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Lok Kalyan Samiti, New Delhi Vs. Municipal Corporation of Delhi - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMunicipal Tax
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ Appeal No. 411 of 1968
Judge
Reported inAIR1978Delhi189; 14(1978)DLT7; 1978RLR356
ActsDelhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 - Sections 124; Delhi Municipal Corporation (Assessment List) Bye Laws, 1959 - Sections 5; Constitution of India- Article 226(5)
AppellantLok Kalyan Samiti, New Delhi
RespondentMunicipal Corporation of Delhi
Advocates: S.N. Chopra,; R.K. Joshi,; S.M. Grover,;
Cases ReferredMunicipal Corporation of City of Hubli v. Subha Rao Hanumantharao Prayag and
Excerpt:
(i) delhi municipal corporation act (1957) - sections 124, 125, 126 and 127--rateable value of a property--amendment of the assessment list--notice for amendment under section 126(2)--whether necessary during the currency of the year itself--revision decided alter than the year, whether could be adopted for the year following--validity of such adoption for the subsequent year--delhi municipal corporation (assessment list) bye laws (1959) nos. 5 & 9.; that it is not necessary that the proceedings in pursuance of a notice for increasing the rateable value and of the assessment thereupon must be completed within the year in which the notice is given to become effective form the year in which notice is given. even if the notice is given during the currency of a financial year but the.....yogeshwar dayal, j. (1) this writ petition under articles 226/227 of the constitution has been placed before the full bench in view of the order of reference dated march 5, i976 passed by chawla, j. (2) it is necessary to state the facts as alleged by the petitioner and the reply filed on behalf of the respondent-corporation. (3) the petitioner is 'lok kalyan samiti' a society registered under the societies registration act, 1860, and is a charitable institution. (4) the respondent is the municipal corporation of delhi. (5) the petitioner society owns a building known as lok kalyan bhavan, 11-a rouse avenue, new delhi. the rateable value of the said building was assessed at rs. 540. (6) by a communication dated november 15. 1961, sent by the respondent to the petitioner, the latter was.....
Judgment:

Yogeshwar Dayal, J.

(1) This writ petition under Articles 226/227 of the Constitution has been placed before the Full Bench in view of the order of reference dated March 5, i976 passed by Chawla, J.

(2) It is necessary to state the facts as alleged by the petitioner and the reply filed on behalf of the respondent-corporation.

(3) The petitioner is 'Lok Kalyan Samiti' a Society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, and is a charitable institution.

(4) The respondent is the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

(5) The petitioner society owns a building known as Lok Kalyan Bhavan, 11-A Rouse Avenue, New Delhi. The rateable value of the said building was assessed at Rs. 540.

(6) By a communication dated November 15. 1961, sent by the respondent to the petitioner, the latter was exempted from payment of general tax in respect of the said building under sub-section 4(a) of Section 115 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957. In view of the said communication, though the rateable value had been fixed at Rs. 540 the petitioner was charged property taxes other than the general tax in respect of the said building.

(7) It was alleged by the petitioner that by a notice dated March 30, 1965 purporting to have been issued under section 126(1) of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') the respondent Corporation informed the petitioner that it proposed to enhance the rateable value of the said building with effect from December 20, 1964 on the ground of 'New Construction' from the then existing rateable value of Rs. 540 to a rateable value of Rs. 5,43,960. By the same notice, the petitioner was asked to submit its objections in relation to the proposed enhancement of the rateable value by April 30, 1965.

(8) Objections to the proposed enhancement were duly filed by the petitioner Society with the respondent-corporation on April 24. 1965.

(9) It was then alleged that nothing further was heard in this behalf from the respondent-corporation until the end of July. 1967 when by a letter addressed by the Deputy Assessor and Collector (NW) of the respondent-Corporation to the General Secretary of the petitioner Society, the General Secretary was asked to call on the Deputy Assessor and Collector at his office on August 5. 1967 for finalisation of the objections. It was also averred that meanwhile the respondent--Corporation had continued to assess the said building in respect of the property taxes cm the basis of earlier rateable value of Rs. 540 per month for the assessment years 1965-66, 1966-67 and 1967-68.

