Patna H.C : The petitioner has prayed for issuance of an appropriate writ in the nature of mandamus directing respondent No. 1, the High Court of Judicature at Patna, through its Registrar, to exercise its power on its administrative side and transfer all pending matters relating to references under s. 256

High Court Of Patna

Smt. Sandhya Rani Dutta vs. High Court Of Judicature At Patna & Ors.

Section 256(2), Art. 226

S.K. Chattopadhyaya & M.K. Eqbal, JJ.

Civil Writ Jurisdiction Case No. 47 of 1992

7th July, 1997

Counsel Appeared

K.K. Vidyarthi & K.K. Jhunjhunwala, for the Respondents : Binod Poddar & Biren Poddar, for the Intervener

M.Y. EQBAL, J. :

In this writ petition, the petitioner has prayed for issuance of an appropriate writ in the nature of mandamus directing respondent No. 1, the High Court of Judicature at Patna, through its Registrar, to exercise its power on its administrative side and transfer all pending matters relating to references under s. 256 of the IT Act, and/or under s. 27 of the WT Act, 1957, arising out of the orders passed by the Tribunal in respect of assessment and other orders of the Income-tax-cum Wealth-tax Officers or other officers of the IT Department having their respective offices within the jurisdiction of the districts of Hazaribagh, Giridih, Dhanbad, Ranchi, Palamau and Singhbhum and pending before the High Court at Patna, to the permanent Bench of the Patna High Court at Ranchi. Beside the above relief, the petitioner further seeks a direction to the CIT to henceforth file all reference cases under s. 256(1) of the Act at the Ranchi Bench of the Patna High Court arising out of the orders of the officers of the IT Department who are having their respective offices within the territorial jurisdiction of the Ranchi Bench of the Patna High Court and in the case of any refusal by the said Tribunal under s. 256(1) of the Act, the CIT should refer it to the Ranchi Bench of the Patna High Court under s. 256(2) of the Act.

We have heard Mr. Ajit Moitra, learned counsel for the petitioner, and Mr. K.K. Vidyarthi, learned counsel for the Revenue.

According to Mr. Moitra after the establishment of a permanent Bench of the Patna High Court at Ranchi, under the provisions of the High Court at Patna (Establishment of a Permanent Bench at Ranchi) Act, 1976, and in view of the territorial jurisdiction having been carved out under the Act, the reference under s. 256 of the Act and/or under s. 27 of the WT Act, should be made only to the Ranchi Bench of the Patna High Court. However, Mr. Moitra submitted that the Chief Justice may send any reference case to Patna for hearing either at his own instance or on the prayer made by the parties. Learned counsel further submitted that the matter arising out of the districts of Hazaribagh, Giridih, Dhanbad, Ranchi, Palamau and Singbhum falls within the exclusive territorial jurisdiction of the Ranchi Bench of the Patna High Court and, therefore, respondent No. 1 has statutory obligation to pass an order in its administrative said to the effect that all cases arising out of the aforesaid districts shall be transmitted or transferred to the Ranchi Bench of the Patna High Court for hearing. Learned counsel then submitted that objections have always been taken by the assessee before the Tribunal and before the CIT that the cases arising out of the aforesaid places should be referred to the Ranchi Bench of the Patna High Court, but the Tribunal and the CIT have not taken any interest in this regard. Learned counsel in support of his contentions relied upon a Full Bench decision of this court in the case of Syed Zafrul Hassan vs. State AIR 1986 Patna 194. Learned counsel has also relied upon the decision in the cases of CIT vs. Madanlal & Co. (1993) 110 CTR (Ker) 101 : (1993) 202 ITR

360 (Kar) and H.K. Melinkeri vs. Appropriate Authority (1996) 131 CTR (Guj) 46 : (1996) 218 ITR 348 (Guj).

