Gujarat H.C : Whether on the facts and circumstances of the case the ITAT was right in holding that initiation of the proceedings were valid?

High Court Of Gujarat

Yashwantlal A. Patel vs. Inspecting Assistant Commissioner

Section 269D

A.P. Ravani & P.M. Chauhan, JJ.

First Appeal No. 601 of 1988

26th July, 1988

Counsel Appeared

H.M. Talati, for the Appellant : R.P. Bhatt, for the Respondent

A.P. RAVANI, J. :

Though labelled as first appeal in fact and in substance that is a second appeal under the provisions of s. 269H of the IT Act, 1961, inasmuch as the first appeal before the Appellate Tribunal is provided under s. 269G of the Act. Second appeal before High Court can be filed only on question of law. The appellant-vendor having failed before the lower authority has preferred this appeal.

The appellant-vendor agreed to sell certain rights and interests in property in question by an agreement dt. 22nd April, 1983. Sale deed took place on 20th Sept., 1983 in which consideration of 8 lakhs was shown. The IAC received Form 37G from the Sub-Registrar concerned. He referred the matter to District Valuation Officer, who, we are told, is the statutory authority to deal with the valuation of the properties and is attached to the IT Department. The IAC also called for the report from the Inspector who submitted the valuation report on 4th May, 1984. According to the report submitted by the Inspector the market value of the property on the relevant date was Rs. 14,86,045. The District Valuation Officer’s report dt. 16th May, 1984 discloses the valuation at Rs. 27,08,330. Since there was variation of more than 15% in the amount of consideration mentioned in the document and the market value as disclosed in the report, the IAC initiated proceedings under Chapter XX-A of the IT Act and notice was published in the Gazette dt. 2nd June, 1984. Pursuant to the notice further proceedings were taken and ultimately acquisition order dt. 30th April, 1986 was passed by the Competent Authority. The vendor (appellant herein), viz., Shri Yashwantlal A. Patel and other vendors preferred appeal before the Appellate Tribunal being Appeal No. IT (Acqn.) Appeal No. 6/Ahd/1986. Similarly the vendee M/s Purvi Construction also preferred appeal being Appeal No. IT (Acqn.) Appeal No.5/Ahd/1986 before the Appellate Tribunal. The appeal filed by the Purvi Construction has been decided by the Appellate Tribunal as per its judgment and order dt. 2nd Dec., 1986. The appeal filed by the appellant herein has also been decided on the same day. We are told at the Bar that the vendee M/s Purvi Construction has not preferred any appeal before this High Court against the judgment and order passed by the Tribunal.

Before the Tribunal the question as regards the maintainability of acquisition proceedings was raised. It was sought to be argued that the condition precedent for initiation of the proceedings was not complied with. It was also sought to be argued that when the proceedings were initiated, only the Inspector’s report was available and the

Inspector had relied upon erroneous basis and, therefore, there was no material before the IAC on the basis of which the proceedings could be initiated. The Tribunal negatived the aforesaid contention holding that at the stage of initiation of proceedings there should be some prima facie case. Initiation means and remains initiation and nothing more and initiation itself is not acquisition.

It was also contended that the total area taken into consideration for the valuation was not correct. In essence it was submitted that the sale document has not been correctly interpreted and the Tribunal was not right in holding that 363.03 sq. mts. of the basement built up by the appellant (delineated within the red line) has also been sold. As far as the method of valuation adopted by District Valuation Officer is concerned, the Tribunal has accepted the contention and directed that the matter be restored to the IAC to take valuation as indicated in para 12 of its judgment.

6. In this appeal the appellant submits that the following three questions of law arise:

“(1) Whether on the facts and circumstances of the case the ITAT was right in holding that initiation of the proceedings were valid?

(2) Whether on the facts and circumstances of the case the Hon’ble Tribunal was right in law in holding that at the initiation stage all that is necessary is that there should be some prima facie case when the basis on which the initiation is done itself was wrong?

(3) Whether on the facts and circumstances of the case and in terms of the documents of sale agreement and sale deed executed by the appellant the ITAT was right in holding that 363.03 sq. mts. of the basement built up by appellant (delineated within red line) has been sold?”