(10) It was then averred that consequent upon the discussion of the General Secretary with the Deputy Assessor and Collector, the respondent-Corporation vide its Order dated November 16, 1967 addressed to the petitioner fixed the rateable value of the said building at Rs. 1,45,250 (not exempted) and Rs. 53,030 (exempted) with effect from December 20. 1964

(11) Notice under section 126 of the Act dated March 30, 1965 was filed with the petition as Annexure 'A' and an order purporting to have been signed by the Inspection Officer, 'Deputy Assistant Collector' dated 16-11-1967 reading as under, was filed as Annexure 'B', which is as under :-

'DELHI Municipal CORPORATION; Tax Assessing And Collection Department : City South ........ area ........Delhi. Area/Locality I.P. Estate House No. 11-A Rouse Avenue, Objection No: After making necessary investigation, the taxable income for a year is Rs. 1,45,250 as non-exempted and Rs. 53,030 as exempted is fixed finally from the date 20-12-1964, and from the same date the lax-assessing table has been amended finally accordingly. 16.11. Inspection Officer Deputy Assistant Collector'.

(12) It was then alleged that being aggrieved by the said order viz. Annexure 'B', the petitioner Society preferred an appeal before the District Judge, Delhi. The said appeal is pending in the court of Shri O. N. Vohra. Additional District Judge, Delhi.

(13) In the meanwhile, the respondent-corporation issued a revised bill dated February 7, 1968 for payment of Rs. 81,343.05 alleged to be tax due from the petitioner to the respondent-corporation in relation to years 1964-65, 1965-66, 1966-67 and 1967-68. Copy of the revised bill was filed with the petition as Annexure 'C'.

(14) In the writ petition, the petitioner, however, challenged the older dated November 16, 1967 (Annexure 'B') allegedly of the Deputy Assessor and Collector (NW) of the respondent-Corporation and also prayed for restraining the respondent-corporation from giving effect to the aforesaid revised bill for Rs. 81,343.05.

(15) On behalf of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, a return by way of affidavit of Shri Gobind Lal Banga, Deputy Assessor and Collector, was filed.

(16) On merits, it was denied that the whole property is occupied and used by the petitioner Society for charitable purposes or that the property is not liable to be assessed to general tax. It was also submitted that the Corporation is not assessing any portion of the property to tax which is used for charitable purposes. Under section 115(4)(a) of the Act, only those portions of the building are exempted from general tax which are occupied and used by the Society for charitable purposes. The portion of the building which was erected in the year 1961 was exempted from general tax because the Corporation was given to understand that the portion was used by the Society for charitable purposes. Subsequent additions were made in the property and these portions are not being used by the Society for charitable purposes. On the other hand, the Society has let out and is Realizing rents from the extensions or in the alternative, 'if any portion is not let out, it is not required for purposes of the Society and it can be let out, and monthly rental value of such portion comes to Rs. 14,147.26.'

(17) It was further stated that the Office Secretary of the petitioner Society had been given two opportunities to bring documentary evidence. According to the site inspection by the Deputy Assessor and Collector, Shri Banga himself, the first, the second and the third floor of the property were noticed as actually let out and in occupation of tenants who were paying rent at the rate of Rs. 9,888 per mensem for the first floor, Rs. 2,521.26 per month for the second floor and Rs. 1,740 per month for the third floor.

(18) The total rent as admitted by the assessed's Office Secretary before Shri Banga also amounted to Rs. 14,149.26 per month. This amount included charges of maintenance of electric lift and water pump and the assessed was given relief of Rs. 700 per month on account towards depreciation of the lift, and the salary of the 'chowkidar'. As such the rateable value was assessed at the net rent of all the three floors amounting to Rs. 13,449 per month.

(19) It was also stated that on the ground floor of the building, the petitioner Society was running a hospital and clinic and its office. The total area of the ground floor is about 4800 sq. ft., and because it is used purely for charitable purposes according to the documents submitted by the petitioner, the rental was fixed on comparison basis at Rs. 4.860 per month plus Rs. 50 per month for the extension shed used for the purpose of the Society. As such, the rateable value on the said basis was calculated at Rs. 1,49,250 per year in respect of the portion liable to tax and Rs. 53,030 per annum in respect of the portion exempted from tax.

(20) This decision of the Corporation was conveyed to Shri Anil Basu, the Office Secretary of the petitioner Society and he signed acknowledgement of the said intimation as well as the acceptance of the value on November 16, 1967.

(21) It was further submitted in the affidavit of Shri Banga that demands were originally made for the years 1964-65, 1965-66 and 1966-67 at the old rateable value in accordance with bye-law No. 5 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Assessment List) Bye Laws, 1959 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Bye Laws') pending decision of the objections against the proposed enhancement in the rateable value of the property and after the decision a bill for the balance was sent for the period December 20, 1964 to March 31, 1968 at the rate of enhanced rateable value.

