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J. Vamana Prabhu Vs. the State of Mysore - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Case NumberS.T.A. 263 of 1963-64 and S.T.R.P. No. 33 of 1966
Judge
Reported in[1967]20STC38(Kar)
ActsMysore Sales Tax Act, 1957 - Sections 8(1); Metropolitan Water Board (Charges) Act, 1907
AppellantJ. Vamana Prabhu
RespondentThe State of Mysore
Appellant AdvocateK. Shivashankar Bhat, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateG.V. Shantha Raju for High Court Special Government Pleader
Excerpt:
.....expressed himself as follows :according to the ordinary meaning of language, i take it that water supplied for domestic purposes would mean water supplied to satisfy or help to satisfy the needs, or perform or help in performing the services, which, according to the ordinary habits of civilised life, are commonly satisfied and performed in people's homes, as distinguished from those needs and services which are satisfied or performed outside those homes, and are not connected with, nor incident to, the occupation of them. in each of the following cases, decided on this statute of 1907 as well as on other statutes whose provisions were somewhat similar, it was held that residence on the premises supplied was no test as to whether water was supplied for domestic purposes or not .8...........expressed himself as follows :- 'according to the ordinary meaning of language, i take it that water supplied for domestic purposes would mean water supplied to satisfy or help to satisfy the needs, or perform or help in performing the services, which, according to the ordinary habits of civilised life, are commonly satisfied and performed in people's homes, as distinguished from those needs and services which are satisfied or performed outside those homes, and are not connected with, nor incident to, the occupation of them. 'it is plain from the provisions of the 7th and 8th sections of this statute that it is the character of the purpose for which the water is supplied, and not the character of the premises to which it is supplied, that is the crucial consideration in determining.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Narayana Pai, J.

1. The petitioner in this case is described as hospital contractor which means that on a contract with the Government hospitals at Mangalore, he is supplying certain articles to the said hospitals. Among others, he supplied charcoal worth Rs. 1,365 and firewood worth Rs. 13,200 to the Government hospitals at Mangalore during the year 1961-62. In the course of his assessment to sales tax for the said year under the Mysore Sales Tax Act, he claimed that the above turnover relating to charcoal and firewood supplied to Government hospitals, was exempt from tax under section 8(1) of the Act read with entry 29 of the Fifth Schedule. His contention was not accepted by the Assessing Officer, whose opinion has been later confirmed both by the Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes on first appeal as well as by the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal upon second appeal. Hence, this revision petition in which the petitioner contends that the view taken by the authorities as well as the Tribunal is not correct in law.

2. Upon facts there is no doubt that charcoal and firewood supplied by the petitioner to the Government hospitals in Mangalore, were intended for being used and actually used for such purposes as boiling water, preparation of food or for laundry.

3. The exact wording of entry 29 of the Fifth Schedule on the interpretation of which the result of this case must be depend is :

'29. Firewood or charcoal when sold for domestic use.'

4. The petitioner will be entitled to the exemption if he proves that the charcoal and the firewood had been sold by him for domestic use. Although the departmental authorities as well as the Tribunal agree that the essential condition for exemption is the nature of the use, they say that the adjective 'domestic' selected for indicating the nature of the use necessarily imports the idea of a house or a home and therefore suggests that the use should be not merely for a particular purpose, but also be in or at a particular place, either a house or a home; although they state this idea in general terms, it appears to us that what they were actually leading to was that the exemption under the entry could be availed of only if charcoal of firewood is used in a house for household purposes.

5. The argument on behalf of the petitioner has been that the Tribunal as well as the departmental authorities by the interpretation suggested by them, are actually adding to the condition mentioned in the entry and not merely interpreting it.

