V. Khalid, J.
1. The common questions that arise in these tax revision cases can be disposed of by a common judgment. The questions raised for our decision are :
(A) Whether on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the Appellate Tribunal was justified in law in discarding the total estimate of income of cardamom arrived at in the agricultural income-tax assassment ?
(B) Whether on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the Appellate Tribunal was justified in law in holding that it is 'only presumption that the total yield was as per agricultural income-tax assessment' ?
(C) Is cot the burden of proof on the assessee to adduce relevant material to show that the balance of the cardamom income as per the agricultural income-tax assessment (other than the cardamom transported to Madras State) has been disposed of or otherwise dealt with to take it outside the purview of the liability under the sales tax law of Kerala State ?
2. As the questions involved in all the tax revision cases are the same, we do not think it necessary to state in detail the statement of facts in each of them; the only variation in each of the cases being the quantity of cardamom which was the, subject-matter of assessment.
3. The facts of the case are that the assessee in each of these cases has a cardamom estate in Kerala State, They were assessed to agricultural income-tax by the concerned officer for the assessment year 1966-67 rejecting the return of income submitted by each of them. The assessment therefore proceeded on the best judgment of the officer concerned. Those orders not having been appealed against became final. Thereafter, proceedings were initiated under the Sales Tax Act. Each of the assessees produced evidence to show that the cardamom which they admitted as per their return to the Agricultural Income-tax Officer were transported to Madras State as per valid documents and, therefore, they claimed exemption for such sale. The Sales Tax Officer proceeded to assess the petitioners on the ground that the balance of cardamom as per the findings of the Agricultural Income-tax Officer in the best judgment assessment were available and the same should be deemed to have been sold within the State and hence the petitioners were liable for sales tax. It was held that there was no proof adduced how the balance of cardamom was disposed of or used. All that the assessee could say was that he had no excess quantity to be sold in the State. The matter was taken up before the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal by the various assessees. The Tribunal by a majority order set aside the orders of the officers of the sales tax department and held that the petitioners were not liable for assessment.
4. We are of the opinion that the Tribunal is right in its finding. What the Assistant Sales Tax Officer and the Appellate Assistant Commissioner did was to base their findings on the best judgment assessment of the Agricultural Income-tax Officer. This cannot be a correct basis. The Sales Tax Officers should have based their decisions on acceptable evidence independent of the findings by the Agricultural Income-tax Officer. The assessment proceeded mainly on the surmise based on the best judgment assessment made by the Agricultural Income-tax Officer. To rely upon the orders made by the Agricultural Income-tax Officer in his best judgment assessment and to assess the petitioners under the Sales Tax Act would create disastrous consequences. The Tribunal has rightly observed that the entire burden in the circumstances of the case is on the department to establish that the assessee did sell cardamom within the Kerala State. The assessees satisfactorily established that the entire cardamom produced within the State by them was transported by valid permit under Section 77-A. The method adopted by the Sales Tax Officers to fix the balance of cardamom liable for sales tax is wrong and cannot be sustained. We, therefore, hold that the order of the Tribunal was right in setting aside the orders of the sales tax authorities.
In the result, the tax revision cases are dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.