(22) It was also submitted that for enhancing the rateable value in respect of the year 1964-65, a notice under section 126 of the Act as amended by Act No. Xlii of 1961, was served on the Office Secretary of the petitioner Society on March 31. 1964 and no fresh notice was necessary under the law for increasing the rateable value for tax in respect of the years 1965-66 and 1966-67 inasmuch as proceedings for enhancement were pending during the said years on the basis of the notice issued on March 30, 1965 for enhancement and assessment of rateable value in respect of the year 1965-65 with effect from December 20, 1964.

(23) Before the matter came up for hearing before the Full Bench, the petitioner Society filed C.M. 1124/76 under Order 6 rule 17 and section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure for amendment of the writ petition.

(24) By this application, the petitioner Society sought leave to amend the writ petition by adding a prayer clause seeking direction for quashing bye-law No, 9 of the Bye-Laws mentioned above.

(25) The Full Bench, by order dated October 25, 1977 allowed C.M. 1124/76 and directed the filing of the amended writ petition by October 26. 1977.

(26) Though numerous grounds were taken in the written petition' for impugning the order dated November 16, 1967 (Annexure 'B') and the revised bill for Rs. 81,343.05 (Annexure 'C') but during arguments, Mr. S. N. Chopra, learned counsel for the petitioner, formulated his submission as under :

(i) that the amendment of the assessment list for the year 1964-65 was made on 16-11-1967. It ought to have been made within the year by 31st March, 1965; (ii) that the revision of assessment list for the year 1964-65 with effect from 20th December, 1964, as made on 16-11-1967, was not available for the subsequent years, namely, 1965-66, 1966-67 and 1967-68. It was further submitted that for the year 1965-66, there ought to have been a final assessment list as on 31st March, 1965 as required by Sections 124, 126 and 127 of the Act and similarly for the subsequent years; and (iii) that there ought to have been individual notices for revising the assessments for the years 1965-66, 1966-67 and 1967-68 as contemplated by Section 127 of the Act and, in any case, even if the rateable value for any year is to be adopted by reference to assessment list for the previous year, individual notice/notices ought to have been given to the persons effected and no such individual notice was given.

(27) Mr. Sardari Lal Bhatia, learned counsel for the Corporation, however, submitted that for amending the assessment list for the year 1964-65, all that was necessary was to serve a notice of the proposed increase and the grounds on which it is based, within the year, though the amendment of the assessment list may be finalised later, in view of the amended proviso to Section 126(1) of the Act.

(28) Regarding the second and the third submissions of the learned counsel for the petitioner, learned counsel for the respondent Corporation, submitted that this is not how any ground has been taken in the writ petition. It was submitted that in the writ petition the grounds taken were :

'(a) The amendment of the assessment list for the year 1964-65 having been made/ordered on November 16, 1967 even assuming that the amendment was valid for the assessment year 1964-65, the adoption of the said amendment for the years 1965-66, 1966-67 and 1967-68 would not be legally permissible, and is ultra virus the provisions of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 in the absence of a notice of enhancement to the petitioner under Section 124(3) read with Section 127 of the Act. (b) The respondent failed to give notice of enhancement to the petitioner under Section 124(3) read with Section, 127 of the Act for the assessment years 1965-66. 1966-67 and 1967-68. (c) The respondent once having demanded property tax from the petitioner-Society in respect of the said building for the years 1965-66, 1966-67 and 1967-68 on the basis of the unamended rateable value of Rs. 540 per month and the petitioner having paid the aforesaid demands, the respondent is now estopped from claiming property tax on the purportedly amended/enhanced rateable value. (d) The respondent erred in not giving notice under Section 126 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 for the amendment of the assessment list for the years 1965-66, 1966-67 and 1967-68.' .

(29) Elaborating the objection further, it was submitted that in the writ petition, the adoption of the amended list for the year 1964-65 was assumed as an existing fact and it was only its adoption, in the absence of notice of enhancement under section 124(3) read with section 127 of the Act that was disputed. It was submitted that in law if the assessment list of a previous year was being simply adopted without alteration, no individual notice was required and in fact since in the present case the revised assessment list for the year 1964-65 without alteration was being adopted for the assessment years 1965-66, 1966-67 and 1967-68 no individual notices were necessary as merely the old assessment list was being adopted without alteration. It was submitted that no objection has been taken in the writ petition that even the public notice for the assessment years 1965-66, 1966-67 and 1967-68 had not been given.

