1. In this group of two appeals at the instance of the CIT, Gujarat-III, the common order of the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal dated June 30, 1976, invalidating the acquisition of immovable property being shops, bearing Nos. 1 to 5 on the ground floor of the building known as YASHKAMAL standing on land of S.No. 91-92 (part) on Ring Road, Surat, within town planing scheme No. 8 of the Surat Municipal Corporation, which were sought to be acquired by the order of the Competent Authority, Acquisition Range II, Ahmedabad, dated March 12, 1976, has been challenged. In order to appreciate the contentions raised in these appeals it would be necessary to advert to a few facts which have led to those two appeals.
2. The owners of the shops in question were Bhagwandas R. Reshamwala and other who happen to be partners of M/s. Reshamwala Market in which the shops were situated. By a deed of conveyance dated November 26, 1973, they conveyed the right, title and interest in the shops together with the land to one Smt. Shilaben Kanchanlal Rana of Surat for a consideration of Rs. 1,05,500. Since in the opinion of the competent authority the apparent consideration stated in the deed of conveyance was less than the fair market value, he initiated the acquisition proceedings by a notice on May 18, 1974, which was published in the Central Government Gazette on August 31, 1974. Individual notices on the transferor and transferee as required under s. 269D(2)(a) of the I.T. Act, 1961 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'), were served on June 1, 1974 while it was served on the occupier of the said shops (A branch of Dena Bank at Surat) on December 13, 1974. The locality notice, as required under s. 269D(2)(b) of the Act, was published by affixation as well as by beat of 'theli' on December 13, 1974. The transferee filed objections before the Competent Authority, who on consideration of all the materials before him reached the conclusion that the apparent consideration as stated in the instrument of transfer was substantially less than the fair market value and, therefore, the property in question should be acquired. He accordingly made an order of acquisition under s. 269P of the Act which was challenged by the transferor and transferee by two separate appeals before the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal. A number of contentions were urged on behalf of the transferor and the transferee before the Tribunal but two contentions impressed the Tribunal which held that the acquisition proceedings were vitiated because the conditions precedent for initiation of acquisition proceedings were not complied with inasmuch as the public notice in the Government Gazette as required to be published within nine months of the last day of the month in which the instrument of transfer in respect of the property in question was registered under the Registration Act, 1908, as provided under the proviso to s. 269D(1) of the Act was not published in the Government Gazette within time and also because the locality notice was admittedly published beyond the period or limitation of 45 days of the public notice during which the transferee are entitled to file their objections under section 269E of the Act. The Tribunal in holding that the Gazette notice was not published within nine months, followed the decision of the Allahabad High Court in U. S. Awasthi v. IAC : 107ITR796(All) . The Tribunal, therefore, by its common order of June 13, 1976, allowed the appeals and set aside the acquisition order. This common order is the subject-matter of the two appeal before us.
3. At the outset, we must say that as far as the second ground of the Tribunal for invalidating the acquisition proceedings in question is concerned, the point is already covered by the decision of this court in CIT v. Smt. Vimlaben Bhagwandas Patel : 118ITR134(Guj) . A few dates are recapitulated for the purpose of appreciating the objections of the learned Government pleader on behalf of the Commissioner, Gujarat-III, that the Tribunal was clearly in error in reaching the conclusions that the conditions precedent for the valid initiation of the acquisition proceedings were not satisfied because the locality notice, under s. 269D(2)(b) of the Act, was published admittedly after about 3 1/2 months of the publication of the gazetted notice. It should be recalled that the competent authority started initiation of acquisition proceedings by a public notice of May 18, 1974. The individual notices, however, to the transferor and transferee proceeded the public notice. However, individual notice to the occupier, viz., the branch of Dena Bank at Surat, and the locality notice were served and published respectively on December 13, 1974, i.e., 3 1/2 months from the date of the public notice. The Tribunal, therefore, was of the view that since the service of the individual notices on the occupier as well as the publication of the locality notice were admittedly beyond the period of limitation of 45 days prescribed under s. 269E of the Act for the purpose of filing objections by the interested and/or affected persons, the condition precedent for initiation of acquisition proceedings was not satisfied, for the obvious reason that the late publication of the aforesaid two notices would inevitably result in depriving the interested or affected persons of the right to file objections within the prescribed period of limitation. This view of the Tribunal is now no more good in view of the decision of this very Division Bench in CIT v. Smt. Vimlaben B. Patel : 118ITR134(Guj) . This court has held that the service of the individual notice or publication of the locality notice are not the conditions precedent for initiation of acquisition proceeding and the question of limitation for filling objections by the interested or affected person cannot have a bearing on the question of jurisdiction, since the persons interested or affected can file their objections within 45 days from the date of the actual or constructive notice of the initiation of the acquisition proceedings. In that view of the matter, therefore, we must not detain ourselves on this point and we agree with the learned Govt. pleader that the view of the Tribunal that since the individual notice to the occupier and the locality notice were not made within the period of limitation prescribed for filing objections, there is noncompliance with the conditions precedent for the initiation of the acquisition proceedings, which are, therefore, bad in law and void, is not correct.
