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Vijay Kumar v/s Indore Municipal Corporation

    Decided On, 29 July 1988

    At, High Court of Madhya Pradesh


    For the Appearing Parties: P. Verma, S. Dhanji, Advocates.

Judgment Text

(1.) THE owner of building No. N-89, situated at Anoop Nagar Extension, indore, has preferred this revision against the order of Assessment of Annual Letting value at the rate of Rs. 30,000/- (Minimum Rs. 3,000/-). i. e. Rs: 27,000/- per year and assessed the tax of Rs. 5,400/- per year. Against the order of assesment, an appeal was also preferred, which was dismissed.

(2.) THE short contention of Shri P. Verma, learned counsel for the applicant is that a notice dated 6-4-1985, was issued under Sections 146/153, of the Madhya pradesh Municipal Corporation Act, 1956, (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') stating that the building was assessed to tax from 1-6-1984 and the tax has been increased on the basis of the rent being realised by the applicant/owner. After

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the receipt of the notice objections were filed but the applicant was not heard nor any evidence was recorded and the objections were dismissed. Against this order, an appeal was preferred. In an appeal, the photocopy of the lease-deed of the building of the applicant, dated 23-5-1984, was filed, with an application under Order 41, Rule 27, of the Code of Civil Procedure, but the learned appellate Court rejected the application only on the ground that it was the duty of the applicant to inform under Section 154, of the Act, about increase of rent. The appellate Court also held that in the lease-deed, rs. 1,500/-have been shown as the monthly rent of the building and Rs. 1,000/- as the charges for fixtures and furniture, such as fans, almirahs, light, washing basin etc. It is not mentioned in the lease-deed that there are any machineries of which the charges of rs. 1,000/- per month are being charged. Hence, the lease-deed was not considered as a necessary document to decide the appeal. According to Shri Verma, the approach of the learned appellate Court was wrong as the amount is charged as rent of charges could have been decided only after recording of evidence. Another contention of Shri verma is that the property tax could not have been. charged retrospectively.(3.) SHRI S. J. Dhanji, learned Counsel appearing for the Municipal Corporation, supported the assessment and also the order of the Appellate Court. In addition to this, the learned counsel submitted that under Section 154, of the Act, it is duty of the owner of the building to furnish information in writing as provided in section 144, of the Act in respect of subsequent increase in rent. Shri Dhanji, further contended that in the facts and in the circumstances of the case, there was no necessity to afford an opportunity of hearing to the applicant.(4.) THE point for consideration before me is whether the order passed on the basis of the notice under Section 146,of the Act, without affording an opportunity of hearing to the applicant is sustainable or not It is well settled that whenever a notice under Section 146, of the Act is isued, the corporation is bound to give statement of grounds of the increase. When such a notice is issued and the objections are submitted against such valuation under Section 147, of the Act, the objections are to be investigated by the Commissioner under Section 148, of the Act. For such investigation, under Section 148 (1) of the Act, a notice shall be issued to the objector giving date, time and place where u/s 148 (2) of the Act, the Commissioner shall hear the objections in presence of the objector or his authorised agent After hearing the objections the Commissioner determines the objections. An order so passed under section 148 (3) of the Act, is recorded in the register to make it as conclusive evidence. The investigation of objections contemplated under Section 147, of the Act, is not an empty formality but a mandatory duty is cast upon the Commissioner to hear and determine the objections.(5.) THE word 'investigation' has not been defined under the Act, or in Evidence act or under General Clauses Act, but according to Dictionary meaning 'investigate' means 'to trace out; to search or inquire into', to examine systematically or in detail, minute or careful research. (See the Shorter Oxford Dictionary, Vol. I, page 1108)Similar is the meaning in Webster Universal Dictionary at Page 755. Therefore, the word 'investigation' must carry its ordinary dictionary meaning in the sense i. e. the act or action of ascertainment of facts, search or, inquiry, systematic examination, in detail or careful research. It includes collection, of evidence so as to adjudge the objections after affording an opportunity of hearing. Thus, the word 'hear' used under section 148 (2) of the Act, cannot be used in restricted sense to grant audience to the objector, but in reference to context means an inquiry to adjudge or determine the objections. Section 148 of the Act does not contemplate an act of receiving the objections and to consider the same in the presence of the objector or to determine the objections only by affording an opportunity of audience. If Section 148, of the Act, is interpreted in such a restricted manner, then it would mean no investigation and denial of an opportunity of hearing, which is not the object of the section. Besides, this would be against the principles of natural justice, particularly, when a liability in relation to imposition of property tax is being fixed.(6.) THE word - 'investigate' used in the Section clearly denotes an inquiry for determining the objections after affording an opportunity of hearing. 'inquiry' though does not mean here a judicial inquiry like a trial in law Courts, but it may be a summary for adjudging the objections. It would be further evident from the fact that the appeal is provided to the District Court under Section 148 of the Act, against the objections so determined under section 148, of the Act.(7.) IN the case in hand, when a notice was issued under Section 146, of the Act, though, in my Opinion, it does not contain the statement of grounds of the increase, even if, it is assumed that the statements of grounds of increase are contained therein i. e. In that case also, the Commissioner was bound to record the evidence and then find out from the evidence so recorded or from the lease-deed or the document so produced, whether in fact, the petitioner is getting rent at Rs. 2,500/- per month or Rs. 1,500/- as rent and Rs. 1,000/- per month as other charges. This having not been done, the assessment prima facie is neither legal nor proper, as the procedure prescribed by section 148, of the Act was not followed The Commissioner, who was exercising the powers under the Act, was bound to act in accordance with law. As my conclusion is that determination of the objections was illegal and the assessment so made deserves to be quashed, I need not to dilate on the question whether the lower appellate Court was right or not in rejecting the application under Order 41, Rule 27, of the Code of Civil Procedure.(8.) AS the assessment is illegal and is quashed, the Municipal Commissioner shall decide the objections afresh, after affording an opportunity to the objector-petitioner to substantiate his objections by placing the evidence documentary or oral, and thereafter, the Commissioner shall determine whether the charges of Rs. l,000/-per month are the charges for the appurtenances and furniture as laid down under Section 138, of the Act or not. The objector shall appear before the Commissioner on 5th of september, 1988, and shall produce evidence if any, in support of his objections.(9.) THE result is that the revision is allowed. The impugned order of Assessment passed by the Commissioner as well as the order pased by the lower Appellate Court is set aside. Parties to bear their own costs of this revision petition. Petition allowed.

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