(30) For the satisfaction of the court, the learned counsel referred to the public notices issued for the said assessment year which were filed along with the affidavit of Shri Vasu Dev, Head Clerk, Taxes, Assessment and Collection, Headquarters Department, Municipal Corporation of Delhi. For facility of reference, one of the public notices issued for the year 1965-66 is being reproduced hereunder :

'MUNICIPAL Corporation Of Delhi Public Notice Assessment List 1965-66 Public Notice is hereby given that the Assessment List for the year 1965-66 of all lands and buildings in Delhi, has been prepared in pursuance of Section 124 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 (66 of 1957) and the bye-laws made there under. For the convenience of the public, volumes of the list pertaining to the areas within the different zones have been kept in the respective zonal offices for inspection of the persons concerned. Every person claiming to be the owner, lessee or occupier of any land or building included in the list and any authorised agent of such person shall be at liberty to inspect the list and take extracts there from free of charge during office hours. It is further notified that the Commissioner, or other officers under the powers delegated by the Commissioner, will proceed to consider the rateable values of lands and buildings or other matter entered in the assessment list from the 6th Februay, 1965, Any objection to the rateable value or other matter as entered in the assessment list must be made in writing to the Zonal Assistant Commissioner concerned at his office during office hours on or before the 5th February, 1965 and must contain a statement saying in what respect the rateable value or other matter is disputed. sd/- Bhagwan Singh Commissioner, Municipal Corporation Of Delhi Dated 29th December, 1964 Town Hall, Delhi. The FOLLOvVING Instructions As Regards Sending An Objection SHOULD-ALSO Re Noted :- 1. Any amendments made in the previous assessment list under the provisions of Section 126 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, will be carried forward, wherever necessary, in the assessment list for the year 1965-66. 2. It is necessary for the person making the objection to obtain an acknowledgement from the receipt clerk at the Municipal Office for the delivery of such objection within the prescribed period. 3. The Corporation will not be responsible for the loss or delay in transit of any objection made by post. It would be advisable to send such objection by Registered Post A.D. 4. The letter of objection, must not contain any other matter not related to the objection. Municipal Corporation Of Delhi 5. Separate objection must be made regarding each separate property. 6. Along with the letter of objection, following details must accompany:- (i) Names of the tenants or occupiers floor by floor, details of accommodation with each tenant or occupier, the monthly rent of such portion and details of other charges over and above the rents in respect of such portions. (ii) Details of accommodation and estimate of fair and reasonable rents with reasons justifying the same in respect of portions occupied by the owner of lying vacant or for which rents arc not being charged. (iii) Details of any improvements, alterations and additions made by tenants or occupiers at their own costs. Sd/ Bhagwan Singh COMMISSIONER. Municipal Corporation Of DELHI.'

(31) Coming to the legal submissions made on behalf oF the parties, it is necessary to clear certain factual position.

(32) During the hearing, it was conceded by learned counsel for the petitioners that the notice dated 30th March, 1965 issued for amending the assessment list for the year 1964-65 had been served before the end of the assessment year 1964-65. the year being the financial year, namely, from 1st April to 31st March of the following year. The revised assessment list for the year 1964-65 was finalised by a reasoned order dated November 16, 1967 by the Deputy Assessor and Collector and the reasoned order itself was signed on behalf of the petitioner by Shri Anil Basu of the same date. This order was passed after giving opportunity to the petitioner and this order of revising the assessment contains all the facts which have been stated in the affidavit of Shri Banga, Deputy Assessor and Collector.

(33) It is unfortunate that the petitioner-Society did not choose to file copy of the assessment order which is a reasoned order passed by the Deputy Assessor & Collector and instead chose to file Annexure 'B' as if that was the assessment order. Annexure 'B' as filed by the petitioner is merely an intimation sent by the Inspection Officer of the office of the 'Deputy Assistant Collector' intimating that with effect from 20th December, 1964 as to what rateable value was and from the same date the assessment list has been finally amended. Such an intimation cannot be subject-matter of challenge. The challenge, if at all, can be against the assessment order.

(34) There was no averment in the writ petition that the assessment as finalised for the year 1964-65 was not in fact adopted for the subsequent years. The objection was only that the adoption of the amended assessment list for the year 1964-65 could not be legally made for the subsequent years in the absence of the notice of the proposed enhancement under section 124(3) read with section 127 of the Act.

