Saturday 23 October 2021

When will the civil court have jurisdiction to entertain a suit relating to property tax?

  This makes it clear that the Act does not contemplate any valuation or assessment of any building for the liability to tax unless entry with regard to the same is made in the assessment list and the assessment list is prepared after following the prescribed procedure in sections 114 to 1 22 of the Act, issuance of the notice such as the one dated 23-10-1967 without being backed by the list of assessment required to be prepared cannot, in our opinion, create any legal liability to pay the tax. Imposition, levy and collection of taxes are three different stages. The power to collect tax does not come into existence merely by imposing the same. Liability to pay the tax can only arise, as is held in several cases of the highest Court, when the assessment list is prepared after giving the assesses enough opportunity to inspect the same and have their say in the matter. The procedure contemplated under the provisions of sections 114 to 122 furnishes some guarantee to the citizens against the excesses or arbitrariness of the officer to the assessee before the liability is imposed on them.

11. It is also difficult for us to attach any importance to the order dated 16-2-1968 on which reliance was placed by Mr. Deo because the same has not shown to have been passed after giving an opportunity to the plaintiff, respondent and secondly, because the same does not appear to have been based on any assessment list as such prepared after following the procedure prescribed under the Act. As indicated earlier, the plaintiff specifically pleaded in the plaint that assessment list was not prepared and not published and that his objections to the notice dated 23-10-1967 were not investigated in his presence, after giving an opportunity to him of hearing. The defendant could not produce any record at the trial to prove that, in fact any such hearing was given to the plaintiff.

13. On our finding it is difficult for us to hold that defendant's case is merely of an irregular exercising the power to tax preparation of the valid assessment list being the foundation of the debt of tax by the citizens to the Municipality. It is not enough that the Municipality possesses the power to impose the tax, but it must also legally levy tax and collect the same. Any lack of jurisdiction on the part of the Municipality in the matter of levy and collection is liable to be questioned in the Civil Court. As discussed earlier, it is difficult for us to hold that the calculation made in the bill amounted to valuation, assessment or levy under the provisions of the Act. No liability having arisen in the present case, the defendant was not legally entitled to recover any money from the plaintiff. The Civil Suit, therefore, in our opinion is perfectly maintainable and the bar of section 172 cannot arise in the present case. 

Bombay High Court
Municipal Council vs Shivaji Sindhi Co-Op. Hsg. ... on 15 April, 1980
Author: V Deshpande

Bench: V Deshpande, S Manohar
Read full Judgment here: Click here
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