Mr. K.K. Vidyartyi, submitted that under the Act, the Tribunal all over India holds concurrent jurisdiction and the question of jurisdiction of the High Court does not depend upon the sitting of the Tribunal. Learned counsel further submitted that in all income-tax references the Patna High Court has got jurisdiction to hear and dispose of the matter since the cause of action arises from the order of the Tribunal at Patna. Learned counsel further submitted that this question of territorial jurisdiction of this court was raised in the case of CIT vs. Mohammed Quddus & Sons (Tax Case No. 52 of 1979) and the Division Bench of the Patna High Court has held that the Patna High Court has got the jurisdiction to hear and dispose of the reference cases.

5. Before appreciating the rival contentions of learned counsel for the parties, it would be useful to look into the provisions of s. 256 of the Act, which reads as follows : “256. Statement of case to the High Court.—(1) The assessee or the CIT may, within sixty days of the date upon which he is served with notice of an order under s. 254, by application in the prescribed form, accompanied where the applications made by the assessee by a fee of two hundred rupees, require the Tribunal to refer to the High Court any question of law arising out of such order and, subject to the other provisions contained in this section, the Tribunal shall, within one hundred and twenty days of the receipt of such application, draw up a statement of the case and refer it to the High Court : Provided that the Tribunal may, if it is satisfied that the applicant was prevented by sufficient cause from presenting the application within the period hereinbefore specified, allow it to be presented within a further period not exceeding thirty days. (2) If, on an application made under sub-s. (1), the Tribunal refuses to state the case on the ground that no question of law arises, the assessee or the CIT, as the case may be, may, within six months from the date on which he is served with notice of such refusal, apply to the High Court, and the High Court may, if it is not satisfied with the correctness of the decision of the Tribunal, require the Tribunal to state the case and to refer it, and on receipt of any such requisition, the Tribunal shall state the case and refer it accordingly. (3) Where in the exercise of its powers under sub-s. (2), the Tribunal refuses to state a case which it has been required by the assessee to state, the assessee may, within thirty days from the date on which he receives notice of such refusal, withdraw his application, and, if he does so, the fee paid shall be refunded.”

From a bare perusal of s. 256(1) of the Act, it is manifest that if the assessee or the CIT upon service of notice of an order under s. 254 makes an application requiring the Tribunal to refer to the High Court any question of law arising out of such order, the Tribunal shall draw up the statement of the case and refer it to the High Court. In case the Tribunal refuses to state the case and refer it to the High Court on the ground that no question law arises then the assessee or the CIT may apply to the High Court under s. 256(2) of the Act requiring the Tribunal to state the case and to refer it to the High Court. This section does not specify as to the territorial jurisdiction of the High Court, where the reference shall be made. By reading s. 256 in isolation it is manifest that reference under the aforesaid section to the Patna High Court cannot be said to be invalid or irregular. Now, the quesion that falls for consideration is whether in view of the establishment of the permanent Bench of the Patna High Court at Ranchi under the aforesaid Act of 1976, it is obligatory on the part of the respondents to make reference under s. 256 of the Act to theRanchi Bench of the Patna High Court in respect of those matters arising within the territorial jurisdiction of the districts of Hazaribagh, Giridih, Dhanbad, Ranchi, Palamau and Singhbhum. It would be rather appropriate to consider some other relevant provisions of the Act for coming to the right decision on the question involved in this writ petition. Chapter XIII of the Act makes provision for appointment and control of IT authorities. Sec 116 prescribes different classes of IT authorities for the purposes of the Act. Under s. 117, the Central Government may appoint such persons as it thinks fit to be IT authorities. The Board has been empowered under s. 118 of the Act to issue directions to the IT authorities by notification. Sec. 120 of the Act prescribes the jurisdiction of the IT authorities shall exercise all or any of the powers and perform all or any of the functions conferred on, or, as the case may be, assigned to such authorities by or under the Act in accordance with such directions as the Board may issue for the exercise of the powers. Sub-s. (3) of that section says that the Board while issuing the directions may give due regard to the territorial area, persons or classes of persons, incomes or classes of income, and cases or classes of cases. Sec. 124 of the Act prescribes the jurisdiction of AO. According to sub-s. (1) of that section, where the AO has been vested with jurisdiction over any area, within the limits of such area, he shall have jurisdiction— (a) in respect of any person carrying on a business or profession, it the place at which he carries on his business or profession is situate within the area, or where his business or profession is carried on in more places than one, of the principal place of his business or profession is situate within the area, and (b) in respect of any other person residing within the area. Sub-s. (2) provides that if a question arises as to whether an AO has jurisdiction to assess any person, the question shall be determined by the Director-General or the Chief CIT or the CIT or the different authorities under certain circumstances. Chapter XX lays down the provisions regarding appeals and revision. Under s. 246 of the Act, the assessee aggrieved by the assessment order of an AO, other than the Dy. CIT, may appeal to the Dy. CIT(A) against such order. Under s. 252 of the Act, the

