Controller Of Estate Duty vs K.P. Luke on 20 October, 2000

Kerala High Court
Controller Of Estate Duty vs K.P. Luke on 20 October, 2000
Equivalent citations: 2001 249 ITR 45 Ker
Author: S Sankarasubban
Bench: S Sankarasubban, A Lekshmikutty


JUDGMENT

S. Sankarasubban, J.

1. The questions of law referred to us are as follows :

“1. Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the insurance amount received by the accountable person from the insurance company in the United States,–

(a) was not includible in the principal Value of the estate left by the deceased ?

(b) is to be exempted from the levy of estate duty under Section 21(1)(b) of the Estate Duty Act, 1953 ?

2. Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the
Tribunal is right in law in equating ‘not includible’ with ‘exemption’ and
is not such an approach and understanding wrong and the resultant order
vitiated ?”

2. The facts of this case are as follows : One Dr. K. P. Luke who was domiciled in the United States of America died in an accident on November 22, 1974. His wife, Mrs. Alice Kalarickal, received an amount of Rs. 18,06,993 as insurance amount from the insurance company in the USA. The accountable person claimed exemption on this amount on the ground that the deceased was domiciled in the USA and the movable property situated outside India is not chargeable to estate duty in India in view of the provision contained in Section 21(1)(b) of the Estate Duty Act. But, the Assistant Controller of Estate Duty on the basis of Section 21(1) of the Estate Duty Act and Rule 8 regarding the location of movable property and also distinguishing the passing of property at the time of death included this amount in the principal value. The matter was taken in appeal before the Appellate Controller of Estate Duty, who held that since the deceased was not domiciled in India, the movable property situated outside India at the time of his death was not includible in the estate. The Revenue preferred an appeal against the above findings of the Appellate Controller before the Tribunal and the Tribunal found that the deceased was domiciled in the USA, died in the USA in an accident and duty was also levied in the USA on the policy amount. Therefore, the Tribunal held that the insurance amount has to be exempted from the levy of estate duty under Section 21(1)(b) of the Estate Duty Act.

3. We are of the view that the Tribunal was perfectly correct in holding the view in favour of the assessee and against the Department.

4. Section 21 says that there shall not be included in the property passing on the death of the deceased. Section 21(1)(b) states as follows :

“(b) movable property situated outside India at the time of the death, unless-

(i) in the case of any property, whether settled or not, the deceased was domiciled in India at the time of his death ; or

(ii) in the case of settled property of which the deceased was a life tenant, the settlor was domiciled in India at the date the settlement took effect.”

5. Rule 8 deals with the location of movable property. Further, in this case Rule 8 will apply under which the monies payable under a policy of assurance or insurance, shall be deemed to be situated at the place where the policy provides that the monies shall be payable or in the absence of any such provision, at the head office of the company.

6. Here, on the death of a person the policy matures. It forms part of the estate of the deceased. The only distinction that was sought to be made was that at the time of the death, there was no movable property. But movable property arises only on the death. We are of the view that the Tribunal was perfectly justified in holding that the amount vested is assessable to estate duty (sic). Hence, we answer the questions of law in favour of the assessee and against the Revenue.

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