ISSAC J. - The petitioner in both these cases is the same. By these petitions, he seeks to quash four orders of assessment made under the Agricultural Income-tax Act, 1950, by the Agricultural Income-tax Officer, Manantody, for the assessment years 1965-66 to 1968-69 both inclusive.
The only contention pressed by counsel for the petitioner is that the income assessed in these cases is not agricultural income as defined in section 2(a) of the Act as the lands from which the said income was derived are not lands either assessed to land revenue in the State or subject to a local rate assessed and collected by officers of the State as such. Admittedly the income assessed arose from unsurveyed lands; and the tax payable under the Kerala Land Tax Act, 1961, in respect of the said lands has not been assessed or collected. Income derived from land 'which is used for agricultural purposes and is either assessed to land revenue in the State or subject to a local rate assessed and collected by officers of the Government as such' would alone be agricultural income as defined in the Agricultural Income-tax Act. The respondent held that under the Kerala Land Tax Act, every land in the State subject to the exceptions provided thereunder, is assessed to land revenue, and that the income derived from unsurveyed lands is also agricultural income, though the tax payable in respect of such lands had not been determined or collected.
The only question for decision is whether unsurveyed lands in respect of which the tax payable under the Kerala Land Tax Act has not been assessed or collected are lands 'assessed to land revenue in the State' within the meaning of this expression used in the definition of agricultural income. Section 5 of the Kerala Land Tax Act is the charging section; and it provides that subject to the provisions of the Act there shall be charged and levied a tax called 'basic tax' on all lands of whatever description and held under whatever tenure. The rate of tax is fixed at an unifrom rate by section 6 of the Act, subject to certain qualifications mentioned therein. The word 'assess' has got different meaning depending on the context in which it is used. Chambers 20th Century Dictionary gives the following meanings :
'To fix the amount of, as a tax; to tax or fine; fix the value of profits of, for taxation; to estimate.
One of the meanings given to that word in Blacks Law Dictionary is :
'To imposes a pecuniary payment upon persons or property.'
Another meaning given in that dictionary is 'to tax'. I have not been able to discern the object of the legislature in limiting the definition of agricultural income to income arising from land either assessed to land revenue or subject to local rate assessed and collected by officers of the State. Perhaps, it may be because all lands sufficiently or properly develop of for agricultural operation may be assessed to land revenue or subject to a local rate, and the legislature did not want to tax the income derived from lands which have not been so developed. That consideration has now no application in view of the fact that the Kerala Land Tax Act has charged a uniform rate of land revenue on all the lands in the State.
Counsel for the petitioner submits that only land in respect of which the tax payable under the Kerala Land Tax Act has been actually assessed by the revenue would be land 'assessed to land revenue', and not land on which a tax liability is imposed by the statute. If that be so, the charge of agricultural income-tax would depend on the question whether the tax payable on the lands from which the income arose has been actually determined by the revenue department. That means that, though all lands din the State are subject to land tax, the income from lands in respect of which the tax payable has been determined by the revenue would be charged to agricultural income-tax; and income from lands in respect of which the tax payable has not been determined, would not be liable for agricultural income-tax. I am unable to see any justification for such am differentiation. In my view, the liability to be assessed under the Agricultural Income-tax Act depends on the question whether the income is derived from lands subjected to payment of land tax. As I already stated, the word 'assess' has got the meaning 'to tax' : and in my view the word 'assessed' is used in the definition of 'agricultural income' in that sense. It follows that the income derived from land subject to land revenue under the Kerala Land Tax Act, 1961, would be agricultural income liable to agricultural income-tax. In the result these writ petition are dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.