Kotchu Thommen, J. - The following questions are raised for our consideration :
'(1) Whether the Appellate Tribunal erred in law in disturbing the finding on addition made by the Appellate Assistant Commissioner ?
(2) Whether there is material on record to make an addition of Rs. 2,66,840 to the turnover disclosed by the accounts ?'
2. The petitioner is a dealer in oil and grocery. For the year 1968-69 the petitioner returned a gross and taxable turnover of Rs. 21,57,358.07.
3. The Sales-tax Officer, Special Circle, Palghat, by his order dt. 15-11-1969 rejected the accounts an made an addition of Rs. 2,66,840 to the turnover declared. The grounds stated by the Officer for rejecting the accounts are : (1) Certain discrepancies have been noticed in the stock at the inspections on 25-6-1968, & 27-9-1968, & (2) On interception of the petitioners transport of goods in the current year as well as the previous year, showed that the transport was without proper documents. The assessee contended that the difference in stock noticed at the time of the inspection on 25-6-1968 was negligible, and that the value of the excess stock and the deficient stock noticed in the inspection of 27-9-1968 was only Rs. 26,684/-. His explanation for the discrepancy was that the bills were made in advance and the delivery was taken on payment of cash later. In some cases advance delivery was effected to suit the convenience of parties. The explanation was rejected by the Officer. He said that there were no circumstances which prevented the assessee from issuing bills at the time of the sale and that he had deliberately suppressed the bills to escape tax liability. He also rejected his contention that sales effected without bills were later included in the accounts. The Officer treated the value of the difference in stock as suppressed turnover for a period of one month and made an addition of Rs. 2,66,840 being ten times the value of the difference.
4. On appeal to the Appellate Assistant Commissioner of Agricultural Income-tax and Sales Tax, Palghat, the rejection of the accounts was confirmed by his order dated 2-7-1970. He observed that the inspection made by the Intelligence Officer on 27-9-1968 and the suppressions detected covered only six months. He therefore reduced the estimate to six times the value of the suppressions detected. The addition made by the Officer was thus reduced from 2,66,840/- to Rs. 1,60,104/- He says :
'The inspection by the Intelligence Officer was made on 27-9-1968, i.e., in the middle of the year. The suppressions detected can be considered to cover only for 6 months On this basis I reduce the estimation at 6 times of the suppressions calculated by the officer, i.e., the addition is reduced to Rs. 1,60,104/-. The taxable turnover will be calculated accordingly'.
The State preferred an appeal before the Tribunal. By order dated 28-2-1974, the Tribunal held that the Appellate Assistant Commissioner was not justified in limiting the scope of the suppression to the first half of the year. The Tribunal stated as follows :
'In the view of the Appellate Assistant Commissioner the suppression actually detected can be considered only to cover 6 months for the reason that the inspection was in middle of the year. As already pointed out this was not the only occassion in the course of the year when correct to say that there was suppression only during the first half of the year as presumed by the Appellate Assistant Commissioner. If there had been another inspection in the course of the year after 27-9-1968 perhaps variation of this kind would have been noticed, as such variations were noticed on an occasion previous to the one conducted by the Intelligence Officer. We therefore feel that the interference, made by the Appellate Assistant Commissioner, with the addition made by the Sales-tax Officer can not be justified,. The order of the Appellate Assistant Commissioner is therefore cancelled and the order of the Sales-tax Officer restored'.
The Tribunal allowed the appeal filed by the State and dismissed the cross-appeal filed by the assessee.
5. The question that arises for our consideration is whether the Tribunal has sufficient material to draw an inference that the suppression had exceeded six months. As courts have stated, the best judgment assessment should be based on an honest and rational estimate which has a reasonable nexus to the available material and circumstances of each case. (P. P. Varghese vs. State of Kerala (1971) 27 S.T.C. 459, M. Appukutty vs. Sales-tax Officer, Kozhikode - (1966) 17 S.T.C. 380; and Commissioner of Sales Tax, Madhya Pradesh vs. H. N. Esufali H. M. Abdulali - (1973) CTR (S.C.) 317. The materials available to the Tribunal should have warranted an inference that the suppression detected on the two inspections indicated a pattern of continuous suppression which could well have extended over six months. The question is whether the Tribunal has materials to draw an inference as to a pattern of suppression of such duration. In the instant case, the suppression detected in the first occasion was negligible the suppression on the second occasion was to the value of approximately Rs. 26,684/-. These two suppression were detected in the course of three months. There was no further inspection to indicate suppression during any other period. The Tribunal, however, presumes that 'if there had been another inspection in the course of the year after 27-9-1968, perhaps variation of this kind would have been noticed'. This is a mere guess which cannot be said to be founded on materials. Although this Court would not enquire into the sufficiency of materials or substitute its judgment it in the place of the judgment of the Tribunal in regard to questions of fact, nevertheless, if the conclusions drawn by the Tribunal are so irrational in the sense that no reasonable man would have come to such a conclusion either because of a total lack of evidence or because or irrelevant considerations, this Court would interfere with such finding. In the present case the materials available to the Tribunal were confined to a mere span of three months, which, as the Appellant Assistant Commissioner found, covered six months,. The Tribunal had no materials whatsoever to extend the same pattern to cover beyond six months. In our opinion, the Tribunal was not justified in interfering with the order of the Appellate Assistant Commissioner.
6. In the result, we allow the Tax Revision Case, set aside the order of the Appellate Tribunal and uphold that of the Appellate Assistant Commissioner, but we do not make any order as to costs.