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Corporation of Madras Vs. Srimathi Ch. Balamoney and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMunicipal Tax;Civil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1966)2MLJ567
AppellantCorporation of Madras
RespondentSrimathi Ch. Balamoney and ors.
Cases ReferredAhmed Ali & Co. v. Commissioner
Excerpt:
- - commissioner, corporation of madras (1949)1mlj455 that the language of rule 15 is imperative and the court of small causes would have no jurisdiction to entertain an appeal unless the requirements contained in clauses (i) and (ii) of rule 15, sub-rule (a) are satisfied......with the order passed by the commissioner may appeal against it to a committee called the taxation appeal committee and consisting of three members two of whom shall be members of the council elected by it and the third person appointed by the state government. the person so appointed by the government is the chairman of the committee. rule 15 provides for the appeal from the taxation appeal committee.4. this taxation appeals committee is given all the powers of a standing committee under section 26(1) of the city municipal act and the provisions of subsection (2) pf section 26 are made to apply to the requisitions made by the taxation appeals committee as if it were a standing committee. reference is made to this provision as the learned chief judge has relied upon this provision also.....
Judgment:
ORDER

M. Natesan, J.

1. These revisions are preferred by the Corporation of Madras against an order of the Chief Judge, Court of Small Causes, Madras, rejecting in limine the five appeals preferred by the Corporation against an order of the Taxation Appeals Committee of the Corporation.

2. With reference to assessment of property tax there were appeals before the Taxation Appeals Committee by the owners and according to the Corporation several important questions arose for consideration therein. There was a difference of view as to the assessment between the Chairman of the Committee, the Chairman being a judicial officer, and the other two members of the Committee who were members of the Corporation. The majority view prevailed and the Commissioner in the view that he could not get the particular assessment rectified in any other way preferred the appeals in question under Rule 15 of the Taxation Rules of the Madras City Municipal Act. Objection was taken by the assessee to the maintainability of the appeals, their contention being that only an aggrieved assessee can appeal under that provision and the Commissioner had no right of appeal. This preliminary objection has been accepted by the learned Chief Judge, Court of Small Causes.

3. Mr. T. Chengalvaroyan, learned Counsel for the Corporation, took me through the relevant provisions relating to the assessment of property tax and the revision and appeals therefrom. But I find that however necessary it may be to provide for an appeal to the Court by the Commissioner also on the rules of the statute the Commissioner has no right of appeal. Schedule IV to the City Municipal Act contains the taxation rules. Part I-A of the Schedule provides for assessment of the property tax and against assessments, revisions by Commissioner are provided under Rules 2, 3-A and 4. Part V under the heading revision of assessment contains provision for appeal from orders of the Commissioner. Rule 13-A provides for the mode of enquiry by the Commissioner of the petitions under Rules 2, 3-A and 4. Rule 14 provides that an objector who is dissatisfied with the order passed by the Commissioner may appeal against it to a Committee called the Taxation Appeal Committee and consisting of three members two of whom shall be members of the Council elected by it and the third person appointed by the State Government. The person so appointed by the Government is the Chairman of the Committee. Rule 15 provides for the appeal from the Taxation Appeal Committee.

4. This Taxation Appeals Committee is given all the powers of a Standing Committee under Section 26(1) of the City Municipal Act and the provisions of subsection (2) pf Section 26 are made to apply to the requisitions made by the Taxation Appeals Committee as if it were a Standing Committee. Reference is made to this provision as the learned Chief Judge has relied upon this provision also in coming to his conclusion reading it along with Section 366 of the Act. The learned Chief Judge is of the view that by giving the Taxation Appeals Committees the powers of a Standing Committee the Commissioner is given the power to refer the matter in question to the Council under Section 366(2), his order being substantially modified. The learned Chief Judge equates the Taxation Appeals Committee to the Standing Committee for all purposes for this conclusion. I do not find that the Rules warrant such a conclusion. Certain powers to call for reports and to requisition the Commissioner for the production of records, correspondence, plan, etc., are given to the Council or Standing Committee under Section 26. The Taxation Appeals Committee is equated to the Standing Committee only in respect of the power for requisition under Section 26(1). Section 366 provides for appeal to the Standing Committee from certain orders of the Commissioner, inter alia, from orders of the Commissioner that are made appealable under the Rules, and the Commissioner is empowered within one month of the date of any decision of the Standing Committee by which he is aggrieved to refer the matter to the Council and to withhold giving effect to the order or decision of the Standing Committee pending the decision of the Council in the matter. A finality is given to the decision of the Council on the matter. These provisions in my view cannot and do not affect the taxation procedure which stands apart and is separately provided. Arming the Taxation Appeals Committee with the powers of the Standing Committee is one thing. Provision for appeal from its orders is a different matter. The appellate forum, in this case the Council, has to be empowered to entertain the appeal by the Commissioner from the orders against him by the Taxation Appeals Committee. A right of appeal is always a creation of statute and has to be provided. It cannot be read into or assumed because the occasion demands it. But this question does not directly arise for consideration and we are now concerned only with the competency of an appeal by the Commissioner to the Court. Whether the Commissioner has a right of appeal or not has to be judged only by reference to the rules relating to the provision for appeals to the Court of Small Causes.

