1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India by the Gondwana Club, Nagpur, and the facts upon which it is based may be shortly stated. On 5th May, 1952, an application was made by the Club to the Sales Tax Officer, Nagpur, for its registration as a dealer. Two days thereafter, on 7th May, 1952, the Club wrote a letter to the Sales Tax Officer, stating that it was not liable to pay sales tax and did not wish to be registered as a dealer. By this letter dated 7th May, 1952, the Club requested the Sales Tax Officer that its prior application dated 5th May, 1952, should be treated as having been withdrawn. In the present petition, the Club contends that notwithstanding its letter dated 7th May, 1952, the Sales Tax Officer proceeded to register the Club as a dealer. Thereafter, on 27th May, 1952, the Club wrote again to the Sales Tax Officer pointing out to him that he should not have registered the Club. The certificate of registration which was issued to the Club by the Sales Tax Officer was returned to that officer who did not accept it. On 31st May, 1952, the Sales Tax Officer replied to the Club, saying that the registration of the Club as a dealer had been correctly done. Thereafter, on 18th November, 1952, the Club addressed a letter to the Sales Tax Officer saying that it was not liable to pay sales tax. The Club pointed out in that letter that when it supplied goods to its members, those transactions were not sales. Certain other grounds were also stated by the Club in its abovementioned letter for contending that it was not liable to pay sales tax. Thereafter, on 16th July, 1953, the Club received a notice from the Sales Tax Officer, asking it to show cause why it should not be prosecuted for not submitting returns under the Central Provinces and Berar Sales Tax Act, 1947 (XXI of 1947). The Club replied to the Sales Tax Officer saying that unless the contentions raised by it in its letter dated 18th November, 1952, were decided, it did not consider itself liable to submit the returns. Thereafter, on 22nd October, 1953, another notice was received by the Club from the Sales Tax Officer. It was also a notice asking the Club to show cause why it should not be prosecuted for not submitting the returns. The Club again brought to the notice of the Sales Tax Officer that since the objections taken by it in its letter dated 18th November, 1952, were not considered and were not replied to, it was not liable to pay sales tax. Thereafter, on 12th January, 1954, another notice was received by the Club. That was followed up by two other notices, on 5th February, 1954, and on 7th June, 1954. Then, there was a notice dated 14th June, 1954, a notice under section 11(4) and (5) of the Sales Tax Act, which was issued by the Sales Tax Officer to the Club. Lastly, a final notice under section 12 of the Sales Tax Act was issued on 10th August, 1954, and along with this notice an order of assessment under section 11(4) of the Act was enclosed. This is the background of the present petition in which the petitioner Club contends that the order made by the Sales Tax Officer, assessing the liability of the Club at Rs. 980 and directing the Club to pay that amount, should be quashed. The petitioner challenges the legality of the levy of the sales tax.
2. Now, one of the contentions which the petitioner Club has raised in this application is that it is members' Club and the members are joint owners of the Club property. All the property of the Club, according to the petitioner, vests jointly in the members of the Club. If, therefore, any property is supplied by the Club to its members, it is not a sale. It is merely a release of the joint interest of the members in that property in favour of individual members. Thus, according to the petitioner, each member consumes his own goods and, therefore, the transaction of the supply of goods by the Club to its members does not amount to a sale. Now, in our view, it is difficult to look upon the various articles which are supplied by the Club to its members as being the joint property of the members of the Club. Although the Club consists of members, the Club has an entity distinct from the entities of the members. The property which is purchased by the Club from dealers in thtwo town is the property purchased with the assistance of the Club's funds, and one of the sources of the Club's funds is the subscriptions paid by the members of the Club. The subscriptions which are paid by the members of the Club are paid by them by way of consideration for the amenities made available to them by the Club. The Club renders service to its members, and for taking advantage of that service, subscriptions are paid by the members. Once the money is paid by the members and once the money passes into the coffers of the Club, the said money cannot be said to belong to the members. In these circumstances, it is difficult to accept the proposition that the property which is purchased by the Club is the property of the members of the Club. That being so, it is difficult to accept the contention that the provisions which are supplied by the Club to its members are the joint property belonging to all the members.
