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Commissioner of Agricultural Income-tax Vs. Thalayar Rubber Industries Ltd. and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectDirect Taxation
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Case NumberOriginal Petition Nos. 3841 to 3847 of 1977(G.)
Judge
Reported in[1981]131ITR162(Ker)
ActsKerala Agricultural Income-tax Act, 1950 - Sections 16(4), 60(1) and 69; Limitation Act, 1963 - Sections 5, 12(2), 14 and 29(2); Kerala Appellate Tribunal Regulations - Regulations 20(1), 20(2) and 28(2)
AppellantCommissioner of Agricultural Income-tax
RespondentThalayar Rubber Industries Ltd. and ors.
Appellant AdvocateAdv. General
Respondent Advocate T. Karunakaran Nambiyar,; P.A. Chacko,; T.L. Viswanatha
Cases ReferredCommr. of Sales Tax v. Madan Lal Das
Excerpt:
direct taxation - limitation - sections 16 (4), 60 (1) and 69 of kerala agricultural income-tax act, 1950 and sections 5, 12 (2), 14 and 29 (2) of limitation act, 1963 - petitioner did not file application for reference within limitation period - tribunal dismissed application on ground of limitation - section 5 empowers court to condone delay if sufficient cause made out - section 14 empower court to exclude time spent in bona fide prosecution - by virtue of section 69 provisions of sections 4 to 24 not attracted to proceedings under act - act intended to be self-contained code in matter of prescribing period of limitation - held, tribunal without jurisdiction to condone delay in filing application. - - strong reliance is placed on the decision of the supreme court in commr. best.....balakrishna menon, j.1. these original petitions are by the commissioner of agricultural income-tax, kerala, under sub-section (4) of section 60 of the agricultural income-tax act, 1950 (act 22 of 1950)--hereinafter referred to as 'the act'--for the issue of a direction to the appellate tribunal of agricultural income-tax, kozhikode, to treat the applications submitted by him under sub-section (1) of section 60 of the act, to the appellate tribunal, as made within time and for a further direction to the appellate tribunal to dispose of the said applications under section 60(1) on merits and in accordance with law. in all these cases, the commr. of agrl. i.t. submitted applications to the appellate tribunal, under sub-section (1) of section 60 of the act, requiring the tribunal to draw up.....
Judgment:

Balakrishna Menon, J.

1. These original petitions are by the Commissioner of Agricultural Income-tax, Kerala, under Sub-section (4) of Section 60 of the Agricultural Income-tax Act, 1950 (Act 22 of 1950)--hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'--for the issue of a direction to the Appellate Tribunal of Agricultural Income-tax, Kozhikode, to treat the applications submitted by him under Sub-section (1) of Section 60 of the Act, to the Appellate Tribunal, as made within time and for a further direction to the Appellate Tribunal to dispose of the said applications under Section 60(1) on merits and in accordance with law. In all these cases, the Commr. of Agrl. I.T. submitted applications to the Appellate Tribunal, under Sub-section (1) of Section 60 of the Act, requiring the Tribunal to draw up a statement of the case and refer certain questions of law said to be arising out of the order of the Tribunal, to the High Court. Sub-section (1)of Section 60 of the Act requires an application for reference to be submitted to the Tribunal within sixty days of the date upon which a copy of the order of the Tribunal is served on the applicant. Thelast day for presenting the reference application before the Tribunal in all these cases was on December 16, 1976. The applications were sent by registered post from Trivandrum on December 14, 1976, but were received in the office of the Tribunal only on December 20, 1976. The Tribunal dismissed the reference applications on the ground that the applications are not presented within the time allowed by Sub-section (1) of Section 60 of the Act and the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to condone the delay in presenting the applications for reference. The order of the Tribunal dismissing the applications for reference in each of these cases is produced as annex. 'A' in these original petitions. It is on dismissal of the applications for reference that these original petitions have been filed by the Commr. of Agrl. I.T., before this court under Sub-section (4) of Section 60 of the Act to direct the Appellate Tribunal to treat the applications under Section 60(1) as submitted within time and to direct the Tribunal to draw up a statement of the case and refer the questions of law raised to this court.

