Calcutta High Court: While dismissing an application for the addition of the applicant as a necessary or proper party in a writ petition challenging the assessment of stamp duty, a single-judge bench comprising of Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya, J., held that the assessment of stamp duty primarily concerns revenue matters between authorities and the party depositing the stamp duty, with no inherent right for third-party involvement, therefore, there is no legal basis or necessity to add the applicant as a party to the writ petition.
In the instant matter, the dispute centered around a purported agreement for sale, the assessment of stamp duty for which the writ petition was preferred. The applicant claimed to be the owner of a property whose stamp duty assessment is being challenged in the main writ petition. The document in question was sent for impoundment in connection with an arbitral proceeding. During the assessment process, the writ petitioners provided inaccurate information about the property’s boundaries, among other suppressions of material facts. The applicant filed the present application to be added as a necessary or proper party in the present writ petition.
Is the applicant a necessary or proper party in the present writ petition challenging the assessment of stamp duty?
Does the applicant have a legitimate interest that warrants her inclusion in the proceedings?
Is there a legal basis for the applicant’s claims, considering Sections 47-A and 47-B of the of the Stamp Act, 1899 (the Stamp Act)?
The applicant asserted that the applicant is the property owner and, therefore, a necessary party to the dispute. It was contended that the writ petitioners concealed relevant facts about the property, making the applicant’s inclusion crucial. The applicant cited the applicant’s involvement in an arbitral proceeding related to the property’s valuation as a reason for her inclusion. The applicant claimed that the writ petition’s outcome will directly affect her, justifying her inclusion.
Writ petitioners’ Contentions
The writ petitioners cited Narayan Chandra Garai v. Matri Bhandar (P) Ltd.1 and contended that being eventually affected by the judgment is not a sufficient reason for including a party. The writ petitioners contended that the applicant is neither a necessary nor a proper party for the current writ petition. It was argued that the appeal under Section 47-A of the Stamp Act is premature and not applicable to the current assessment stage. The writ petitioners further contended that Section 33 of the Stamp Act does not grant a third party the right to be heard during the assessment process.
The Court recognized the well-settled principle that the eventual interest of a party in the outcome of the litigation is not sufficient ground for impleading them as a party.
The Court observed that assessment of stamp duty is deemed a matter of revenue between the authorities and the person paying the duty, and no third party has the right to be heard during this process.
Negating applicant’s argument in terms of Sections 47-A and 47-B of the Stamp Act, the Court observed that Sections 47-A and 47-B of the Stamp Act, do not apply at this stage of the assessment process, as the assessment in question is governed by Section 33 of the Stamp Act.
The Court held that the applicant’s rights can still be protected without being added as a party to the writ petition since they can raise questions regarding the admissibility and evidentiary value of the document before the Arbitral Tribunal
The Court dismissed the application for the addition of the applicant as a party to the writ petition and held that the applicant is neither a necessary nor a proper party in the present writ petition, which is solely challenging the assessment of stamp duty.
[Millennium Projects (P) Ltd. v. State of W.B., WPA No. 20581 of 2022, order dated 01-09-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Mr. Rudraman Bhattacharyya, Mr. Shuvashish Sengupta, Ms. Amrita panja Moulick, Counsel for the Applicant
Mr. Debdut Mukherjee, Ms. Nairanjana Ghosh, Mr. Anurag Modi, Ms. Sayani Chatterjee, Counsel for the Writ petitioners/Opposite Parties