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Masilamani Udayar Vs. Ramakrishna Chettiar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1982)1MLJ209
AppellantMasilamani Udayar
RespondentRamakrishna Chettiar
Cases ReferredVulcan Insurance Company Limited v. Corporation of Madras
Excerpt:
- - in the absence of a statutory definition we must take its ordinary dictionary meaning -that which comes in as the periodical produce of one's work, business, lands or investments (considered in reference to its amount and commonly expressed in terms of money); annual or periodical receipts accruing to a 'person or corporation' (oxford dictionary). the word clearly implies the idea of receipt, actual or constructive......judgment-debtor had sold his landed properties for rs. 17,750 and the amount received by way of sale proceeds has to be reckoned as the income and as such the income of the judgment-debtor exceeds the sum of rs. 4,800. as against the order of the learned subordinate judge, holding that the judgment-debtor is not a debtor as defined under act xiii of 1980, civil revision petition is filed.2. mr. m. srinivasan, advocate appearing on behalf of the revision petitioner, contends that rs. 17,750 the sale proceeds of the landed properties of the judgment-debtor cannot be treated as the annual household income as defined in section 3 (a) of act (xiii of 1980), which reads as follows:annual household income means the aggregate of the gross annual income from all sources of all the members of a.....
Judgment:
ORDER

R. Sengottuvelan, J.

1. This civil revision petition is filed by the judgment-debtor against the judgment in R.E.P. No. 106 of 1980 in O.S. No. 27 of 1980 on the file of the Subordinate Judge of Tiruvannamalai holding that the judgment-debtor is not a debtor as defined under Section 3(d) of Act XIII of 1980. The respondent herein obtained a decree against the revision petitioner for recovery of Rs. 8,425 in O.S. No. 27 of 1980 and filed R.E.P. No. 106 of 1980 for the realisation of the said amount by attachment and sale of the properties belonging to the judgment-debtor. The judgment-debtor/revision petitioner filed a counter statement contending that he is a debtor as defined under Act XIII of 1980 and as such he is entitled to protection under the above-said Act. The learned Subordinate Judge came to the conclusion that the judgment-debtor is not a debtor. as defined under the Act since during the relevant period the judgment-debtor had sold his landed properties for Rs. 17,750 and the amount received by way of sale proceeds has to be reckoned as the income and as such the income of the judgment-debtor exceeds the sum of Rs. 4,800. As against the order of the learned Subordinate Judge, holding that the judgment-debtor is not a debtor as defined under Act XIII of 1980, civil revision petition is filed.

2. Mr. M. Srinivasan, advocate appearing on behalf of the revision petitioner, contends that Rs. 17,750 the sale proceeds of the landed properties of the judgment-debtor cannot be treated as the annual household income as defined in Section 3 (a) of Act (XIII of 1980), which reads as follows:

annual household income means the aggregate of the gross annual income from all sources of all the members of a family during the year ending on the 31st December, 1979.

As per the section, household income means the aggregate of the gross annual income from all sources of all the members of a family during the year ending 31st December, 1979. But the term 'income' had not been specifically defined in any of the sections of the abovesaid Act.

3. In construing the term 'income' occurring in Income-tax Act (XI of 1922), it has been laid down by a Division Bench of this Court in a case reported in Ramaswami v. Commissioner of Income-tax I.L.R. (1959) Mad. 126, that:

In the absence of a statutory definition we must take its ordinary dictionary meaning - 'that which comes in as the periodical produce of one's work, business, lands or investments (considered in reference to its amount and commonly expressed in terms of money); annual or periodical receipts accruing to a 'person or Corporation' (Oxford Dictionary). The word clearly implies the idea of receipt, actual or constructive.

Since there is no definition to the term 'income' in Act XIII of 1980, we will have to only fall back to the dictionary meaning of the word 'income' and find out whether the sale proceeds of the lands can be termed as an income.

4. The meaning of the word 'income' as defined in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary is as follows:

That which comes in as the periodical produce of one's work, business, lands, or investments (commonly expressed in terms of money); annual or periodical receipts accruing to a person or corporation, revenue.

5. In the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, (International Students edition published in 1980) the meaning of the word 'income' is given as follows:

Money which one receives regularly for one's daily spending, usually payment for one's work, or interest from investments.

6. In the Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary (1979 Edition) the meaning of the word 'income' is given as follows:

money periodically received for labour or services, also money received from the rental of property, the proceeds of business the profits of commerce, interest on lease, etc., revenue.