2. The learned Advocate-General appearing on behalf of the Commissioner, has raised two questions of law before us, namely: (1) that the delivery of the applications to the post office for transmission to the Appellate Tribunal should be treated as presentation of the applications for reference under Sub-section (1) of Section 60 of the Act and if so treated, the applications should be held to have been submitted in time, and (2) that the Appellate Tribunal was wrong in its view that it has no jurisdiction to condone the delay in presenting the applications for reference under Section 60(1) of the Act.

3. As has been noticed earlier, an application for reference under Section 60(1) of the Act, is to be submitted within sixty days of the date upon which the order of the Appellate Tribunal under Section 32(5) is served on the applicant. The applications for reference are sent by registered post within time, but had been received in the office of the Tribunal after the time fixed under Section 60(1) of the Act. The contention on behalf of the Commissioner is that by virtue of the regulations of the Appellate Tribunal, made under Section 16(4) of the Act, despatch by registered post is a proper presentation of the application and the date of presentation should be construed as the date on which the application is delivered to the post office to be sent by registered post. Sub-section (4) of Section 16 of the Act is as follows:

'16. (4) The Appellate Tribunal shall, with the previous sanction of the Government, make regulations consistent with the provisions of this Act, and the rules made thereunder, for regulating its procedure and the disposal of its business. '

4. Regulations were made by the Appellate Tribunal and published in the Kerala Gazette, dated 6th April, 1965. Regulation 20 is as follows :

'20. Presentation.--(1) Every memorandum of appeal, application and other documents shall be presented in person by the party, his pleader or pleader's registered clerk or registered clerk of the chartered accountants or guardian, next friend or recognised agent, as the case may be, to the Secretary of the Tribunal, at any time during office hours or sent to him by registered post.

(2) A memorandum of appeal sent by registered post under sub-regulation (1) shall be deemed to have been presented to the Secretary on the day on which it is received in the office of the Tribunal.

(3) Every principal application by assessee shall specify the Kerala State as the respondent.

(4) When such an application is filed by the Commissioner or other officer he shall describe Kerala State as the applicant. '

5. Regulation 28{2) is as follows :

'28. Application for reference under Sub-section (1) of Section 60 of the Act.-- ...

(2) Regulations 20, 21, 26, 29 and 30 shall apply, mutatis mutandis to an application under Sub-section (1) of Section 60.'

6. Regulation 20 provides for the presentation of every memorandum of appeal, application and other documents in person or to be sent by registered post to the Secretary of the Tribunal. Clause (2) of regulation 20 specifically states that a memorandum of appeal sent by registered post shall be deemed to have been presented to the Secretary on the date on which it is received in the office of the Tribunal. The contention of the learned Advocate-General that Clause (2) of Regulation 20 applies only to a memorandum of appeal sent by registered post and not to an application under Section 60(1) for reference to the High Court, cannot be accepted for the reason that Regulation 28(2) specifically makes Regulation 20 applicable to applications under Sub-section (1) of Section 60 of the Act. Clause (2) of Regulation 20 applies not only to appeals but also to applications under Sub-section (1) of Section 60 of the Act required to be presented within a specified time fixed by the Act. Clause (1) of Regulation 20 applies generally to every memorandum of appeal, application and other documents to be presented to the Tribunal, but in respect of a memorandum of appeal which is required to be presented within the time fixed by the Act, Clause (2) of Regulation 20 specifically provides that the same shall be deemed to have been presented on the date on which it is received in the office of the Tribunal. By virtue of Clause (2) of Regulation 28, the provisions of Clause (2) of Regulation 20 apply also to applications for reference under Section 60(1) of the Act. Clause (2) of Regulation 20 will not, however, apply to applications of an interlocutory nature or to documents produced for the reason that in respect of such applications and documents, no time-limit is fixed by the Act for presentation. It is, therefore, clear that the applicationsfor reference in these cases, were presented to the Tribunal beyond the time fixed by the statute, and no direction can be issued to the Tribunal to treat these applications as made within the time allowed under Sub-section (1) of Section 60 of the Act.

