(1.)This appeal by special leave is against the judgment by the Divison Bench of the Bombay High Court dated March 27/28, 1974 in First Appeal No. 111 of 1969 (reported in (1975) 77 Bom LR 314). The respondent had on lease a piece of land admeasuring 17,279 square yards from the Bombay Port Trust for 30 years from February, 1961 at a rent of Rs. 9,482.34 per month for the first 15 years and Rs. 11,852.92 per month for the remaining period and put up apart from other structures and buildings, six oil tanks for storage of petrol and petroleum products. Each tank rests on a foundation of sand having a height of 2 ft. 6 inches. There is a four inches thick asphalt layer to retain the sand. The steel plates were spread on the asphalt layer and the tank was put on the steel plates which acts as bottom of the tanks which rests freely on the asphalt layer. There are no bolts and nuts for holding the tanks on to the foundation. The tanks remain in the position by its own weight. Each tank is about 30 ft. in height and 50 ft. in diameter weighing about 40 tons. The total weight of the tank filled with petroleum products would be about 7,160 tons. Each tank has a staircase along the side. Each of the tanks is connected with the pump house with the pipes for pumping petroleum products into the tank and sending them back to the pump house having a diameter of 8 x 14. The distance between the pump house and tanks varies between 50 fts. to 300 fts.
(2.)For the year 1964-65 the appellantfixedv a sum of Rs. 1,27,380 as the rateablevalue of the installations on the demised propertv consisting of the buildings, struet'ures and tanks. The Investigating Officer, on objections raised by the respondent, reduced the rateable value to Rs. 84,660 i.e. Rs. 13,980 being the rateable value of the buildings and structures, and the balance i.e. Rs. 70,680 being the rateable value of the tanks. The rateable value of the tanks was fixed on the basis of the capacity of each of the tanks. On appeal to the Court of Small Causes at Bombay as against rateable value of the tanks,by judgment dated December 5, 1968, the Additional Chief Judge found that the tanks having been constructed of mild steel plates and structurals fell within the definition of'land'or'building'in S. 3(r) and 3(s) of the Bombay Municipal Corporation Act, 1888 (for short'the Act) and are liable to property tax under the Act. Accordingly the rateable value of the tanks fixed by the corporation was upheld. On further appeal, the High Court allowed the appeal holding that the tanks are neither structure, nor a building, nor land under the Act.
(3.)The crucial question, on the facts are found by both the courts narrated earlier is whether the storage tanks . of petroleum roducts are "land" within the meaning of S.p 3(r) or "buildings" as defined u /S. 3(s) of lane Act and are exigible to property tax. S.. 3(r) defind " building thus"
"land," includes land which is being built upon or is btiilt upon or covered with water, benefits to arise out of land, things attached to the earth or permanently fastened to anything attached to the earth and rights created by legislative enactment over any street".