RATNAMALA AMMA M Vs. CONTROLLER OF ESTATE DUTY ASST
HIGH COURT OF KARNATAKA
ASSISTANT CONTROLLER OF ESTATE DUTY
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SOMNATH IYER, J. -
(1.)IN the South Kanara District there was an Aliyasantana family composed of a certain Gummanna Shetty and his sister, Ratnamala, and her four children. Gummanna Shetty died on 15th Jan., 1959, and Ratnamala, when called upon by the Assistant CED, produced an estate duty account in respect of the estate of the deceased. Ratnamala raised the contention when she produced the account that she was not liable to pay any estate duty for the reason that, on Gummanna Shetty's death, his wife and children inherited a sixth share in the property which belonged to the Aliyasantana family and that estate duty was payable only by those heirs in respect of that sixth share which passed to them on the death of Gummanna Shetty.
(2.)THE Asstt. CED negatived the contention advanced by Ratnamala, who is the petitioner before us, that estate duty was payable only in respect of the sixth share which passed on the death of Gummanna Shetty. He was of the opinion that there was also a cesser of interest in respect of the third share in the property which Gummanna Shetty would have got at a partition if one had been made immediately before his death. In support of this view, he placed dependence on s. 7(1) of the ED Act with which s. 39 of that Act had to be read for the determination of the value of the interest to which sub-s. (2) of that section refers for the computation of the estate duty payable.
Now s. 5 of the ED Act is the charging section which says that, on the death of a person, estate duty shall be payable in respect of property which passes on such death. Sec. 6 says that property which the deceased was at the time of his death competent to dispose of shall be deemed to pass on his death. Sec. 7(1) on whose provisions the Assistant Controller depended reads :
"7. (1) Subject to the provisions of this section, property in which the deceased or any other person had an interest ceasing on the death of the deceased shall be deemed to pass on the deceased's death to the extent to which a benefit accrues or arises by the cesser of such interest, including in particular, a coparcenary interest in the joint family property of a Hindu family governed by the Mitakshara, Marumakkattayam or Aliyasantana law."
The relevant part of s. 39, which is complementary to s. 7(1), reads :
"39. (1) . . . . . . . (2) The value of the benefit accruing or arising from the cesser of an interest in the property of a tarwad or tavazhi governed by the Marumak-kattayam rule of inheritance or of a kutumba or kavaru governed by the Aliyasantana rule of inheritence which ceases on the death of a member thereof shall be the principal value of the share in the property of the tarwad or tavazhi or, as the case may be, the kutumba or kavaru which would have been allotted to the deceased had a partition taken place immediately before his death."
Under the provisions of the Madras Aliyasantana Act by which the kutumba of Gummanna Shetty, his sister and her four children were governed, at the relevant point of time it was possible for Gummanna Shetty to demand a partition, and, under s. 36(3) of that Act, in the property which could have been allotted to him at such partition he would have had only a life interest if the kutumba from which he separated had at least one female member who had not completed the age of fifty years when Gummanna Shetty died, and so, if Gummanna Shetty had demanded a partition during his lifetime, the provisions of s. 36(3) would have become applicable and he would have got only a life interest in the properties allotted to him at that partition.
(3.)THE provisions of the Madras Aliyasantana Act (Madras Act No. IX of 1949) stood amended in some respects by the Hindu Succession Act which commenced to operate on 17th June, 1956. Sec. 4 of that Act stated that, save as otherwise expressly provided in that Act, any text, rule or interpretation of Hindu law or any custom or usage immediately before the commencement of that Act shall cease to have effect with respect to matters for which the Hindu Succession Act made provision. It further stated that any other law in force immediately before the commencement of the Hindu Succession Act shall cease to apply to Hindus in so far as it was inconsistent with the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act.
Since Gummanna Shetty and the members of the kutumba to which he belonged were Hindus, any text, rule or interpretation of Hindu law or custom or usage which was in force immediately before the Hindu Succession Act came into force, ceased to have any effect with respect to matters which stood regulated by the Hindu Succession Act, and similarly the provisions of every other law, to the extent to which they were inconsistent with the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act, stood abrogated and repealed.
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