4. This takes us to the first ground on which the Tribunal invalidated the acquisition proceedings. The Tribunal was of the view that the Competent Authority had not validly initiated the acquisition proceeding because the notice for the acquisition of the property in question dated May 18, 1974, though published in the Central Government Gazette of August 31, 1974, could not have been, in the very nature of things, immediately available to the interested or affected persons and, therefore, there was no valid publication of the notice as required under s. 269D(1) of the Act. The Tribunal on the short ground invalidated the acquisition proceedings. In doing so, the Tribunal followed the decision of the Allahabad High Court in U. S. Awasthi's case : 107ITR796(All) . This view of the Tribunal has been seriously challenged by the learned Government Pleader on the ground that the Tribunal committed an error of law in reaching the conclusion as it did because it read more that what is prescribed under s. 269D(1) for the initiation of the acquisition proceedings. In the submission of the learned Govt. pleader for the Commissioner who is the appellant before us, the only requirement for the initiation of the acquisition proceedings is, inter alia, publication on a notice by the Competent Authority in the Govt. Gazette should have been brought to the notice of the interested or affected persons and for that matter the Govt. Gazette should be made immediately available to them. The learned Govt. pleader also pointed out that the Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court which decided the case of U. S. Awasthi : 107ITR796(All) has conceded this position that it is the publication of the public notice in the Official Gazette within a period of nine months from the end of the month in which the sale deed was registered which confers jurisdiction upon the competent authority to initiate the proceedings. The ultimate view of the Division Bench that if the Gazette in which the notice for initiation of acquisition proceedings is published, is not available to the interested or affected persons it would result in loss of jurisdiction and no acquisition proceedings can be validly initiated, was contrary to the view of this Division Bench in Vimlaben's case : 118ITR134(Guj) . In any case, there is no requirement of law that the Gazette in which the notice in question is published, should be made known to or, for the matter, should be made available to the interested or affected persons. In support of his contention, he relied upon the decision of the Supreme Court in State of Maharashtra v. MAYER Hans George : 1SCR123 . He also urged that this decision of the Supreme Court had not been brought to the notice of the Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court which decided the case U. S. Awasthi : 107ITR796(All) and, therefore, the Tribunal was not justified in invalidating the acquisition proceedings in question.
5. We are of the opinion that there is great force in the submission of the learned Govt. pleader. It is no doubt true that the proviso to s. 269D(1) enjoins that no acquisition proceedings shall be initiated in respect of an immovable property after the expiration of a period of nine months from the end of the month in which the instrument of transfer in respect of a property is registered under the Registration Act, 1908. The property in question was transferred, in the case before us, on November 26, 1973, and the notice of the Competent Authority for the initiation of the acquisition proceedings dated May 18, 1974, was published in the Central Government Gazette on August 31, 1974. In other words, the notice for initiation of acquisition proceedings was published exactly on the last day of the period of nine months prescribed under the proviso to s. 269D(1) of the Act, beyond which acquisition proceedings cannot be initiated. On behalf of the transferor and transferee it is contended, and which contention has found favour with the Tribunal, that in the very nature of things, even if the notice in question was published in the Official Gazette on August 31, 1974, it could not have been available on that very day and, therefore, the notice for the initiation of acquisition proceedings could not have been known to the interested or affected persons within the period of nine months and the publication of the notice, which is the gist of the initiation of the acquisition proceedings, is not an empty formality which can be complied with by merely printing it in the Govt. Gazette and dating it. In fact, the requirement of publication of the notice is meant for making it known to the persons who are affected ultimately by the action which is proposed to be taken in the said notice and if this purpose was defeated by the same being not available it should be held, as has been held rightly by the Tribunal, that there was no valid publication.