7. Question Nos. 1 and 2 are inextricably connected with each other and, therefore, they may be disposed of together. Admittedly the IAC had at least the following materials before him when the acquisition proceedings were initiated : Sale document. Inspector’s report. Even assuming for a moment that District Valuation Officer’s report was not available at the time when the acquisition proceedings were initiated by the IAC then also it cannot be said that there was no material before the IAC on the basis of which he could not have formed reason to believe that the acquisition proceedings be initiated. It is trite knowledge that in cases where the authority is empowered to exercise powers on the basis of his subjective satisfaction, the scope of judicial review is limited. All that is required to be seen is whether there was some material on the basis of which the authority could have formed the opinion. Sufficiency or otherwise of the material or correctness or incorrectness of the opinion formed by the authority cannot be gone into by the Court. Such questions have arisen in the matters under s. 147 of the Act. In connection with the proceedings under s. 147 of the Act the phrase “reason to believe” has been interpreted by the Supreme Court and by this High Court also. As per the settled legal position, sufficiency or adequacy of the material before the authority exercising power cannot be gone into by the Court. If there is some material on the basis of which the authority concerned could have reasonably come to the conclusion, ordinarily the Court would not interfere with the action taken by the authority. All that the Court has to see is that the belief entertained by the officer concerned should be founded on reason and not on fancy or speculation and that there should be some material on the basis of which such belief could have been entertained. The correctness or otherwise of the opinion formed cannot be gone into by the Court. This is so because the Court is not sitting in appeal over the decision of the authority concerned. Be it noted that the principle embodied in this provision of the statute is even otherwise implicit. Assuming for a moment that the phrase “reason to believe” is not used in s. 269G under which the initial notice is to be issued, then also if the provision is to be saved then the phrase “reason to believe” will have to be read by necessary implication. No power can be exercised otherwise than in accordance with reason. Exercise of power otherwise than in accordance with reason would amount to arbitrary exercise of power. Therefore, it would be bad. In a system governed by rule of law, the conferment of power carries with itself an implied obligation to exercise the same reasonably and not in accordance with one’s own fancy or speculation.

10. On facts of the case, the Tribunal has come to the conclusion that there was sufficient material before the IAC who is the Competent Authority to initiate the proceedings. The material which was in the shape of Inspector’s report was correct or incorrect or whether it was based on some incorrect facts or otherwise could have not been gone into by the Tribunal. Similarly it cannot be gone into by the Court. At that stage the IAC would be justified in proceeding on the footing that the report submitted by the Inspector was correct and it was based on correct material. This is so because pursuant to the notice that may be issued the party affected is required to be given adequate opportunity of being heard. It is always open to the party concerned to show that the belief entertained by the authority is not based on correct facts which are otherwise. If this can be shown satisfactorily, the Competent Authority concerned may change its view. On the other hand, after initiation of proceedings, further material also may be gathered and can be placed before the Competent Authority. At that stage the Competent Authority can utilise the entire material. At this stage even if it is shown that the material which was before the Competent Authority at the initial stage was not based on correct facts, it cannot be said that the Competent Authority had no jurisdiction to initiate proceedings.

11. The learned counsel for the appellant has relied upon the following authorities which were also cited before the Tribunal: (1) Unique Associates Co-operative Housing Society Ltd. vs. Union of India & Ors. (1985) 152 ITR 114 (Bom) : TC3R.765 ; (2) CIT vs. Arun Mehra (1985) 49 CTR (Del) 119 : (1986) 157 ITR 308 (Del) : TC3R.204.

In none of the aforesaid decisions cited by the learned counsel for the appellant it is held that the correctness or otherwise of the material placed before the Competent Authority can be appreciated and can be gone into by the Court. This is so because the Court is not sitting in appeal over the decision of the Competent Authority. Therefore, it cannot be said that since the Inspector’s report was based on incorrect facts, the Competent Authority had no jurisdiction to initiate the proceedings. In view of the aforesaid findings we do not think that the question Nos. 1 and 2 raised in this appeal and which have been reproduced hereinabove in para 6 arise in this appeal or that any error had been committed by the Tribunal in deciding the same.

The learned counsel for the appellant has submitted that the Tribunal has erred in arriving at the conclusion that the part of the basement is also included in the property sold. We have been taken through the conveyance deed and the relevant part of the judgment and order of the Tribunal. We agree with the reasons given and conclusion arrived at by the Tribunal in this behalf. Hence question No. 3 also does not arise.

Since there was some error in the method adopted by the District Valuation Officer in arriving at the market value of the property the Tribunal passed the following order : “The matter is restored to the IAC to make valuation as indicated above and pass an order according to law. The appeal is allowed for statistical purposes.” On this point also we do not think that the Tribunal has committed any error.

We do not find any error of law in the judgment and order passed by the Tribunal. No question of law arises. Hence summarily dismissed. Notice discharged.

[Citation : 179 ITR 164]

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