1. This reference has been made by the Tribunal under Section 27(3) of the Wealth-tax Act, and the question referred to us for decision is whether in the circumstances the wealth-tax levied on the legal representative of the deceased who is the assessee, is in accordance with law.
2. The facts and circumstances which led to this reference can be briefly stated: The assessee's brother submitted a wealth-tax return for the assessment year ending March 31, 1959, wherein he showed that he was possessed of jewels worth Rs. 40,000. The Wealth-tax Officer, however, did not accept that return, but proceeded to value the jewels in his hands at Rs. 1,00,000 based on the valuations of the jewels made in the previous years. His statement that he has disposed of a substantial portion of the jewels during that assessment year and that what remained with him was only jewels worth at Rs. 40,000 was specifically disbelieved. The valuation of the jewels at Rs. 1,00,000 during that assessment year was ultimately confirmed by the Tribunal. Subsequently the assessee's brother died on October 26, 1959, leaving the assessee as his only legal representative. Proceedings were thereafter initiated against the assessee both under the Estate Duty Act as well as the Wealth-tax Act.
3. Having regard to the valuation of the jewels made in the hands of the assessee's brother for the year ending March 31, 1959, the Estate Duty Officer proceeded to include Rs. 1,00,000 as the value of the jewels which the assessee inherited from her brother as part of his estate. In those proceedings, the assessee contended that in fact her brother did not leave jewels worth about Rs. 1,00,000 but left only jewels worth about Rs. 3,350, that she inherited only those jewels left by her brother, and that the jewels worth about Rs. 1,00,000 did not in fact pass to her on the death of her brother. But this contention of the assessee was not substantiated by any positive and acceptable evidence. Therefore, the jewels worth about Rs. 1,00,000 were held to have passed to the assessee on the death of her brother on October 26, 1959. The proceedings under the Estate Duty Act came finally to this court, and in Estate of Late G. Ramaswami Naidu v. Controller of Estate Duty, : 76ITR559(Mad) .this court has affirmed the decision of the Tribunal holding that the jewels worth about Rs. 1,00,000 had passed to the assessee on the death of her brother along with other properties.
4. In the proceedings under the Wealth-tax Act for the assessment years 1960-61 and 1961-62 also, the assessee contended that she did not in fact inherit the jewels worth about Rs. 1,00,000, but this was not accepted onthe ground that the assessee has not come forward with tangible evidence to substantiate her case that she has inherited jewels worth only about Rs. 3,350 and not jewels worth about Rs. 1,00,000. When the matter reached the Tribunal, the Tribunal has pointed out that except the ipse dixit of the assessee that she inherited only jewels worth about Rs. 3,350, there is no other material to substantiate her case. In addition, it was also contended by the assessee that even her brother was not in possession of jewels worth about Rs. 1,00,000 either before or at the time of his death, that the assessment made under the Wealth-tax Act for the assessment year ending March 31, 1959, against her brother cannot be conclusive on the question of the quantum and value of the jewels held by him even during that year and that it is for the revenue to positively establish that her brother in fact died possessed of the jewels worth Rs. 1,00,000. Though normally it is for the revenue to establish that the particular person died possessed of the asset which is claimed to pass on his death, the material available in this case and relied on by the revenue are, in our view, sufficient to base an inference that the assessee's brother should have been in possession of the jewels worth about Rs. 1,00,000.
5. Even for the assessment year ending March 31, 1959, the assessee's brother was taxed under the Wealth-tax Act on the basis that he was in possession of jewels worth about Rs. 1,00,000 after rejecting his contention that he has parted with a portion of the jewels during that year and the said assessment has become final. Therefore, the assessment under the Wealth-tax Act made against the assessee's brother for the year ending March 31, 1959, is a relevant circumstance in deciding the question as to whether the assessee's brother left jewels worth about Rs. 1,00,000. It is not the assessee's case that after the assessment for the year ending March 31, 1959, but before his death, her brother had disposed of any portion of the jewels, and there is no evidence either as to such disposal. As a matter of fact, no attempt was made in that regard. Therefore, the plea of the assessee that her brother did not die possessed of jewels worth about Rs. 1,00,000 was not accepted as there was no material to support that plea. Further, there is the additional circumstance in this case that under the Estate Duty Act, the assessee as the accountable person was held liable on the sum of Rs. 1,00,000 being the value of the jewels inherited by her along with the other properties. The decision in Estate of Late G. Ramaswami Naidu v. Controller of Estate Duty, : 76ITR559(Mad) which arises out of the estate duty proceedings initiated against the assessee as the accountable person has specifically held that the jewels worth about Rs. 1,00,000 passed to her on the death of her brother. The above two circumstances are relied on by the revenue to show that the assessee's statement that she inheritedjewels worth about Rs. 3,350 cannot be accepted at its face value. We alsofind from the records that there is no evidence as to what happened to thejewels which were found to be in possession of the assessee's brother at theend of the assessment year, March 31, 1959. In the absence of any acceptable evidence as to the disposal of the jewels by the deceased, it has to betaken that the assessee, who is the sole legal representative of her brother,came into the possession of the entirety of the jewels left by her brother.
6. We, therefore, feel that the Tribunal is justified in coming to theconclusion that the assessee acquired the entire jewels of Rs. 1,00,000possessed by her brother at the time of his death. We have to make itclear that we are not entirely basing our decision on the findings given inthe estate duty proceedings. As the assessee has not produced any acceptable evidence to substantiate her case that her brother left jewels worthonly Rs. 3,350 and that she inherited only those jewels, and to displace theevidentiary value of the final orders passed under the Wealth-tax Actagainst the deceased and under the Estate Duty Act against the assesseeherself, we have to agree with the view of the Tribunal and uphold theassessments made under the Wealth-tax Act for the two years in question.But we, however, make it clear that in case the assessee is in a position toproduce any acceptable material to support her plea that she in fact inherited only jewels worth about Rs. 3,350 from the deceased, she is notestopped in putting forward that plea in the subsequent years. We,therefore, answer the question in favour of the revenue and against theassessee. The revenue will have its costs from the assessee. Counsel's feeRs. 250.