6. On the other hand, it has been urged on behalf of the Commissioner, the appellant before us, that the Tribunal has read more than what is prescribed in law. It is no doubt true that the notice for initiation of acquisition proceedings is to be published for the information of the persons interested or affected but if the mode of publication is prescribed by the statute and it that mode has been adopted, it cannot be successfully urged, mush less can be sustained, that there is no valid publication.
7. Before we decided this short controversy, we may read the relevant provision of the section by which the acquisition proceedings can be initiated, which is as follows :
'269D(1). The Competent Authority shall initiate proceedings for the acquisition, under this Chapter, of any immovable property referred to in section 269C by notice to that effect published in the Official Gazette : Provided that no such proceedings shall be initiated in respect of any immovable property after the expiration of a period of nine months from the end of the month in which the instrument of transfer in respect of such property is registered under the Registration Act, 1908 (16 of 1908) :....'
8. It cannot now be a matter of controversy in view of the decision of this court in Smt. Vimlaben B. Patel's case : 118ITR134(Guj) that the initiation of acquisition proceedings is by publication of a notice in the Official Gazette. The proviso no doubt puts a fetter on the power of the Competent Authority to initiate acquisition proceedings which he can do legally and validly by publication of a notice to that effect in the Official Gazette within a period of nine months from the last day of the month in which the impugned transfer is registered. The entire controversy between the parties revolved round as to whether the publication in the Official Gazette on a particular date is the only relevant factor to be considered or whether the publication of the notice in the Gazette should be brought to the notice of the interested or affected persons and for that matter, that particular Gazette should be made available to them. A similar contention was urged before the Supreme Court in State of Maharashtra v. Mayer Hans George  35 Comp Cas 557. The facts in that case were that the Govt. of India in exercise of its power under s. 8 of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947, issued on August 25, 1948, a notification to the effect that gold or gold articles, among others, should not be brought into India or sent to India except with the general or special permission of the Reserve Bank of India. On the same day, the Reserve Bank of India issued a notification giving a general permission for bringing or sending any such gold provided it was on 'through transit' to a place outside India. On November 24, 1962, the Reserve Bank of India published a notification dated November 8, 1962, in supersession of its earlier notification placing further restrictions on the transit of such gold to a place outside the territory of India, one of them being that such gold should be declared in the 'Manifest' for transit on the 'same bottom cargo' or 'transshipment cargo'. Respondent, George, left Zurich by a Swiss Air plane on November 27, 1962, which touched Santa Cruz Air Port at 6-06 a.m. on the next day morning. The customs officers, on the basis of the previous information, searched for the respondent and found him sitting in the plane. On the search of the person of the respondent, George, it was found that he had put on a jacket containing 28 compartments and in 19 of them he was carrying gold slabs weighing 34 kilos approximately and it was found that he was a passenger bound for Manila. He was, therefore, prosecuted for the customs offence. In that context, a contention was urged on behalf of respondent, George, in that case, relying on the judgment of Bailhache J., in Johnson v. Sargant & Sons  1 KB 101 , that till this notification published on November 24, 1962, by the Reserve Bank of India was brought to the actual knowledge of the respondent, George, it could not be said to have been legally published and, therefore, he could not be held liable for breach thereof. The passage on which reliance was placed on behalf of the respondent, George, from the judgment of Bailhache J., was in the following terms ( 35 Comp Cas 557,) :
''I have no reason to suppose that any one in the trade knew about it on May 16..... While I agree that the rule is that a statute takes effect on the earliest moment of the day on which it is passed or on which it is declared to come into operation, there is about statues a publicity even before they come into operation which is absent in the case of many orders such as that with which we are now dealing; indeed, if certain orders are to be effective at all, it is essential that they should not be known until they are actually published. In the absence of authority upon the point, I am unable to hold that this order came into operation before it was known, and, as I have said, it was not known until the morning of May 17'.'
