Bombay High Court has explained the law in the case of CIT vs. Tip Top Typography on three issues related to determination of Annual value in calculation of Income from House property:-
(i) whether the municipal valuation of the property was binding on the Assessing Officer
(ii) whether notional interest on interest-free security deposit could be added and
(iii) whether if the property was covered by the Rent Control Act but no standard rent there under, the AO can disregard the standard rent?
In respect of the above Three issues High Court has held as under :-
48] We are not in agreement with Shri Chhotaray that the municipal rateable value cannot be accepted as a bonafide rental value of the property and it must be discarded straightway in all cases. There cannot be a blanket rejection of the same. If that is taken to be a safe guide, then, to discard it there must be cogent and reliable material.
49] We are of the opinion that market rate in the locality is an approved method for determining the fair rental value but it is only when the Assessing Officer is convinced that the case before him is suspicious, determination by the parties is doubtful that he can resort to enquire about the prevailing rate in the locality. We are of the view that municipal rateable value may not be binding on the Assessing Officer but that is only in cases of aforereferred nature. It is definitely a safe guide.
50] We have broadly agreed with the view taken by the Full Bench of the Delhi High Court. Hence, the issue of determination of the “fair rental value” in respect of properties not covered by or covered by the Rent Control Act is to be undertaken in terms of the law laid down in the Full Bench decision of the Delhi High Court.
51] We quite see the force in the arguments of Ms. Vissanjee that ordinarily the license fee agreed between the willing licensor or a willing licensee uninfluenced by any extraneous circumstances would afford reliable evidence of what the landlord might reasonably be expect to get from a hypothetical tenant. She has in making this submission, answered the issue and summed up the conclusion as well. Then, it is but natural and logical that in the event, the transaction is influenced by any extraneous circumstances or vitiated by fraud, or the like that the Assessing Officer can adopt a “fair rent” based on the opinion obtained from reliable sources. There as well, we do not see as to how we can uphold the submissions of Mr. Chhotaray that the notional rent on the security deposit can be taken into account and consideration for the determination. If the transaction itself does not reflect any of the aforestated aspects, then, merely because a security deposit which is refundable and interest free has been obtained, the Assessing Officer should not presume that this sum or the interest derived therefrom at Bank rate is the income of the assessee till the determination or conclusion of the transaction. The Assessing Officer ought to be aware of several aspects and matters involved in such transactions. It is not necessary that if the license is for three years that it will operative and continuing till the end. There are terms and conditions on which the leave and license agreement is executed by parties. These terms and conditions are willingly accepted. They enable the license to be determined even before the stated period expires. Equally, the licensee can opt out of the deal. A leave and license does not create any interest in the property. Therefore, it is not as if the security deposit being made, it will be necessarily refundable after the third year and not otherwise. Everything depends upon the facts and circumstances in each case and the nature of the deal or transaction. These are not matters which abide by any fixed formula and which can be universally applied. Today, it may be commercially unviable to enter into a lease and, therefore, this mode of inducting a ‘third party’ in the premises is adopted. This may not be the trend tomorrow, therefore, we do not wish to conclude the matter by evolving any rigid test.
52] We have also noted the submissions of Shri Ahuja. We are of the opinion that even in the cases and matters brought by him to our notice, it is evident that the Assessing Officer cannot brush aside the rent control legislation, in the event, it is applicable to the premises in question. Then, the Assessing Officer has to undertake the exercise contemplated by the rent control legislation for fixation of standard rent. The attempt by the Assessing Officer to override the rent control legislation and when it balances the rights between the parties has rightly been interfered with in the given case by the Appellate authority. The Assessing Officer either must undertake the exercise to fix the standard rent himself and in terms of the Maharashtra Rent Control Act, 1999 if the same is applicable or leave the parties to have it determined by the Court or Tribunal under that Act. Until, then, he may not be justified in applying any other formula or method and determine the “fair rent” by abiding with the same. If he desires to undertake the determination himself, he will have to go by the Maharashtra Rent Control Act, 1999. Merely because the rent has not been fixed under that Act does not mean that any other determination and contrary thereto can be made by the Assessing Officer. Once again having respectfully concurred with the judgment of the Full Bench of the Delhi High Court, we need not say anything more on this issue.
53] Thus, apart from the three aspects namely of a municipal valuation, of obtaining interest free security deposit and the properties being covered by the Maharashtra Rent Control Act but no standard rent thereunder is fixed, our attention has not been invited to any other case. Suffice it to hold that in those cases and to which our attention is not invited the principles laid down in the decisions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and referred to by the Full Bench of the Delhi High Court would govern the enquiry.