3. But although Mr. Abhayankar fails in his contention that the property supplied by the Club to its members is the members' property and is, therefore, not sold to the members, he must succeed in his contention that unless it is shown that the Club is a dealer and carries on business as a dealer, there is not liability upon it to pay a tax under the Act. Mr. Abhayankar says, and he is right, that unless the supplies of goods by the Club to its members amount to business as a dealer, there cannot arise a liability upon it to pay a tax. The term 'dealer' is defined in clause (c) of section 2 of the Act and the definition provides :
''Dealers' means any person who, whether as principal or agent, carries on in Madhya Pradesh the business of selling or supplying goods, whether for commission, remuneration or otherwise and includes a firm, a partnership, a Hindu undivided family and the Central or a State Government or any of their departments and includes also a society, club or association selling or supplying goods to its members.'
4. Thus, in order that a person may be a dealer under the Act, he must do the business of selling or supplying goods. A society, club, or association is referred to in the concluding portion of the definition of 'dealer' and the concluding portion of the definition says that the term 'dealer' includes also 'a society, club or association selling or supplying goods to its members.' The well settled rule of construction requires that the two parts of the definition must be harmonized. The words 'selling or supplying goods' occur in the earlier part of the definition of 'dealer', and they also occur in the latter part of the definition, and at both the places they must be so construed as to bear the same connotation. To start with, the definition of 'dealer' says that a dealer means a person who does selling or supplying of goods as a business. Therefore, in the context, the words 'selling or supplying goods' in the latter part of the definition, which speaks of a society, club or association, must also be construed to mean selling or supplying goods in the course of business. If the element of business is excluded from the connotation of the words 'selling or supplying goods', when they are used in the context of a society, club or association in the latter part of the definition, a conflict would arise between the two parts of the definition and that must be avoided. It is, therefore, clear that unless the selling or supplying of goods by the Club to its members is done as a business the Club cannot be a 'dealer' under the Act. On the other hand, if the Club sells goods or supplies them to its members and does it as a business, it would be a dealer under the Act and it would be illegal for it carry on that business unless it has been registered as a dealer and possesses a registration certificate.
5. Now, therefore, a question arises and the question is : Does the Gondwana Club sell or supply goods to its members as a business If it were making profits upon the sales or supplies of goods made to its members, it might be an indication that it is doing business within the meaning of section 2, clause (c), and section 8 of the Act. As the record stands before us, there is a statement made by the Club in the petition that the supply of goods by it to the members is done without a profit-making motive. This statement is denied by the respondent. We have, therefore, got a statement against a statement and it is not possible to determine whether, as a matter of fact, the Club is making profits out of the supplies of goods made by it to the members. In this context, it may be noted that notwithstanding the letter which the Club wrote to the Sales Tax Officer on 7th May, 1952, informing that officer that its application dated 5th May, 1952, for its registration as a dealer be treated as withdrawn, the Sales Tax Officer proceeded to register the Club as a dealer. This registration meant that in the opinion of the Sales Tax Officer, the Club was carrying on business as a dealer. It is significant to note that after the abovementioned order was passed by the Sales Tax Officer registering the Club as a dealer, no remedy under the Act was pursued by the Club against that order. The remedy which was available to the Club against the order registering it as a dealer was by way of an appeal, a remedy provided by section 22 of the Act. Section 22 of the Act provides that any dealer aggrieved by an original order under the Act may in the prescribed manner appeal to the prescribed authority against such; and any dealer aggrieved by an order passed in appeal under the Act may appeal to such authority, as may be prescribed, against the order passed by the first appellate authority. Here is, therefore, a case of a twofold specific remedy prescribed under section 22. The first remedy which was available to the Club was to appeal in the prescribed manner to the prescribed authority under the Act, and if the Club felt aggrieved by the order of the first appellate authority, it could appeal to the further appellate authority prescribed under the Act. These remedies were not pursued by the Club. In our view, it was up to the petitioner Club to contend before the first appellate authority, and thereafter before the further appellate authority if it failed before the first appellate authority, that it was not carrying on business as a dealer, that, therefore, there was no liability upon it to get itself registered as a dealer, and that the order passed by the Sales Tax Officer registering it as a dealer was an erroneous order. As I have said, these remedies were not pursued by the petitioner Club. That being so, we are afraid it is difficult to act upon the bare assertion contained in the body of the petition, an assertion denied by the respondent in the reply filed by him, that there is no profit-making motive in the supplies of goods made by the Club to its members. We leave open the question whether the supply of goods by the Club to its members is done as a business, that is, with a profit-making motive, or otherwise. Unless this question is decided, and we cannot decide it upon the material before us, we cannot say that the order passed by the Sales Tax Officer registering the Club as a dealer is an erroneous order.
6. In the circumstances stated above, the petition fails and is dismissed with costs.
7. Petition dismissed.