9. This judgment was criticised in the United Kingdom by Prof. C. K. Allen in his book Law and Orders, 2nd Edn., at page 132, in the following terms :
'On the face of it, it would seen reasonable that legislation of any kind should not be binding until it has somehow been 'made known' to the public; but that is not the rule of law, and if it were, the automatic cogency of a statute which has received the Royal assent would be seriously and most inconveniently impaired.... In Johnson v. Sargant  1 KB 101, Bailhache J., held that an order did not take effect until it became known...... This was a bold example of judgment-made law. There was no president for it;..... not did the judge attempt to define how and when delegated legislation became known..... The decision has always been regarded as very doubtful, but it never came under review by a higher court.'
10. The Supreme Court referring to this criticism had set it out at page 591 of its judgment. Ayyangar J., speaking for the majority court, after setting out this criticism of Prof. C. K. Allen, stated the view of the Supreme Court as under ( 35 Comp Cas 592) :
'We see great force in the learned author's comment on the reasoning in Sargant's case  1 KB 101 . Taking the present case, the question would immediately arise : is it to be made known in India or throughout the world, for the argument on behalf of the respondent was that when the respondent left Geneva on November 27, he was not aware of the change in the content of the exemption granted by the Reserve Bank. In a sense the knowledge of the existence or content of a law by an individual would not always be relevant, save on the question of the sentence to be imposed for its violation.... Even if, therefore, the view enunciated by Bailhache J., is taken to be correct, it would be apparent that the test to find out effective publication would be publication in India, not outside India, so as to bring it to the notice of everyone who intends to pass through India. It was 'published' and made known in India by publication in the Gazette on the November 24, and the ignorance of it by the respondent who is a foreigner is, in our opinion, wholly irrelevant.... Where there is a statutory requirement as to the mode or form of publication and they are such that, in the circumstances, the court holds to be mandatory, a failure to comply with those requirements might result in there being no effective order the contravention of which could be the subject of prosecution but where there is no statutory requirement we conceive the rule to be that it is necessary that it should be published in the usual form, i.e., by publication within the country in such media as generally adopted, to notify to all the persons concerned the making of rules. In most of the Indian statutes, including the Act now under consideration, there is provision for the rules made being published in the Official Gazette. It, therefore, stands to reason that publication in the Official Gazette, viz., the Gazette of India, is the ordinary method of bringing a rule or subordinate legislation to the notice of the persons concerned. As we have stated earlier, the notification by the Reserve Bank was published in the Gazette on India on November 24, 1962, and hence, even adopting the view of Bailhache J., the notification must be deemed to have been published and brought to the notice of the concerned individuals on the November 25, 1962. The argument, therefore, that the notification dated November 8, 1962, was not effective, because it was not properly published in the sense of having been brought to the actual notice of the respondent must be rejected.'
