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K.B. Dani Vs. State of Karnataka - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSales Tax Appeal No. 44 of 1976
Judge
Reported inILR1979KAR2315; 1979(2)KarLJ286; [1979]44STC276(Kar)
ActsKarnataka Sales Tax Act, 1957 - Sections 5(1), 22A and 24
AppellantK.B. Dani
RespondentState of Karnataka
Appellant AdvocateK. Srinivasan, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateS. Rajendra Babu, High Court Government Pleader
Excerpt:
.....considers it a machine. no intelligent person would consider it a machinery. just like printing types, though required for the use of printing machine, are not accessories of printing machine, tractor-trailer required for the use of a tractor cannot be considered as an accessory to a tractor......october, 1972. out of his total turnover, a sum of rs. 1,59,318 representing the sales turnover of tractor-trailers was subjected to tax at 3 per cent. under section 5(1) of the act as they were non-scheduled goods. the assessee was satisfied with the order. the commissioner of commercial taxes, however, exercising his suo motu power under section 22a of the act, issued notice to the assessee on the ground that the order of the commercial tax officer was erroneous and prejudicial to the interests of the revenue. this view was taken by the commissioner on the ground that tractor-trailer falls under item 20 of the second schedule to the act, under which 6 per cent. tax is levied for all machinery and spare parts and accessories thereof. the assessee resisted the notice and contended that.....
Judgment:

Rama Jois, J.

1. Whether tractor-trailer is a machinery or necessary of a machinery for the purpose of levy of tax under the Karnataka Sales Tax Act, 1957 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'), is the question of law that arises for consideration in this sales tax appeal presented under section 24 of the Act.

2. The appellant is an assessee under the Act. For the assessment period commencing from 31st October, 1970, to 19th October, 1971, the Commercial Tax Officer, II Circle, Hubli, mad an order of assessment against the assessee on 31st October, 1972. Out of his total turnover, a sum of Rs. 1,59,318 representing the sales turnover of tractor-trailers was subjected to tax at 3 per cent. under section 5(1) of the Act as they were non-scheduled goods. The assessee was satisfied with the order. The Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, however, exercising his suo motu power under section 22A of the Act, issued notice to the assessee on the ground that the order of the Commercial Tax Officer was erroneous and prejudicial to the interests of the revenue. This view was taken by the Commissioner on the ground that tractor-trailer falls under item 20 of the Second Schedule to the Act, under which 6 per cent. tax is levied for all machinery and spare parts and accessories thereof. The assessee resisted the notice and contended that tractor-trailer was neither machinery nor a part or accessory of a machinery. The Commissioner, however, overruled the contention of the assessee and passed an order holding that tractor-trailer falls within the definition of the word 'machinery' or 'accessory' under item 20 of the Second Schedule to the Act and, consequently, he brought the sales turnover of tractor-trailers to tax at 6 per cent. for the relevant period. Aggrieved by he said order, the appellant-assesses has presented this appeal under section 24 of the Act.

3. Sri K. Srinivasan, the learned counsel appearing for the appellant, submitted that tractor-trailer is not 'machinery' and cannot also be considered as 'accessory of machinery', i.e., tractor.

4. Sri Rajendra Babu, the learned counsel appearing for the State, per contra contended that the tractor-trailer is a machinery or, in any event, it is an accessory of a machinery, i.e., tractor, which is undisputedly a machinery.

5. In order to decide the controversy raised by the parties, it is necessary to ascertain the correct import of the word 'machinery' as also of the word 'accessory'. The earliest case in which the word 'machinery' was interpreted is the decision of the Privy Council in Corporation of Calcutta v. Chitpore Municipality (A.I.R. 1922 P.C. 27; (1922) 15 M.L.W. 253.). Section 101 of the Bengal Municipal Act, 1884, provided for the computation of property tax on the land on annual letting value basis. According to the second proviso to that section, the value of any machinery on such land was not to be taken into consideration in estimating the value of the land. In order to meet the demand of water during peak hours, the Calcutta Municipality had constructed and overhead steel tank on a land belonging to it, but located within the Chitpore Municipality. Water, whenever available in surplus, was being pumped into the tank and let out during peak hours. In estimating the value of the property, the Chitpore Municipality calculated the value of the overhead tank also. The Calcutta Municipality questioned the said valuation on the ground that overhead tank was a 'machinery' and, therefore, its value should have been excluded in view of the second proviso to section 101 of the Act and the matter reached the Privy Council by way of appeal. The Privy Council held that overhead tank was not machinery. The criteria laid down and applied by the Privy Council in that case has been the basic guideline followed in several cases in which such a question arose. They are :

