This is an application by the two petitioners under article 226 of the Constitution for a writ to rescind and withdraw a notice under section 7 of the Public Demands Recovery Act dated 18th April, 1960, and the certificate dated 1st April, 1960.
The point is short. The necessary facts giving rise to the question are as follows :
The petitioners were separately assessed under the Indian Income-tax Act in respect of separate incomes. By a deed their father, Sambhu Nath Sen, dedicated certain properties to the family deity, Sri Sri Radha Gobinda Jew, and transferred the said properties to the trustees for the purposes mentioned in the trust deed. The petitioners are the present trustees of the trust deed. It is admitted by the petitioners that the trustees have their Office at 10, Crooked Lane, Calcutta and having the assessment status of an 'association of persons'. Under the Income-tax Act they were assessed to a total income of Rs. 39,137. The trustees were served with a notice of demand specifying the amount payable by the said trustees in pursuance of the said assessment order made for the year 1958-59. The notice of demand is dated the 18th April, 1960, and describes in the column of 'Name and address of the certificate-debtor' the petitioners as 'Sri N. C. Sen and B. C. Sen, 10, Crooked Lane, Calcutta.'
The only point now urged on this application under article 226 of the Constitution is that the assessment having been made upon N. C. Sen and B. C. Sen as trustees of the Debuttar Estate of Sri Sri Radha Gobinda Jew, the certificate is illegal and invalid because it does not expressly describe these two persons as such trustees.
In support of the petition Dr. Pal, learned advocate for the petitioners, has attracted me with the judicial controversy and conflict on the question of compliance with statutory from of certificates under the Public Demands Recovery Act in such decision as Abanindra Kumar Maity v. A. K. Biswas, Satish Chandra Bhowmick v. Union of India, Ajit Kumar Ganguly v. Union of India and Union of India v. Jeonlal Bhutoria (the unreported decision in Civil Revision Case No. 734 of 1957 by Bachawat and Renupada Mukherjee JJ.). Dr. Pal has invited me to join in the controversy represented by these decisions. I decline to do it because it is not necessary for me to express any view preferring one decision to another, and because the legislature has intervened by the West Bengal Act XI of 1961, being Bengal Public Demands Recovery (Validation Certificates and Notices) Act, 1961, in order to get round certain judicial decisions. I shall however state my reasons briefly.
Here there is no breach of the statutory form or its requirements as prescribed in the certificate under section 4 of the Public Demands Recovery Act in the facts of this case. The statutory form No. 1 has in column 3 of the heading 'Name and address of certificate-debtor'. The present certificate does give the name and address of the certificate-debtor. What it does not do in the present case is not to state fully and expressly the capacity of the certificate-debtors as trustees. But failure to describe the two certificate-debtors as trustees does not mean any express requirement of the particular statutory form in column 3 of form No. 1 of the Public Demands Recovery Act. It is, therefore, wholly unnecessary for me to discuss any of the cases that I have mentioned above to find out what is the effect in particular cases of breach of statutory forms. In that view of the matter the certificate cannot be questioned on that technical ground in this case.
Secondly, this column of the name and address of the certificate-debtor is intended, as I read it, to identify the certificate-debtor. In this case the certificate sufficiently identifies the petitioners as trustees and there is no scope for any confusion or doubt on the point whether the certificate is with regard to their personal assessment or with regard to their assessment as trustees. First, the certificate here identifies them by the address 10, Crooked Lane, which is admittedly the registered office of the petitioners, trustees of the Debuttar Estate of Sri Sri Radha Gobinda Jew. The petition shows that the petitioners are individually residing somewhere else at 3, Amherst Street. Therefore, the address here indicates the registered office of the trustees and not the personal residence of the petitioners.
Thirdly, the amount of public demand for which the certificate is signed and the period for which such statement is made forms a separate column 4 of the certificate. There also the amount, its details and period for which the amounts are due clearly indicate that they represent the petitioners assessment only as trustees of the Debuttar Estate of Sri Sri Radha Gobinda Jew. Hence it is plain that there is no defect whatever in the certificate which leaves any room for doubt about the identity or capacity of the petitioners and about the certificate which was issued.
Fourthly, the point of the petitioners appears to me trivial and they could have had ample opportunity to have that corrected under the scheme provided by the Public Demands Recovery Act. If it is the petitioners contention that this certificate makes them personally liable and therefore they are entitled to deny their liability in whole, then they could have filed their objections under section 9 of the Public Demands Recovery Act. The Certificate Officer then under section 10 could have heard that objection and determined whether the petitioners were liable for the whole or any part of the amount and could also have either set aside the certificate or modified or varied the certificate. The Certificate Officer has obvious powers of modification or variation of the certificate by introduction of the words 'Trustees to the Debuttar Estate of Sri Sri Radha Gobinda Jew' after the two names of the petitioners. That course was clearly open to the petitioners : see also in this connection the observation of the Division Bench in Ladhuram Taparia v. D. K. Ghosh where it was said :
'If the reduction is brought to the notice of the Certificate Officer and the certificate is consequentially amended, as it can be amended under section 10 of the Public Demands Recovery Act at any stage of the proceedings, all that the law requires is satisfied.'
So even if it was necessary to amend, the Certificate Officer could have amended the certificate. But it is not necessary on the facts of this case to amend because this is a question of interpreting the present certificate. As I have pointed out already the certificate satisfies the requirements of the statutory form. The rest is a matter for interpretation whether such a certificate is in respect of the petitioners liability as trustees of the Debuttar Estate of Sri Sri Radha Gobinda Jew. That interpretation is obvious by reason of the address, the amounts, the dates and the period for which the debt is due as stated in the particular certificate in its different columns. No doubt it is true that a Certificate Officer cannot go behind the certificate Officer cannot go behind the certificate. But this is not going behind the certificate at all. It is reading the certificate and interpreting it. Just as an executing court cannot go behind a decree, but in appropriate cases can interpret a decree it is asked to execute, similarly a Certificate Officer while he cannot go behind a certificate yet can certainly interpret the certificate as he finds it with reference to the address, date and amount.
For these reasons I dismiss the petition and discharge the rule. All interim orders including the stay order are vacated. There will be no order as to costs.