Central Government shall constitute an Tribunal consisting of as many judicial and accountant members as it thinks fit to exercise the powers and discharge the functions conferred on the Tribunal by the Act. Under sub-s. (3) of that section, the Central Government shall ordinarily appoint a judicial member of the Tribunal to be the President thereof and may appoint one or more members of the Tribunal to be the Vice-President or, as the case may be, Vice-President thereof. The Central Government may also appoint one of the Vice-Presidents of the Tribunal to be the Senior Vice-President thereof. Sec. 253 of the Act provides that any assessee aggrieved by the orders mentioned in that section may appeal to the Tribunal against such orders. Sec 255 prescribes the procedure for exercise of the powers and functions of the Tribunal. Sub-s. (5) of s. 255 empowers the Tribunal to regulate its own procedure and the procedure of Benches thereof in all matters arising out of the exercise of its powers of the discharge of its functions, including the places at which the Benches shall hold their sittings. Sec. 256, as noticed above, makes provision for reference to the High Court. Sec. 259 says that when any case has been referred to the High Court under s. 256, it shall be heard by a Bench of not less than two judges of the High Court.

The Tribunal in exercise or power conferred by sub-s. (5) of s. 255 have made rules, namely, the IT (Tribunal) Rules, 1963. According to r. 3 of the Rules, a Bench shall hold its sittings at its headquarters or at such other place or places as may be authorised by the President. Rule 4 provides that a Bench shall hear and determine such appeals and applications made under the Act as the President may by general or special order direct. Rule 20 of the Rules provides that a place of hearing of appeals shall be fixed with reference to the current business of the Tribunal and the time necessary for the service of the notice of appeal, so that the parties should get sufficient time to appear and put their cases before the appellate authority. According to r. 37 of the Rules for the purpose of an application under s. 256(1) the procedure provided under rr. 6, 7, 12, 19, 20, 21, 23, 26 and 34 shall apply mutatis mutandis. As per r. 40 the Bench which heard the appeal giving rise to the application shall hear it unless the President, the Senior Vice-President or the Vice-President, as the case may be, directs otherwise. As per r. 47 where a requisition is received from the High Court under sub-s. (2) of s. 256, or where the case is referred back under s. 258, it shall be dealt with by the Bench referred to in r. 40 unless otherwise directed by the President or the Senior Vice-President or the Vice-President, as the case may be.

Form a reading of the relevant provisions of the Act and the Rules, referred to hereinabove, it is manifest that the jurisdiction of the ITO to assess an assessee is to be determined by the place of business, profession or vocation or by location of the residence of the assessee, as the case may be. The jurisdiction to hear an appeal against the assessment order of the ITO would be with that AAC or other officer who has been given such jurisdiction by the directions issued by the Central Board of Revenue in that regard the rules further lay down the procedure and manner of disposal of appeals against the appellate order by the Tribunal.

As noticed above, the assessee or the CIT may require the Tribunal to refer to the High Court any question of law arising out of the order under s. 254 and the Tribunal shall within the time prescribed draw up the statement of case and refer the question to the High Court. However, it appears that the aforesaid provision does not clearly provide as to to which particular High Court the Tribunal has to make the reference under s. 256(1) and which High Court can call for a reference under s. 256(2) in a case where a Bench of the Tribunal has jurisdiction over more than one State. The provision also does not indicate as to what would be the position if the High Court of a State has its permanent Bench giving exclusive territorial jurisdiction to that Bench, as it appears from the Act and the Rules that in some places the Tribunal has jurisdiction over more than one State having separate High Courts.

