NEW DELHI MUNICIPAL COMMITTEE Vs. C P SINGH AND CO
HIGH COURT OF DELHI
NEW DELHI MUNICIPAL COMMITTEE
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J.M.MALIK, J. -
(1.) Both the parties have locked horns on the question of jurisdiction. The case of the plaintiff/respondent is this. He is the owner of House No.124, Thapar House, Janpath Lane, New Delhi. The appellant committee sent two notices under sections 65-68 of the Punjab Municipal Act, dated, 9.2.65 and 16.2.66 respectively, inviting objections to the proposed change in the annual rental value in respect of levy of house tax for the aforesaid house. The respondent filed the objections but the same were dismissed. The respondent/plaintiff filed a suit challenging the legality and validity of the aforesaid notices. The Trial Court dismissed the suit vide its judgment dated 31.8.68 holding, besides other grounds, that the jurisdiction of the civil Court was barred under section 86 of the Punjab Municipal Act. The first appellate court vide its judgment dated 10.7.74 decreed the suit and passed decree for perpetual injunction in favour of the respondent and against the appellant restraining the appellant committee from realising the amount of Rs.86,858.53 on account of house tax.
(2.) I have heard counsel for the parties at length. Section 84 and Section 86 of the Punjab Municipal Act run as follows:
"Section 84 Appeals against taxation" (1) An appeal against the assessment or levy of any or against the refusal to refund any tax under this Act shall lie to the Deputy Commissioner or to such other officer as may be empowered by the State Government in this behalf: Provided that, when the Deputy Commissioner or such other officer as aforesaid is, or was when the tax was imposed, a member of the committee, the appeal shall lie to the Commissioner of the division.
(2) If, on the hearing of an appeal under the section, any question as to the liability to, or the principle of assessment of, a tax arises on which the officer hearing the appeal entertains reasonable doubt, he may, either of his own motion or on the application of any person interested, draw up a statement of the facts of the case and the point on which doubt is entertained, and refer the statement with his own opinion on the point for the decision of the High
Court. (3) On a reference being made under sub-section (2), the subsequent proceedings in this case shall be , as nearly as may be, in conformity with the rules relating to references to the High Court contained in Section 113 and Order XLVI of the Code of Civil Procedure.
(4) In every appeal the costs shall be in the discretion of the officer deciding the appeal.
(5) Costs awarded under this section to the committee shall be recoverable by the committee as though they were arrears of a tax due from the appellant.
(6) If the committee fails to pay any costs awarded to an appellant within ten days after the date of the order for payment thereof, the officer awarding the costs may order the person having the custody of the balance of the municipal fund to pay the amount. 86. Taxation not to be questioned except under this Act ? (1) No objection shall be taken to any valuation or assessment, nor shall the liability of any person to be assessed or taxed be questioned, in any other manner or by any other authority than is provided in this Act.?
(3.) I am of the considered view that in view of Sections 84 and 86 of the Punjab Municipal Act 1911, the Civil Court has no jurisdiction to entertain this suit. The observations made by the Apex Court in an authority reported in NDMC vs. Satish Chand (2003) 10 Supreme Court Cases 38 fully dovetail with the facts of this case:-
"It will be noticed from the provisions contained in Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure that a bar to file a civil suit may be express or implied. An express bar is where a statute itself contains a provision that the jurisdiction of a civil court is barred e.g. the bar contained in Section 293 of the Income Tax Act, 1961. An implied bar may arise when a statute provides a special remedy to an aggrieved party like a right of appeal as contained in the Punjab Municipal Act which is the subject-matter of the present case. Section 86 of the Act restrains a party from challenging assessment and levy of tax in any manner other than as provided under the Act. A provision like this is the implied bar envisaged in Section 9 CPC against filing a civil suit." In this case, reliance was placed upon cases reported in Munshi Ram vs. Municipal Committee, Chheharta (1979) 3 SCC 83, Raja Kumar Bhargava vs. Union of india (1988) 1 SCC 681 and Sobha Singh and Sons (P) Ltd. vs. New Delhi Municipal Committee (1988) 34 DLT 91.;
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