(35) At this stage, it will be useful to refer to the relevant provisions of the Act and the Bye-laws :- Delhi Municipal Corporation Act :

'124. (1) Save as otherwise provided in this Act, the Corporation shall cause an assessment list of all lands and buildings in Delhi to be prepared in such form and manner and containing such particulars with respect to each land and building as may be prescribed by the bye-laws. (2) When the assessment list has been prepared the Commissioner shall give public notice thereof and of the place where the list or a copy thereof may be inspected, and every person claiming to be the owner, lessee or occupier of any land or building included in the list and any authorised agent of such person, shall be at liberty to inspect the list and to take extracts there from free of charge. (3) The Commissioner shall, at the same time, give public notice of a date, not less than one month thereafter, when he will proceed to consider the rateable values of lands and buildings, entered in the assessment list, and in all cases in which any land or building is for the first time assessed, or the rateable value of any land or building is increased, he shall also give written notice thereof to the owner or to any lessee or occupier of the land or building. (4) Any objection to a rateable value or any other matter as entered in the assessment list shall be made in writing to the Commissioner before the date fixed in the notice and shall state in what respect the rateable value, of other matter in dispute, and all objections so made shall be recorded in a register to be kept for the purpose. (5) 'The objections shall be inquired into and investigated, and the persons making them shall be allowed an opportunity of being heard either in person or by authorised agent, by the Commissioner or by any officer of the Corporation authorised in this behalf by the Commissioner. (6) When all objections have been disposed of, and the revision of the rateable value has been completed, the assessment list shall be authenticated by the signature of the Commissioner or, as the case may be, the officer authorised by him in this behalf, who shall certify that except in the cases, if any, in which amendments have been made as shown therein no valid objection has been made to the rateable values or any other matters entered in the said list. (7) The assessment list so authenticated shall be deposited in the office of the Corporation and shall be open, free of charge during office hours to all owners, lessees and occupiers of lands and buildings comprised therein or the authorised agents of such persons, and a public notice that it is so open shall forthwith be published. 125. Subject to such alterations as may thereafter be made in the assessment list under section 126 and to the result of any appeal made under the provisions of this Act, the entries in the assessment list authenticated and deposited as provided in section 124 shall be accepted as conclusive evidence- (a) for the purpose of assessing any tax levied under this Act, of the rateable value of all lands and buildings to which such entries respectively relate. 126. (1) The Commissioner may, at any time, amend the assess- ment list- (a) ... (b) ... (c) ... (d) by increasing or reducing for adequate reasons the amount of any rateable value and of the assessment thereupon, or (e) .................... (f) .................... (g) .................... 148 Provided that no person shall by reason of any such amendment become liable to pay any tax or increase of tax in respect of any period prior to the commencement of the year in which the notice under sub- section (2) is given. (2) Before making any amendment under sub-section (1) the Commissioner shall give to any person affected by the amendment, notice of not less than one month that he proposes to make the amendment and consider any objections which may be made by such person. 127. It shall be in the discretion of the Commissioner to prepare for the whole or any part of Delhi a new assessment list every year or to adopte the rateable value contained in the list for any year. with such alterations as may in particular cases be deemed necessary, as the rateable values for the year following, giving the same public notice as well as individual notices, to person's affected by such alterations, of the rateable value as if a new assessment list had been prepared.'

'(1) The Commissioner shall keep a register of objections in which all objections received under the provisions of sub-section (4) of section 124 as well as sub-section (2) of section 126 shall be entered. This register will show :- (a) the name or number of the land or building in respect of which objection is received; (b) name of the person primarily liable fur the payment of property taxes: (e) name of the objector; (d) the rateable value finally fixed after enquiry and invests gation of the objection; (e) the date from which the rateable value finally fixed is to come into force : and (f) such other details as the Commissioner may from time to time think fit. ' 9.(1) When any amendment is proposed to be made under the provisions of section 126, such amendment will provisionally be made in the assessment list when the notice as required under the provisions of sub-section (2) of section 126 is given to the person affected by the amendment. Municipal Corporation Of Delhi (2) Objections shall be inquired into and investigated by the Commissioner or any other officer authorised by him. (3) The assessment list shall be finally amended in accordance with the decisions given by the Commissioner or by an officer referred to in clause (2) on the investigation and disposal of the objections, if any. (4) If no objection is received or if objection is not rci.-eivcd within the time limit, specified in this behalf in the notice, the assessment list shall be finally amended by confrming the provisional amendment made in the assessment list list (5) Property taxes on the basis of the amended Assessniein List shall be due on the day on wh'ch the Amendment is formally made in the Assessment List. Provided that payment of taxes on the basis of the A:-serneii[ List, existing before such amendment cannot be withheld on the ground that some amendment is to be rnai.L- in the list under this bye-law.'

