(1.)The following questions of law have been referred by the Income-tax Tribunal, for our opinion, under Section 64(3) of the Estate Duty Act, 1953 (hereinafter referred to as "the Act") :
"(1) Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the Tribunal was justified in holding that there is no finding of the Supreme Court in Madhusudan Das v. Narayani Bai, AIR 1983 SC 114, about the validity of the trust known as Mannulal Jagannathadas Trust and
(2) Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the Tribunal was justified in rejecting the application for rectification of its order dated February 28, 1979, in spite of the above decision of the Supreme Court -
(2.)The above questions arise on the following facts. Seth Jagannath Das was alive when his wife, Premwati, died issueless on September 24, 1951. It was claimed by one of the accountable persons, namely, Madhusudan Das, that he had been adopted by Seth Jagannath Das as his son, a day prior to the death of his wife. After the death of his wife, Jagannath Das created a charitable trust by a registered deed dated March 17, 1952, under the name and style of "Seth Mannulal Jagannath Das Hospital Trust" and transferred his entire estate with certain reservations for his residence and maintenance as an obligation on the working trustee, Seth Narsinghdas. After the death of Seth Jagannath Das, on October 7, 1957, the working trustee, Seth Narsinghdas, claiming to be the accountable person filed an estate duty return under the Act, showing the principal value of the property passing on the death of Seth Jagannath Das as nil. The Assistant Controller of Estate Duty did not accept the return and applying the provisions contained in Section 12 of the Act determined the value of the property at Rs. 23,33,410, as assessable to duty by his order of assessment dated April 3, 1972. Seth Narsinghdas, as working trustee, and accountable person went up in appeal. The Appellate Controller excluded part of the estate from levy only to the extent of the property valued at Rs. 15,46,368.
(3.)Seth Madhusudan Das, claiming to be the adopted son of Seth Jagannath Das filed a suit on September 24, 1957, against his adoptive father and the trustees, claiming a share in the estate as a co-parcener. A declaration was also sought that as a result of valid adoption, the trust created by Jagannath Das on September 24, 1951, was, void or invalid in law. The suit was decreed by the trial court on September 27, 1961, holding the adoption of Madhusudan Das as valid and declaring the trust as void. The High Court, however, in appeal, by its judgment and decree dated September 30, 1967, dismissed the suit. Seth Madhusudan Das raised a protest before the Assistant Controller and requested for stay of the proceedings pending decision of the civil litigation in the civil courts. It is very relevant to mention at this stage that on the protest and request made by Madhusudan Das for staying the proceedings for levying duty on the estate of Seth Jagannath Das, the Bench of the Appellate Tribunal in its order made the following observations :
"Madhusudan Das had before the lower authorities as well as before us claimed that the estate duty proceedings be stayed till the decision of the Supreme Court but the lower authorities found themselves unable to do so for an indefinite period of time and we also do not think it expedient or necessary to stay the matter for an indefinite period pending the decision of the appeal before the Supreme Court. Remedial action can always be taken and orders can be rectified after the Supreme Court takes a decision which will have a bearing on the issue in the estate duty matter."