P.K. Banerjee, J.
1. In this application the petitioner challenges the order made under Section 21(1) of the Bengal Finance (Sales Tax) Act, 1941, requiring the Board of Revenue to refer the question of law to the High Court. The Board of Revenue refused to refer the same to the High Court. It is argued that the order was passed without giving the petitioner an opportunity of being heard.
2. The only question, therefore, that arises in this case is whether in disposing of the matter under Section 21(1) of the Bengal Finance (Sales Tax) Act, the Member, Board of Revenue, is to hear the parties. We are, therefore, concerned whether under Section 21(1) the Board acts as a quasi-judicial body and must dispose of the application under Section 21(1) after hearing the parties. There cannot be any dispute that in disposing the matter coming under Section 20 of the Act, the Board must hear persons adversely affected by the order. If any party is affected by the order passed by the Board they have a right under Section 21(1) to apply to the Board, requiring the Board to refer to the High Court any question of law arising out of such order. In case of refusal to refer the matter to the High Court, the Board must record the reason for such refusal. An aggrieved party has a right under Section 21(2)(b) to apply to the High Court against such refusal. While disposing of the appeal or revisional application, the Board of Revenue acts as a quasi-judicial authority. Any party aggrieved by any order of the Board has a right to apply for review under Section 6(2) of the Board of Revenue Act, 1913.
3. If any person is aggrieved by the order under Section 20(3) of the Bengal Finance (Sales Tax) Act, under Section 21(1) of the Act, he may apply to the Board for reference to the High Court. In that case, the Board may either refer the same to the High Court or refuse to refer it. In case of refusal two contingencies may arise : the aggrieved party may withdraw the application for reference or apply to the High Court against the said refusal. It must be stated here that if the Board refuses to refer the matter, it must give reasons for such refusal.
4. Section 21 gives a right to the assessee to approach the High Court on any question of law arising out of the order made under Section 20(3). The order under Section 20(3) cannot be passed without hearing the assessee.
5. The Board of Revenue as constituted generally acts as a quasi-judicial body having the power to review its own order. Under Section 21(1), it may refer a question of law to the High Court or may refuse to refer the same. This provision is analogous to the provision regarding reference under the Income-tax Act. If the Board refuses to refer, it must record reasons for the same and against the order of refusal the assessee has a right to apply to the High Court. In this background it is, in my opinion, incumbent on the part of the Board to hear the assessee before an adverse order is passed thereon, and the Board by exercising jurisdiction under Section 21(1) acts as a quasi-judicial body.
6. It is quite possible for the assessee to satisfy the Board that the question sought to be referred to is a substantial question of law, and to deny the opportunity by the Board, which is a quasi-judicial body, it cannot be said that the Board acted in accordance with law.
7. The Rule is therefore made absolute. The order complained of is set aside. The matter is to go back to the Board of Revenue who will now pass the order after hearing the petitioner.
8. There will be no order as to costs.