1. On the direction of the learned Judge several separate questions have been framed for our determination. In our opinion the answers to the first three dispose of the whole matter and preclude us from going into the others. The first question is whether four applications are necessary in this case for taking action under Section 66(2) of the Act. That is the section which says that the Income-tax Commissioner is to state a case when a proper application is made accompanied by the proper fee--which is Rs. 100 as matters stand. These applicants were four persons. They had once been an undivided family and, had they remained so, different considerations might arise, but they had in fact become separated and they were separately assessed. Nevertheless an attempt was made to have a case stated regarding them all on a single fee of Rs. 100. That of course was an impossible attitude to take up and as they were divided the result was that it was an application by four people each of whom, as my learned brother put it, can be deemed to have paid one-fourth of the prescribed fee. I have no sympathy with the applicants because they were expressly told or their vakil was expressly told the position by the letter from Mr. Strathie, the Commissioner, dated 13th February 1924. He points out only one sum of Rs. 100 is deposited. There were, however, separate assessments and four appellate orders. Under Section 66(2) each assessee must put in a separate application and each must deposit the prescribed fee of Rs. 100, I cannot therefore act on the present application,
2. Then he goes on
If you wish me to deal with all the cases, will you please send four separate applications and an additional Rs. 300? If, however, you are willing that only one case should be dealt with and if you tell me with which case you wish me to proceed, I shall treat the Rs. 100 as having been received from that individual.
3. Nothing could be more reasonable than that and the asses-sees' vakil could have put the whole matter right by accepting one of these two alternatives. Instead of that the vakil sends an answer saying that, as all the questions were common to the four applicants, a reference in one will necessarily cover the case of all. Then he says he writes to his client. He must have known time was passing and in the result the time had elapsed before he communicated with his client and ascertained his decision as to which of the two alternatives he would accept. Thereupon Mr. Strathie wrote the letter of the 19th February, in which he says that the time is gone for his reply, that the reply was in every case evasive (as indeed it was) and he declined to take any further action in the matter. Thereupon, penitent too late, the vakil writes a letter at once requesting that Rs. 100 sent with the application should be treated as deposited on behalf of M. Narasimha Rao and that a reference may be made in his case leaving the other people over. That is the position and our answer to the question must be that the application as originally sent was defective and that the fee that accompanied even if the application was in order was insufficient. It is not competent for four separately assessed persons to combine their applications for a case stated of this sort in one document. But, even assuming that they may be as an instance where the points to be raised were the same, it is obvious that as they were separately assessed their cases must be separately stated and they must pay a separate fee of Rs. 100 for each separate assessment under the Act.
4. Then the next question is if the answer to question (1) is in the affirmative as it has now been answered in the affirmative whether there was no proper application before the Commissioner for his taking action in the case of one of the applicants. The answer is, No. He had offered to do that and his offer was not accepted.
5. The third question is whether there was any power to extend the period in this case or whether the Commissioner had no discretion in the matter. The answer is that the statute fixes a time and it would be an obviously undesirable burden on the Income-tax Commissioner to put upon him the consideration of questions as to whether he should exercise discretion in the direction of leniency in one case and not in another. The statute is express and there is no provision in it for any official or even for the Court to extend the time. Therefore, as our answers to the first three questions are what I have outlined, the remaining questions which, I suppose, raise the merits we are unable to deal with. Rs. 150 will be allowed for costs of Government.
6. I agree.
7. I agree.