T.K. Joseph, J.
1. Plaintiff, a merchant carrying on business at Palai in Meenachil Taluk, was liable to pay sales tax on his turnover and the amount assessed as tax was a sum of Rs. 4,033-14-6. As the tax was not paid, recourse was had to the Revenue Recovery Act for realisation of the same and a notice of demand dated 6-10-1951 issued by the Tahsildar, Meenachil, under Section 24 of the Revenue Recovery Act was served on him. He paid various sums on different dates. On 2-6-1952 another notice was issued to him stating that a sum of Rs. 2,833-14-6 was still due. It was then found by the plaintiff that three payments made by him were not given credit to and he instituted the suit for compelling the State of Travancore-Cochin to give credit to this sum and also to restrain the State from recovering the same over again,
It was contended by the State that the receipts relied on by the plaintiff were not in the prescribed form and that the disputed payments were not entered in the accounts. It was therefore pleaded that the payments even if true could not be given effect to. The Court below found that a sum of Rs. 1,900 was paid by the plaintiff to the Proverthicar, Lalam Pakuthy, that the receipts (Exts. F, F-1, G and H) evidencing these payments were not in the prescribed forms and that the payments were not valid. The suit was accordingly dismissed, and the plaintiff has preferred this appeal.
2. It has been found by the Court below that the alleged payments are true, and this finding is not objected to by the respondent, The only question that therefore arises for decision is whether the payments are valid. The reasons relied on by the learned Judge for holding against the validity of the payments are: (1) The receipts are not in the prescribed form; (2) the payments to the Proverthicar were unauthorised as he was not entitled to receive payment; and (3) the State cannot be made liable for the fraudulent act of its servant. These reasons, in our opinion, are unsustainable.
3. As regards the first and second grounds the point raised by the State was that the receipts were not in the prescribed form and that the Proverthicar was not authorised to receive payment. D.W. 1 who gave evidence on behalf of the State did not say what the prescribed form was. He deposed that there was a direction in the Village Manual published by the Government of Travancore in the year 1945 regarding this matter. The relevant provision is extracted in the judgment of the Court below.
This is only a direction to the village officers to issue receipts in the proper form and does not mean that the payment validly made will not be binding on the State if the receipt for the payment is not issued in the proper form. Section 4 of the Travancore-Cochin Revenue Recovery Act (VII of 1931) is as follows:--
4. 'Subject to such rules as the Government may prescribe from time to time, every land-holder shall pay to the Collector or the Deputy Collector or the Tahsildar, the Proverthicar or the Village Accountant or any other officer whom the Government may authorise in that behalf by notification in the Gazette, the revenue due from him on or before the day fixed for payment, and the payer shall be entitled to a receipt signed by the officer concerned for the payment so made. In cases where the payment is made by a person on behalf of the land-holder such receipt shall also contain the name of the person who makes the payment.'
This section makes it clear that payment of revenue to the Proverthicar is a valid payment. It also provides that the person making the payment is entitled to a receipt signed by the officer to whom such payment is made. The section does not contemplate any particular form of receipt. Section 62 of the Act provides that all arrears of public revenue due to Government other than land revenue may be recovered under the provisions of this Act.
Under Section 13 of the (Travancore-Cochin) General Sales Tax Act (XI of 1125) sales tax not paid within the time specified in the notice of assessment may be recovered as if the same were an arrear of land revenue. It is therefore clear that the plaintiff was entitled to make the payment to the Proverthicar if proceedings under the Revenue Recovery Act had been initiated for recovery of the tax. The learned Judge observed that payment to the Proverthicar is not one of the modes provided for by Rule 15 of the Travancore-Cochin General Sales Tax Rules, 1950. It is true that the form prescribed for the notice of assessment contemplates only three modes of payment and that payment to the Proverthicar is not one of those, modes.
This has no bearing on the question, as proceedings under the Revenue Recovery Act had already been initiated for recovery of the amount from the plaintiff. Notice of demand under the Revenue Recovery Act had been issued and served on the plaintiff before the disputed payments were made. The amount was thus sought to be recovered under the Revenue Recovery Act and payments in the manner provided for by Section 4 of the said Act were therefore valid. The Proverthicar being an officer authorised to receive payment under the said section, the payments in question were validly made to him and such payments constitute a valid discharge so far as the plaintiff is concerned,
4. As regards the last ground, namely, that the State cannot be made liable for the fraudulent act of the Proverthicar, we are unable to accept the conclusion reached by the learned Judge. The Proverthicar was acting within the scope of his authority, and if he embezzled the money later, the State cannot plead that the' payment is not valid so long as it is not alleged or proved that the plaintiff was a party to such fraud. The fraud, if at all, was committed by the Proverthicar after receipt of theamounts and the plaintiff cannot be held liable for the same. In these circumstances, it must be held that the payment of Rs. 1,900 by the plaintiff was a valid payment which must be given credit to by the State.
5. In the result, the appeal is allowed reversing the decree of the Court below and decreeingthe suit in terms of the plaint. The appellant willget his costs here and in the Court below from therespondent.