6. The only question, therefore, is whether the word 'domestic' qualifying the word 'use' necessarily imports the idea of location or a place. We do not think so. Once it is conceded, as it has to be that the basis of the exemption is a particular nature of the use to which the firewood or charcoal is put or is intended to be put, the exact place where the same is used cannot make any difference to the essential nature of the use itself. For example, it is conceded that use of firewood or charcoal for cooking food at homes or inside houses is a domestic use. If the word household is also used, the idea of family life is also imported in it. If so much is to be added to the nature of the use, it would mean, the use of firewood or charcoal for cooking food would be a domestic use only if that use is made by a family inside the house belonging to them. That would mean, if poor people who have no house, cook food at road-sides or if persons though not so poor, who have huts for keeping their belongings are obliged to cook in the open, use of firewood by them for cooking food cannot be described as domestic use. If students belonging to different places and not related to each other in any way, but reading together in the same place, set up an establishment with a cook and do their own cooking, the use of firewood by them for the said purpose could not be described as domestic use. A qualification which leads to such results cannot, in our opinion, be accepted as correct either on the language employed in the entry or on logic.

7. That the essence of the matter is the nature of the use to which the article in question is put and not the nature of the premises where the same is used, was also the opinion of the House of Lords in the case, Metropolitan Water Board v. Avery ([1914] A.C. 118.), where they interpreted the expression 'domestic purposes' appearing in Metropolitan Water Board (Charges) Act, 1907. There was a definition of that term in the said Act, but it merely stated that it should be deemed to include certain purposes but shall not include certain other specified purposes. Hence the Court was called upon to interpret the expression 'domestic purposes' before applying the statute. While doing so, Lord Atkinson, one of the Law Lords who took part in the decision, expressed himself as follows :-

'According to the ordinary meaning of language, I take it that water supplied for domestic purposes would mean water supplied to satisfy or help to satisfy the needs, or perform or help in performing the services, which, according to the ordinary habits of civilised life, are commonly satisfied and performed in people's homes, as distinguished from those needs and services which are satisfied or performed outside those homes, and are not connected with, nor incident to, the occupation of them.

'It is plain from the provisions of the 7th and 8th sections of this statute that it is the character of the purpose for which the water is supplied, and not the character of the premises to which it is supplied, that is the crucial consideration in determining whether the water is supplied for domestic purposes or not. 'Again it is plain from these sections that it is not at all necessary that the persons for whose use the water is supplied should reside on the premises supplied. In each of the following cases, decided on this statute of 1907 as well as on other statutes whose provisions were somewhat similar, it was held that residence on the premises supplied was no test as to whether water was supplied for domestic purposes or not ...............'

8. Although while considering this question his Lordship refers to the sections of the statute, he was interpreting the expression 'domestic purpose' in its normal sense for the reasons already explained by us above, in reference to the nature of the definition of 'domestic purposes' contained in the relevant statute. These observations, therefore, are of general application and express, in our opinion, what should be the correct and natural meaning to be assigned to the expression 'domestic purposes' or 'domestic use'.

9. Some argument was attempted on the ground that the expression 'purposes' has a slightly different import from the expression 'use'. But, we are not impressed by this suggestion, because we are not interpreting a single word in the entry, but a logically complete set of words, namely, 'sold for domestic use', which clearly indicates that the purpose or object of the sale was that the firewood or charcoal sold will be put to domestic use, that is to say, the sale was for domestic purposes. Use is not an act of consuming the article. The purpose or object of the use is what is indicated by the word 'domestic', namely, the supplying of such services or comforts as, according to ordinary habits of civilised life, are commonly supplied in people's homes.

10. We are therefore of the opinion that the view taken by the Tribunal as well as the departmental authorities in this case is unduly restrictive of the nature of the exemption and not reasonably possible on the language employed in entry No. 29 of the Fifth Schedule to the Act.

11. The revision petition is allowed and the orders of the Tribunal as well as of the departmental authorities to the extent they tax the petitioner's turnover relating to charcoal and firewood are set aside. The tax collected in respect of said turnover shall be refunded.

12. No costs.

13. Petition allowed.


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