(36) It will be noticed that proviso to section 126(1) before its amendment read as under :

'Provided that no person shall by rea.son of any such aiiK-ndinent become liable to pay any tax or increase of tax in respect of any period prior to the commencement of the v..'ar in which the amendment is made.'

(37) The proviso before its amendment suggested as if the person could become liable by reason of amendment of the assessnient list only iii the year during which the amendment was made. The amend- ment of the proviso to Section 126(1) shows that the liability fo pav any tax or increase of tax can go beyond the currency of the year in which a notice is given under sub-section (2) of Section 126 oi the Act. thereforee, even if the notice is given during the currep.ey of a financial year but the amendment in fact after investigation is complet- ed later on after the expiry of the financial year, the amended li. v.ould still have the effect retrospectively for the financial year diirirs hich the notice of increase was given. This can be the only reasonable view of the proviso to Section 126(1) if one takes into account die legislative history of the amendment and it is the duty of the court to take notice of the legislative changes and give effect to the intention exhibiled by the changes.

(38) Mahajan, J. had an occasion to interpret the proviso to Section 126(1) of the Act in the unamended form in the case reported as Shri Amolak Ram Khosia v. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi : 1963 P. L. R. 549. (1) In view of the amendment of the aforsaid proviso, no help can be drawn from the decision of the learned Judge.

(39) It will be noticed from the opening words of Section 125 of the Act that the assessment list prepared under section 124 of the Act is subject to any alteration that may be made under section 126 of the Act and is also subject to the result of any appeal made under the provisions of the Act. It cannot be the scheme of the Act that though the assessment list prepared under section 124 is subject to any appeal, the appeal must itself be decided within the year for which the amendment relates to.

(40) Before the Amending Act 42 of 1961, in so far as it amended the proviso to section 126(1) of the Act, became law, the notes on clause 12 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 1961 (No. 49 of 1961) as introduced in the Lok Sabha on 23rd August, 1961 provided as under :- Notes On Clauses

'Clause 12 At present, if an amendment of the assessment list is not completed in the year in which the notice of the proposal to make the amendment has been issued by the Commissioner, the liability for the property taxes according to the amended list accrues only after the commencement of the year in which the amendment is made. There does not appear any reasonable justification as to why the liability to pay the property taxes in such a case should not accrue in the year in which the notice of the proposal is issued by the Commissioner. This is sought to be done by the amendment proposed in the proviso to section 126(1). The amendment proposed will not take the assessed by surprise or in genuine cases cause any hardship to him as he has already been served with the notice of the proposal'.

(41) We are, thereforee, of the considered view that it is not necessary that the proceedings in pursuance of a notice for increasing the rateable value and of the assessment thereupon must be completed within the year in which the notice is given to become effective from the year in which notice is given and thus there is no merit in the first submission of the learned counsel for the petitloner-Society.

(42) Coming to the second and the third submissions made on behalf of the learned counsel for the petitioner, it requires analysis of Sections 124 to 127 of the Act.

(43) Section 124(1) casts a duty on the Corporation to prepare an assessment list of all lands and buildings in Delhi. Such assessment list has to be in such form and manner as prescribed by the Bye-laws. When the assessment list has been prepared under sub-sec. (1) of Section 124, sub-section (2) thereof requires that a public notice about its preparation and of the place where the list may be inspected shall be given and the owner, occupier or lessee shall be at liberty to inspect the list and to take extracts thereof.

(44) Under sub-section (3) of Section 124, the Commissioner has, also at the same time, to give a public notice of the date when he will proceed to consider rateable values entered in the assessment list, and in all cases in which the rateable value for any land or building is being assessed for the first time or rateable value is sought to be increased, the Commissioner is required to give a written notice thereof to the owner or to the lessee or the occupier of such land or building. After such public notice or individual notice, as the case may be, has been given under sub-section. (4) the objections to rateable values can be filed in writing to the Commissioner before the date fixed in the notice and the objections have to state in what respects the rateable value is disputed.

(45) Under sub-sec. (5), the objections so filed are required to be investigated and the person making the objections is allowed an opportunity of being heard either in person or by authorised agent, by the Commissioner or by any officer of the Corporation authorised by the Commissioner in this behalf.

(46) When all objections have been disposed of and the revision of the rateable value is completed, the assessment list is required to be authenticated by the Commissioner or by an officer authorised by him. By this authentication the Commissioner or the officer authorised by him in this behalf has to certify that 'except in the cases, if any, in which amendments have been made as shown therein no valid objection has been made to the rateable values or any other matters entered in the said list'.

