B.K.MEHTA, J. -
(1.) THIS group of 22 appeals arises out of a common order of the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal, Ahmedabad, of September 30, 1976, by which the Tribunal set aside the order of the IAC of Income -tax, Acquisition Range, Ahmedabad, for acquisition of two immovable properties comprising of the building and the lands, respectively, admeasuring 1,766 sq. yards and 2,984 sq. yards, conveyed by the deeds of conveyance bearing registration Nos. 1314 and 1315 of April 11, 1974, by the respective owners thereof (hereinafter known as 'Manibhai Nagarsheth group' and 'Sahebsing Nagarsheth group') to Kalyanbhai Purshottamdas Fadia and seven others (hereinafter known as 'Fadia group') for consideration of Rs. 7,28,166 and Rs. 12,18,584, respectively. A few facts need be noticed in order to appreciate the contentions urged on behalf of the Commissioner in this group of appeals.
(2.) THE competent authority by his order of November 7, 1974, recorded the reasons for initiation of the acquisition proceedings and issued notices under S. 269D(1) of the I.T. Act, 1961, for publication in the Official Gazette and for service on the parties concerned as well as for publication thereof as required under S. 269D(2)(a) and (b) of the I.T. Act, 1961. The reasons for initiation of the acquisition proceedings in respect of the aforesaid two properties are that the District Valuation Officer, on being required to submit the report of valuation in respect of the said two properties, submitted his report on October 19, 1976, before the competent authority estimating the fair market value of the two properties at Rs. 14,12,800 and Rs. 23,87,200, respectively. The competent authority, relying on that report, found that the estimated fair market value of the said two properties exceeded the apparent consideration stated in the respective instruments of transfer by the prescribed margin and, therefore, the presumption about the ulterior motive of the transaction having arisen the properties were liable to be acquired. The District Valuation Officer, in his aforesaid report, relied on two sale instances for estimating the fair market value of the aforesaid two properties. The District Valuation Officer has observed in his report as under in this behalf :
'.... The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation have sold small plots of land on Relief Road and the lowest rate in Rs. 3,175 per sq. metre. This works out to Rs. 2,655 per sq. yard. But, the plots sold by the Municipal Corporation are on the Relief Road itself and they are small in size. The plot in question is a little in the interior and is a big plot of land. Considering these aspects, the value of the plot is taken at half of Rs. 2,655 and works out to Rs. 1,320 per sq. yard. Another disadvantage with this plot is that it is not regular in shape. Some space will be wasted. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation also proposed to construct 50' wide road which will pass through the plot. The F.S.I. in this area is 4 and even if the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation constructs a road, they will compensate the transferees by allowing them the full use of F.S.I. However, considering the disadvantage of irregular shape, etc., the value is further reduced to 60% of Rs. 1,328 and it works out approximately to Rs. 800 per sq. yard.'
In pursuance of the decision of the competent authority to initiate acquisition proceedings and directions about the public notice and the individual notice as well as locality notice, they were published on the following dates :
The notice in the Official Gazette was published in respect of both the impugned transfers on January 4, 1975. The individual notice in respect of the transfer by Manibhai Nagarsheth group was served on the transferors on February 20 and 22 of 1975, while in respect of the transfer by Sahebsing Nagarsheth group it was served on the transferors on 12th/20th February, 1975. The individual notice on the transferees in respect of the transfer by Manibhai Nagarsheth group was also served on 10th and 11th February, 1975, while in respect of the transfer by Sahebsing Nagarsheth group it was served on the transferee on 10th and 11th of February, 1975. The locality notice was published by customary method - by beat of thali and by affixation - on January 31, 1975.
(3.) THE transferors as well as the transferees filed their objections against the proposed acquisition. It appears that some correspondence had passed between the transferors on the one hand and the competent authority on the other in the course of the proceedings. The transferors have forwarded the comments of their registered valuers by their memorandum of July 31, 1975, which was submitted on behalf of the transferors and the transferees. The competent authority forwarded the counter -comments of the District Valuation Officer to the transferors and the transferees setting out his comments on the report of the registered valuers of the transferors. It is an admitted position that these counter -comments, found at page 96 of the paper books of First Appeals Nos. 1043 and 1044 of 1976, are the same which were forwarded to the transferors and the transferees. To these counter -comments, the registered valuers of the transferors by their letter of December 17, 1975, offered further remarks on the aforesaid counter -comments of the District Valuation Officer.;