LAKSHMINARAIN BHADANI Vs. COMMR OF INCOME TAX BIHAR AND ORISSA
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: PATNA)
COMMISSIONER OF INCOME TAX,BIHAR AND ORISSA
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(1.)This is an appeal from a judgment of the High Court at Patna. It arises out of an income-tax reference made to the High Court under S. 66(1), Income-tax Act.
(2.)Briefly stated the facts are that a joint Hindu family, of which the present appellant was the 'karta', was assessed to income-tax for the year1939-40. In 1944 the Income-tax Officer considered that certain income of the family taxable in 1939-40 had escaped assessment. In the meanwhile, the joint family had become divided and necessary steps had been taken by the members to have an order passed under S. 25-A(1), Income-tax Act. The Income-tax Officer issued a notice in the name of joint Hindu family and served it on the appellant under S. 34 read with S. 22, Income-tax Act, to make a return in respect of the escaped income and the appellant sent a return in response to that notice. Thereafter, the Income-tax officer made an assessment on the escaped income of Rs. 37,098 and issued a notice of demand on the appellant as the 'karta' and on the two other members of the joint family.
The notice was to require payment of the full amount of tax due on the escaped income and did not apportion the liability for it amongst the three members of the family. The assessee contended that the proceeding were irregular and that he was not liable to pay anything. His contention was rejected by the Income-tax officer, the Appellate Assistant Commissioner, and the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal. He prayed that a question of law may be referred to the High Court for its Opinion, Accordingly the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal referred the following question for the High Court's opinion:
'Whether in the circumstances of this case proceedings under S. 34 in respect of the assessment year 1939-40 were validly initiated and completed against the Hindu undivided family, which had ceased to exist then, and an order under S. 25-A(1) accepting the partition of the Hindu undivided family had already been passed."
The High Court expressed the view that there were irregularities both in initiating the proceedings and in completing the same but as there was no prejudice to the appellant, they answered the 'question in the affirmative and ordered the assessee to pay the costs of the reference. The assessee has come in appeal before us.
(3.)Mr. Umrigar, on behalf of the appellant, argued only one point for our consideration. He contended that as the High Court had held that the proceedings were irregularly initiated and completed they were invalid and no order for assessment could be made. For this contention he relies on the wording of S. 25-A(1). In our opinion, this contention is unsound and the opinion of the High Court that the proceedings were initiated irregularly is also unsound. It does not appear necessary, when proceedings are initiated under S. 34 read with S. 22, Income-tax Act, to issue notice to every member of the family. The position is as if the Income-tax Officer was proceeding to assess the income of the Hindu undivided family as in 1939-40. In our opinion, therefore, that contention must be rejected.
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