S. Srinivasan Vs. Commissioner of
Income-Tax, Madras  INSC 201 (4 October 1966)
04/10/1966 BHARGAVA, VISHISHTHA BHARGAVA,
VISHISHTHA SHAH, J.C.
CITATION: 1967 AIR 517 1967 SCR (1) 727
Income-tax Act (11 of 1922), s. 16(3) (a) (i)
and (ii)Assessee and his wife partners in a firm-Minor sons entitled to
benefits-Profits of wife and minor sons allowed to accumulate with firm-Payment
of interest by firm-Whether can be included in income of the assessee.
The appellant was a partner in a firm in
which the other two partners were his wife and a stranger. Two, minor sons of
the appellant were also admitted to the benefits of the partnership. Under the
partnership deed, the shares of the five persons in the profits were defined
and it was also provided that a partner may advance a loan for meeting the
expenses of the firm and receive interest on such loan upto 12%. The amounts of
profits falling to the shares of the wife and sons were allowed to accumulate
in the accounts of the firm. Till the beginning of the accounting year 195657,
the profits that were accumulating were kept without any interest, but
thereafter the firm allowed interest at 9% per annum. On the question whether
the interest could be added to the income of the appellant for purposes of
assessment, under s. 16 (3) (a) (i) and (ii) of the Income-tax Act, 1922.
HELD : The interest indirectly arose and
accrued to the wife and the minor sons because of their capacity mentioned in
16 (3) (a) (i) and (ii) and could therefore
be included for assessment in the income of the assessee, under the section.
[730 F-G] The accumulated profits remaining
in the hands of the firm could not be equated with deposits made with or loans
advanced to the firm. The wife and minor sons earned the profits because of
their membership of the firm or because of their admission to the benefits of
the firm., and having earned them in that capacity, they allowed the use of the
profits to the firm without any specific arrangement as would have been entered
into if the funds belonged to a stranger. They let the firm use the funds
because they were interested in the profits of the firm, and interest was
allowed on the accumulation simply because the funds belonged either to a
partner or to minors admitted to the benefits of the partnership. [730 B, C-D,
F] Case law referred to.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 556 of 1965.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
order dated' August 27, 1962 of the High Court of Madras in T.C. No. 82 of'
A. K. Sen and R. Gopalakrishnan, for the
S. T. Desai, A. N. Kripal and R. N. Sachthey,
for the respondents.
728 The Judgment of the Court was delivered
by Bhargava, J. The appellant is a senior partner in a firm 'in which the two
other partners are his wife and a stranger. in addition, two minor sons of the
appellant were admitted to the -benefits of the partnership. Under the deed of
agreement constituting the partnership, the shares in the profits of all the
five persons were defined. There was also specification of the shares in which
losses were to be shared by the three partners. There was a clause in the deed
of partnership that "if the firm requires any sum for meeting the expenses
for its management and if any of the partners -has and is willing to give such
amount, he may advance (such ,amount) as loan. He may receive interest for such
sum at the rate ,of 12 annas per cent per mensem." The firm earned profits
which were distributed in accordance with their shares between the three
partners and the two minors who were admitted to the benefits of the
The amounts of profit falling to the share of
the wife of the appellant and his two minor sons were allowed -to accumulate in
the accounts of the partnership for a number of -years. Up to the beginning of
the previous year relevant to the assessment year 1957-58, the profits that
were accumulating in the accounts to the credit of the wife and the two minor
sons of the appellant were kept without any interest. With effect from the
previous year in question, the partnership decided to allow interest at 9 % per
annum on these accumulated profits, so that, during this previous year, the
amounts to the credit of these three persons increased on account of two additions
in each case.
There was addition of further profit falling
to their share and there was added interest on the opening balance of the
accumulated profits 'in the a(-,counts of each one of these three persons. All
these amounts added to the accounts during the previous year in respect of
share of profits as well as interest on accumulated profits were ,added to the
income of the appellant for purposes of assessment under section 16(3) (a) (i)
and (ii) of the Income-tax Act. These additions were challenged by the
appellant on two different grounds. The first ground was that the provisions of
16(3) (a) (i) & (ii) were ultra vires as
being beyond the legislative powers of the Parliament. The second ground was
that, even on the application of these provisions, at least the amount added to
the income of the appellant in respect of the interest credited in the accounts
of his wife and minor sons was not justified in law. Both these objections were
over-ruled by the Income-tax Officer. On appeal, the Appellate Assistant
Commissioner upheld the decision of the Income-tax Officer on the first point,
but decided the second point in favour of the appellant and held that the
interest earned by his wife and minor sons from the firm could not be included
in the income of the appellant for purposes of charging it with income-tax. The
Income-tax Appellate Tribunal, on further appeal, 729 again upheld the decision
on the first question, but, on the second question, partly rejected the claim
of the appellant.
The Tribunal held that the amount of interest
credited to the amount of the minors in respect of capital provided by their
grand-father and grand-mother had to be excluded from the total income of the
assessee, while the interest earned on the accumulated profits was rightly
included in the income of the appellant. Thereupon, at the request of the
appellant, the following two questions were referred by the Tribunal for the
opinion of the Madras High Court:"(i) Whether the provisions of section
16(3) (a) (i) and (ii) offend clauses (f) and (g) of Article 19(1) of the
Constitution of India ? (ii)Whether interest credited by the aforesaid firm to
the assessee's wife and minor children attributable to past profit
accumulations only is includible in the assessment of the assessee under
Section 16(3)(a)(i) and (ii) The High Court answered both the questions against
the appellant, and consequently, he has come up to this Court by special leave.
