V. Ratnam, J.
1. In this writ petition, the petitioner, which is a private limited company; has prayed for the issue of a writ of certiorari or other appropriate writ calling for the records of the first respondent relating to the assessment to urban land tax with reference to R.S. No. 1632/6 part and R.S. No. 1632/13 part in Egmore village in Assessment No. 4/BK 52 Egmore, dated 15.12.1977 and quash the same in so far as it relates to faslis 1388 to 1394. Originally the petitioner owned for purposes of development and sale an extent of 30 grounds comprised in Survey No. 1632/4 re-numbered as Survey Nos. 1632/13 and 1632/6 in Egmore having purchased the same under sale deed dated 28.4.1972. While developing portions of the extent so owned by the petitioner, the petitioner did so in stages utilising separate portions of the land owned by it. The first stage was the formation and the sale of flats in a portion of about 5 grounds and 1800 sq.ft. known as 'Chesney Nilgiris'. The second and the third stages were designated as 'Chesney West' and 'Chesney Estate' respectively. In so far as Chesney Nilgiris is concerned, the petitioner sold the flats standing over an extent of 5 grounds and 1800 sq.ft. to about 33 persons during 1973-74 and particulars of the purchasers were also furnished to the first respondent herein. In the Chesney West Project, the petitioner had dealt with and disposed of an area admeasuring 6 grounds and 1600 sq.ft. By an order No. 31/BK 54 dated 15.12.1977, the first respondent determined an extent of 5 grounds and 1800 sq.ft. as land available in Chesney Nilgiris and made an assessment in the name of the petitioner and 19 other persons who had purchased undivided interest in the total extent during 1974-75. The remaining extent of 23 grounds and 465 sq.ft. was fixed to be the holding of the petitioner and by order No. NC 4/BK 52 dated 15.12.1977 the first respondent determined that a sum of Rs. 10,175/- is payable by the petitioner as urban land tax. Subsequently, on 15.10.1979 the petitioner submitted to the first respondent in the prescribed form No. 35 the particulars for the sale of 6 grounds and 1600 sq.ft. comprised in Chesney West. This was followed up by the petitioner by letter, dated 15.10.1979 requesting the first respondent to make the assessment after giving effect to the sale in respect of which particulars had been furnished by the petitioner. Meanwhile the petitioner had paid urban land tax up to fasli 1388. Despite the fact that the petitioner had furnished the particulars of the land sold by it and had requested the concerned authorities to make the assessment in accordance therewith, in respect of fasli 1389, on 1.2.1980, the second respondent made a demand for a sum of Rs. 10,173/- in accordance with the order dated 15.12.77 for an extent of 23 grounds and 465 sq.ft. The petitioner wrote a letter on 6.10.1980 to the effect that it was holding only an extent of 17 grounds and 1400 sq.ft. and that there was also an excess holding under the Urban Land Ceiling Act and further that that land was being; held by the petitioner. Along with that letter, the petitioner also enclosed a list containing the names of persons in whose favour it had transferred the property as well as the other details of the documents under which the transfers were effected to about 20 persons. In response to this, the first respondent by letter L.Dis. B1/RR.50/80, dated 28.4.81 wrote to the petitioner referring to the application filed by the petitioner - on 22.12.1979 for making the assessment after excluding the lands sold and stating that the application might be renewed after the disposal of the application filed by the petitioner claiming exemption under the Tamil Nadu Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1978. Again, for fasli 1391, a demand was made against the petitioner for the entire land and for the subsequent faslis also, similar demands were made. In this state of affairs, the petitioner has come up with this writ petition contending that the request for the re-assessment of urban land tax made by the petitioner in respect of the lands owned by it after excluding the portions sold had been unjustly turned down by the concerned authorities after returning Form No. 35 and other documents sent by the petitioner.
2. In the counter filed by the respondents, they had taken up the stand that the modification or the cancellation of the assessment would arise only after the proceedings under the Tamil Nadu Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1978 came to a close and that the application made by the petitioner for re-assessment of urban land tax of its holdings after excluding the portions sold by it can be renewed after the disposal of the exemption application under the Tamil Nadu Urban Land/(Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1978. Referring to two communications dated 28.4.1981 and 29.10.1982 sent by the respondents to the petitioner in this connection, the respondents reiterated that the petitioner has to renew its application for re-assessment after excluding the properties sold by it only after the termination of the proceedings claiming exemption under the Tamil Nadu Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1978.
3. The principal contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner is that whatever might have been the extent owned by the petitioner initially, that cannot be taken or followed as the basis for all the subsequent years also ignoring and overlooking the sales effected by the petitioner to several persons resulting in a diminution of the extent owned by the petitioner and after returning the particulars furnished by the petitioner in the prescribed form on the ground that the petitioner can seek a re-assessment only after the closure of the proceedings under the Tamil Nadu Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1978. On the other hand, the learned Additional Government Pleader submitted that so long as the petitioner continued to be the owner of the extent of the lands initially assessed to urban land tax, the petitioner was rightly assessed on the same basis for the subsequent years also and therefore, no exception could be taken to the assessments made on the petitioner.
