V. Balasubramanian, Vice President -
(1.) THE assessee is an individual. THEre was a raid in the premises of the assessee and certain assets were seized. While filing the return of net wealth, the assessee returned the cash, etc., seized, but claimed in Statement III various other items seized during the search action as exempt from wealth-tax. THEse included coin collections to the extent of Rs. 4,17,688, pooja coins Rs. 30,148, miniature paintings valued at Rs. 2,31,350 and certain currency notes, etc. In support of his claim for exemption under Section 5 of the Wealth-tax Act, 1957 ('the Act') for the above assets, the assessee relied on an order of the Tribunal in the case of one Shamsunder G. Aggarwal. Holding that the artistic work done on coins do not entitle the assessee to the exemption, the WTO rejected the assessee's claim for exemption under Section 5(1)(xii). THE WTO noted that the Tribunal had rejected in Shamsunder G, Aggarwal's case the claim for exemption of coins considered as archaeologically valuable. THE WTO rejected the assessee's claim for exemption of miniature paintings under Section 5(1)(xii) and (xiii) and also the claim for deletion of the foreign currency notes amounting to Rs. 9,076. On appeal the Commissioner (Appeals) confirmed the orders of the WTO. THE valuation of these assets was upheld by him. It is against this order of the Commissioner (Appeals) that the present appeal is laid before the Tribunal.
(2.) The learned counsel for the assessee has pointed out that a complete 1st of coins has been given, indicating that they owe their existence for over a period of years if not centuries, contributing to the study of history and archaeology to fall within the scope of the exemption claimed. These coins are preserved or held by the assessee not for their metallic or other worth, but merely because they are landmarks in history over the period of centuries and give a pride of possession to the holder thereof. Even the valuation of these assets go to indicate this aspect of the matter in unambiguous terms. The learned counsel has quoted several authorities to support his case that the coins in the present case are valuable antiquities not of value in themselves but for what they indicate, they are also of importance from the viewpoint of archaeological study. They come clearly within the exemptions for work of archaeological value or art collections, etc., provided for in the Act. In particular, reference is made to the following in the Encyclopaedia Britannica on pages 232 and 233 (volume 2) :
Archaeology is that science or art-it can be maintained that it is both- which is concerned with the material remains of man's past. There are two aspects to the archaeologist's concern. The first of these is the discovery and reclamation of the ancient remains ; this usually involves field of excavation or at least surface collecting. The second concern is the analysis, interpretation and publication of the findings.
In terms of the history of ideas, it would appear that one of the two major approaches to archaeological thought arose within the great humanistic tradition of the Renaissance. Part of the reviving interest in. classical Greece and Rome was a concern within the art and architecture of the Greeks and Romans. Sculpture, pottery and coins were collected and excavation was undertaken.
Reference is made to the 3rd edition of the Book of Robert Friedberg titled 'Gold Coins of the Works' stating in the preface as follows :
The collecting of gold coins seems to have become a part of mankind almost since the first gold coins were struck by the ancient Greeks about 700 B.C.
Since then, gold coins have thus been struck over the centuries and fortunately many have survived to enrich the culture of our times and provide the numismatist with a lifetime of pleasure and study.
Gold coins which have been buried or otherwise secreted for hundreds or even for 2000 years, when finally discovered, were found to be in the same brilliant and untarnished condition as when they were first hidden.
It is this age-old tendency for gold to go underground that continually results in the unexpected discovery of new, unpublished coins, some of which may cast important light on a personage or place otherwise unknown or be clouded in history.
Referring to the listing of Numismatics in volume 16 of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, page 615, the learned counsel has sought to argue that the coins are the most imperishable antiquities and are a contemporary reflection of the culture of the times they were made. Their study yield a considerable amount of information about the past-which is the very concept of archaeological study.
The assessee has invested as a connoisseur and a lover of art in these coins. It was not his intention to sell them, but to retain them as pure works of art and articles of archaeological interest in the family. This has nothing to do with his business or business interest. The learned counsel stressed the statement made by the assessee before the WTO to the effect that the preservation of these coins and adding to their collection is a hobby of his and has nothing to do with the holding of the personal wealth or his business. Both the conditions with regard to nature of the asset as well as intention of not to sell are satisfied in the present case. Not only has the assessee any intention to sell these assets on the valuation date-which is the point at which the assessee's intention is to be tested-but the assessee has all intentions to preserve these assets as a heirloom from generation to generation in the family. On the question of intention, it is stressed that the intention is to be gathered from what the assessee himself says and his conduct and also the surrounding circumstances. His intention is to be gathered for wealth-tax purposes as on the valuation date. The absence of any sales and any other circumstances indicating any idea of future sale on the part of the assessee, according to the learned counsel, clearly satisfied the requirements of the exempting provisions of the Act. The assessee had absolutely no foreseeable intention of sale. A similar position obtained in the assessee's brother's case and the Tribunal has accepted the claim of the assessee in that case for exemption. On the same basis the exemption should be granted in the present case. Support is also sought to be gathered from the orders in the case of Shri Rajkumar Aggarwal, where silver coins of different denominations and of different countries were exempted on the basis of the Tribunal's decision in the case of Shamsunder Aggarwal.
(3.) ON the question of valuation, it has been claimed that part of the coins and other items in the list belonged to the assessee's brother. Reference is made in this connection to the letter addressed to the ITO dated 18-3-1975, where it was pointed out that in the wealth-tax returns from the assessment years 1972-73 onwards of the assessee and his four brothers, silver utensils have been disclosed to the extent of 250 kgs., part of which were utensils and the balance coins. The said utensils belonged to the assessee and his four brothers in the proportion indicated in that letter. The silver coins weighing about 68 kgs., valued at Rs. 83,600, belong to the assessee's brothers. That this asset does not belong to the assessee is clear from the fact that utensils were also lying at the residence of his other brothers of which the details and weights were available. According to the learned counsel, the value of the utensils and vessels belonging to his brothers amounting to Rs. 81,600 should, therefore, be excluded from his net wealth. In support of this claim, reference is made to the affidavits filed by the assessee's brothers which clearly indicated the existence of these silver utensils and are in the possession of the assessee. The affidavit has not been controverted in essentials or proved to be not correct. In fact in the brothers' case, the utensils were indicated in the returns filed by them from the assessment year 1972-73 and this was clear indication of the fact that part of the silver vessels found in the assessee's possession at the time of the raid on 9-1-1975 belonged to the brothers who had also indicated it in the returns filed by them. It is also pointed out that in so far as the affidavits filed by the brothers have not been controverted by cross-examination as laid down in Mehta Parikh & Co. v. CIT  30 ITR 181 (SC), the assertions therein should be accepted.;