7. The further question is whether the Tribunal has jurisdiction to condone the delay in presenting the applications for reference under Section 60(1) of the Act. According to the learned Advocate-General, the Tribunal has jurisdiction to condone the delay under Section 5 read with Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act, 1963. Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act is extracted below :

'29. (2) Where any special or local law prescribes for any suit, appeal or application a period of limitation different from the period prescribed by the Schedule, the provisions of Section 3 shall apply as if such period were the period prescribed by the Schedule and for the purpose of determining any period of limitation prescribed for any suit, appeal or application by any special or local law, the provisions contained in Sections 4 - 24 (inclusive) shall apply only in so far as, and to the extent to which, they are not expressly excluded by such special or local law.'

8. The contention is that the provisions contained in Sections 4 - 24 of the Limitation Act shall apply also in respect of the period of limitation prescribed by any local or special law in so far as these provisions are not expressly excluded by such special or local law. Section 5 of the Limitation Act is as follows :

'Any appeal or any application, other than an application under any of the provisions of Order 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, may be admitted after the prescribed period if the appellant or the applicant satisfies the court that he had sufficient cause for not preferring the appeal or making the application within such period.

Explanation.--The fact that the appellant or the applicant was misled by any order, practice or judgment of the High Court in ascertaining or computing the prescribed period may be sufficient cause within the meaning of this section.'

9. If, therefore, the applicant is able to make out that he had sufficient cause for not preferring the application within the period fixed by the Act, the Tribunal, it is contended, has jurisdiction to condone the delay and entertain the application. Strong reliance is placed on the decision of the Supreme Court in Commr. of Sales Tax v. Madan Lal Das & Sons [1976] 38 STC 543. There the question was whether the time taken in obtaining a copy of the appellate order could be excluded for the purpose of limitation for filing revision under Section 10(1) of the U.P. Sales Tax Act in a case where a copy of the appellate order had been served upon the dealer as per the provisions of the Act. It would appear that the copy served onthe dealer was lost. He made an application for another copy of the order and a revision was filed under Section 10 of the U.P. Sales Tax Act, before the judge (Revisions), Sales Tax, accompanied by a copy of the appellate order obtained on application. The question before the Supreme Court was whether the time taken for obtaining a copy of the order could be excluded from the period of limitation applying Section 12(2) of the Limitation Act, 1963. After quoting Sections 12 and 29(2) of the Limitation Act, the Supreme Court held as follows (p. 545):

'There can be no manner of doubt that the U.P. Sales Tax Act answers to the description of a special or local law. According to Subsection (2) of Section 29 of the Limitation Act, reproduced above, for the purpose of determining any period of limitation prescribed for any application by any special or local law, the provisions contained in Section 12(2), inter alia, shall apply in so far as and to the extent to which they are not expressly excluded by such special or local law. There is nothing in the U.P. Sales Tax Act expressly excluding the application of section 12(2) of the Limitation Act for determining the period of limitation prescribed for revision application. The conclusion would, therefore, follow that the provisions of Section 12(2) of the Limitation Act of 1963, can be relied upon in computing the period of limitation prescribed for filing a revision petition under Section 10 of the U.P. Sales Tax Act.'

10. The Supreme Court has relied on the decision in J.N. Sitrty v. T.S. Chettyar [1928] LR 55 IA 161 ; AIR 1928 PC 103, to hold that Section 12(2) of the Limitation Act applies even when by a rule of the High Court a memorandum of appeal need not be accompanied by a copy of the decree. Reference is made to an earlier decision of the Supreme Court in Addl. Collector of Customs v. Best and Co., AIR 1966 SC 1713, (at p. 547 of 38 STC) as follows:

' The above decision of the Judicial Committee was followed by this court in the case of Additional Collector of Customs v. Best and Co., AIR 1966 SC 1713.'

11. The Supreme Court accordingly held that Section 12(2) of the Limitation Act, 1963, applies in respect of a revision under Section 10 of the U.P. Sales Tax Act and the time taken for obtaining a copy of the appellate order which is the subject of revision will be excluded in computing the period of limitation for revision.

