Decided on February 11,1952



Subba Rao, J. - (1.) This is an application for the issue of a writ of mandamus or other appropriate writ for directing the Revenue Board of Madras to refer the case to the High Court under Section 57 of Act II (2) of 1899.
(2.) One Chinna Brahmajee and another Pedda Brahmajee were brothers. The petitioner is the son of Chinna Brahmajee. Parvateesam and Sriramamurthi are the sons of Peda Brahmajee There was a partition between the two branches. Lists were prepared and they were reduced to writing on 1-7-1946. Sriramamurthi produced the lists before the Commercial Tax Officer, Vizagapatam, in connection with some enquiry there. The Commercial Tax Officer impounded the instrument under Section 33 of the Indian Stamp Act and forwarded it to the Deputy Collector, Narasapatam, for collection of deficit stamp duty and penalty. The Revenue Divisional Officer held that the document was a partition deed and, therefore, required to be stamped as a partition deed. He directed Sriramamurthi to pay a sum of Rs. 4590 made up of deficit stamp Poosarla China Appalanarasimhalu vs. Board of Revenue, Chepauk, Madras (11.02.19... Page 1 of 3 duty payable on the document and the penalty imposed thereon. Sriramamurthi filed a petition before the Revenue Divisional Officer on 23-12-1947 questioning the correctness of the decision and also contending that the stamp duty and the penalty should be collected not only from him, but from the other sharers. The Revenue Divisional Officer, after giving notice to the parties concerned, reviewed his order and fixed the deficit stamp duty at a sum of Rs. 1252-8-0 and the penalty at a sum of Rs. 6262-8-0, and directed the Tahsildar, Chodavaram, to collect the said amounts from all the sharers. The petitioners preferred an appeal to the District Collector of Vizagapatam and against the said order of the Revenue Divisional Officer. The District Collector agreed with the Revenue Divisional Officer and dismissed the appeal. When a revision was filed to the Revenue Board of Madras, that was dismissed on the ground that they saw no reasons to interfere. The petitioner then filed an application before the Revenue Board under Section 57 of the Indian Stamp Act requesting them to refer the case to the High Court for decision. The Revenue Board again held that it saw no reason to comply with the request of the petitioner. The present petition is filed for purposes of directing the Revenue Board to refer the case to the High Court.
(3.) The scope of the powers and the duty of the Revenue Board under Section 57 of the Act has been clearly stated recently by the Supreme Court in -- 'Chief Controlling Revenue Authority v. Maharashtra Sugar Mills Ltd', 1950-2 Mad. L. J. 564 (S.C.). The headnote in that case clearly brings out the salient features of the Judgment. It reads: "The power contained in Section 57 of the Stamp Act is in the nature of an obligation or is coupled with an obligation and can be demanded to be used also by the parties affected by the assessment of the Stamp duty. The power to make a reference under Section 57 of the Act is not for the benefit of the Revenue Authority. It is coupled with a duty cast upon him, as a public officer to do the right thing, and when an important and intricate question of law in respect of the construction of a document arises, as a public servant it is his duty to make the reference. If he omits to do so it is within the power of the Court to direct him to discharge that duty and make a reference." The question, therefore, is whether, in the present case, important questions of law arise and whether the Revenue Board did not discharge their duty under the provisions of Section 57 of the Act.;

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