Ramaprasada Rao, J.
1. These six writ petitions are connected and raise a common question. The petitioner in each of these writ petitions is a dealer in synthetic diamonds. His course of business is to despatch packets of synthetic diamonds to prospective buyers outside the State and if they are approved then it is customary for him to raise an invoice and thereafter obtain a C form certificate and follow the usual procedure in connection with the filing of returns under the Central Sales Tax Act and the connected rules thereunder. He would also state that some of the packets of synthetic diamonds so sent by him to the prospective buyers were returned back as not approved. The case of the petitioner is that, on the basis of the despatches made by him of the diamonds and without taking into consideration fully the quantum and value of the diamonds returned by ' the prospective buyers, a proposal has been made to assess the petitioner on the basis of such despatches and on the foot that such despatches resulted in a sale in the eye of law. The first respondent, viz., the Joint Commercial Tax Officer, Gandhi Market, Tiruchirapalli, gave the impugned notice wherein he estimated the total inter-State sales as per books at a certain figure and proposed to levy Central sales tax on that basis and called upon the petitioners to file their objections to the proposal. As already stated he took into consideration all the insured parcels sent by the petitioner from Tiruchirapalli and the complaint is that he ought to have taken notice of the fact that several of such parcels were returned with the result that there was no concluded sale in relation to such returned parcels. The petitioner is said to have approached the postal authorities for the furnishing of necessary information regarding the despatch and return of such postal parcels from the post office from which the petitioner sent such parcels outside the State. The postal authorities, taking shelter under Rule 17 of the Miscellaneous Rules framed under the Post Offices Act, refused to furnish the information to the petitioner. Therefore, they are impleaded as second respondent in these writ petitions. The first respondent at or about the time when these proceedings were initiated was threatening to finalise the assessment on the basis of the proposal. The petitioners have therefore come up to this Court for a writ of mandamus against both the public officers on the ground that each of them has failed in their public duty to assist the petitioner in the matter of securing relevant information necessary for the completion of the assessment under the Central Sales Tax Act.
2. The contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner is that in so far as the second respondent is concerned, he is bound to furnish information at least as regards the articles addressed to him. But the counsel for the postal department urges that Rule 17 lays an embargo on the department in the matter of furnishing any records of any post office to any person or permitting anyone to examine any article not addressed to him though the article may have been posted by him. The further contention is that under the rules no person not belonging to the department may be permitted to examine the records of any post office and such person cannot be permitted to examine any article not addressed to him though the article may have been posted by him. The other portion of the rule is not relevant. Instead of considering the question whether there is a public duty on the second respondent to furnish the records in connection with any article not addressed to any person even though the article may have been posted by him, I intend disposing of these writ petitions by giving certain directions instead of making the rule nisi absolute against both the respondents.
3. Exception 4 to Rule 17 enables the postmasters and sub-postmasters to furnish information when asked for in writing by Income-tax Officers or Sales Tax Officers who are vested with the powers of a civil court while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, in respect of summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining such person on oath etc. This exception 4 enables the first respondent to issue summons to the postmaster or sub-postmaster concerned to furnish information to him whenever he deems fit and if it becomes necessary in the course of assessment proceedings. It is not in dispute that the first respondent is a person who is authorised to call for such information as he is empowered under Section 54 of the Tamil Nadu General Sales Tax Act to summon witnesses and call upon persons to produce documents for achieving any of the purposes of the Tamil Nadu General Sales Tax Act. He is conferred with all powers of a court under the Civil Procedure Code for the purpose of such summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath or affirmation. The first respondent therefore has the necessary authority to issue summons and secure the information. In this context it is not necessary to make the rule nisi absolute as against the second respondent. It is therefore discharged.
4. As regards the first respondent there has been no failure of public duty on his part since no application to summon has been made; but the petitioner's case is that principles of natural justice would be violated and there would not be a fair hearing or a fair assessment if an opportunity is not given to him to secure all the information regarding the articles sent by him and sent back to him from the post office in question and unless the first respondent secures such documents in exercise of his powers vested under exception 4 to Rule 17 of the Miscellaneous Rules framed under the Post Offices Act. As proceedings in assessment are also quasi-judicial proceedings and as it is obligatory on the part of the assessing authority and such of those in higher hierarchy to assess the assessees after giving them a full opportunity and after a fair trial over the subject-matter, it appears to me that instead of making the rule nisi absolute it is just and necessary that certain directions in the alternative should be given so as to subserve justice.
5. In this view of the matter, whilst dismissing these writ petitions even as against the first respondent, the following directions are given to enable the first respondent to complete the assessment as early as possible and so as to also enable the petitioner to secure all the information which he desires to obtain from the second respondent. The first respondent is directed to take summons to the postmaster concerned to furnish him with information regarding the articles sent by the petitioners and sent back to the petitioners in the course of their business, the list of which would be furnished by the petitioners themselves. Costs incurred in such service of summons for obtaining such information shall be borne by the petitioners. With these directions no further orders are necessary. The petitioner in each of these cases is directed to furnish a list as above within six weeks from this date. No costs.