(i) The word 'machinery' must mean something more than a collection of ordinary tools. It must mean something more than a solid structure built upon the ground whose parts either do not move at all or, if they do move, do not move the one with or upon the other in interdependent action with the object of producing a specific and definite result.

(ii) It is not possible to define 'machinery' as applicable to all cases. However, it could be said that, when used in ordinary language, prima facie, means some mechanical contrivances, which by themselves or in combination with one or more other mechanical contrivances, by the combined movement and inter-dependent operation of their respective parts, generate power, or evoke, modify, apply or direct natural forces with the object in each case of effecting so definite and specific a result. The tank and its supporting structure do not satisfy this definition.

(iii) Determination as to what is or what is not 'machinery' must, to a large extent, depend on the special facts of each case.

(iv) Illustrations are better guides to ascertain the true meaning of the word 'machinery', when used ordinarily and not as a specific definition.

(v) Whether an intelligent person would, in the ordinary use of language, describe a particular thing as machinery.

Applying these tests, the Privy Council held that the overhead tank is not machinery for the following reasons :

(i) The water tank was only a receptacle to and from which water flowed by the pumping action or by force of gravitation, respectively.

(ii) Water is neither modified, generated, directed nor applied by the tank, but it simply holds the water poured into it and, whenever the stopcock is opened, water flows downwards, just as a stone falls when it is dropped from a higher altitude to the earth owing to gravitational pull.

(iii) It was nothing more than an underground reservoir or natural collection of water at a higher altitude and made to flow through pipes to a lower level or cisterns built over the houses.

(iv) The tank and its supporting structure do nothing such as generating power, evoke, modify, apply or direct natural forces so as to bring about any definite specific result.

6. The principles laid down by the Privy Council have been applied in the following decisions by the High Courts :

(i) The question whether humidifier, used by cotton textile mills for the purpose of maintaining the required humidity in the mills with the object of safeguarding against possible breakages of yarn and to improve its quality and strength, was machinery, was considered by the Gujarat High Court in Industrial Machinery . v. State of Gujarat ([1965] 16 S.T.C. 380.) Bhagwati, J., as he then was, after referring to the definition of the word 'machinery' given by the Privy Counsel in the case of the Calcutta Corporation (A.I.R. 1922 P.C. 27; (1922) 15 M.L.W. 253.) and also to the observations of Lord Atkinson to the effect that what is or is not machinery must, to a large extent, depend upon the facts of each case, also observed that no set formula could be applied to determine as to whether humidifier constituted machinery and held that the humidifier, operated by electric motors, converted water to vapour, i.e., a fine mist, and distributed the mist throughout the room, in which the threads were being produced and thus provided the humidity required for the manufacture of thread and, therefore, it answered the description of the word 'machinery' as given by the Privy Council.

(ii) In the case of State of Mysore v. M. N. V. Rao ([1964] 15 S.T.C. 540.), a Division Bench of this Court considered as to whether cottage basin, used in the manufacture of silk thread, was 'machinery' under entry No. 20 of the Second Schedule to the Act. This Court also relied on the decision of the Privy Council in the Calcutta Corporation's case (A.I.R. 1922 P.C. 27; (1922) 15 M.L.W. 253.). Applying the definition given by their Lordships of the Privy Council, this Court held that a mechanical contrivance going by the name of 'cottage basin', worked by manual power and engaged in the manufacture of silk threads from cocoons, was machinery. This Court pointed out that the description of 'cottage basin' was as follows : It is an iron basin into which water is poured and cocoons are put into the water. A big wheel, which could be rotated by manual operation, was connected into six metallic discs with a fine hole in each of the discs. The structure and arrangement of the various parts of the cottage basin were such that, after heating the basin and operating the big wheel, silk thread would, after passing through the fine hole provided in the disc, reel round the rotating reels.

