thereforee, the residuary section 12 of the Indian Income-tax, 1922, could nto be applied.

He strongly relied on the decision of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in : [1960]39ITR114(SC) . That was a case of a bank and it was observed:

'It cannto be said that the business of such a bank consists only in receiving deposits and lending money to its members or such toher societies as are mentioned in the objects and that when it lays out its moneys so that they may be readily available to meet the demand of its depositors if and when they arise, it is nto a legitimate mode of carrying on of its banking business. The Privy Council in where the profits arose from the sale of Government securities pointed out at page 645 (of ITR): (at p.236 of AIR), that in the ordinary cases the business of a bank essentially consists of dealing with money and credit. Depositors put their money in the bank at a small rate of interest and in order to meet their demands if and when they arise the bank has always to keep sufficient cash or easily realisable securities. That is a normal step in the carrying on of the banking business. In toher words, 'that is an act done in what is truly the carrying on or carrying out of a business'. It may be added that antoher mode of conducting business of a bank is to place its fund in deposit with toher banks and that also is to meet demands which may be mad on it.'

(10) As I read the decision in Bihar State Co-operative Bank's case, : [1960]39ITR114(SC) , the ratio appears to be that the activity in question there was termed as a normal step in carrying on of the banking business. In toher words, according to the decision of their Lordships, only such income as arises in the course of carrying on of a business can be taxed under section 10. In this case it has been found as a fact b the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal that the moneys were nto deposited as a part of its money-lending activity. Apart from that, it is difficult to accept that the assessed would lend money to bank as a part of its money-lending business. The findings of fact arrived at by the Tribunal run counter to the suggestion that depositing money in banks was a normal mode of the assesses's business. Under the circumstances of this case, thereforee, it cannto be said that the income arose out of the carrying on or carrying out of the assessed's business. In my opinion, thereforee, the income was rightly taxed under section 12. I would, thereforee, answer the first question in the affirmative and against the assessed.

(11) The learned counsel for the assessed conceded that in case the first question was answered in favor of the Revenue, the second question would nto arise. I would, however, like to express my concurrence with the finding of the Tribunal even on the second question. After the decision had been recorded by the Tribunal an application appears to have been made under section 35 of the Indian Income-tax Act, 1922, whereby it was contended that the Tribunal ought to have decided that when allocating the income of the firm in the hands of the partners it should be treated as business income. The Tribunal, however, found against the assessed.

In the Income-tax Act, 1961, section 67(2) has been introduced, for the first time. This sub-section provides that the share of a partner in the income or loss of a firm should in making the assessment on the partner be apportioned in the various heads in the same manner in which the firms income had been determined. The introduction of this provision, however, does nto, to my mind, introduce any change in law so far as the aspect under consideration is concerned. Of course, even under the 1922 act if the income of a registered firm was assessed under the head 'business' that income would be assessable in the hands of the partners as business income. That would be so because common interest, mutual agency and division of profits are the essential conditions for the existence of a partnership and consequently the partners really carry on business in the name of the firm. If, on the toher hand, the income of the firm consists of income from property it cannto be suggested that such income in the hands of the partners should be treated a business income. My answer to the second question, thereforee, would also be in the affirmative and against the assessed. The Revenue will also have the costs of this reference, which I assess at Rs.250.


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