(47) Before adverting to Section 125, the relevant provisions of Section 126 along with its proviso and the Bye-laws may be noticed :

(48) It is clear from the provisions of Section 126(1) read with its proviso and sub-sec. (2) thereof that a notice of not less than on 'month is required to be given before the Commissioner may propose to make amendment. It is also clear from bye-law No. 9 (1) that when an amendment is proposed to be made in the assessment list under the provisions of Section 126, such amendment will be provisionally made in the assessment list when the notice as required under sub-see. (2) of Section 126 is given to the person affected by the amendment. thereforee. as soon as a notice is given proposing enhancement, the assessment list, if one may say 'stands provisionally amended' and rateable value is stated therein with effect from the date proposed in the notice.

(49) It is also clear from clause (5) of bye-law No. 9 that the property taxes on the basis of amended list become due only when the amendment is formally made in the assessment list as a result of investigation of the notice issued under section 126(2) of the Act and so long as the assessment list is not formally amended, the person liable to pay property taxes has to continue to pay the said taxes on the basis of the unamended assessment list. It is for this reason that although notice of proposed enhancement of rateable value was issued to the petitioner but so long as that notice was under investigation and the assessment list for the year 1964-65 was not finally amended, the petitioner-society was merely called upon to pay the property taxes according to the unamended list.

(50) 50. Now the provisions of Section 125 of the Act may be examined for their effect :-

(51) The effect of Section 125 is that the assessment list finalised and authenticated and deposited under sub-sections (6) and (7) of Section 124 of the Act is subject to such alterations as may be made under the provisions of Section 126 and/or the result of any appeal under the provisions of this Act.

(52) Once the list so authenticated under section 124(6) is. by virtue of Section 125, made subject to the provisions of Section 126, the assessment list for any year where it is subject to a notice under section 126 is really finalised only after the investigation to the proposed enhancement has been completed and finalised, authentication and deposit of the list under section 124(6) and (7) is subject to such finalisation.

(53) The scheme of Sections 124, 125 and 126 read with the bye-laws is that the assessment has to be duly authenticated by the Commissioner or an officer on his behalf but this list is subject to the other provisions of the Act including Section 126 and the Bye-laws and once a notice has been issued under section 126(2) of the Act, the assessment list though authenticated under section 126(6) is subject to the result of that notice and the assessment list as a result of the investigation under section 126 automatically gets amended from the date of the order of assessment passed as a result of notice under section 126(2) with effect from the date as found in the order of assessment and for the amount the rateable value is finally arrived at.

(54) Coming to Section 127 of the Act, it gives a discretion to the Commissioner to prepare for the whole or any part of Delhi a new assessment list. If a new assessment list is to be prepared, the procedure for it is in relation to lands and buildings which are being assessed for the first time or where the rateable value of any land or building is sought to be increased, apart from public notice, an individual written notice thereof to the owner, lessee or the occupier is required to be given. This is so if the provisions of Section 127 are read with Section 124(3) of the Act. Similarly, if instead of preparing a new assessment list, the Commissioner seeks to adopt the rateable values stated in the assessment list of any year for the following year by increasing the rateable value given thereof, the Commissioner is required to give a publice notice and an individual notice but if the old rateable value of the previous year is being adopted for any following year, no individual notice need be given for the simple reason that there has to be no change but at the same time only public notice must be given as the owner, lessee or the occupier may show that old rateable value need not be adopted due to change of circumstances for that year.

(55) What do we understand when it is said that the Commissioner may adopt the rateable values contained in the list for any year for the year following This really refers to adopting the rateable values given in the previous year in respect of land or building. Once a notice under section 126 proposing an increase has already been given in respect of the land or building by virtue of bye-law No. 9, the assessment list in the year in which notice is given automatically gets amended and under section 127 it is that rateable value which is adopted for the following year. When the proceedings under section 126(2) get finally determined, the assessment list gets amended with effect from the date as found in the assessment order and since the adoption of rateable value for any year was of the previous year in which the notice was given, as soon as, the assessment order turn the previous year gets finalised, the demand is raised for the year in which the rateable value of the previous year was adopted for any year, on the basis of the finalisation of the assessment of the previous year.

(56) It is clear from the affidavit of Shri Vasu Dev, Head Clerk, Taxes, that a public notice was given, for the assessment years 1965-66 to 1967-68.