7. In the Law Lexicon and Legal Maxims of Venkataramaiya (1980 Edition), the meaning of the word 'income' is defined as:

That which comes in as the periodical produce of one's work, business, lands or investments (commonly expressed in terms of money); annual or periodical receipts: accruing to a person or corporation; revenues.

It is also stated in the Law Lexicon that:

The expression 'income' in its normal connotation does not mean mere production or receipt of a commodity which may be converted into money. Income arises when the, commodity is disposed of by sale, consumption or use in the manufacture or other processes carried on by the assessee qua that commodity. There is no reason to think that the expression 'income' in the Madras Plantations Agricultural Income-tax Act, 1955 has any other connotation.

8. Taking into consideration the meaning given in the several dictionaries and the Law Lexicon, it cannot be said that the sale proceeds of Rs. 17,750 received by the judgment-debtor is an income derived by him. Income in its very nature relates to something that is received annually for the work done or anything received by way of income fromthe properties owned by a person.

9. The learned Advocate for the respondent draws my attention to the passage in the Law Lexicon, extracted above,' where it is mentioned that 'income' also connotes the proceeds received by sale of commodities by a particular person and contends that the proceeds realised from the sale of lands also will have to be treated as the income of the judgment-debtor. The sale of a commodity cannot be equated to the sale of an immovable; property, vis., lands. Hence the passage in the Law Lexicon will not in any way help the case of the respondent.

10. In a case reported in Commissioner of Income-tax v. Shaw Wallce , the, Privy Council had occasion to deal with the term 'Income' occurring in the Income-tax Act of 1922. During the course of the judgment, the Privy Council observed as follows:

The object of the Indian Act is to tax 'income' a term which it does not define. It is expanded, no doubt, into' 'income' profits and gains', but the expansion is more a matter of words than of substance. Income, their Lordships think, in this Act connotes a periodical monetary return 'coming in' with some sort of regularity, or expected regularity, from definite sources. The source is not necessarily one which is expected to the continuously productive, but it must be one whose object is the production of a definite return, excluding anything in the nature of a mere wind-fall. Thus income has been linked pietorially to the fruit of a tree, or the crop of a field. It is essentially the produce of something, which is often loosely spoken of as 'capital'. But capital, though possibly the source in the case of income from securities, is in most cases hardly more than an element in the process of production.

11. In a case reported in Vulcan Insurance Company Limited v. Corporation of Madras : (1930)58MLJ337 , a Division Bench of this Court has adopted the meaning given in the Oxford Dictionary, where income is described as 'periodical receipts' from one's work, lands, investments etc.

12. On a due consideration of the meaning of the word 'income' given in the abovesaid several dictionaries and Law Lexicon and the interpretation of the word in the abovesaid decisions, I have no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that the sale proceeds cannot be termed as an income of the judgment-debtor. Hence, the learned Subordinate Judge is in error in treating the sale proceeds of the land as an income and holding that the judgment-debtor is not entitled to the benefits of Act XIII of 1980. Consequently, the order of the learned Subordinate Judge is liable to be set aside.

13. But Act XIII of 1980 had been subsequently amended by means of Act X of 1981 by which several provisos are added to the effect that the protection afforded under the Act is taken away in respect of persons, who are assessed to income-tax in the two financial years immediately preceding the 1st day of April, 1979, or assessed to sales tax in the two financial years immediately preceding the 1st day of April, 1979, or who have been assessed to property tax or wealth tax in respect of buildings or lands other than agricultural lands under Tamil Nadu District Municipalities Act, 1920 or Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act, 1958, provided that the aggregate annual rental value of such building and lands is not less than Rs. 1,200, or who have been assessed to profession tax in all the four half-years, immediately preceding the 1st October, 1979, Act X of 1981, by which these provisos were added to Section 3 of Act XIII of 1980, is deemed to have come into force on the data of Act XIII of 1980 itself. In view of the subsequent amendment the question, whether the judgment-debtor is entitled to protection under Act XIII of 1980 as amended by Act X of 1981, will have to be considered afresh by the lower Court.

14. Hence the order of the learned Subordinate Judge is set aside, the civil revision petition is allowed, and the matter is remitted back to the Subordinate Judge of Tirunevelli for fresh disposal in the light of the observation made above. There will be no order as to costs.


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