Decided on March 13,1952



SATYANARAYANA RAO, J. - (1.) UNDER Section 66(1) of the Income Tax Act, 1922 the Appellate Tribunal referred to this Court two questions for decision. They are :-- " (1) Whether on the facts and in the circumstances of the case the assessee is entitled to claim registration as a firm under Section 26A of the Income Tax Act, 1922 on the basis of the partnership deed, dated 21st August, 1942, and/or on the deed of family arrangement, dated 7th August, 1942, and/or the deed, dated 24th March, 1948 " (2) Whether on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the provisions of Section 9(3) of the Act are attracted to the income from property " We may at once point out that question No. (2) arises only out of the assessment and does not arise out of the order under Section 26A of the Act. The reference that was sought for was only against the order under Section 26A and not against the assessment order. Therefore question No. (2) should not have been referred by the Appellate Tribunal to this Court. The argument was therefore confined before us to question No. (1) alone. It is that question which we have to answer as arising out of the appellate order of the Tribunal One S. Vincent executed a will on the 4th February, 1941, and died on 22nd April, 1942, leaving behind him four sons, two daughters and a widow.
(2.) IMMEDIATELY after his death there were disputes regarding the will between the members of the family and the disputes were ultimately settled by a deed of family arrangement of 7th August, 1942. Under this arrangement it was agreed between the members that the entire properties and the business left by the deceased S. Vincent should be managed by the eldest son P. Vincent, and after him, on behalf of all the members of the family, by the then surviving eldest son. The managing member was given complete control over the businesses belonging to the members for a period of seven years from the date of the deed. At the end of the period, it was provided that the parties should scrutinise the accounts and draw a true and accurate list of all the assets and liabilities and if thereafter they did not wish to continue the business, the properties should be divided so as to give a one-sixth share to each of the four sons and the widow and a one-twelfth to each of the two daughters. Within fourteen days after this deed, they entered into a deed of partnership in respect of the businesses. The four sons, the two daughters and the widow were treated as the partners and their shares were one-sixth each to the four sons and the widow and one-twelfth to each daughter, There is a provision in the partnership deed whereunder notwithstanding the death of any one of the partners the partnership should not be dissolved. At the date of the family arrangement one of the sons, Dhanraj Vincent, was a minor and was represented by the eldest son as guardian. But in the partnership deed however Dhanraj Vincent signed as a major. Notwithstanding the execution of the partnership deed in 1942 no attempt was made by the assessees to get the deed registered under Section 26A of the Income-tax Act. For the first time an application to register the firm was made on the 11th March, 1946, during the assessment year 1945-46. The registration of this firm as a partnership was rejected by the Income-tax authorities and also by the Appellate Tribunal and at the instance of the assessee this reference was made to this Court. During the pendency of these proceedings, on the 1st November, 1947, Dhanraj, who had by then attained majority, released his interest in the business under a release deed and on 24th March, 1948, there was a ratification executed between the parties whereunder Dhanraj ratified the previous arrangements from the date of the family arrangement till the date of his relinquishment on 1st November, 1947, when he retired from the partnership. These documents which came into existence on a date subsequent to the date of the application were not and could not be taken into consideration and in that we think that the revenue authorities were correct. The assessee contended that there was a valid partnership both under the deed of family arrangement of 7th August, 1942, and also under the partnership deed of 21st August, 1942. It is rather difficult to construe the deed of family arrangement as constituting a partnership as it proceeds on the assumption that the parties became co-owners of all the properties, movable and immovable, and the businesses, and they provided for the management of the properties for a period of seven years by appointing a common manager. At the end of the period it was provided that there should be a taking of accounts and if there is no intention to continue joint they could divide in accordance with the share provided in the deed. The deed in no sense can be treated as constituting the co-sharers partnersThe deed of partnership was considered invalid as Dhanraj signed the document as a major while in fact he was a minor. The view taken was that because a minor could not be made a partner and as the deed purported to make Dhanraj a partner the whole of that deed was void and of no legal effect. The other aspect, whether the deed could not be so construed as to imply that the parties intended thereby to admit Dhanraj to the benefits of partnership was also rejected on the ground that the two could not be separated from the document, i.e., the intention to constitute a partnership could not be severed and from that an inference to admit the minor as a partner could not be made. We are however unable to accept this view. If the minor signed as major he could not bind himself by that contract. That does not mean that the partnership between the remaining members was thereby also made invalid. In the judgment in Referred Cases 1 and 2 of 1950 which we delivered today we gave reasons for construing a document of a similar nature as constituting a minor as a person admitted to the benefits of a partnership, and as according to the definition of "partner" in the Income Tax Act, 1922 even a minor is treated as a partner for the purpose of the Act the six adults may be treated as having entered into a valid partnership and the minor as having been admitted to the benefits of the partnership. As he is also a partner according to the definition of the Income-tax Act there is no valid objection for registering the partnership under Section 26A of the Income-tax Act.
(3.) AS already stated, the subsequent deed of 24th March, 1948, could not be considered in these proceedings and it was rightly rejected. We have already given reasons for not construing the settlement deed of 7th August, 1942, as constituting a partnership. There is however a valid partnership deed under the deed of 21st August, 1942, and the partnership should have been registered under Section 26A of the Act. The answer therefore to the question referred to us is in the affirmative and in favour of the assessee. AS the assessee has succeeded he is entitled to his costs which we fix at Rs. 250Reference answered accordingly.;

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