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Union of India (Uoi) Vs. Janab Mukhtar Ahmed and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectDirect Taxation
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Rule No. 3908 of 1953
Judge
Reported inAIR1955Cal606,60CWN87
ActsTaxation on Income (Investigation Commission) Act, 1947 - Section 8(4)
AppellantUnion of India (Uoi)
RespondentJanab Mukhtar Ahmed and ors.
Appellant AdvocateSankar Banerjee and ;Balai Lal Pal, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateAtul Chandra Gupta, ;A.K. Sen and ;Pritis Chandra Roy, Advs.
Cases ReferredIn Suraj Mall Mohta and Co. v. A. V. Visvanatha Sastri
Excerpt:
- .....rs. 10,59,900 (b) as to r. c. no. 342:in the case of mukhtar ahmed, no income of his own lias been found to have escaped taxation and accordingly there is no evasion to be reported.' 4. in the earlier portions of the report the commission had dealt with the question whether for tile years in question the properties in 48, metcalfe street and the alexandra court were the proparties of lializ slmmshed or, as contended by both shamshed ahmed and mukhtar ahmed, the properties of the latter and it recorded its conclusion in no uncertain terms that the case that mukhtar ahmed was the owner of the properties was false and that the properties did belong in those years to shamshad ahmed and he was liable for income tax in respect of the income accruing from.....
Judgment:

K.C. Das Gupta, J.

1. In this application the Union of India seeks this Court's intervention, in exercise of its powers of superintendence under Article 227 of the Constitution of India, with an order passed by the collector, 24-Parganas refusing the prayer of this applicant for appointment of a Receiver of the two properties -- premises No. 48 Metcalfe Street, Calcutta and a house known as Alexandra Court hearing premises No. 60/l Chowringhee Road, Calcutta. It was stated in the application for appointment of a Receiver that Hafiz Shamshed Ahmed was liable for an amount of Rs. 11,83,629-3-0 on account of assessment of income tax made under the Income Tax Act and penalties imposed on him, that though a number of certificate cases had been started against him for recovery of this amount no recovery had been made, that if the properties were sold in certificate proceedings they were not likely to fetch adequate prices and that in these circumstances it was just and convenient that a Receiver should be appointed in execution for the purposes of recovery of these arrears. At the date of the application, Hafiz Shamshed Ahmed was already dead. Hid son Mukhtar Ahmed who was impleaded in the application as opposite party No. 2 appeared in court and filed a petition of objection in which he contended that these properties had belonged to him even during the life-time of his father and were not liable for the arrears.

2. The Collector took notice of the, fact that long before the death of Hafiz Shamshed Ahmed, Mukhtar Ahmed had been treated by the Income tax Department as the owner of the properties in question and was assessed for the income tax arising out of the said premises for some years and he considered the application of the Income Tax Department to be 'most illogical'. Finally he observed that the income Tax Department 'cannot therefore say that the premises mentioned by them are clearly in seisin of this Court in respect of the proceedings against the father Shri Hafiz Shamsed Ahmed' and rejected the application.

3. The sole ground that has been stated to induce the Court to interfere with the order passed by the Collector under Article 227 of the Constitution is that the Collector was bound to accept as correct the conclusion recorded by the Income Tax Investigation Commission in its report submitted to the Central Government that during the years in respect of which the arrears have arisen Hafiz Shamshed Ahmed was the owner of these properties and that Mukhtar Ahmed was not. It is worth mentioning that two cases, the case of Hafiz Shamshed Ahmed as well as the case of Mukhtar Ahmed were referred to the Investigation Commission by the Central Government under Section 5 and one joint report was sent by the Investigation Commission to the Central Government. Paragraph 23 of the report reads thus:

'In the result, we report as follows:

(a) As to R. C. No. 312: (i) The amount of income from business, earned between 1-4-1939 and 31-3-1947, in respect of which Shamshed Ahmed evaded taxation is Rs. 10,39,900/-. (ii) The said Income is to be distributed as follows and the amounts concerned added to the assessed business income of the assessee for the corresponding period for the purposes of reassessment:

Accountingyear.Assessmentyear.Amount which escaped taxation.

1939-401940-41Rs. 25,0001940-411941-4225,0001941-421942-4350,0001942-431943-442,00,0001943-441944-453,00,0001944-451945-463,00,0001945-461946-471,00,0001946-471947-4859,900

Rs. 10,59,900

(b) As to R. C. No. 342:in the case of Mukhtar Ahmed, no income of his own lias been found to have escaped taxation and accordingly there is no evasion to be reported.'

4. In the earlier portions of the report the Commission had dealt with the question whether for tile years in question the properties in 48, Metcalfe Street and the Alexandra Court were the proparties of lializ Slmmshed or, as contended by both Shamshed Ahmed and Mukhtar Ahmed, the properties of the latter and it recorded its conclusion in no uncertain terms that the case that Mukhtar Ahmed was the owner of the properties was false and that the properties did belong in those years to Shamshad Ahmed and he was liable for Income tax in respect of the income accruing from those properties in the years in question. If this conclusion be binding on the Collector in deciding the application for appointment of a Receiver, there would be scope for an argument that the Collector was in error in refusing the application for appointment of a Receiver.

