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Sha Pannalal Pemraj and Co. and ors. Vs. Commercial Tax Officer, Hassan Circle, Hassan and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Appeal Nos. 846 to 861 of 1974
Judge
Reported inILR1976KAR1361; 1976(2)KarLJ139; [1976]38STC350(Kar)
ActsCentral Sales Tax Act, 1956 - Sections 14 and 15; Karnataka Sales Tax Act, 1957 - Sections 5(4) and 6A
AppellantSha Pannalal Pemraj and Co. and ors.
RespondentCommercial Tax Officer, Hassan Circle, Hassan and ors.
Appellant AdvocateK. Srinivasan, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateM.P. Chandrakantaraj Urs, High Court Government Adv. and ;M.R. Lakshmikantaraj Urs, Honorary Government Pleader
Excerpt:
- industrial disputes act, 1947. [c.a. no. 14/1947]. section 36: [mrs. manjula chellur & a.n. venugopala gowda, jj] appearance through legal practitioner - held, sub-section (2) of section 36 enables the engaging of the service of the officer of the company or the officers of the association or of a federation, to which the management is a member, not withstanding that the officer or office bearer is incidentally being a legal practitioner. sub-section (4) of section 36 cannot prevent such authorised person incidentally being a legal practitioner from appearing for the industrial concern. on facts, held, the respondent has produced material to show that the person who is authorised to represent it in the industrial tribunal, is the office bearer of icea and icea is an association of..........of an act of the legislature if the merits of the case in hand may be fairly determined otherwise without so doing : vide (1) 11 american jurisprudence, page 723, para 94; (2) cooley's constitutional law, 4th edition, page 192; and (3) basheshar nath v. commissioner of income-tax, delhi & rajasthan : [1959]35itr190(sc) . when this legal position was pointed out to the learned counsel for the appellants, he did not press further the challenge on merits against the orders of assessment. in our opinion, the learned single judge should not have pronounced on the constitutionality of sub-section (2) of section 6-a of the act, since, on admitted facts of the case, the assessment orders are not open to challenge on the ground of violation of article 286(3) of the constitution read.....
Judgment:

Govinda Bhat, C.J.

1. These appeals are directed against the order in W.P. No. 1514 of 1974 and connected matters made by Venkataramiah, J., dismissing the said writ petitions challenging the assessment orders made under the Karnataka Sales Tax Act, 1957, hereinafter called the Act.

2. The appellants are carrying on the business of buying and selling cardamoms in Sakleshpur in the State of Karnataka. They are registered as 'dealers' under the Act. Cardamoms being 'declared goods', under section 14 of the Central Sales Tax Act, 1956, hereinafter called the Central Act, the right of the State Legislatures to levy sales tax on cardamoms is subject to the restrictions and limitations imposed by section 15 of the Central Act.

3. The facts, so far as they are material, are in not dispute and they lie within a narrow compass. Sakleshpur is one of the marketing centres for cardamoms in Karnataka State. The appellants buy cardamoms from registered dealers and also from commission agents operating in the Agricultural Produce Market Yard at Sakleshpur. For the period from 1st April, 1972, to 31st March, 1973, the appellants filed their individual returns under the Act showing their respective total turnover as also the taxable turnover. If was conceded before the Commercial Tax Officer, Hassan Circle, who is the assessing authority, that the assessees were first purchasers liable to tax in respect of the turnover of purchase of cardamoms made from the commission agents in the Agricultural Produce Market Yard at Sakleshpur; they claimed exemption in respect of the turnover relating to purchases made from registered dealers. The appellant in W.A. No. 846 of 1974, M/s. Sha Pannalal Pemraj & Co., filed a return in form No. 4 showing a total turnover of Rs. 11,16,306.53 and a taxable turnover of Rs. 7,08,477.86; they claimed exemption on Rs. 4,07,828.67 in their return. Before the Commercial Tax Officer, the appellants claimed that their purchases of cardamoms from registered dealers only are second purchases made in the State on which alone, non-liability to tax was claimed. They did not contend before the assessing authority that the purchases made by them from the commission agents in the market yard are not the first purchases in the State. The Commercial Tax Officer allowed the claim of the appellants in regard to the purchases made from the registered dealers in the State and levied tax under section 5(4) of the Act at 3 per cent on the admitted first purchases of cardamoms. Similar assessment orders were made in the cases of other appellants.