11. In view of the clear pronouncement of the Supreme Court of the legal position on the point, we do not think that the Tribunal was justified in taking the view as it did that merely because the notice for initiation of acquisition proceedings was published in the Government Gazette on August 31, 1974, i.e., on the last day of time of limitation of nine months during which the proceedings could be legally initiated, it would not be a valid and legal publication since, in the very nature of things, the Gazette would not have been available to the interested or effected persons for a couple of days and, therefore, consequently, they could not have known the proposed action of acquisition. In taking the view as it did, the Tribunal followed the decision of the Allahabad High Court in the case of U. S. Awasthi : 107ITR796(All) . The facts in that case before the Allahabad High Court were that the sale deed was registered on the December 9, 1973, and the notice under s. 269D(1) was published in the Official Gazette on September 28, 1974. The evidence established that the earliest date on which the Gazette was in fact available was October 14, 1974. The Allahabad High Court held that the publication of the notification was complete only when the gazette containing the notification in question became available to the public. And as the Official Gazette containing the notification under s. 269D(1) of the Act in that case was not available to the public earlier than October 14, 1974, the Competent Authority did not acquire jurisdiction to continue the proceedings as the proceedings had not been commenced within the statutory period. We have not been able to appreciate as to on what basis or on what material in the present case the Tribunal reached the conclusion that the Gazette of August 31, 1974, was not available to the persons concerned. The evidence which was presented before the Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court clearly established that the Gazette of September 28, 1974, in which the notice for initiation of the acquisition proceedings was published, was not dispatched from the Govt. Press at Faridabad till several days after September 28, 1974, and was received in the office of the Controller of Publications, Civil Lines, Delhi, on October 4, 1974, and that it was available for sale at the counter to the public only on October 14, 1974. Now such facts, in the first instance, have not been established at all before the Tribunal. The Tribunal presumably proceeded that because the Gazette in which the notice for the initiation of the acquisition proceedings was published on August 31, 1974, it could not have been, in the very nature of things, available to the persons concerned for at least a couple of days and, therefore, the initiation of the acquisition proceedings was beyond the period of limitations and, therefore, bad in law and void. Apart from this factual infirmity, we are of the opinion that the entire contention urged on behalf of the transferor and the transferee that till the Gazette in which the notice is said to have been published is made available and known to the persons concerned, there is no publication is ill-founded. There is no warrant for this view canvassed on behalf of the transferor and transferee in s. 269D(1) of the Act. It merely provides that the acquisition proceedings can be initiated by the Competent Authority by a notice published in an Official Gazette. The Supreme Court held in the case of Mayer Hans GEORGE  35 Comp Cas 557, that if the statutes prescribed a mode of publication and if that mode is adopted, it cannot be said successfully that there is no publication because it was not brought to the actual notice of the persons affected. The learned advocate on behalf of the transferor and transferee has merely rested satisfied by urging that the Gazette in which the notice for the initiation of the acquisition proceedings is published, should be made available to the person concerned. Now, this is too nebulous a state of affairs to which we can agree because it would raise a number of question without solving the problem. On the plain reading of s. 269D(1) of the Act, we do not think that this contention urged on behalf of the transferor and transferee is justified.
12. The learned advocate tried to support his contention by inviting our attention to the provisions contained in s. 269E(1)(a) and (b) and to the provisions contained in s. 269J(2)(b) of the Act. We are afraid that the provisions on which reliance is sought to be placed cannot assist the case of the transferor and transferee in any appreciable manner. Section 269E as we have stated in our earlier decision in Vimlaben's case : 118ITR134(Guj) provides for limitation for filing objections by the transferor or transferee of any other invested or affected person. The question of limitation cannot have any bearing on the larger question of jurisdiction. The question of limitation cannot create any problem because the persons affected or interested can file the objections within 45 days of the actual or constructive knowledge of the proposed acquisition. The provisions contained in s. 269J(2)(b) of the Act also cannot assist the transferor or transferee in their contention which has been sought to be urged. Section 269J(2)(b) provides for additional compensation for the improvements made in the property in question after the transfer of such property to the transferee but before the date of publication in the Official Gazette of the notice in respect of such property under s. 269D(1) of the Act. These are two termini provided for the purpose of deciding whether additional compensation should be made for improvements made during this period. What bearing it can have on the question as to whether there is valid initiation of the acquisition proceeding or not, is not clear to us from the arguments of the learned advocate for the transferor and transferee who are respondents before us. He has tried to impress upon us that if a notice for initiation of acquisition proceedings has been published in a gazette, without that gazette being made available or known to the person concerned, it may happen in a given case that a person, in