For the aforesaid reasons, in some cases the question arose as to to which High Court reference has to be made in such circumstances. In the case of Seth Banarsi Dass Gupta vs. CIT 1978 CTR (Del) 183 : (1978) 113 ITR 817 (Del), the assessment order was passed by the ITO, Meerut in U.P. and the assessee went in appeal which was decided by the AAC, Meerut, Thereafter further appeal was heard by the Appellate Tribunal (Delhi Bench). On the application filed by the assessee a reference was made to the Delhi High Court under s. 256 (1) of the Act. In the said reference case an objection was raised that it was the Allahabad High Court where the reference should have been made. The Delhi High Court in the said reference case considered the various provisions of the Act and the Rules and held as under : “It seems to us that, when there is no direct statutory provision governing the matter, the proper course would be to apply the same basis that has been adopted already with regard to the jurisdiction of a Bench of the Appellate Tribunal for the following reasons:

Firstly, as already noticed, the jurisdiction of an ITO, i.e., the place of assessment, has been required under s. 64 of the Indian IT Act, 1922, to be determined on the basis of the place where the assessee carries on a business or profession or vocation and, in other cases, the area in which the assessee resides. This basis, however, has not been adopted in providing the basis for the determination of the jurisdiction of a Bench of the Appellate Tribunal. Under the Explanation to Standing Order No. 1 of 1954, as well as to Standing Order No.1 of 1967, the aforesaid basis under s. 64 was expressly given a go by, and the basis of the location of the office of the AO has been adopted. Therefore, in considering the question as to the High Court to which a Bench having jurisdiction over more than one State has to make reference, the basis adopted for determining the jurisdiction of the Bench would be more appropriate than the basis adopted for determining the jurisdiction of an ITO. Secondly, according to the said basis provided in the Explanation to the standing order for determining the jurisdiction of a Bench, the Bench deals with appeals and applications arising out of the orders of the assessing ITO in the various States mentioned as against the Bench in column 2 of the tabular form in clause 1 of the standing order. In other words, the Bench hears appeals and applications in the cases coming from the States over which it has been given jurisdiction. Therefore, when it hears and determining an appeal as an appeal from a particular State, it would be quite appropriate for the bench to refer a question of law arising out of its order in that appeal to the High court of the state from which the appeal had come. Thirdly, this view, in our opinion, would also be in accord with and give a meaning and effect to the words ‘in relation to any State, the High Court of that State’ in s. 66 (8) of the Act. Fourthly, s. 33 (6) of the Act provides that ‘save as provided in s.66, orders passed by the Appellate Tribunal on appeal shall be final’, and s. 66(5) provides that ‘the High Court upon the hearing of any such case shall decide the questions of law raised thereby and shall deliver its judgment thereon containing the grounds on which such decision is founded and shall send a copy of such judgment under the seal of the court and the signature of the Registrar to the Appellate Tribunal which shall pass such orders as are necessary to dispose of the case conformably to such judgment’. The said provisions show that in a case where a reference is made to a High Court by a Bench of the Appellate Tribunal under s.66 of the Act. The reference is just an intermediate stage, and the case (appeal before the Bench) would be finally disposed of by the Bench after receiving the judgment of he High Court in the reference. So, instead of adopting a different basis for that intermediate stage, it would be quite appropriate to adopt the same basis as the one adopted for determining the jurisdiction of the Bench.”

15. In the case of CIT vs. S. Sivaramakrishna lyre (1968) 70 ITR 860 (Mad), a similar question of jurisdiction of the High Court under s. 256 of the Act arose before the Madras High Court and it was held as under (headnote) : “As there are no statutory provisions for determining the proper High Court to which reference under s. 66 (2) should be made where the Tribunal has jurisdiction over more than one State, the principles which apply to a determination f the jurisdiction of a court should be applied, and in this view, where a Tribunal has jurisdiction over more States than one, and it has to make a choice, it must be guided by the principles of s. 64, and make the reference to the High Court which has jurisdiction over the place where the assessee carries on business, profession or vocation or resides.”

