Subba Rao, J.
1. This is an application for the issue of a writ of mandamus or other appropriate writ for directing the Revenue Board of Madras to refer the case to the High Court under Section 57 of Act II (2) of 1899.
2. One Chinna Brahmajee and another PeddaBrahmajee were brothers. The petitioner is theson of Chinna Brahmajee. Parvateesam andSriramamurthi are the sons of Peda BrahmajeeThere was a partition between the twobranches. Lists were prepared and they werereduced to writing on 1-7-1946. Sriramamurthiproduced the lists before the Commercial TaxOfficer, Vizagapatam, in connection with someenquiry there. The Commercial Tax Officerimpounded the instrument under Section 33 of theIndian Stamp Act and forwarded it to theDeputy Collector, Narasapatam, for collectionof deficit stamp duty and penalty. The RevenueDivisional Officer held that the document wasa partition deed and, therefore, required to bestamped as a partition deed. He directed Sriramamurthi to pay a sum of Rs. 4590 made upof deficit stamp duty payable on the documentand the penalty imposed thereon. Sriramamurthi filed a petition before the Revenue Divisional Officer on 23-12-1947 questioning thecorrectness of the decision and also contendingthat the stamp duty and the penalty should becollected not only from him, but from theother sharers.
The Revenue Divisional Officer, after giving notice to the parties concerned, reviewed his order and fixed the deficit stamp duty at a sum of Rs. 1252-8-0 and the penalty at a sum of Rs. 6262-8-0, and directed the Tahsildar, Chodavaram, to collect the said amounts from all the sharers. The petitioners preferred an appeal to the District Collector of Vizagapatam and against the said order of the Revenue Divisional Officer. The District Collector agreed with the Revenue Divisional Officer and dismissed the appeal. When a revision was filed to the Revenue Board of Madras, that was dismissed on the ground that they saw no reasons to interfere. The petitioner then filed an application before the Revenue Board under Section 57 of the Indian Stamp Act requesting them to refer the case to the High Court for decision. The Revenue Board again held that it saw no reason to comply with the request of the petitioner. The present petition is filed for purposes of directing the Revenue Board to refer the case to the High Court.
3. The scope of the powers and the duty of the Revenue Board under Section 57 of the Act has been clearly stated recently by the Supreme Court in -- 'Chief Controlling Revenue Authority v. Maharashtra Sugar Mills Ltd', 1950 2 M. L. J. 564. The headnote in that case clearly brings out the salient features of the Judgment. It reads:
'The power contained in Section 57 of the Stamp Act is in the nature of an obligation or is coupled with an obligation and can be demanded to be used also by the parties affected by the assessment of the Stamp duty. The power to make a reference under Section 57 of the Act is not for the benefit of the Revenue Authority. It is coupled with a duty cast upon him, as a public officer to do the right thing, and when an important and intricate question of law in respect of the construction of a document arises, as a public servant it is his duty to make the reference. If he omits to do so it is within the power of the Court to direct him to discharge that duty and make a reference.'
The question, therefore, is whether, in the present case, important questions of law arise and whether the Revenue Board did not discharge their duty under the provisions of Section 57 of the Act.
4. The learned Government Pleader contended that the point that arose in the case was the construction of a document and when once the construction put upon the document by the Revenue Board was correct, the Revenue Authorities had a clear right under the Act to recover the deficit stamp duty and the penalty imposed from all the parties to the document whereas the learned counsel for the petitioner argued that three substantial questions of law arose in the case and that this was a fit case for the Revenue Board to refer the case to the High Court for decision.
5. The three questions that arose for decision were stated by the Collector as follows:
'1. Whether the document in question is not an instrument of partition within the meaning of Section 2(15) of the Indian Stamp Act and is not, therefore, liable to stamp duty or penalty;
2, Whether P. Sriramamurthi, one of the co-sharers, being the person that produced the document before the Commercial Tax Officer, he alone was the person who could be proceeded against for the realisation of the duty and penalty and that it was not right to order collection from all the three brothers in equal shares; and
3. Whether the Revenue Divisional Officer, having called upon Sriramamurthi to pay the stamp duty and penalty by his order dated 6-1-1947, was not justified in subsequently reviewing the same by means of his order dated 13-7-1948, in which the appellant and the other two brothers were asked to pay the stamp duty and penalty in equal shares.'
6. The Collector held against the petitioner on all the points.
7. After hearing the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner and for the RevenueBoard, I am of the view that the questionsraised are substantial questions of law and theRevenue Board should have referred the matterto the High Court under Section 57 of the Act. Asthe case will be referred to the High Court fordecision, I think it is not advisable or evennecessary to express my opinion on the threequestions raised. I, therefore, direct the Revenue Board to refer the aforesaid three questions to the High Court under Section 57 of Act II(2) of 1899 within a month after the serviceof the writ. The petitioner will have his costs.Advocate's fee Rs. 100.