(iii) In the case of D. B. Bhandari v. State of Mysore ([1967] 20 S.T.C. 25.), the question that arose for consideration was as to whether handloom is 'machinery' under entry No. 20 of the Second Schedule to the act. This Court, again relying on the Privy Council decision in the Calcutta Corporation's case (A.I.R. 1922 P.C. 27; (1922) 15 M.L.W. 253.) and the earlier decision of this Court in the M. N. V. Rao's case ([1964] 15 S.T.C. 540.), held that handloom was machinery. In that case, it was observed thus :

'In simpler language 'machinery' is a contrivance whereby several things are put together to work in such a way that force may be applied at a most convenient point in a most convenient way to get a particular work or an item of work done or to produce a specific article or manufactured goods.

If this is the essential feature of a machinery which distinguishes it from other things, the mode or he manner in which power is fed into it or force is applied need not and should not make any difference. It is conceded, for example, that a machinery would be a machinery whether it is fed by electrical power or other form of power applied by steam or generated by burning combustible oils. If the ode or the manner in which the power is applied makes no difference in these specific cases, it should make no difference either if the source of power is either human or animal.'

The aforementioned decisions give sufficient indications to decide as to what is a machinery and what is not. It is also useful to refer to the meaning of the words 'machinery' and 'machine' given in Webster's Third New International Dictionary, to the extent it is relevant, which reads :

'Machine, engine, apparatus, appliance signify, in common, a device, often complex, for doing work beyond human hand or mind; machine applies to a construction or organisation whose parts are so connected and interrelated that it can be set in motion and perform work as a unit (those most practical machines of our modern life, the dynamo and the telephone - Havelock Ellis) (calculators, billers, duplicators, and other business machines) ..........

Machinery : machines as a functioning unit.'

The above meaning indicates that 'machine' means a mechanical device consisting of a planned and an organised arrangement of various parts, each part having definite functions and, as a result of combined functioning, does some work, which may be impossible or difficult for human physical power to perform or even if it can be done it cannot be done continuously for a long period or with the speed and with the same uniformity with which the machinery does the same work. Supply of power to the machine could be either by the natural forces or by human or animal energy, or electric energy or any other type of energy.

7. Bearing in mind, the criteria laid down by the Privy Council in order to find out what is machinery and its application in the cases referred to above, we shall now proceed to consider, as to whether the tractor-trailer is a machinery. A few illustrations would be helpful to decide whether the tractor-trailer is machinery or not. Take the case of a tailoring machine. When force is applied on the treadle, the bigger wheel which is connected to the treadle by a rod moves, which having been connected to a smaller wheel of the machinery called the balance wheel, by a belt, makes the smaller wheel to move fast and it makes all other parts to move in the designed manner. Thus, the tailoring machine answers the description of a machine. The work of stitching is done by the machine with great speed and uniformity. Doing similar work and with that speed is impossible by human physical power. So also a typewriter, which works in a systematic manner on pressing the keys of the keyboard by the fingers in the required manner which work cannot be performed by human physical power. But, take the case of scissors, though on the application of force at one end, the two blades of it move and can cut certain articles, it has no attributes of a machines. Force is not multiplied for doing any work. There is no organisation of the several parts into one unit, all functioning simultaneously on the supply of power at a given point. No intelligent person considers it a machine. The scissors therefore could be considered as an implement and no a machinery. A wheelbarrow used to remove any debris or mud, etc., is likewise in common parlance not considered as a machinery. Similarly, take the case of hand-pulled cart. By applying or supplying power it does not work as a combined effect of the movement of its parts as in the case of tailoring machine or typewriter. When pulled all that happens is it moves along with with the puller and stops when the stops. The tractor-trailer, just as a hand-pulled cart, moves when attached to a tractor and dragged by it and it stops when not dragged. The tractor-trailer is a mere receptacle made to contain specifications and is mounted on wheels. The tractor, which is a machinery, drags it, whether loaded or unloaded. In the trailer there is no systematic arrangement of several parts which move and function in the designed manner to perform any work, on the supply of force to it. It does not multiply or convert the force supplied to it for any such purpose. It only moves when dragged by a machine, otherwise it remains stationary. No intelligent person would consider it a machinery. Applying the definition of the word 'machinery' given by the Privy Counsel in the Calcutta Corporation's case (A.I.R. 1922 P.C. 27; (1922) 15 M.L.W. 253.) and the criteria laid down therein, and the decisions of the High Courts referred to earlier, we conclude that tractor-trailer is not 'machinery' falling under item 20 of the Second Schedule to the Act.