So far as the first question is concerned,
learned counsel appearing for the appellant himself did not press it before us
in view of the decision of this Court in Balaji v. Income-tax Officer, Special
Investigation Circle, Akola, and Others('). That point was earlier decided by
the Madras High Court in B. N. Amina Umma v. Income-tax Officer, Kozhikode(2).
It has been held by this Court in Balaji's case(') that the provisions of s.
16(3)(a)(i) and (ii) did not impose any unreasonable restriction on the
fundamental rights of the assessee under Article 19(1)(f) and (g) of the
Constitution, and were, consequently, valid. The first question has, therefore,
been clearly answered correctly by the High Court against the appellant.
Learned counsel appearing for the appellant
mainly argued before us the second question and urged that though the profits
earned from the partnership by the wife and the minor sons of the appellant
were undoubtedly income arising to them directly from the partnership of the
wife in the firm or the admission of the minors to the benefits of the
partnership in the firm, the interest accruing on the accumulated profits
should not be held to arise either directly or indirectly from the same source.
The argument was that the accumulated profits belonging to the wife and the
minor sons should be held to be in the nature of deposits made (1)  2
S.C.R. 983 :43 I.T.R. 393.
M17SUPCI/66-2 (2) 26 I.T.R. 137.
730 by them with the firm, or in the nature
of loans advanced by them to the firm, and interest earned on such deposits or
loans can have no relationship with the membership in the firm of the wife or
the admission to the benefits of the partnership of the minor sons. It appears
to us that these accumulated profits remaining in the hands of the firm cannot,
on any principle, be equated with deposits made or loans advanced. The profits
accumulated to the credit of the wife and the minor sons, because they did not
draw their share of profits when distribution of profits took place, and
allowed those profits to remain with the firm; but there is no suggestion at
all that, at that stage, either the wife or the minor sons, or anyone on their
behalf, purported to enter into an arrangement with the firm to keep these
accumulated profits as deposits. Similarly, there was no such contract which
could convert those accumulations into loans advanced to. the firm by these
persons. The facts and circumstances indicate that the wife and the minor sons
had earned these profits because of their membership of the firm or because of
their admission to the benefits of the firm, and having earned these profits in
that capacity, they allowed the use of their profits to the firm without any
specific arrangement as would naturally have been entered into if these funds
had belonged to a stranger., They let the firm use these funds of theirs, because
they had interest in the profits of the firm. The facts also show that the use
of these moneys was allowed to the firm without asking for any interest, and it
was only at a later stage that the three partners of the firm decided to give
interest on these amounts. When the decision was taken to give interest, the
nature of the funds did not change. They did not get converted into deposits or
loans. They still remained accumulations belonging to a partner or persons
admitted to the benefits of the partnership and allowed to be used by the firm.
The interest also appears to have been allowed by the firm simply because these
funds belonged either to a partner or to the minors who had been admitted to
the benefits of the partnership. It is thus clear that the interest at least
indirectly arose and accrued to the wife and the minor sons because of their
capacity mentioned in s. 16(3)(a)(i) and (ii) of the Income-tax Act.
In this connection, learned counsel for the
appellant relied on a decision of the Bombay High Court in Bhogilal Laherchand
v. Commissioner of Income-Tax, Bombay City(). It was held in that case that
interest earned by minors on deposits maintained in the firm could not be held
to be a benefit which the minors received from their admission to the
partnership of the firm. The case is inapplicable, because, as we have
indicated above, in this case the interest arising to the wife and the minor
sons of the (1)25 I.T.R. 523.
731 appellant was not the result of any
deposits made by them with the firm.
Chouthmal Kejriwal v. Commissioner of
Income-tax, Assam,(') and Akula Venkatasubbaiah v. Commissioner of
Income-tax(2) were cases where interest was paid to the minors on the capital
provided by them for the business of the partnership. In those cases, it was
held that the interest on the capital contributed by the minor sons was benefit
arising from the admission of the minors to the benefits of the partnership,
and consequently, that interest had to be included in the total income of the
father in his assessment. These two cases are of no assistance, because the
nature of the amount on which interest has accrued to the wife and the minor
sons of the appellant is different and is not on capital advanced by them or on
Reference was also made by learned counsel to
a decision of the Allahabad High Court in L. Rain Narain Garg v. Commissioner
of Income-tax, U.P.(3), in which case also it was held that interest paid to a
minor son admitted to the benefits of a partnership on his capital investment
is income derived directly or indirectly by him from the admission and is
includible in the income of the father under s. 16(3)(a)(ii) of the Income-tax
Act. It was further held that it cannot be stated as a matter of law that
interest paid by a partnership to a minor admitted to its benefits can never be
said to be connected even indirectly with the fact of his admission. It is
connected with the fact if the interest paid is on capital investment by the
minor or on a loan advanced to the partnership by the minor and the partnership
deed forbids the raising of a loan from any person other than a partner or a
person admitted to its benefits. It is not connected with the fact if the
interest is paid on a deposit made, or loan advanced by the minor, and, the
partnership was free to accept a deposit or a loan from any person even if not
connected with it. The principle enunciated by the Allahabad High Court does
not envisage all circumstances in which interest may be earned by a minor on
his moneys with the firm. The cases when interest is earned on a deposit or a
loan differ from a case of the type before us where interest was earned on
amounts of which the minors permitted the use by the firm, because they were
their accumulated profits arising from the firm itself and because of their
interest in the firm as persons admitted to the benefits of the partnership. In
the circumstances, the answer returned by the High Court to the second question
was also correct. Appeal dismissed.
The appeal fails and is dismissed with costs.
(1)41 I.T.R. 570.
(2)47 I.T.R. 458.
(3)55 I.T.R. 435.