16. In the case of CIT vs. Madanlal & Co. (supra), the assessee was carrying on business in Bombay and the order of assessment was passed by the ITO, Bombay, The appeal preferred to the first appellate authority wasTransferred to Bangalore. The assessee thereafter filed the further appeal before the Appellate Tribunal at Bangalore. The reference was under s. 256 (1) of the Act to the Karnataka High Court. An objection was raised with regard to the jurisdiction of the Karnataka High Court. In that reference case, their Lordships took the view that reference made to the Karnataka High Court was not valid. Following the decision of the Delhi High Court in the case of Seth banarsi Dass Gupta (supra) it was held as under : “The lis or the cause for further proceedings arises out of the order of the ITO. It is this order that is sought to be reversed or modified. Therefore, it is reasonable to infer that the said order should be juridically considered only by the High Court having jurisdiction over the particular ITO. An assessee may shift his place of business or residence and it will not be practical to locate such place of residence or business always, to determine the High Court’s jurisdiction, Law should be clear, certain and simple. The location of the assessing authority is easily identifiable. We are in respectful agreement with the test formulated by the Delhi High Court to determine the jurisdiction of the High Court to entertain a reference under s.

256 of the Act.”

17. In the case of Birla Cotton, Spinning and Weaving Mills Ltd. vs. CIT (1980) 123 ITR 353 (Del) a similar question arose before the Delhi High Court with regard to the jurisdiction of the High Court to entertain the

reference, and it was held as under : “In this case, the assessment orders were passed by the ITO at Jaipur and the appeals were also disposed of by the AAC at Jaipur. The mere accident that when the matters came before the Tribunal the appeals had to be heard by the Delhi Bench of the Tribunal because at that time there was no Bench of the Tribunal at Jaipur, cannot vest this Court with jurisdiction to hear references in the matters coming from the State of Rajasthan. Sec. 66 (8) of the Indian IT Act, 1922 as well as s. 269 of the IT Act. 1961 define the jurisdiction of the High Court in relation to the state to which the matters pertain and as interpreted by this Court in the earlier decision above referred to, the Rajasthan High Court is the appropriate High Court to which the reference in this case should have been made. We are, therefore, of the opinion that the reference to this Court has to be returned unanswered to the Tribunal.”

Having regard to the various provisions of the Act read with the relevant rules of the Rules, and the principles of law enunciated by the various High Courts, I have no hesitation in holding that for the purpose of reference under s. 256 of the Act, the jurisdiction of the High Court should be determined on the basis of the place where the assessee carries on business or profession or vocation and in other cases the area in which the assessee resides, as under the law the jurisdiction of the ITO and the place of assessment has to be determined on the basis of the place where the assessee carries on business or profession and/or the areas in which the assessee resides.

Now the main point in issue before us is : Whether this Court (a permanent Bench of the Patna High Court at Ranchi) has jurisdiction to fall for a reference under s. 256 (2) of the Act and also whether the reference as contemplated under s. 256 (1) of the Act has to be made before this Court. As noticed above, the permanent bench of the Patna High Court at Ranchi has been establishment by an Act of Parliament, namely, the High Court at Patna (Establishment of Permanent Bench at Ranchi) Act, 1976. Sec. 2 of that Act reads as under : “There shall be established a Permanent bench of the High Court of Patna at Ranchi, and such judges of the High Court at Patna, being not less than three in number, as the Chief Justice of that High Court may, form time to time, nominate, shall sit at Ranchi in order to exercise that jurisdiction and power for the time being vested in that high Court in respect of cases arising in the districts of Hazaribagh, Giridih, Dhandbad, Ranchi, Palamau and singhbhum : Provided that the Chief Justice of that High Court may, in his discretion, order that any cases or class of cases arising in any such district shall be heard at Patna.”