5. In interpreting these provisions we may have to note this that Part V is headed Revision of Assessment, Part I-A being headed Assessment of the Property Tax. The assessment order made by the Commissioner under Rule 13-A can be taken up in appeal by the objector to the Taxation Appeals Committee. When we come to the provision for appeal against the orders of this Committee, Rule 15 runs thus:

Rule 15(a) : An appeal shall lie to the Small Cause Court against any decision of the Taxation Appeals Committee constituted under Rule 14, but no such appeal shall be heard by the said Court, unless

(i) a notice of intention to appeal has been given to the Commissioner Within ten days from the date on Which such decision Was communicated by registered post and

(ii) the petition of appeal has been presented within fourteen days from the date on which such decision was communicated by registered post and the tax has been paid within the said period.

Then comes an explanation which it is unnecessary to refer for the present purpose. Sub-clause (b) of Rule 15 may also be passed over. Clause (c) of Rule 15 is an important provision in the present context. It runs thus:

The notice of intention to appeal shall state the name, occupation and residence of the appellant or of his attorney or vakil if any and the grounds of appeal.

Rule 17 runs thus:

The Small Cause Court may, if it thinks fit, state a case on any appeal for the decision of the High Court and shall do so whenever a question of law is involved if either the Commissioner or the appellant applies in Writing in that behalf Within fifteen days from the decision of the Small Cause Court and deposits such sum as the Small Cause Court thinks necessary to defray the cost of the reference.

6. Now, to take up Rule 15, the provision in Sub-clause (1) for notice of intention to appeal to be given to the Commissioner within ten days shows that the appellant cannot be the Commissioner. It has been held in Ahmed Ali & Co. v. Commissioner, Corporation of Madras : (1949)1MLJ455 that

The language of Rule 15 is imperative and the Court of Small Causes Would have no jurisdiction to entertain an appeal unless the requirements contained in Clauses (i) and (ii) of Rule 15, Sub-rule (a) are satisfied.

7. When the provision in Clause (i) that the appellant must give notice of the appeal to the Commissioner is considered imperative, it follows that the appellant cannot be the Commissioner. It would be a repugnant provision if the Commissioner can be an appellant. If the Commissioner can also appeal, then there is no provision for notice of such an appeal to the objector. When notice of the appeal by the objector is made imperative and provided for it is inconceivable that the Legislature when contemplating an appeal by the Commissioner also provided for no notice to the party that would be affected. Without provision for notice to the objector, there can be no valid and effective appeal against him. Even though the first part of Rule 15 (a) is not restrictive of the parties who could appeal when. read with Clauses (i) and (ii) there is no room for doubt that the appeal contemplated is by the objector, the party who has to pay the tax. The tax has to be paid before the presentation of the appeal (vide 15(a)(ii). Certainly Clause (ii) cannot apply to the Commissioner. Thus neither of the imperative provisions for a valid appeal apply to the Commissioner. Then again Rule 17 already referred to makes a distinction between the appellant and the Commissioner. The reference to the High Court may be required by the Commissioner or the appellant plainly indicating that at any rate in Rule 17 the appellant refers only to the objector. To repeat, though no doubt the first part of Rule 15(a) giving the right of appeal by itself imposes no limitation as to the party who may appeal from the decision of the Taxation Appeals Committee, the provisions regarding the appeal read as a whole show that the intention of the Legislature is not to provide an appeal at the instance of the Commissioner. The body of the Taxation Rules as a whole provide opportunities to the objector to get the assessment revised and if the Commissioner can be an. appellant, an absurdity would be introduced and anomaly found in complying with the mandatory requirement in Rule 15(a)(i) and (ii). It is a recognised principle of construction of statutes that when words found in a statute yield to two interpretations, one leading to repugnance and absurdity or rendering the statute unworkable, and another though restricting the meaning of the words avoiding repugnance, inconsistency, anomaly, etc., the Legislature could be presumed to have intended the latter interpretation. Where the plain language of the enactment does not demand it, requirements of consistency and the need to avoid repugnancy and difficulty or absurdity in the working of the Act particularly as here in the imperative provision, call for a restricted interpretation. Here from the collocation and juxtaposition of the material words in Rules 15 and 17 and the requirements of the rules it follows that the appeal provided for is not one by the Commissioner. It may be that this interpretation leaves the Commissioner without a remedy against an adverse order of the Taxation Appeals Committee. But that is for the Legislature to intervene. A right of appeal is not inherent from every decision; it has to be specifically provided for.

8. For these reasons, I do not see any reason to differ from the conclusion of the learned Chief Judge, Court of Small Causes, in his view that the appeals by the Commissioner from adverse orders of the Taxation Appeals Committee are not maintainable under Rule 15.

9. In the result, the Petitions are dismissed.


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