Arun K.Mukherjea, J. -
(1.) This reference under Section 66(1) of the Income-tax Act arises in connection with the assessment years 1953-54 to 1956-57. The short facts of the case on which the present reference arises are as follows: On 9th August, 1961, Shrimati Minabati Agarwalla, who is the assessee concerned, filed returns of income suo motu for the assessment years 1953-54 to 1961-62 before the Income-tax Officer, "D" Ward, Howrah. The assessee filed a declaration along with these returns in which she tried to explain the source of her income during all these years. We are not concerned with that explanation in this reference. On the very day these returns were filed, the Income-tax Officer issued notices under Section 23(2) fixing the date ftf hearing on 16th August, 1961. The assessments for the years 1953-54 to 1960-61 were completed on 16th August, 1961, and the assessment for the assessment year 1961-62 was completed on 19th August, 1961. While making the assessments the Income-tax Officer accepted the declaration of the assessee regarding the source of her income and indeed the assessment for 1953-54 practically incorporated the declaration itself. On 12th July, 1963, the Commissioner of Income-tax issued a combined notice to the assessee proposing to take action under Section 33B of the Income-tax Act and fixing the hearing for 2nd August, 1963. No one appeared before the Commissioner, on the date of hearing and on 2nd August, 1963, the Commissioner after considering the various contentions made by the assessee in her letter dated 29th July, 1963, in reply to the Commissioner's notice, passed a consolidated order. The Commissioner in that order pointed out that the Income-tax Officer had made all the assessments without making any enquiry or investigation into the antecedents of the assessee or into the truth or falsehood of the assessee's story and indeed even without considering the question of jurisdiction. The Commissioner cancelled all the assessments and directed the Income-tax Officer "to do fresh assessments according to law after making proper enquiries and investigation with regard to the jurisdiction, possession of initial capital, carrying on of business and the investments made in the name of the assessee ". The assessee appealed against this order of the Commissioner to the Tribunal. The Tribunal hlld that the Commissioner was justified in initiating proceedings under Section 33B. The Tribunal, however, held at the same time that in so far as the returns for the assessment years 1953-54 to 1956-57 are concerned, since they had been filed on 9th August, 1961, i.e., beyond the period of four years from the end of the relevant assessment years, those returns were not valid returns under Section 22(3) of the Income-tax Act. The Tribunal invoked the authority of the Supreme Court decision in Commissioner of Income-tax v. Raman Chettiar, . for this proposition. The Tribunal, accordingly, held that the returns filed by the assessee for those four years and the assessments made thereon were bad and invalid. The Tribunal modified the Commissioner's order by cancelling the assessments altogether and without giving any direction for making fresh assessments for these years. On these facts and circumstances, the Tribunal, at the instance of the Commissioner of Income-tax, has referred the following question to this High Court for opinion :
"Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the Tribunal was right in holding that the returns filed by the assessee for the assessment years 1953-54 to 1956-57 on 9th August, 1961, were invalid and that no fresh assessments could be made on the basis of the Commissioner's order under Section 33B of the Indian Income-tax Act, 1922 ?"
(2.) Mr. Pal, appearing for the Commissioner of Income-tax, sought to raise a preliminary point. It appears that the Commissioner of Income-tax had in his application prayed for reference of two questions of law to the High Court. The first question was as follows :
"Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the Tribunal exceeded its jurisdiction under Section 33(4) of the Indian Income-tax Act, 1922, in allowing the appeal of the assessee on a ground which was not raised before it either by the assessee or by the Commissioner ?"
(3.) The Tribunal, however, refused to refer this question to the High Court. Mr. Pal sought to contend that the Tribunal was not right in refusing to refer this question for answer' to the High Court. Mr. Pal, however, abandoned this point after some time and we need not, therefore, concern ourselves with this question,;