Madras H.C : It is not in dispute that the assessee, who was the owner of a building, had entered into an agreement under which he had parted with possession as also the right to receive the rents.

High Court Of Madras

CIT vs. Bhawani Kavur Chordia

Sections 22, 56

Asst. Year 1980-81, 1981-82

R. Jayasimha Babu & K. Gnanaprakasam, JJ.

Tax Case Nos. 460 & 461 of 1991

21st February, 2001

Counsel Appeared

Mrs. Chitra Venkataraman, for the Revenue : V. Ramachandran for K. Mani, for the Assessee

JUDGMENT

R. JAYASIMHA BABU, J. :

It is not in dispute that the assessee, who was the owner of a building, had entered into an agreement under which he had parted with possession as also the right to receive the rents. The consideration for the sale of the building was to be paid in instalments and for the balance of instalments, interest was payable. The agreement is dt. 2nd Jan., 1980. The consideration for the sale is Rs. 30 lakhs. Rs. 5 lakhs was payable before 10th Oct., 1979, and the balance of Rs. 25 lakhs in five equal instalments starting from 10th April, 1980. The vendee was to pay interest at the rate of 15 per cent, on the outstanding unpaid purchase price. Possession of the building was delivered to the vendee on 31st March, 1979.

After taking possession of the building, the vendee put up 5th floor on the building, received all the rentals from the tenants, and was paying interest on the unpaid purchase price to the vendor in the sum of Rs. 3.75 lakhs, during the asst. yrs. 1980-81 and 1981-82 at the end of which the sale deed was yet to be registered.

The assessee-vendor while filing the return of income, claimed the sum of Rs. 3.75 lakhs as income from the property, and also claimed permissible deductions in respect of that income. The ITO accepted that return of the petitioner which referred to the amount as the rental value of the building, taking into account the actual amounts that were paid by the tenants to the vendee. That order of the ITO was revised by the CIT, who held that the notional income from the property was to be assessed in the hands of the vendor and in addition, the interest received on the unpaid purchase price also be assessed in the hands of the vendor under the head “Income from other sources”.

On appeal, the Tribunal held that as the assessee had not returned the income under the head “Income from other sources”, it was not permissible for the CIT to add anything under that head, even though the CIT’s powers are plenary and co-extensive with that of the ITO.

Learned counsel for the Revenue submitted that that view of the Tribunal was erroneous. Learned counsel for the assessee submitted that even if that view be regarded as erroneous, nevertheless it is required to be held that the assessee cannot be taxed twice in respect of the same income—once by treating it as notional income from the property and second, as interest actually received on the unpaid purchase price.

So far as the CIT’s power under s. 263 of the IT Act to revise the income is concerned, there can be no doubt that his powers are as extensive as those of the ITO. However, when it is found that a particular head of income had not been part of the assessment, the proper course for the CIT would have been to send the matter back to the ITO to redo the assessment indicating the additional head under which the income should be considered, if the CIT was of the view that such consideration was required.

So far as the assessee’s liability to be taxed on the rental income of the property is concerned, counsel for the assessee is right in pointing out that the assessee, though in the eye of law, is still the owner and would continue as such till the registered sale deed is executed, nevertheless for the purposes of s. 22 of the IT Act, the vendor can no longer be regarded as the owner, after she had parted with possession of the property and had recognised the right of the vendee to receive all the rentals. For the purposes of s. 22 of the Act, the vendee is required to be treated as owner as the vendee’s right to receive the rental is not subject to any further consent of the vendor and the amounts are being received by the vendee in its own right.

The Supreme Court in the case of CIT vs. Podar Cement (P) Ltd. (1997) 141 CTR (SC) 67 : (1997) 226 ITR 625 (SC) : TC S40R.3564, considered the meaning of the term “owner” in the context of s. 22 of the IT Act. The Court held that s. 22 does not require registration of a sale deed. The Court also observed that assuming that there are two possible interpretations of s. 22, one which is favourable to the assessee was required to be preferred. The Court concluded that in the context of s. 22 of the Act, having regard to the ground realities and further having regard to the object of the income-tax, namely, to tax the income, the Court was of the view that the owner is a person who is entitled to receive income from the property in his own right. Here, the vendee was the person entitled to receive the rental income in its own right and was required to be treated as “owner” and the vendor could no longer be treated as owner. Though the vendor had claimed that the sum of Rs. 3.75 lakhs received by her as interest on the unpaid purchase price was income from house property and had also claimed deductions permissible under that head, that claim of the vendor was clearly erroneous.

The interest received by the vendor was required to be treated as “income from other sources” and the deduction if any limited to the amount of the expenditure incurred for the purpose of earning that income.

The Tribunal, therefore, was in error in holding that the interest on the unpaid purchase price could not be taxed in the hands of the vendor solely on the ground that the vendor had not shown that amount under the head “Income from other sources”. That conduct of the vendor cannot serve as a bar to the amount of real income being taxed under the proper head. The powers of the CIT extend to requiring the AO to determine the true income under the proper head and bring proper amounts assessable to tax.

The amount that could be taxed was required to be taxed under the proper head, having regard to the nature of the income. The amounts which could not be taxed in the hands of the assessee, having regard to the admitted factual and legal position, could not have been taxed in the hands of the assessee.

6. As the computation of income of the assessee for those years is required to be redone on the basis of this order, we remand the matter to the ITO to redo the assessment in accordance with law and in the light of what has been said in the course of this order. The question referred to us at the instance of the Revenue is answered by holding that while the interest received on unpaid purchase price was taxable under the head “Income from other sources” in the hands of the assessee-vendor, the rental income from the property was not taxable in the hands of the assessee-vendor.

[Citation : 252 ITR 619]

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