12. The learned Advocate-General has referred to the decision of a Division Bench of this court in K, K. Ibrahimkutty v. State of Kerala--T.R.C. Nos. 35 to 38 of 1976. There the question was whether the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal had jurisdiction to excuse the delay in filing a memorandum of cross-objections. In that case, this court held that the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal has, under Section 39 of the Sales Tax Act, the jurisdictionto condone the delay, and the Tribunal was wrong in dismissing the memorandum of cross-objections on the ground that the application to excuse delay was not maintainable. In para. 2 of the judgment, Gopalan Nambiyar C.J., stated as follows :

'2. Counsel for the revision petitioner cited to us the decision of the Supreme Court in Commr. of Sales Tax v. Madan Lal Das & Sons [1976] 38 STC 543, where it was ruled that the provisions of Section 12(2) of the Limitation Act can be relied upon in computing the period of limitation prescribed for filing a revision petition under Section 10 of the U. P. Sales Tax Act, 1948. The revision petition under the said provision of the U. P. Sales Tax Act has to be filed before the Judge (Revisions), Sales Tax, who was a Tribunal and not a court. Despite this, the Supreme Court held that the provisions of Section 12(2) were attracted by reason of Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act, 1963. Reference was made to the Privy Council decision in J. N. Surty v. T. S. Chettyar [1928] LR 55 IA 161 (PC), and to certain other cases which have followed the same, including the Supreme Court decision in Addl. Collector of Customs v. Best and Co., AIR 1966 SC 1713 and Gaffoor v. Ayeska Begham (C. A. No. 2406 of 1969). There can be little doubt that the decision is directly in favour of the revision petitioners in these cases. But we hesitate to rest our decision on this ground as there is a trend of rulings of the Supreme Court which has been followed by a number of decisions of this court, holding that the Limitation Act is applicable only to courts and not to tribunals. (See the Full Bench decision of this court in Jokkim Fernandez v. Amina Kunhi Umma [1973] KLT 138 and the latest decision of this court in Ulahannan Chacko v. Parted Marakkar (C. R. P. Nos. 3089, 3091 and 3093 of 1976) [1977] KLN 295. '

13. The decision in Commr. of Sales Tax v. Madan Lal Das & Sons [1976] 38 STC 543 (SC) related to the question whether the time taken for obtaining a copy of the appellate order that was the subject of revision could be excluded under Section 12(2) of the Limitation Act, 1963. Section 12(2) on its terms applies to the computation of the period of limitation for an appeal or on application for leave to appeal or for revision or for review of judgment. The section does not refer to an appeal or application to a court in the matter of computation of the period of limitation by excluding the time taken for obtaining a copy of the judgment, decree, sentence or order appealed from or sought to be revised or reviewed. On the terms of Section 12, it would appear that its provisions are not confined to appeals, applications, etc., to courts only but may apply also to appeals, applications, etc., to tribunals other than courts,

14. In Commr. of Sales Tax v. Parson Tools and Plants [1975] 35 STC 413 (SC), the question was whether Section 14(2) of the Limitation Act, 1963, can be invoked for excluding the time spent in prosecuting an application under r. 68(6) of the U. P. Sales Tax Rules in computing the period of limitation for filing a revision under the Act. After quoting Section 14(2) of the Limitation Act, the Supreme Court held at p. 416 as follows:

' It will be seen that this sub-section will apply only if-

(1) both the prior and subsequent proceedings are civil proceedings prosecuted by the same party;

(2) the prior proceedings had been prosecuted with due diligence and in good faith;

(3) the failure of the prior proceedings was due to a defect of jurisdiction or other cause of a like nature ;

(4) both the proceedings are proceedings in a court.

Mr. Karkhanis, the learned counsel appearing for the appellant, does not dispute the view taken by the High Court that the proceedings in question under the Sales Tax Act could be deemed as ' civil proceedings'. The learned counsel, however, contends that the authorities, irrespective of whether they exercise original, appellate or revisional jurisdiction under the Sales Tax Act, are not ' courts' within the contemplation of Section 14(2) of the Limitation Act. It is pointed out that this question-stands concluded by this court's decision in Jagannath Prasad v. State of U. P. [1963] 14 STC 536 (SC).

