1. The assessee was assessed to general sales tax for the assessment year 1948-49 on a turnover of Rs. 3,56,525-9-3. The order of the Deputy Commercial Tax Officer who was the assessing officer, was dated 15-6-1949 and a copy of it was server on the aasessee on 20-6-1949. Under the Sales Tax Act before it was amended in 1951, the assessee had the right to prefer an appeal to the Commercial Tax Officer within thirty days from too date of the service of the assessment order on the assesses. The assessee, however, filed the appeal on 12-8-1949. There was no power then to condone any delay.
The Commercial Tax Officer rejected the appeal as barred by time, and that order was dated 19-8-1949. Thereupon the assessee preferred a revision petition to the Board of Revenue, because before the amendment of the Act in 1951, there was no right of appeal against the order of the Commercial Tax Officer. It was the amending Act of 1951 that enacted the present Section 12-A, constituting the appellate Tribunal with powers of entertaining appeals.
2. The Board did not pass any orders on the petition filed by the assessee, but after the amending Act of 1951 had been passed under Section 19 of the General Sales Tax Act as it was amended, the Board transferred the petition to the Appellate Tribunal for disposal as if it. had been an appeal preferred to the Appellate Tribunal itself. In his application to the Board the assessee prayed that not only the order of the Commercial Tax Officer rejecting the appeal should be revised, but also that the order of assessment of the Deputy Commercial Tax Officer should be revised.
But this prayer to revise the order of the Deputy Commercial Tax Officer, having been preferred more than six months from the elate of the orr(sic) could not be granted on that application. So application to tho Board was for the review the order of the Commercial Tax Officer, an app(sic) and under Section 19 of tho Act it was as an app(sic) against the order of the Commercial Tax Office that it had to be viewed by the Appellate Tribunal.
3. The Appellate Tribunal pointed out that the Commercial Tax Officer rightly rejected the appeal as filed beyond the period of limitation allowed by the law as it stood then; but the Tribunal added:
'But in view of the large turnover and the legal implications involved, he (the Commercial Tax Officer) could Have taken up the matter 'suo motu' in revision. It is unnecessary for us to go into the merits of the case at this stage. We therefore direct the Commercial Tax Officer, North Madras, to take up this matter 'suo motu' in revision and dispose of it on merits alter giving a hearing to the appellants, i.e., the assesses.'
It is against this order that the Government have preferred this revision petition.
4. The learned Government Pleader contended that the Appellate Tribunal had no jurisdiction, at all to direct the Commercial Tax Officer, to take up in revision 'suo motu' any order passed by a subordinate of his. It is not really necessary to decide this question in these proceedings. Though the Appellate Tribunal used the word 'direct' in asking the Commercial Tax Officer to take up the matter 'suo motu' it is Jairly obvious reading the order of the Appellate Tribunal as a whole, that it was only advisory.
The order appealed against i.e., the order on appeal of the Commercial Tax Officer, was not set aside, and it should be remembered that the Commercial Tax Officer, himself rejected the appeal so that the real order of assessment stood, and that was not set aside either specifically or even impliedly by the order of the Appellate Tribunal. What the Appellate Tribunal stated after pointing out that the rejection of the appeal was right, was that the Commercial Tax Officer could exercise his plenary powers of revision in considering the case of the assessee. In view of that the Appellate Tribunal itself did not go into the merits of the assessee's claims.
We do not think that the Appellate Tribunal acted in excess of its jurisdiction in giving such a direction which really amounts to an advice in the circumstances of this case. When a tribunal comes across something which it itself has no jurisdiction to investigate to remedy anything obviously unjust, it is nothing unusual for such a tribunal to draw the attention of the authority which has got the powers of revisional jurisdiction or other jurisdiction to take up the question.
It is not a question of a mandate issued by the tribunal to the Commercial Tax Officer, exercising the powers specifically vested in the Tribunal by the Act or any section Thereof. Apparently the Tribunal was of opinion that there was an unjust assessment, which assessment it was itself powerless to correct, seeking that power within the confines of the sections of the Act, but it was a matter for further investigation by the departmental authorities who had then power to do so. Viewed in that light there is nothing to which objection can be taken. Certainly there is no error of law which this court is called, upon to correct at this stage.
It is represented to us that, despite the order of the Appellate Tribunal which was on 31st March 1952, nothing was done by the department. Possibly they thought filing this petition to revise that is order absolved them of the duty to investigate further on the lines indicated by the Appellate Tribunal, instructions of this kind issued either by the Appellate Tribunal or by this court, when anything needing correction comes to its notice should be respected by the departmental authorities and we trust that it is in that light the whole problem will be viewed by the departmental authorities. The petition is dismissed but in the circumstances of this case there will be no order as to costs.