20. After the establishment of a permanent Bench at Ranchi new rules were framed by the Patna High Court in respect of filing and hearing of cases relating to the districts within the jurisdiction of the Ranchi Bench. Rule 3 is worth to be quoted hereinbelow : “All cases arising in the districts of Hazaribagh, Giridih, Dhandbad, Ranchi, Palamau and singhbhum will be filed and heard at Ranchi : Provided that the Chief Justice of the High Court may in his discretion, order that nay case arising in such district shall be heard at Patna. From a bare reading of s. 2 of the said Act and rule 3 above, it is manifest that after establishment of a permanent Bench of the Patna High Court at Ranchi, the power and jurisdiction has been vested in the Ranchi bench to decide the cases arising in the districts of Hazaribagh, Giridih, Dhandbad, Ranchi, Palamau and Singhbhum. It is further clear that by virtue of the aforesaid Act the jurisdiction of this Court has been carved out and all cases arising in the aforesaid districts have to be filed and heard by this Court. The only rider provided is that the Chief Justice may in his discretion order that any case arising in the arising in the aforesaid districts shall be heard at Patna.

The Full Bench of this Court in the case of Syed Zafrul Hassan AIR 1986 Patna 194 have considered the scope and effect of the aforesaid Act of 1976 and the rule while deciding the objection raised by the State with regard to the maintainability of an application for anticipatory bail filed in the Patna High Court in respect of commission of an offence within the territorial jurisdiction of district Singhbhum, where a case was registered. Their Lordships after considering the aforesaid Act of 1976 have held as under : “It necessarily follows from the aforesaid s. 2 of the Ranchi Bench Act and r. 3 of the Rules of the Patna High Court that after the establishment of a permanent Bench at Ranchi, that Bench alone has now to exercise jurisdiction and power for the time being vested in the Patna High Court arising out of cases in the districts of Hazaribagh, Giridih, Dhandbad, Ranchi, Palamau and singhbhum. Learned counsel for the State has rightly contended that if the parties were allowed to whimsically select the jurisdiction from which Bench of the High Court they would seek redress, it would render the proviso to s. 2 of the Ranchi Bench Act as also the proviso to r. 3 wholly nugatory.”

21. In the case of Dr. Sanjay Kumar Sinha vs. State of Bihar AIR 1989 Patna 241 : (1989) 2 BLJR 331, a controversy arose when contrary orders were passed by he two courts, one at Patna and another at the Ranchi Bench of the Patna High Court. The cases related to admission in postgraduate medical courses. The supreme Court issued certain directions for starting postgraduate courses in medical science from a particular date and not to extend the eligibility date for completion of twelve months house job/horsemanship. It appears that different orders were passed by the High Court at Patna and by this Bench. The division Bench of the High Court ordered for listing of the listing of the case at Patna for hearing. A question arose as to whether the cases filed in the Ranchi Bench of the Patna high Court can be sent to Patna and under what circumstances. The Division Bench of this Court after referring s. 2 of the Act of 1976 has held as under : “It will be noticed that power has been given to the Chief Justice to order any case arising within the jurisdiction of this Bench for hearing at Patna. Hearing of a case can be only after it is admitted for hearing. This case was admitted for hearing on 29th March, 1989. Further, no Bench at Patna could pass judicial order as done on 13th March, 1989, calling for the records of this case for hearing at Patna. The order could have been passed by the Acting Chief Justice on the administrative side and that only after an order admitting the case for hearing was passed at Ranchi.”