Mr. Karkhanis is right that this matter is no longer res integra. In Shrimati Ujjam Bai v. State of U. P. [1963] 1 SCR 778, Hidayatullah J. (as he then was), speaking for the court, observed :

'The taxing authorities are instrumentalities of the State. They are not a part of the legislature; nor are they a part of the judiciary. Their functions are the assessment and collection of taxes, and in the process of assessing taxes, they follow a pattern of action which is considered judicial. They are not thereby converted into courts of civil judicature. They still remain the instrumentalities of the State and are within the definition of 'State' in Article 12.' The above observations were quoted with approval by this court in Jagannath Prasad's case [1963] 14 STC 536 (SC) and it was held that a Sales Tax Officer under the U. P. Sales Tax Act, 1948, was not a court within the meaning of section 195 of the Code of Criminal Procedure although he is required to perform certain quasi-judicial functions. The decision in Jagannath Prasad's case [1963] 14 STC 536 (SC), it seems, was not brought to the notice of the High Court. In view of these pronouncements of this court, there is no room for argument that the appellate authority and the Judge (Revisions), Sales Tax, exercising jurisdiction under the Sales TaxAct, are 'courts'. They are merely administrative tribunals and not 'courts'. Section 14, Limitation Act, therefore, does not, in terms, apply to proceedings before such tribunals.'

15. On the further question whether the principle underlying Section 14(2) of the Limitation Act is applicable on grounds of justice, equity and good conscience, the Supreme Court held at p. 417 as follows:

'The three stark features of the scheme and language of the above provision unmistakably show that the legislature has deliberately excluded the application of the principles underlying Sections 5 and 14 of the Limitation Act, except to the extent and in, the truncated form embodied in Sub-section (3B) of Section 10 of the Sales Tax Act. Delay in disposal of revenue matters adversely affects the steady inflow of revenues and the financial stability of the State. Section 10 is therefore designed to ensure speedy and final determination of fiscal matters within a reasonably certain time schedule.'

16. Section 5 of the Limitation Act empowers the court to condone delay, if the court is satisfied that there was sufficient cause for not preferring the appeal or making the application within the period of limitation. Section 14 empowers the court to exclude the time spent in bona fide prosecuting another civil proceeding in another court which from defect of jurisdiction or other cause of a like nature, was unable to entertain the same. Both these provisions empower the court, to extend the period of limitation in the circumstances mentioned therein. Sections 5 and 14 can be relied on for extension of time in respect of a proceeding in court and not before a Tribunal or other authority, under any local or special law. Section 12 of the Limitation Act on the other hand relates to the computation of the period of limitation and does not restrict its scope and applicability to proceedings in court alone. On its terms, the provisions of Section 12(2) will apply for exclusion of the time requisite for obtaining a copy of the decree, sentence or order, in computing the period of limitation for an appeal or application. The decision in Contmr. of Sales Tax v. Madan Lal Das & Sons [1976] 38 STC 543 is not an authority for the proposition that the Agrl. I.T. Appellate Tribunal has jurisdiction to condone the delay in presenting an application under Sub-section (1) of Section 60 of the Agrl. I.T. Act invoking Section 5 of the Limitation Act. On the other hand, the decision of the Supreme Court in Commr. of Sales Tax v. Parson Tools and Plants [1975] 35 STC 413 clearly lays down the principle that the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to invoke Section 5 of the Limitation Act, to condone the delay in presenting an application under Sub-section (1) of Section 60 of the Agrl. I.T. Act.

17. In Nityanand M. Joshi v. Life Insurance Corporation of India, AIR1970 SC 209, the Supreme Court, following its earlier decision in AIR 1969SC 1335, held as follows:

'2. This court in Town Municipal Council, Athani v. Presiding Officer Labour Court, Hubli, Civil Appeals Nos. 170 to 173 of 1968, D/--20-3-1969 (AIR 1969 SC 1335) has dissented from the decision of the Bombay High Court and has held that Article 137 of the Limitation Act, 1963, does not apply to applications under Section 33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act. This court gave two reasons for coming to this conclusion. The first ground was that in spite of the changes 'made in the Indian Limitation Act, 1963, no drastic change was intended in the scope of Article 137 so as to include within it all applications irrespective of the fact whether they had any reference to the Code of Civil Procedure or not. This court held that in spite of the changes the interpretation of Article 181 of the Limitation Act, 1908, by this court in Bombay Gas Co. Ltd. v. Gopal Bhiva [1964] 3 SCR 709, AIR 1964 SC 752 would apply to Article 137 of the Limitation Act, 1963. The second ground given by this court was that it is only applications to courts that are intended to be covered under Article 137 of the Limitation Act, 1963.

