(Judgment of the Court was delivered by Patanjali Sastri, J.)
This reference arises out of an application made by one Hariprasada Rao before the Income-tax Officer for the renewal of the registration of a firm composed of himself and his brother Rao Bahadur Ravula Subba Rao. The application was rejected by the Income-tax Officer on the ground that it was not signed by both the partners personally as required by rule 6 of the rules made under Section 59 of the Indian Income-tax Act, 1922, which provides :-
'Any firm to whom a certificate of registration has been granted under rule 4 may apply to the Income-tax Officer to have the certificate of registration renewed for a subsequent year. Such application shall be signed personally by all the partners (not being minors) of the firm, or where the application is made after the dissolution of the firm by all persons (not being minors) who were partners in the firm immediately before dissolution and by the legal representatives of any such person who is deceased and accompanied by a certificate in the form set out below.'
The assessee contended that as the other partner Ravula Subba Rao had gone on a long pilgrimage, he could not sign the application for renewal of the certificate of registration and that, as Hariprasada Rao held a general power of attorney from Ravula Subba Rao, his signature on behalf of the latter was sufficient compliance with the rule. The Income-tax Officer negatived this contention and rejected the application. On appeal to the Appellate Assistant Commissioner, the contention of the assessee was accepted with the result that the order of the Income-tax Officer was set aside and he was directed to take the application on his file and dispose of it according to law. On appeal by the Officer to the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal, Madras Bench, the Tribunal concurred in the view of the Appellate Assistant Commissioner and dismissed the appeal. On application by the Commissioner of Income-tax under Section 66(1) to state a case to this Court, the Appellate Tribunal has referred the following question for our decision :-
'Whether the word personally in rule 6 of the Income-tax Rules, as framed under Section 59 of the Income-tax Act, would exclude a duly authorised agent of a partner from signing an application on behalf of the partner under Section 26-A of the Income-tax Act ?'
It is contended for the Commissioner that the word 'personally' used in the rule necessarily excludes acting by an authorised agent and that the refore the view taken by the Assistant Commissioner was erroneous in law. We agree with this contention. The learned Advocate-General appearing for the assessee has drawn attention to Section 2 of the Powers-of-Attorney Act, 1882, which reads thus :-
'The donee of a power-of-attorney may, if he thinks fit, execute or do any assurance, instrument or thing in and with his own name and signature, and his own seal, where sealing is required, by the authority of the donor of the power; and every assurance, instrument and thing so executed and done, shall be as effectual in law as if it had been executed or done by the donee of the power in the name, and with the signature and seal, of the donor thereof.
This section applies to powers-of-attorney created by instruments executed either before or after this Act comes into force.'
The argument is that, by virtue of this provision, the act of Hariprasada Rao who, as has been stated, holds a general power-of-attorney from Ravula Subba Rao, in signing the application on behalf of the latter should be regarded as effectual in law as if Ravula Subba Rao had himself signed the application. We are unable to accept this view. The section merely states the general principle of agency and it cannot override the specific provisions of a rule made under a different statute which require that a particular act should be done by a person 'personally,' i.e., by himself.
We answer the question referred accordingly in the affirmative.
The learned Advocate-General wished to raise the question that rules 2 and 6 are ultra vires the rule-making authority, the Central Board of Revenue. The question has not been referred to us and we express no opinion upon it.
The assessee will pay Rs. 250 for costs of the Commissioner.
Reference answered accordingly.