5. The question is whether the conclusion as recorded in earlier part of the report as regards the ownership of the properties during the years in question as giving rise to the liability for Income tax is a conclusion which the Collector waa bound to accept as correct. I am unable to find any basis in law for a view that such conclusion was binding on the Collector. Reliance is placed on behalf of the petitioner on the provision of Sub-section (4) of Section 8, Investigation Commission Act, which is in these words:

'In all assessment or re-assessment proceedings taken in pursuance of a direction under Subsection (2), the findings recorded by the Commission on the case or on the points referred to it shall, subject to the provisions of Sub-sections (5), and (6), be final'.

It is contended that the Commission has re-corded its finding not only on the fact of evasion and on the quantum of evasion but also for the purpose or arriving at these findings, has recorded a finding as to the ownership of the properties and that this finding falls within the words 'the findings recorded by the Commission on the case or on the points referred to it'. The provision under which the reference to the Commission is made appears in the first sub-section of Section 5 of the Act and is in these words:

'The Central Government may at any time before the 1st day of September, 1948, refer to the Commission for investigation and report any case or points in a case which the Central Government has prima facie reasons for believing that a person has to a substantial extent evaded payment of taxation on income, together with such material as may be available in support of such belief.....'

6. The letter or the resolution by which the Central Government referred the cases of Mukhtar Ahmed or Shamshad Ahmed to the Investigation Commission has not been produced. It is curious also that the report on which so much emphasis is put by the Union of India does not appear on the record of the proceedings before the Collector. We do not know whether the report was made available to the Collector. The report sent by the Commission has however been made available to us. It is apparent on a reading of the report that the Central Government stated that they had reason to believe that both Mukhtar Ahmed and Hatiz Shamshad Ahmed had evaded payment of taxation to a substantial extent and referred to the Commission for report on these cases of evasion.

The duties of the Commission are set out in Section 3 of the Act. It is stated there that the dutiea of the Commission would be, apart from investigating and reporting to the Central Government on all matters relating to taxation on income with particular reference to the extent to which the present law is adequate to prevent the evasion thereof, to investigate any case or points in a case referred to it under Section 5 and make a report thereon to the Central Government. It seema reasonable to think, the case or the points in a case that the Central Government may refer are only on the question of fact or quantum of evasion.

Necessarily therefore the findings on the case or on the points referred to the Commission appearing in Sub-section (4) of Section 8 are findings as regards the factum and quantum of evasion. It must necessarily happen that for arriving at such findings as regards quantum and factum of evasion the Commission has to record findings on other facts. In my judgment these findings on other facts will not come within the description of the words 'the findings recorded by the Commission on the case or on the points referred to it' 'In Suraj Mall Mohta and Co. v. A. V. Visvanatha Sastri,' : [1954]26ITR1(SC) (A), the Supreme Court in dealing with differences between the procedure of the Investigation Commission and the ordinary procedure of assessment under the Income Tax Act observed:

'Under the provisions of Section 8 of the impugned Act, the findings of fact given by the Commission as to factum and extent of the evasion are final and conclusive.'

While it is true that the exact connotation of the words 'the findings recorded by the Commission on the case or on the points referred to it' was not being considered by the Supreme Court in that case this observation of the Court cannot but be held to be of a great importance and assistance to us in the present case. My conclusion is that the Commission's findings as regards the ownership of the property are not findings within the meaning of Section 8 (4) of the Act, This alone is in my judgment sufficient for holding that the Collector was not bound to accept as correct the conclusion recorded by the Investigation Commission as regards the ownership of the properties.

7. There is however another reason for the same conclusion. Under the terms of Sub-section (4) of Section 8, the findings recorded by the Commisssion shall be final only 'in all assessment or re-assessment proceedings taken in pursuance of a direction under Sub-section (2).' In dealing with the application for appointment of a Receiver the Collector was doing nothing in 'assessment or reassessment proceedings'. Those proceedings had already concluded and it was on the result thereof that the liabilities, were calculated.

The stage at which the application for appointment of a Receiver was made was and had necessarily to be long after the conclusion of the re-assessment proceedings. Whatever finality might attach to the findings recorded by the Commission in the assessment or re-assessment proceedings, that finality can by no means be extended to the proceedings, before the Collector lor appointment of a Receiver.

8. It is easy to see why the Legislature thought fit to make the findings recorded by theCommission final in the assessment or re-assessment proceedings. Unless that was done, practically the whole purpose of investigation by the Commission will be frustrated. It is equally easy to see Why the Legislature limited the finality only to assessment or re-assessment proceedings. As has been observed by the Supreme Court in the case above referred to this is a very drastic measure and the proceedings before the Investigation Commission have not to be conducted like ordinary judicial proceedings.

It would have been outrageous if the findings that are recorded by the Commission as stepa towards their final finding as regards the factum or extent of evasion would also be made final in any proceeding other than the assessment or reassessment proceedings, with a view to which the Investigation is made.

9. I have, therefore, come to the conclusion that the contention that the Collector was bound to accept the conclusion regarding the ownership of the properties as recorded by the Commission as final must fall. In my view the Collector very rightly refused the prayer for appointment of a Receiver. There is nothing that would justify us in interfering with the Collector's order under Article 227 of the Constitution.

10. I would therefore discharge the rule with costs.

Guha, J.

11. I agree.


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