4. It is common ground that under the provisions of the Urban Land Tax Act only the owner of the urban land can be assessed. No doubt originally the petitioner owned a large extent of urban land which was assessed to urban land tax. Subsequently, the first respondent recognised the sale by the petitioner of an extent of 5 grounds and 1800 sq.ft. and proceeded to make an assessment with reference to that extent in the name of the petitioner and several others who had purchased an undivided interest therein. After so recognising the sale effected by the petitioner, only the balance was assessed to urban land tax in the hands of the petitioner. Under Section 19 of the Tamil Nadu Urban Land Tax Act, 1966, the transferor and the transferee are obliged to give notice of the transfer to the Urban Land Tax Officer. There is no dispute in this case that periodically, as and when the petitioner disposed of the extent of land owned by it had been intimating the concerned officers about the transfers effected and had also furnished the particulars in the prescribed form. Indeed it is seen from the letter dated 29.10.1982 sent by the first respondent to the petitioner that the Form 35 as well as the other -documents sent by the petitioner and received by the first respondent had been returned and it is further mentioned therein that the petitioner can renew the request after orders are received from the Government on the exemption application filed by the petitioner. It is not the case of the respondents that the petitioner had not furnished any information about the transfers effected or the details thereof. On the contrary, it is clearly seen from the records that the petitioner had brought such transfers as were effected by it to the knowledge of the assessing authority and had furnished all the required details in the prescribed form and had made a request for reassessment. But unfortunately the authorities have proceeded to return the particulars so furnished by the petitioner on the ground that it can be renewed after the disposal of the exemption application filed by the petitioner. In doing so, the respondents have penalised the petitioner for having adhered to the procedure laid down under the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Urban Land Tax Act which enjoins on the transferor as well as the transferee to furnish the details of the transfer and have proceeded to assess and levy on the petitioner urban land tax as if the petitioner continued to hold the same extent as before. This is not justified by any of the provisions of the Act. Apart from this, the granting or the rejection of the exemption claimed by the petitioner has really no bearing upon the assessment and levy of urban land tax on the petitioner with reference to the land held by it. If the exemption prayed for by the petitioner to hold land in excess of the urban ceiling is granted, then, the property would continue to belong to the petitioner and urban land tax would be payable by it with reference to such excess. If on the other hand, the exemption is not granted, then, till such time as a final notification is issued which will have the effect of divesting the excess from the petitioner,' it will continue to remain the property of the petitioner. In my view, therefore, the pendency of the application for claiming an exemption is not really very relevant and cannot be used to throw out a reasonable request made by the petitioner for re-assessment of the urban land tax after giving effect to the transfers effected by it in the course of the subsequent years. The attitude of the respondents in continuing to assess the petitioner for urban land tax on the same holding as at the beginning without recognising the transfers effected by the petitioner is not only unreasonable, but is totally unsupportable under the provisions of the Act and as pointed out earlier, the petitioner has been made to pay almost a penalty for having conformed to the requirements of the provisions of the Act and the rules thereunder. Under those circumstances, the assessments made on the petitioner for faslis 1388 to 1394 cannot at all be sustained and they are quashed. The petitioner is directed to furnish the full and complete particulars of the sale of urban land effected by it year after year and in the prescribed form to the respondents herein as it had done already and after taking into consideration those details, the authorities will proceed to compute the holding of the urban land held by the petitioner every year and thereafter proceed to levy the urban land tax on such holdings.
5. A faint attempt was made by the learned Counsel for the respondents to contend that the remedy of the petitioner would be to prefer an appeal against the orders of assessment and not to approach this Court for redress in a writ proceeding. This argument does not at all appeal to me. More so in a case like this where the authorities below have proceeded to adopt a method and manner of assessment which is alien to the provisions of the Act and have actually assessed the petitioner for several years in relation to urban land not owned by it. The respondents cannot fail to perform their statutory duty and at the same time say that the petitioner cannot approach this Court for remedying the wrong done. It has further to be borne in mind that the assessments made with reference to property not belonging to the petitioner are wholly illegal and without jurisdiction and not in conformity at all with the provisions of the Act and the petitioner cannot be told that even under those circumstances this Court will not exercise a discretion in its favour. On a careful consideration of all the facts and the circumstances, this is a fit case for the issue of a writ of certiorari to quash the assessments to urban land tax made on the petitioner for faslis 1388 to 1394 and to direct the. authorities re-assess the urban land tax on the petitioner with reference to the land held by it for each one of those faslis after deducting the extent of land sold by the petitioner from fasli to fasli. The rule nisi is made absolute and the writ petition is allowed. There will be, however, no order as to costs.