3. In our view Article 137 only 'contemplates applications to courts. In the Third Division of the Schedule to the Limitation Act, 1963, all the other applications mentioned in the various Articles are applications filed in a court. Further, Section 4 of the Limitation Act, 1963, provides for the contingency when the prescribed period for any application expires on a holiday and the only contingency contemplated is ' when the court is closed'. Again under section 5 it is only a court which is enabled to admit an application after the prescribed period has expired if the court is satisfied that the applicant had sufficient cause for not preferring the application. It seems to us that the scheme of the Indian Limitation Act is that it only deals with applications to courts, and that the Labour Court is not a court within the Indian Limitation Act, 1963.'

18. In Jokkim Fernandez v. Amina Kunhi Umma [1973] KLT 138; AIR 1974 Ker 162, a Full Bench of this court has held that Section 5 of the Limitation Act does not apply to proceedings before the appellate authority under the Kerala Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act. Referring to the contention that Section 5 applies by virtue of the provisions of Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act, 1963, the majority judgment of the Full Bench stated as follows (p. 166 of AIR 1974 Ker):

' I am afraid the above contention must fail. It has been ruled that the Limitation Act, 1963, applies only to courts and prescribes periods of limitations in respect of suits, appeals and applications filed only in courts. Section 18 of the Kerala Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act is clear that the appellate authority constituted under it is not a court but only an authority persona designata. The Full Bench decision of this court in Vareed v. Mary [1968] KLT 583 has also ruled to that effect. In TownMunicipal Council, Athani v. Presiding Officer, Labour Court, Hubli,. AIR 1969 SC 1335, the Supreme Court observed:

'11. This point, in our opinion, may be looked at from another' angle also. When this court earlier held that all the Article s in the third division to the Schedule, including Article 181 of the Limitation Act of 1908 governed applications under the Code of Civil Procedure only, it clearly implied that the applications must be presented to a court governed by the Code of Civil Procedure. Even the applications under the Arbitration Act that were included within the third division by amendment of Articles 158 and 178 were to be presented to courts whose proceedings were governed by the Code of Civil Procedure. At best, the further amendment now made enlarges the scope of the third division of the Schedule so as also to include some applications presented to courts governed by the Code of Criminal Procedure. One factor at least remains constant and that is that the applications must be to courts to be governed by the Articles in this division. The scope of the various Articles in this division cannot be held to have been so enlarged as to include within them applications to bodies other than courts, such as a quasi-judicial tribunal, or even an executive authority. An Industrial Tribunal or a Labour Court dealing with applications or references under the Act are not courts and they are in no way governed either by the Code of Civil Procedure or the Code of Criminal Procedure. We cannot, therefore, accept the submission made that this Article will apply even to applications made to an Industrial Tribunal or a Labour Court. The alterations made in the Articles and in the new Act cannot, in our opinion, justify the interpretation that even applications presented to bodies, other than courts, are now to be governed for purposes of Limitation by Article 137......Under the old Limitation Act, no doubt(the long title was 'An-Act to consolidate and amend the law for the Limitation of suits and for other purposes', while, in the new Act of 1963, the long title is 'An Act to consolidate and amend the law for the Limitation of suits and other proceedings and for purposes connected therewith '. In the long title, thus, the words 'other proceedings' have been added ; but we do not think that this addition necessarily implies that the Limitation Act is intended to govern proceedings before any authority, whether executive or quasi-judicial, when, earlier, the old Act was intended to govern proceedings before civil courts only. It is also true that the preamble which existed in the old Limitation Act of 1908 has been omitted in the new Act of 1963. The omission of the preamble does not, however, indicate that there was any intention of the legislature to change the purposes for which the Limitation Act has been enforced. The Bombay High Court also attached importance to the circumstance that the scope of the new Limitation Act has been enlarged by changing the definition of'applicant' in Section 2(a) of the new Act so as to include even a petitioner and the word 'Application' so as to include a petition. The question still remains whether this alteration can be held to be intended to cover petitions by a petitioner to authorities other than courts. We are unable to find any provision in the new Limitation Act which would justify holding that these changes in the definition were intended to make the Limitation Act applicable to proceedings before bodies other than courts' Again in Nityanand M. Joshi v. Life Insurance Corporation of India, AIR 1970 SC 209, the Supreme Court observed that from Sections 4 and 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963, it was clear that the Limitation Act deals only with applications to courts. This being the position, even if the power under Section 5 were to be read into a special local law by reason of the provisions of Section 29 of the Limitation Act, that power is exercisable only by courts and not by tribunals or other authorities such as the appellate authority in this case.'

