1. This is an appeal by the defendant in O.S. No. 441 of 1940 tried by the learned Additional Judge of the City Civil Court. The suit was filed by the Corporation of Madras for property tax for three years, 1937-38, 1938-39, 19S9-40 due on a building and site described as No. 88-A, Adam Sahib Street The learned Judge of the Court below gave the Corporation a decree and the defendant has preferred this appeal.
2. 88-A, Adam Sahib Street, as the learned Judge of the City Civil Court, has said, is part of a large house which also has a door opening upon Mannarswami Koil Street. In Mannarswami Koil Street it is numbered 85. Now this house, the whole of it, belongs to the defendant. In the portion fronting upon Mannarswami Koil Street she and her husband lived; in the other portion there are four rooms which are let out to separalte tenants. This house, 85, Mannarswami Koil Street, has been shown in the Corporation's property registers as the property of the defendant and there is no doubt about her ownership of it. 88-A, Adam Sahib Street did not appear at all in the Corporation's property registers until 1936-37. In that year a general revision of property tax was made and the Commissioner of the Corporation, for some reason which has not been explained, entered 88-A, Adam Sahib Street in the property tax register as a separate item. He also entered the name of Peddan Chetty (which is also the name of the defendant's husband) as the owner. The entry of 85, Mannarswami Koil Street in the register remained unchanged in the revision. The valuation remained unchanged and consequently, the property tax remained the same. In these circumstances it is easy to understand and accept the defendant's plea that she knew nothing whatever about this revision of the property tax. As learned Counsel for the defendant-appellant points out, the general notification of a revision of assessment could not be sufficient to give the defendant any opportunity even of finding out that a change had been made in the assessment of her property. If she had gone to look at the new registers, she would have seen her house No. 85, Mannarswami Koil Street still in the new register under her own name with the same valuation and the same assessment. In the remarks column she would have found a slighltly different description of it. But in the essentials regarding the amount of tax to be paid she would have found no change. If she had looked through the register, she could not, unless, supernaturally inspired, have guessed that 88-A, Adam Sahib Street assessed at Rs. 86 in the name of Peddan Chetty had anything whatever to do with her. It is not disputed that no special notice was given to the defendant, the case for the Corporation being that the general notification regarding the revision of assessment is sufficient.
3. In these circumstances the question is whether the Commissioner of the Corporation had any authority to split up in the way he has done the property belonging to this defendant into two separate numbers and assess them separately to tax. Learned Counsel for the Corporation can only refer me to Section 100 of the City Municipal Act. This says:
Every building shall be assessed together with' its site and other adjacent premises occupied as appurtenances thereto unless the owner of the building is a different person from the owner of such site or premises.
This, it appears to me, is precisely the provision of law which prevents the Commissioner from dividing the assessment in this case into two. There is no dispute about the fact that these two door numbers 85, Mannarswami Koil Street and 88-A, Adam Sahib Street, formed parts of a single building. The learned Judge of the Court below describes it as one entire house separately occupied in. different portions. But it was built undoubtedly as one house. It belongs wholly to the defendant and under Section 100 there can only be one assessment on it. The learned Judge of the City Civil Court appears to think that it was reasonable to divide the property into two and he says that Section 100 does not seem to prevent the creation of different units where different portions are in occupation of different persons. I regret I cannot agree with this. Section 100 simply says that every building shall be assessed and it provides that every single building must be assessed together with its site and appurtenant building unless the building and appurtenant buildings belong to a different person. Section 100 says nothing whatever about assessing different portions of the same building owned by one and the same person in different names because they have been occupied by different persons.
4. In these circumstances I am clear that the Corporation had no authority to assess No. 88-A, separately, that the assessment was irregular and therefore it cannot be considered final. The result is that this appeal succeeds and the Corporation's suit is dismissed with costs throughout.