4. The appellants challenged the respective assessment orders made on them in W.P. No. 1514 of 1974 and connected matters in this court. The only relief sought in the writ petitions was to issue a writ in the nature of certiorari quashing the assessment orders passed by the Commercial Tax Officer for the year ended 31st March, 1973. No other relief was prayed for. The writ petitioners challenged the assessment orders mainly on three grounds, viz., (i) that sub-section (2) of section 6-A of the Act is void as it is violative of article 286(3) of the Constitution read with section 15(a) of the Central Act; (ii) that the said sub-section (2) of section 6-A is beyond the legislative competence of the State; and (iii) that the said sub-section (2) of section 6-A is violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed under article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. Venkataramiah, J., before whom the matters came up, rejected all the grounds urged on behalf of the writ petitioners and dismissed the writ petitions by a common order. The judgment of the learned single Judge is reported in Sha Pannalal Pemraj & Co. v. Commercial Tax Officer, Hassan [[1975] 35 S.T.C. 109]. Aggrieved by the said order, the writ petitioners have preferred the above appeals.

5. Before us, Sri K. Srinivasan, the learned counsel for the appellants, did not press the grounds that sub-section (2) of section 6-A of the Act is beyond the legislative competence of the State and that it is violative of article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. The only ground pressed before us was that the said sub-section is void being repugnant to article 286(3) of the Constitution read with section 15(a) of the Central Act.

6. The argument of the learned counsel was that article 286(3) of the Constitution imposes restrictions on the powers of the States to levy tax on the sale or purchase of goods declared by the Parliament by law to be of special importance in inter-State trade or commerce, and that the Parliament by enacting sections 14 and 15 of the Central Act has laid down conditions in regard to the system of levy and rates on 'declared goods', and that under section 15(a) of the Central Act, the State cannot levy tax on 'declared goods' at more than one stage. It was further argued that under section 5(4) read with Schedule IV of the Act, sales tax on cardamoms is levied at the point of first purchase in the State; but, in view of the provisions of sub-section (2) of section 6-A of the Act, which casts the burden on the 'dealer' to prove that he is not the first purchaser in the State and, consequently, not liable to tax under section 5(4), there is a possibility of the State levying tax on 'declared goods' at more than one stage and, therefore, the said provision is liable to be struck down as being repugnant to article 286(3) of the Constitution read with section 15(a) of the Central Act. Venkataramiah, J., rejected that argument and upheld the constitutional validity of sub-section (2) of section 6-A of the Act.

7. As stated earlier, the appellants have challenged the assessment orders made on them levying sales tax on the first purchases of cardamoms in the State. The only relief sought is to quash the assessment orders. Section 5(4) of the Act, which is the charging section, has not been challenged as unconstitutional. The undisputed facts are that each one of the appellants are registered dealers and their respective turnover exceeds Rs. 25,000. Under section 5(4) read with Schedule IV of the Act, they are liable to pay sales tax on the first purchases of cardamoms. The appellants have admitted in their respective returns as also before the assessing authority that they are the first purchasers of cardamoms except where the purchases were made from the registered dealers. When the appellants have admitted that so far as their purchases made from commission agents operating in the Market Yard at Sakleshpur are concerned, they are the first purchasers of cardamoms, it is unnecessary for the Commercial Tax Officer to invoke the aid of sub-section (2) of section 6-A of the Act in order to make the assessments on the appellants. The need for invoking the aid of sub-section (2) of section 6-A arises only where a 'dealer' claims that he is not the first purchaser in the State of the goods mentioned in Schedule IV of the Act. Even assuming without deciding that sub-section (2) of section 6-A of the Act is void on the ground urged by the appellants, they cannot challenge the impugned assessment orders, as the assessments have been made on their own admission that they are the first purchasers in the State. It is unnecessary to pronounce upon the constitutional validity of sub-section (2) of section 6-A for upholding the impugned assessment orders in these cases.

8. It is settled as a general principle that courts will not pronounce on the constitutionality of an Act of the legislature if the merits of the case in hand may be fairly determined otherwise without so doing : vide (1) 11 American Jurisprudence, page 723, para 94; (2) Cooley's Constitutional Law, 4th Edition, page 192; and (3) Basheshar Nath v. Commissioner of Income-tax, Delhi & Rajasthan : [1959]35ITR190(SC) . When this legal position was pointed out to the learned counsel for the appellants, he did not press further the challenge on merits against the orders of assessment. In our opinion, the learned single Judge should not have pronounced on the constitutionality of sub-section (2) of section 6-A of the Act, since, on admitted facts of the case, the assessment orders are not open to challenge on the ground of violation of article 286(3) of the Constitution read with section 15(a) of the Central Act. We, therefore, do not express any opinion on the question of validity of sub-section (2) of section 6-A of the Act and leave that question open.

9. Since no other ground has been pressed before us, these appeals fail and are dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 100 in each appeal.

10. Appeals dismissed.


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