22. As stated above, Mr. K.K. Vidyarthi placed heavy reliance on the order of the Division Bench passed in Tax Case No. 52 of 1979, wherein this Court held that in all income-tax references the Patna Bench has got the jurisdiction to hear and dispose of the matter, since the cases of action arises from the order of the Appellate Tribunal at Patna. In the that case it appears that the assessment proceeding originated from the order of the ITO of an area which fell within the territorial jurisdiction of the Ranchi Bench of the Patna High Court. Ultimately, a second appeal was filed by the assessee before the Patna High under s. 256 (2) of the Act. The assessee raised an objection by filing an application regarding maintainability of the reference case before the Patna High Court. According to the assessee, since the case relates to the area falling within the territorial jurisdiction of the Ranchi Bench of the Patna high Court, the reference ought to have been made before this Court. The said objection was disposed of by the Division Bench in terms of the order dt. 30th July, 1984, passed in Tax Case No. 52 of 1979. For better appreciation the said order dt. 30th July, 1984, of Division Bench is reproduced hereinbelow : “15. 30th July, 1984. By order dt. 4th Dec., 1979, it was directed that the petition at Flag-M be disposed of at the time of hearing of this taxation case. Unfortunately, no one has appeared on behalf of the assessee to raise any objection with regard to the jurisdiction of the Patna Bench in cases arising out of references made by the IT Appellate Tribunal, Patna. Even so, we have considered the matter and in our view in all IT reference the Patna Bench has got the jurisdiction to hear and dispose of the matter since he lies and the cause of action arises from the order of the Appellate Tribunal at Patna. It is a different matter that camps of the Tribunal are held sometimes at Ranchi. That, however, shall not make any difference because in all such cases the lis and the cause of action arises out of the order of the Tribunal at Patna, only more so, in view of the fact that all such appeals are filed at Patna. As to what will be the position in regard to the writ cases is a matter which needs no consideration in this case. Perhaps, it may have to be decided when an objection in a writ case is taken on behalf of either party, the assessee of the Revenue. We, therefore, proceed to hear this case on merits.”

From a perusal of the aforesaid order of the division Bench, it appears that by the said order the objection petition was disposed of by the court simply holding that in all tax reference cases the Patna Bench has got jurisdiction, without considering the relevant provisions of the Act and the Rules, Moreover, subsequent to that order the Full Bench of this Court has clarified the power and jurisdiction of the Ranchi Bench of the Patna High Court. With due respect, in view of the relevant provisions of the Act and the rules and the law discussed hereinabove vis-a-vis the principles laid down by the full Bench in the case of Syed Zafrul Hassan AIR 1986 Pat 194, the aforesaid order of the Division Bench in Tax Case No. 52 of 1979 does not hold good.

In the light of the foregoing discussions, I am of the definite view that in all reference cases under s. 256 of the Act and s. 27 of the WT Act arising out of assessment order passed by the ITO of the places fling within the districts of Hazaribagh, Giridih, Dhanbad, Ranchi, Palamau and singhbhum, the permanent Ranchi Bench of the Patna High Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and dispose of those reference cases unless the Chief Justice in his discretion orders that any cases or classes of cases arising in any such district shall be heard at Patna. I am further of the opinion that the IT Appellate Tribunal has no option but to make reference under the aforesaid provisions of law to the permanent Ranchi Bench of the Patna High Court in all the cases which have arisen or originated from the assessment orders of the assessing authorities of areas falling within the districts of Hazaribagh, Giridih, Dhanbad, Ranchi, Palamau and Singhbhum.

In the result, this appeal is allowed in part and respondent Nos. 2 and 3, namely, the IT Appellate Tribunal, Patna Bench, and the CIT, Ranchi, are directed to henceforth file and/or refer all reference applications to the permanent Bench of the Patna High Court at Ranchi under s. 256 of the Act and s. 27 of the WT Act in respect of cases arising out of assessment and other orders of the IT-cum-WTO or other officers of the IT Department having their respective offices within the territorial jurisdiction of the districts of Hazaribagh, Giridih, Dhanbad, Palamau, Ranchi and Singhbhum, the prayer of the writ petitioner for issuance of writ to respondent No. 1, the High Court of Judicature at Patna, to transfer all pending cases from Patna to Ranchi is hereby refused, and it is directed that all reference cases pending in the High Court at Patna shall be heard and disposed of by the High Court of Judicature at Patna. However, there shall be no order as to costs.

[Citation : 229 ITR 706]

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