1. This appeal arises out of a suit for a declaration that the Union Board rate of Rs. 20 per annum imposed on the plaintiff is illegal and not enforceable in law. The plaintiff alleged that the rate had been assessed on an estimate of his circumstances and property within the Union Board, which is not correct, and included his pension, which was an income derived outside the ambit of the Union Board, and accordingly not assessable; and that the rate should not be more than Rs. 2. The trial Court decreed the suit but in the lower appellate Court it was dismissed.
2. Section 38, Bengal Village Self-Government Act, states that the rate to be imposed shall be assessed according to the circumstances and the property within the union (if any) of the person liable to the same. In this appeal it has been urged that the interpretation put by the Subordinate Judge on the expression 'circumstances within the union' is incorrect inasmuch as he held, that assessment could be made on the pension of the petitioner amounting to Rs. 1,600 which was not derived from sources within the union. The meaning of the term 'circumstances in the union' has been the subject matter of a number of decisions of this Court. On the one hand a narrow meaning is given to the term as meaning income derived from sources within the union. This view is expressed in the decisions in the cases of Debendra Nath Rai v. Chairman, Taki Municipality AIR 1921 Cal 567, Purusottam Sinhgha v. Atul Chandra Choudhury (1935) 39 C W N 895, Kameswar Pershad v. Chairman of the Bhabua Municipality (1900) 27 Cal 849, Deb Narayan Dutt v. Chairman of the Baruipur Municipality (1912) 39 Cal 141 and Chairman of Giridhi Municipality v. Srish Suresh Chandra Mozumdar (1908) 35 Cal 859 On the other hand the wider meaning of the term, (and what I regard as the ordinary meaning), has been adopted in Chairman, Jaynagar Municipality v. Sailabala Dutta AIR 1921 Cal 485, Chairman, Jalpaiguri Municipality v. Jalpaigurl Tea Co. Ltd. AIR 1922 Cal 46 and Tarak Gobinda Choudhury v. Chairman and Commissioners of Pabna Municipality : AIR1929Cal452 . In so far as previous decisions maintain the view that the words assessment on 'circumstances within the union' must be construed to mean that assessment should be made only on the income derived from properties within the union, I beg respectfully to differ from the view adopted in these decisions. According to that view a millionaire living within the union and deriving his whole income from outside the union would not be liable to any assessment, whereas a poor man with an income of say Rs. 100 per annum, derived from properties within the union would be assessed. I cannot think that this was the intention of the Legislature. The word 'circumstances' has been interpreted as meaning a man's means, and a man's means depend upon his income from whatever source it is derived. A man's Bank balance is his property within the union when the Bank is within the limits of the union, and when he transfers his balance to a branch of the Bank situated outside the union it does not become property outside the union because of this transfer. By means of his cheque book he has just as much control of it within the union as before the transfer.
3. In the present case however there is no need to rest my decision on the definition of the expression 'circumstances within the union' since the appellant's income was assessed at Rs. 3,771 on his failure to submit any return to the Board. The Board had to estimate his income, and did so, through a professional man in the ordinary way. The appellant did not show that this assessment was wrong. His appeal in this Court has been pressed solely on the ground that the assessment wrongly included his pension of Rs. 1,600 derived from outside the union. Even accepting this contention and deducting this portion of his income the balance amounts to Rs. 2,171 on which the assessment would be Rs. 21 odd. So the assessment of Rs. 20 is not illegal. The appeal is accordingly dismissed. No order is made as to costs in this Court. Leave has been asked for to prefer an appeal under Clause 15, Letters Patent; but it is refused, as I do not consider this to be a fit case for such appeal.