(57) Mr. Chopra, learned counsel for the petitioner, however, submitted that the said public notice was not under section 127 of the Act. It will be noticed that under section 127, the public notice contemplated is the same which is given under section 124. In fact, Instruction No. 1 in the public notice clearly gives notice of the fact that any amendment made in the previous list under section 126 of the Act will be carried forward wherever necessary. Reading the provisions of bye-law No. 9 with Section 126 of the Act, the previous assessment list had already undergone amendment and if the petitioner- society thought it fit, it could object to the adoption of the previous assessment list but they did not avail of the opportunity to file any objection in spite of the public notice. No other form of notice under section 127 is contemplated except the one which is issued under section 124 or issued under section 124 read with section 126 of the Act. The public notice which was issued was under section 124 read with section 126 of the Act.

(58) The submission of the learned counsel for the petitioner that the revision of assessment list for the year 1964-65 with effect from 20th December, 1964 having been made on 16-11-1967 being not available for the subsequent years, namely, 1965-66 to 1967-68 has no merit. As noticed by us earlier, the rateable values contained in the assessment list for the year 1964-65 stood adopted for the subsequent years. After issue of public notice and in view of bye-law No. 9, the petitioner continued to pay the property taxes at the old rateable value and it is only when the notice for increase in rateable value with effect from 20th December, 1964 stood finally adjudicated upon on 16-11-1967 that the demand was raised for the subsequent years on the same basis. In fact, the demand raised is not on the basis of how the provisional assessment list for the year 1964-65 stood but in fact the demand had been raised in accordance with the rateable value finally arrived at for the year 1964-65 with effect from 20th December, 1964. While adopting the assessment list of any previous year for any year, it was not necessary that the assessment list for the previous year must have become final in the sense that the proceedings for increasing the rateable value in the previous year must also come to an end and failing which the rateable value for the previous year cannot be adopted for the following year. All that Section 127 contemplates is that for any year the rateable value contained in the list for the previous year may be adopted. It was rateable value as contained in the assessment list for the year 1964-65 which was adopted for the following years.

(59) Mr. Chopra, learned counsel for the petitioner Society, referred us to the decision of the Supreme Court in Municipal Corporation of City of Hubli v. Subha Rao Hanumantharao Prayag and others : [1976]3SCR883 . This case is really more relevant for the first submission. In this case, the question was whether the amendment in the assessment list should be made during the currency of the year to which amendment relates. On the scheme of the Bombay Municipal Boroughs Act (18 of 1925), the Supreme Court took the view that the amendment must' be effected during the currency of the assessment year. The relevant provisions of Sections 78 to 82 of the said Act did not contain a proviso similar to the one that we find in Section 126(1) of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act. This decision of the Supreme Court is, thereforee, of no assistance to the present case.

(60) In this view of the matter, there is also no merit in the second and the third submissions of the learned counsel for the petitioner.

(61) There is thus no infirmity in the order dated 16-11-1961 (Annexure 'B') sent in pursuance of the assessment order. Nor is there any infirmity in the revised bill Annexure 'C'.

(62) Nothing was urged about the virus of the bye-laws during the hearing of the writ petition. The bye-laws were framed under section 124 of the Act and are, in no way, inconsistent with the provisions of the said section or the provisions of the Act.

(63) At this stage, we may also advert to a preliminary objection raised on behalf of the respondents that an appeal is already pending against the assessment order and, thereforee, this Court should dismiss this petition on the ground of alternative remedy being available to the petitioner, ft is true that since the appeal is pending against the order of the Deputy Assessor & Collector dated 16th November, 1967, this Court will not be ordinarily inclined to entertain a writ petition challenging the same.

(64) As we have noticed earlier, the petitioner, for reasons best known to it, did not challenge the original assessment order but merely challenged the intimation sent by the Inspection Officer of the office of the 'Deputy Assistant Collector' and the writ petition against that would not be competent.

(65) The other part of the challenge was to the revised bill. This challenge, again, is also meaningless as it is the adoption of the assessment lists for the year 1965-66 to 1967-68, which ought to have been challenged and was in fact argued. The prayer for restraining the Corporation from giving effect to the revised bill in substance involved the question of adoption of the assessment lists for the years 1965-66 to 1967-68. An appeal was competent against the order adopting the assessment list for the aforesaid years but nothing has been said in the petition why it was not filed. thereforee, there is merit in the preliminary objection and the petition is liable to be dismissed also on the ground that the petitioner had failed to avail of the alternative remedy available to it under the Act and the petitioner having failed to avail of that opportunity is not entitled to approach this Court for exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution

(66) For all these reasons, the writ petition fails and is dismissed with costs.


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