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L.T. Ibrahim Vs. Agricultural Income-tax Officer and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectDirect Taxation
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Case NumberO.P. No. 2905 of 1983
Judge
Reported in[1987]163ITR91(Ker)
ActsKerala Agricultural Income Tax Act, 1950 - Sections 54
AppellantL.T. Ibrahim
RespondentAgricultural Income-tax Officer and ors.
Appellant Advocate P.K.N. Achan, Adv.
Respondent Advocate Divakaran Pillai, Adv.
Cases ReferredSankaranarayana Bhatta v. Ganapathi Bhatta
Excerpt:
- .....agricultural income-tax officer, hosdurg, praying for the issue of a certified copy of the return filed by the 3rd respondent quoting reference number m.55 (exhibit p-1). the 1st respondent by exhibit p-2 order dated february 23, 1983, rejected the application. he relied on section 54(3) read with section 54(1) of the agricultural income-tax act and said that the application for a certified copy of the return filed by the 3rd respondent by a stranger is not sustainable and so the petitioner is not entitled to the certified copy applied for by him. the petitioner, filed another application seeking the very same relief by exhibit p-3 dated march 18, 1983. exhibit p-4 is the affidavit filed in support of the application. by exhibit p-5 order dated march 21, 1983, the 1st respondent.....
Judgment:

K.S. Paripoornan, J.

1. The petitioner in the original petition is the second plantiff in O.S. No. 26 of 1982 before the Munsiff's Court, Kasargode. The suit was one for partition of the plaint schedule properties. He alleged that the income from the properties were appropriated by his brother, 3rd respondent, in this OP who is the 1st defendant in the suit. To prove his averments in the plaint, the petitioner filed an application before the 1st respondent--the Agricultural Income-tax Officer, Hosdurg, praying for the issue of a certified copy of the return filed by the 3rd respondent quoting reference number M.55 (Exhibit P-1). The 1st respondent by exhibit P-2 order dated February 23, 1983, rejected the application. He relied on Section 54(3) read with Section 54(1) of the Agricultural Income-tax Act and said that the application for a certified copy of the return filed by the 3rd respondent by a stranger is not sustainable and so the petitioner is not entitled to the certified copy applied for by him. The petitioner, filed another application seeking the very same relief by exhibit P-3 dated March 18, 1983. Exhibit P-4 is the affidavit filed in support of the application. By exhibit P-5 order dated March 21, 1983, the 1st respondent rejected the application. In this original petition, exhibits P-2 and P-5 proceedings of the 1st respondent are impugned.

2. Petitioner's counsel contended that there is no absolute prohibition against disclosure of information under Section 54 of the Agricultural Income-tax Act. It is argued that the 1st respondent misconstrued Section 54 of the Act in passing exhibits P-2 and P-5 orders. The petitioner says that he is the co-owner of the properties along with the 3rd respondent and so, there is nothing which interdicts the 1st respondent from supplying certified copies of the returns filed by his brother, 3rd respondent, for the years 1969 to 1981.

3. On behalf of the 1st respondent, a detailed counter-affidavit dated February 27, 1984, has been filed Government Pleader, Mr. Divakaran Pillai, who appeared on behalf of respondents No. 1 and 2, supported the stand taken in the counter-affidavit of the 1st respondent. Counsel for the Revenue further contended that Section 54 of the Agricultural Income-tax Act has been properly construed by the 1st respondent and that exhibits P-2 and P-5 are not open to any infirmity as alleged by the petitioner. The Revenue contends that the mere fact the petitioner is a co-owner along with his brother, 3rd respondent, will not in any way affect, the plain and clear language of Section 54 of the Act which interdicts the 1st respondent from supplying copies of the returns filed by the 3rd respondent to the petitioner. Section 54(1) of the Agricultural Income-tax Act is to the following effect :

'54. Disclosure of information by public servant--(1) All particulars contained in any statement made, return furnished or accounts or documents produced under the provisions of this Act or in any evidence given or affidavit or deposition made in the course of any proceedings under this Act other than proceedings under this Chapter or in any record of an assessment proceeding or any proceeding relating to the recovery of a demand prepared for the purposes of this Act shall be treated as confidential and notwithstanding anything contained in the Travancore or Cochin Evidence Act, no court shall, save as provided in this Act, be entitled to require any public servant to produce before it any such return, accounts, documents or record or any part of such record or to give evidence before it in respect thereof.'

4. Under Section 54(3) of the Act, there are certain cases in which the particulars of certain documents can be disclosed. Such categories of documents are taken outside the purview of Section 54(1) of the Act. It is common ground that the petitioner's application for a certified copy of the return filed by the 3rd respondent will not come within the excepted categories of cases specified in Section 54(3) of the Act Looking into the language of Section 54(1), I should say that all documents referred to in the section shall be treatea as confidential and that no court shall be entitled to require any public servant to produce before it any such return, accounts, documents, etc. The prohibition is absolute in its terms and it makes no exception. A similar provision which occurred in the Income-tax Act came up for consideration in Charu Chandra Kundu v. Gurupada Ghosh : [1961]43ITR83(SC) and Commissioner of Income-tax v. Laxmichand Narayandas : [1962]44ITR548(SC) . In the former case, the Supreme Court held that the prohibition imposed against the court by Section 54 is absolute and its operation is not obliterated by any waiver by the assessee in whose assessment the evidence has been tendered, document produced or record prepared. The matter came up before this court in an agricultural income-tax matter in the decision reported in Sankaranarayana Bhatta v. Ganapathi Bhatta [1977] KLT 583. At pages 585, my learned brother Mr. Justice G. Balagangadharan Nair held that :

'As to the effect of the sub-section, it is in two parts--the first part enacts that the records and particulars specified in them shall be treated as confidential and the second part, save as provided in the Act, debars the court from requiring any public servant to produce the records or any part of them in court. Therefore, besides directing the records to be treated as confidential, the sub-section imposes a ban upon the public servant against producing them or any part of them in court.'

5. On a fair and reasonable reading of Section 54(1) of the Agricultural Income-tax Act, in the light of the decisions in Charu Chandra Kundu's case : [1961]43ITR83(SC) , Commissioner of Income-tax v. Laxmichand Narayandas : [1962]44ITR548(SC) and Sankaranarayana Bhatta's case [1977] KLT 583, I hold that the first respondent was justified in passing exhibits P-2 and P-5 orders. The petitioner is not entitled to get certified copies of the returns filed by his brother, 3rd respondent, for the years 1969 to 1981.

6. The original petition is without merit. It is dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs.


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