8. Learned counsel for the State, however, argued that if tractor-trailer is not machinery, at least it would be an accessory of tractor and, therefore, still falls under entry 20 of the Second Schedule. This argument raises the question as to what is meant by accessory The meaning of the word 'accessory' given in Webster's Third New International Dictionary is an object or device that is not essential in itself but that adds to the beauty, convenience or effectiveness of something else. A few examples makes the meaning clear. An amperometer or a petrol saving equipment and several such extra fittings made to an automobile vehicle, which add to the beauty, convenience, or effective use of the vehicle, are accessories of an automobile machinery. In the case of N. A. V. Naidu v. State of Mysore ([1970] 25 S.T.C. 381; (1970) 1 Mys. L.J. 457.), this Court had to consider as to whether printing types are accessories of a printing machine. Applying the above meaning, it was held that the printing types are not accessories of a printing machine, though they are necessary for the use of a printing machine. Just like printing types, though required for the use of printing machine, are not accessories of printing machine, tractor-trailer required for the use of a tractor cannot be considered as an accessory to a tractor. In State of Mysore v. V. G. Patil (S.T.R. No. 61 of 1970 (Karnataka High Court).), the question which arose for consideration was whether ploughs and harrow sets were accessories of tractors, as they are used for agricultural operation, with the aid of tractor, which is undisputedly a machinery. A Division Bench of this Court held that ploughs and harrow sets are only implements and not accessories of a tractor. We are in respectful agreement with the views expressed in these two decisions.

9. In our opinion, there is no force in the submission made for the State that tractor-trailer is an accessory of a tractor. Just as ploughs and harrows are dragged by tractors on agricultural land for ploughing or harrowing the land, the trailers are dragged by the tractor for the purpose of carrying the load placed in trailers from one place to another. The trailer is no accessory to a tractor and is not meant to be fitted into a tractor for increasing its beauty, convenience or effectiveness, though a trailer may be necessary for putting the tractor to a particular use, i.e., carrying loads from one place to another. Hence, we reject the submission made for the State that tractor-trailer is an accessory of a tractor. It is not the case of the State that tractor-trailer is a 'part' of a tractor, which is also subjected to tax under entry 20 of the Second Schedule to the Act.

10. There is one other circumstances which also supports the view that tractor-trailer is neither a machinery nor an accessory of a tractor. By the Karnataka Sales Tax (Amendment) Act, 1973, 'tractor-trailer' is included as a specific item at entry 124 in the Second Schedule to the Act. If the word 'machinery' or 'accessory' or a machinery, used by the legislature in item 20, included the tractor-trailer, there was no necessity to include it as an independent item particularly because the rate of tax provided for both the entries was 'six per cent'. Subsequent amendment could be a guide for the interpretation of earlier provisions of statute : see S.V.P. Cement Co. Ltd. v. General Mining Syndicate Pvt. Ltd. : [1977]1SCR359

11. In the result, we hold that tractor-trailer is neither a 'machinery' nor an 'accessory' or a machinery and, therefore, is not liable to tax under item 20 of the Second Schedule to the Karnataka Sales Tax Act, 1957.

12. For the reasons aforesaid, we make the following order :

(i) The appeal is allowed.

(ii) The order dated 30th July, 1976, passed by the Commissioner of Commercial Taxes is set aside and the order of the Commercial Tax Officer, II Circle, Hubli, is restored.

(iii) No costs.

12. Appeal allowed.


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