19. A Division Bench of this court in the decision in Ulahannan Chacko v. Pareed Marakkar [1977] KLN 295, following the Full Bench decision in Jokkim Fernandez v. Amina Kunhi Umma [1973] KLT 138, has held that Section 14 of the Limitation Act does not apply to proceedings before the appellate authority under the Kerala Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act. Another Division Bench of this court in Sreedharan v. Muhammed Kunhi [1978] KLT 20 (Ker) has held at p. 22 as follows :

'And yet again Section 5, Limitation Act, applies only to courts and not to authorities like the Rent Control Court or the appellate authority. We might refer to Jokkim Fernandez v. Amina Kunhi Umma [1973] KLT 138 [FB] holding that Section 5, Limitation Act, has no application to the appellate authority and to Sushila Devi v. Ramanandan Prasad, AIR 1967 SC 177, holding that a Collector to whom an application is made under Section 3 of the Kosi Area (Restoration of Lands to Raiyats) Act, even though he is vested with certain specified powers under the Code of Civil Procedure, is not a court within Section 5 of the Limitation Act. An earlier decision, Nityanand v. L.I.C. of India, AIR 1970 SC 209, had ruled, in a case arising under the Industrial Disputes Act, that the 'scheme of the Indian Limitation Act is that it only deals with applications to courts and that the Labour Court is not a court within the Indian Limitation Act, 1963'. This decision and a prior decision, Athani Municipality v. Labour Court, Hubli, AIR 1969 SC 1335, were followed in Jokkim Fernandez v. Amina Kunhi Umma [1973] KLT 138 [FB], to hold that the Limitation Act applies only to courts and that consequently Section 5 had no application to an appellate authority under the Act, as it is not a court but only a persona designata. [1973] KLT 138 has itself been followed in S. Ganapathi v. N. Kwmaraswami, AIR 1975 Mad 383, for the same purpose. Section 5 of the Limitation Act, therefore, creates no problem. '

20. Section 69 of the Agricultural Income-tax Act (Kerala Act 22 of 1950) is as follows :

'69. Computation of period of limitation.--In computing the period of limitation prescribed for any appeal under this Act or for any application under Section 60, the date on which the order complained of was made and the time requisite for obtaining a copy of such order shall be excluded.'

21. Section 69 of the Act indicates that the provisions of Sections 4 - 24 of the Limitation Act are not attracted to proceedings under the Act, and that the Act is intended to be a self-contained code in the matter of prescribing the periods of limitation for proceedings under the Act. The special provision in Section 69 of the Act would be unnecessary if Section 29(2) were to attract Section 12 of the Limitation Act. There was no similar provision in the U. P. Sales Tax Act in respect of which the Supreme Court in Commr. of Sales Tax v. Madan Lal Das & Sons [1976] 38 STC 543 held that Section 12 of the Limitation Act, 1963, is attracted by virtue of Section 29(2) of the said Act. For the above reasons, we hold that the Agricultural Income-tax Appellate Tribunal has no jurisdiction to condone the delay in filing an application for reference under Sub-section (1) of Section 60 of the Act.

22. The result is that these original petitions fail and are dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.


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