DEVINDER GUPTA,J. -
(1.) SINCE a common question of law has arisen for determination in these two writ petitions and as the
parties are also the same, the decision of legal questions is also based upon similar facts, and
therefore, the writ petitions can conveniently be disposed of by a common judgment.
(2.) SMT . Lilawati Kapoor possessed considerable property. To safeguard the properties and to regulate their administration, a trust was created under a will executed by her. M. D. Kapoor was
named as the executor who obtained probate of the will. The petitioner's net wealth was of such an
amount as to render it liable to wealth tax under the provisions of the WT Act, 1957 (Act No. 27 of
1957), hereinafter referred to as the "WT Act". Neither did the petitioner file any voluntary return on or before 30th June, of each corresponding assessment year for eight asst. yrs. 1968 69 to
1975 76 nor had the WTO issued any notice to the petitioner as required under sub s. (1) and sub s. (2), respectively, of S. 14 of the WT Act. On 23rd June, 1975, eight separate returns were filed
by the petitioner for the asst. yrs. 1968 69 to 1975 76 disclosing the wealth of the petitioner.
Proceedings for assessment on these eight returns could not take place and the matter remained
pending with the WTO. No notice as envisaged under sub s. (2) of S. 16 of the Act was issued to
the petitioner. Before any action could be taken in these returns, on 8th Oct., 1975, the Voluntary
Disclosure of Income and Wealth Ordinance, 1975 (Ordinance No. 15 of 1975) (hereinafter referred
to as the "Ordinance"), was promulgated. Taking advantage of the scheme contained in the
Ordinance, the petitioner, on 10th Dec., 1975, made a voluntary disclosure of wealth under sub s.
(1) of S. 15 thereof before the second respondent at Patiala for the eight assessment years in
question for which the petitioner had earlier failed to furnish return under S. 14 of the WT Act. A
declaration was made in accordance with S. 15 of the Ordinance of the amount and extent of
wealth in the eight returns which the petitioner had filed on 23rd June, 1975. Respondent No. 2
sent these eight declarations to the first respondent so as to enable him to take the same into
account for the purposes of proceedings relating to the assessment of the net wealth of the
petitioner under the WT Act.
On 2nd Dec., 1975, the petitioner paid a sum of rupees 36,933 towards the wealth tax liability in accordance with the disclosures made in the eight declarations under sub s. (1) of S. 15 of the
Ordinance, receipts whereof were attached by it with the declarations. In addition thereto, the
petitioner invested a sum of rupees 15,200 in security bonds referred to in sub s. (3) of S. 3 within
the time specified in sub s. (4) of S. 5 and calculated under sub s. (6) of S. 15 of the Ordinance.
According to the petitioner, it had complied with all the provisions contained in the Ordinance so as
to enable it to take the benefit of the scheme envisaged under the Ordinance but when the matter
came up for assessment before the first respondent on 27th March, 1979, instead of assessing the
petitioner in accordance with the provisions of the Ordinance and giving it the benefit thereof, the
first respondent assessed it under the provisions of the WT Act for the first seven asst. yrs. 1968
69 to 1974 75 for which Rs. 72,868 was assessed as wealth tax liability. In respect of the asst. yr. 1975 76, respondent No. 1, on 26th Dec., 1979, passed an order assessing the petitioner under the provisions of the WT Act instead of giving any benefit to it of the scheme under the Ordinance.
The petitioner was assessed to wealth tax for the asst. yr. 1975 76 at rupees 24,550. Feeling
aggrieved, the petitioner filed two separate writ petitions. Civil Writ Petition No. 93 of 1979 with
respect to the seven assessments for 1968 69 to 1974 75 challenging the order, Annexure P 1,
passed by the first respondent on 27th March, 1979, and for the asst. yr. 1975 76 questioning the
order, Annexure P 1, in the said petition passed by the first respondent on 26th Dec., 1979, in
CWP No. 174 of 1980 with a prayer to quash the demands and to direct the first respondent to give
effect to the declarations filed under S. 15 of the Ordinance and to make the assessment in
accordance therewith. As, in the meanwhile, a penalty notice, Annexure P 4, in CWP No. 174 of
1980 had also been issued, the petitioner prayed for quashing the same in the said writ petition only.
(3.) THE contention of the petitioner is that it had fully complied with the provisions of S. 15 of the Ordinance by making a voluntary disclosure and benefit ought to have been given to it by making
assessment under the provisions of the Ordinance instead of proceeding to assess it on the basis of
the returns filed on 23rd June, 1975.;