Gopalan Nambiyar, C.J.
1. The assessee, Shri M. K. Parameswaran, Kottarathu Madom, Mancombu, was assessed to agricultural income-tax for the year ending March 31, 1967, as an individual. The assessment year is 1967-68. It is admitted that the assessee had no accounts. He was a member of the joint family which was partitioned on December 26, 1966. As a result of the partition certain properties were allotted to the assessee. He was also deriving his share of the agricultural income from the Kottaram Plantations and the Bharathan Hill Estate which were kept as joint family property. The assessee returned a net agricultural income of Rs. 3,241.16 for the year 1967-68 and Rs. 19,150.21 for 1968-69. The statement of facts shows that out of the properties in question, he had interest in 4 acres garden lands and 53.62 acres of wet lands, besides his share of income from Bharathan Hill Estate and B group properties and from Kottaram Plantations. The controversy turned on how the previous years were reckoned for the purpose of assessment. The assessee's contention was that the joint family was submitting its return and was being assessed on the basis of the Malayalam era ; and as, on and after the partition on December 26, 1966, the assessee had derived income from properties allotted to him on partition and was also being assessed to his share of income from the plantations and other properties kept in common with the joint family, the assessment year had to be taken as the Malayalam era as was followed with reference to the joint family. This contention was accepted by the Tribunal and it is that question that falls to be examined in this reference. The questions of law referred for our determination are :
'(1) Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of these cases, the respondent/assessee, who has not maintained any accounts, is entitled to reckon any period other than the 12 months ending on the 31st March, 1967/1968, as his previous year ; and whether the Tribunal is justified in relying on the assessment of the estate at the hands of a different assessee (family of the respondent) for the prior periods, in determining the issue in favour of the respondent/assessee and
(2) Whether the finding of the Tribunal reflects the true spirit of the definition of 'previous year' contained in Section 2(o) of the Agrl. Income-tax Act, 1950?'
3. The previous year is defined in Section 2(o) of the Act as follows :
'2. Definitions.--In this Act, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context--...
(o) 'Previous year' means-
(i) the twelve months ending on the 31st day of March preceding the year for which the assessment is to be made or, if the accounts of the assessee have been made up to a date within the said twelve months in respect of any year ending on any date other than the said 31st day of March, then at the option of the assessee the year ending on the day to which his accounts have been so made up :
Provided that, if the option has once been exercised by an assessee, he shall not exercise it again so as to vary the meaning of the expression 'pro-vious year' as then applicable to him except with the consent of the Agricultural Income-tax Officer and upon such conditions as he may think fit ; or (ii) such period as may be determined by the Commissioner in the particular case of any person or class of persons.'
4. From the definition, it appears to us that the previous year can be reckoned in two parts : one, as twelve months ending on the 31st day of March preceding the year for which the assessment is to be made; or, secondly, at the option of the assessee, as the year ending on the day up to which his accounts have been made up, provided the accounts were made up to a date within the said twelve months in respect of any year ending on a day other than 31st March. In order to have the benefit of this alternative date mentioned by the second part of the definition, it is quite plain that the necessary condition precedent is that the assessee must have accounts, and the said accounts must have been made up in the particular fashion indicated. In the case before us, it is admitted that the assessee did not have any accounts at all. The question of making them up in the fashion indicated could not obviously arise; and the latter part of the definition of the previous year would, therefore, be inapplicable. The former part alone would apply. The Tribunal was, therefore, wrong in its conclusion that as the accounts of the joint family were being made up to the end of the Malayalam era and as the joint family had been assessed on that footing, the assessee, despite his not maintaining accounts, was entitled to have the previous year reckoned as the year according to the Malayalam era.
5. We, accordingly, answer the first part of the question referred in the negative, that is, in favour of the department and against the assessee ; and the second part of it also in the negative, that is, in favour of the department and against the assessee. We answer question No. 2 in thenegative, that is, in favour of the revenue and against the assessee. There will be no order as to costs.
6. A copy of this judgment under the signature of the Registrar and the seal of this court will be communicated to the Kerala Agricultural Income-tax and Sales-tax Appellate Tribunal, Trivandrum, as required by law.