1. This is a reference under S. 61(1) of the Bombay Sales Tax Act, 1959 (hereinafter referred to as 'the said Act') made at the instance of the Department. The question referred to us for consideration is as follows :
'Whether on the facts and circumstances of the case the Tribunal was justified in holding that the sales of dental chairs manufactured by the respondents were covered by the entry 22 of Schedule 'E' and not by entry 56 of Schedule 'C' of the Bombay Sales Tax Act, 1959 ?'
The facts giving rise to this reference are as follows :
The assessee is an importer and reseller of dental equipments. It is also a manufacturer of dental chairs which are sold by it. For the period from 1-1-1960 to 31-12-60 the Sales Tax Officer assessed the sales of dental chairs sold by the assessee as falling under entry 56 of Schedule 'C' to the said Act, rejecting the contention of the assessee that these sales were covered by entry 22 of Schedule E to the said Act. The appeal of the assessee to the Assistant Commissioner failed and the assessee filed a second appeal before the Sales Tax Tribunal. The Tribunal observed that for an article to come under entry 56 of Schedule C, as 'furniture', it must be an article of convenience of decoration used in the house or place of business and that a dental chair could not be described as furniture. The Tribunal held that these sales were not covered by entry 56 of Schedule C but were covered by entry 22 of Schedule E to the said Act. On these conclusions the Tribunal allowed the appeals of the assessee. This reference arises out of this decision of the Tribunal.
2. Since the arguments before us turn, to some extent, on the wording of entry 56 of Schedule C to the said Act, it may not be out of place to set out the same at this stage. The description of the goods covered in entry 56 of the said Schedule reads thus :
'Iron and steel safes, almirahs and furniture and upholstered furniture'.
It is not necessary to set out entry 22 of Schedule E to the said Act as it is a common ground that it is a residuary entry and the sales in question, if not covered by entry 56 of Schedule C, would necessarily be covered by entry 22 of Schedule E. In our view, the question raised presents no difficult at all. After referring to the several decisions of the Supreme Court a Division Bench of this Court, in Commissioner of Sales Tax vs. Dawoodbhoy M. Tayabally 36 S.T.C. 291, has taken the view that the meaning of terms describing goods in the entries in the Schedules to the Sales Tax Act prescribing rates at which commercial articles have to be taxed has to be gathered from the trade parlance or the common parlance in trade. The question as to what is the meaning given to a term used in an entry in common parlance is a question of fact to be determined on evidence, and, in the absence of such evidence, the entries could be construed according to their dictionary meaning. In the present case, we find that the Tribunal has taken documentary evidence by way of five letters relied upon by the assessee and has accepted the correctness of the statement made therein. This documentary evidence clearly establishes, as held by the Tribunal, that a dental chair, in commercial parlance is regarded as a physiotherapy equipment and not as furniture. In view of the evidence led before the Tribunal regarding the meaning of the term 'dental chair' in commercial parlance, there can be no dispute, in our view, that the decision of the Tribunal to the effect that a dental chair is not a furniture falling within entry 56 of Schedule C to the said Act must be regarded as correct.
3. Apart from the question of the aforesaid documents produced before the Tribunal, to which we have already referred above, the Tribunal has also referred to a pamphlet containing pictures add literature with regard to a dental chair, produced by the assessee, and observed that the pamphlet containing the picture of a dental chair clearly shows that it is quite different from an ordinary chair. The contention of the Department here as well as before the Tribunal was that a dental chair must be regarded as an item of furniture, because it is intended for the comfort or convenience of the patient sitting in it. We are unable to accept this submission. Common sense suggests that the primary purpose of a dental chair is not to enable a patient to sit comfortably in it but to enable the dentist to give proper treatment to his patients. In fact, we find it difficult to conceive of a patient feeling very comfortable in a dental chair. Therefore, even from a common sense point of view it appears to us that a dental chair cannot be regarded as an item of furniture but must be regarded as a specially designed equipment to enable proper dental treatment to be given to patients.
4. Mr. Sanghvi, the learned counsel for the Department, has relied upon the decision of a Division Bench of the Madras High Court in Simpson and Co. Ltd. vs. State of Madras 23 S.T.C. 379 where it has been held that the phrase 'furniture of all types' in entry 44 of Schedule I of the Madras General Sales Tax Act, 1959, is wide enough to cover all kinds of furniture and is not confined to furniture used in homes and offices and therefore 'garage stools' are within that entry. There can be no quarrel with this decision. It is nobody's case here that a dental chair should not be regarded as a furniture merely because it is used in the dentist's room. The question really is whether it can be regarded as furniture at all, and in our view, it cannot be so regarded, for the reasons which we have already given above.
5. In the result, the question referred to us must be answered in the affirmative. The department to pay to the assessee the costs of this reference fixed at Rs. 250/-.