Madras H.C : This revision is filed against the order passed by the Tamil Nadu Agricultural Tribunal, Chennai.

High Court Of Madras

Parry Agro Industries Ltd. vs. State Of Tamil Nadu

Sections T.N. Agril. IT 2(t), T.N. Agril. IT 3(1A)

Asst. Year 1992-93

V.S. Sirpurkar & K. Raviraja Pandian, JJ.

TC No. 170 of 1998

31st January, 2002

Counsel Appeared

P. Rajkumar, for the Petitioner : T. Ayyasamy, for the Respondent

JUDGMENT

V. S. SIRPURKAR, J. :

This revision is filed against the order passed by the Tamil Nadu Agricultural Tribunal, Chennai. A very novel question is involved in this revision.

2. The assessee is a company. It was liable to pay the agricultural income-tax and was regularly paying the tax for the relevant assessment years. For the purposes of the assessment, the assessee-company had chosen its assessment year to be from July to June, that is for the year 1990-91, its assessment year was from 1st July, 1989, to 30th June, 1990. So also, for the year 1991-92, the assessment year was from 1st July, 1990 to 30th June, 1991, and for the year 199293, it was from 1st July, 1991 to 30th June, 1992. However, it seems that the Agrl. IT Act was extensively amended w.e.f. 1st April, 1992, and the definition of “previous year” as it appeared earlier vide s. 2(t) underwent a seachange. The term “previous year” is now defined as : “‘Previous year’ means twelve months ending on the 31st day of March of next preceding the year for which assessment is to be made.” Accordingly, it seems that there was an assessment for the year 1992-93 considering its previous year to be from 1st April, 1991 to 31st March, 1992. However, there was no assessment made for the period beginning from 1st July, 1990 to 31st March, 1991 because the earlier assessment was up to 30th June, 1990 only. The ITO, therefore, sent a notice under s. 16 of the Tamil Nadu Agrl. IT Act and required the assessment to be made for 21 months, i.e., 12 months for the period between 1st April, 1991 and 31st March, 1992, and nine months for the period between 1st July, 1990 and 31st March, 1991. The assessee raised an objection that insofar as the assessment for the period from 1st April, 1991 to 31st March, 1992, was concerned it had no objection but it had raised a very novel plea that insofar as the earlier period of nine months between 1st July, 1990 and 31st March, 1991, was concerned there was no scope for charging any agricultural income-tax. The assessee-company tried to rely upon the amended provision of s. 2(t), which we have already quoted and suggested that the tax could be assessed only for the “previous year”, i.e., for the period between 31st March and 1st April of the next preceding year meaning thereby, the earlier period which was left out could not be assessed and no tax could be levied thereupon. In fact, this argument should have been rejected outright because it has absolutely no basis in law. Though the appellate authority rejected that argument, the Tribunal also has not entertained that plea but, has expressed that there should have been a separate assessment for that period. This part of the Tribunal’s order that there should be a separate assessment and there cannot be a joint assessment for the 21 months is undoubtedly correct. The Tribunal, therefore, sent back the matter to the concerned Agrl. ITO for making a fresh assessment for the period 1st July, 1990 to 31st March, 1991. It is against this assessment order that the assessee has come up in this tax revision.

3. According to learned counsel, the period between 1st July, 1990 and 31st March, 1991 should be treated as a “blank period” or “transition period” and there should be no agricultural tax levied for this period. The argument is per se incorrect. Sec. 3(1A) of the Agrl. IT Act, which is a charging section, reads as under : “3. Charge of Agrl. IT.—(1) Not relevant. (1A) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, Agrl. IT at the rate or rates specified in Part I of the Schedule to this Act as amended by the Tamil Nadu Agrl. IT (Amendment) Act, 1971, shall be charged for each financial year commencing from the 1st April, 1972, in accordance with and subject to the provisions of this Act, on the total agricultural income of every person of the previous year immediately preceding the said date.” [Emphasis, italicised in print, supplied] This will clarify that the tax liability does not depend upon the “previous year” but it actually depends upon the “financial year”. This provision was in vogue right till the amendment was made, that is, up to 1st April, 1992. From 1st April, 1991 to 31st March, 1992, there was a tax liability for every “financial year”, which would include the period from 1st July,1990 to 31st March, 1991 also. Now because of the facility given by the unamended s. 2(t) of adjusting the “previous year”, the assessment of the assessee was for the period between July and June and in that because of the amended definition of “previous year”, nine months’ period was left out. That does not become a “transition period” or “blank period” as suggested by the counsel. Under s. 3(1A), which is a charging section, the liability would always be there continuously in each financial year. We, however, agree with the Tribunal that it cannot be clubbed with the assessment of the next year and should have been separately assessed. That has already been ordered by the Tribunal. We do not see any reason to interfere with the Tribunal’s order and we reject the contention raised by the assessee that the period between 1st July, 1990 and 31st March, 1991, was a “transition period” and, therefore, there should be no Agrl. IT levied for this period as being without any merit.

4. The revision is dismissed but without any orders as to the costs.

[Citation : 255 ITR 194]

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