ignorance of the proposed acquisition, may carry out some improvements for which he would not be entitled to additional compensation, since the improvements might have been made after the publication of the notice for the proposed acquisition in the Official Gazette. We have not been able to comprehend as to what is the real submission in this behalf. If the legislature has provided for additional compensation for the improvements made during a particular period, how can that provision have a bearing on the question of initiation of the acquisition proceedings The learned advocate urged that if the interpretation which he was canvassing, viz., the knowledge of such intimation of acquisition proceedings as a last terminus, would advance the cause of justice, the court should prefer that interpretation which would not only advance a cause of justice since it would be beneficial for the person for whom such a provision has been wisely made by the Legislature and at the same time it would not prejudicial affect the revenue. We do appreciate the anxiety of the learned advocate for the transferor and transferee and in spite of our best efforts, we are afraid that we cannot agree with him. When the legislature has specifically provided that the second terminus is publication of the notice in respect of a property to be acquired in the Official Gazette, we cannot by some supposed benevolent intention interpret it as the date on which such notice comes to the knowledge of the person concerned. It is a recognised principle of interpretation that if on the plain reading to the section, there is no ambiguity there is no scope for interpreting that provision benevolently. If the legislature has itself provided that the date of the notice is the date on which such notice comes to the knowledge of the person concerned, we would be justified in construing the second terminus as the date on which the notice the proposed acquisition comes to the knowledge of the person concerned. The learned advocate attempted to persuade us that since the Allahabad High Court in the case of U. S. Awasthi : 107ITR796(All) has taken the view as canvassed by him before us, on the recognised principle of the comity of interpretation of all India fiscal statutes, we should in the larger interest of the assessee accept the decision of that court. In support of his contention he relied upon two decisions - one of the Bombay High Court and another of the Gujarat High Court. The decision of the Bombay High Court on which reliance has been placed is in the case Maneklal Chunilal & Sons Ltd. v. CIT : 24ITR375(Bom) , where Chagla C.J., speaking for the court, referred to the uniform policy which the Bombay High Court may be, it should accept the view taken by another High Court on the interpretation of the section of a statute which is an all India statute. This very Bench also in CIT v. Garden Silk Wvg. Factory : 101ITR658(Guj) adopted a similar practice. At page 667 this Bench referred to a similar, contention and has held as under (p. 667) :
'Mr. Shah, therefore, urged that there is no ruling on this point except the one of the Bombay High Court in Ballarpur Collieries Company's case : 92ITR219(Bom) and, therefore, on the principle of the comity of judicial decisions, though we may not be completely agreeing with the view taken by the Bombay High Court, we must accept it in the interest of the assessees of these two adjoining States, namely, Maharashtra and Gujarat, which are separated by a common border only, as otherwise it would work to the prejudice of the assessees in these States. We would have been inclined to accept the submission of Mr. Shah provided there are no other views in the filed.'
13. We do not think that in view of the legal position clearly established by the Supreme Court, the publication of a legislation or delegated legislation or any order thereunder should be actually brought to the notice of the person affected before he can be held liable under it. We do not think, therefore, that we should follow the decision of the Allahabad High Court on the principle of comity of decision in the matter of fiscal statutes.
14. Mr. Shah lastly urged that since after the decision of the Allahabad High Court in the case of U. S. Awasthi : 107ITR796(All) , the fact that Parliament had amended the I.T. Act on not, less than four occasions by various fiscal statutes passed in between and Parliament has not though it fir to clarify the position, though this decision was very much there, this court should accept that the interpretation placed by the Allahabad High Court was correct. We are afraid that this is too broad a contention with which we can agree. If this submission of the learned advocate is accepted, the legislature in that case would be required to clarify the position of law with every judgment of the High Court, the view of which may not appear to be correct. We must clarify that we do not intend to lay down that if in fact the notice for initiation of acquisition proceedings is not published in the Official Gazette, as it is required under s. 269D(1)(a) and if that fact is conclusively established, the acquisition proceedings in such case cannot be successfully challenged as not validly and legally initiated. However, that is not the case before us. The only contention, as recorded earlier, was that since the notice in the Official Gazette was published on the last day of the period of limitation of nine months, it could not have been available and, therefore, known in the very nature of things, for a couple of days, to the affected persons and, therefore, the initiation of acquisition proceedings be held to be bad. In that view of the matter, therefore, we are of the opinion that the Tribunal was clearly in the wrong in holding that the proceedings in question were not validly initiated. The result is that these two appeals should be allowed. The cross-objections filed by the respondent are dismissed since there is no substance in the cross-objections.
15. In the result, First Appeals Nos. 1054/76 and 1055/76 are allowed. The cross-objections filed by the respondent are dismissed. In the facts and circumstances of the case, there will be no order as to costs.