Decided on February 14,1995

V. CLEETUS Respondents


M.M.PAREED PILLAY, J. - (1.)THE question that arises for consideration is whether the order passed by the Valuation Officer in a reference made under s. 16A of the WT Act can be taken as information in possession of the WTO so as to enable him to initiate action under s. 17(1)(b) of the Act.
(2.)THE facts necessary for appreciation of the issue are as follows : The assessee filed return for the asst. yr. 1976-77 under the Act, supported by valuation given by a registered valuer. Holding that the value so returned is less than the fair market value of the property, WTO referred the matter to the Valuation Officer under s. 16A of the Act. Before the Valuation Officer had sent a copy of his order the WTO completed the assessment on the value returned by the assessee. It was thereafter that the WTO received the order from the Valuation Officer. The WTO issued notice under s. 17(1)(b) for reassessment on the basis of the aforesaid report. After hearing the assessee, reassessment was completed. Assessee took up the matter in appeal before the AAC, without success. Thereupon he preferred an appeal before the Tribunal. Tribunal held that the order of the Valuation Officer is invalid and allowed the appeal accordingly.
The Tribunal held that any reference made under s. 16A cannot lead to the reopening of a closed assessment under s. 17(1) as the report submitted by the Valuation Officer would be in an invalid reference and must be treated as a nullity in the eye of law, non est and void ab initio. The Tribunal further held that the WTO had no jurisdiction to reopen the assessment on a reconsideration of the same material which was before the authority and that it amounted to a change of opinion.

(3.)THE Revenue applied for reference to this Court under s. 27(1) of the Act. The Tribunal thereupon referred the question as to whether the Tribunal was right in law in holding that the WTO has no jurisdiction to reopen the assessment on the basis of the Departmental Valuation Officer's report.

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