1. In these appeals we are called upon to interpret the true scope of sub-sections (2) and (3) of section 21 of the Mysore Sales Tax Act, 1957 (to be referred to as the 'Act' hereinafter).
2. The facts material for the purpose of deciding the points in controversy lie within a narrow compass. The assessee (common assessee in both the appeals) is a dealer in hardware and iron materials; for the periods from 1st October, 1957 to 31st March, 1958, and 1st April, 1958 to 31st March, 1959, the Commercial Tax Officer determined his turnover of manufactured goods at Rs. 23,625 and Rs. 53,375 respectively; out of theses, he excluded Rs. 13,000 and Rs. 21,000 respectively for the two periods mentioned above as being turnovers relating to sales of agricultural implements and thus exempted from taxation.
3. In the appeal before the Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, it was contended that the entire turnovers relating to manufactured goods were exempt from levy of sales tax as they relate to sale of agricultural implements. The Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes accepted that contention and allowed the exemption prayed for.
4. Sometime thereafter the Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, in exercise of his revisional power under section 21(2) of the Act, issued notice to the assessee calling upon him to show cause as to why he should not revise the orders made by the Commercial Tax Officer as well as the Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, as according to him (the Commissioner) the Commercial Tax Officer and the Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes erred in law in granting the exemption in question as according to the Commissioner only the sales of agricultural implements which are the products of cottage industries that are exempt from tax. In spite of the several opportunities given, the assessee did not adduce any evidence to show that the implements in question were the products of cottage industries. Hence the Commissioner revised the orders mentioned above and levied tax on the assessee on the turnovers mentioned above.
5. In this Court, the finding of the Commissioner that only sales of agricultural implements which are the products of cottage industries that are exempt from tax was not challenged. It was also not disputed that the assessee had failed to produce any evidence to show that the agricultural implements sold by him are the products of cottage industries.
6. Mr. K. Srinivasan, the learned counsel for the assessee at the hearing of these appeals, did not contest the legality of the Commissioner's order in so far as it relates to the order of the Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes. That means that the assessee can have no compliant in so far as the Commissioner revised the order of the Deputy Commissioner. Mr. Srinivasan confined his attack against the Commissioner's order to the extent he revised the order of the Commercial Tax Officer. According to Mr. Srinivasan, the Commissioner's power to revise the Commercial Tax Officer's order had been lost as the same had not been exercised within four years from the date of the Commercial Tax Officer's order. It may be noted that the Commercial Tax Officer assessed the assessee on 9th August, 1960. The Commissioner issued notice under section 21(2) of the Act on 3rd March, 1964, and the impugned order was made on 19th February, 1965. If it is the date of the order that is relevant under section 21(3) of the Act, then Mr. Srinivasan is right in his contention that the proceedings taken by the Commissioner is barred under section 21(3) of the Act. If, on the other hand, the relevant date is the initiation of the proceeding under section 21(2) of the Act, then the order made by the Commissioner is within time. Therefore, we have to decide as to which one of two dates is the relevant date.
7. In support of his contention that the Commissioner's power to revise the order of the Commercial Tax Officer is barred by time, Mr. Srinivasan relied on a decision of ours in Alimchand Thopandas v. Commissioner of Commercial Taxes (4 Law Reports 435). In that case, the proceedings under section 21(2) of the Act had been initiated more than four years after the order revised was made. Therefore, the question which has now arisen for decision did not arise for decision in that case. Hence the rule laid down in that case has no application to the facts of the present case.
8. For pronouncing on the contention by Mr. Srinivasan, we have to look to section 21(2) of the Act. That section says 'that the Commissioner suo motu may call for and examine the record of any order passed or proceeding recorded under the provisions of this Act by any officer subordinate to him for the purpose of satisfying himself as to the legality or propriety of such order, or as to the regularity of such proceeding, and may pass such order with respect thereto as he thinks fit.' Sub-section (3) of section 21 reads, 'in relation to an order of assessment passed under this Act, the power of the Deputy Commissioner under clause (i) of sub-section (1) and that of the Commissioner under clause (i) of sub-section (2) shall be exercisable only within a period of four years from the date of order, which was communicated to the assessee.' Hence we have to see, on what date the Commissioner exercised his powers under sub-section (2) of section 21. What then is the scope of the power of the Commissioner under section 21(2).
9. Is the exercise of that power merely means passing of an order which he thinks fit The power conferred on the Commissioner under section 21(2) as could be gathered from its language includes three different facets, viz., (1) calling for the records mentioned therein, (2) examination of those records, and (3) passing such orders, with respect thereto as the thinks fit. The Commissioner begins to exercise his power under section 21(2), as soon as he calls for the records in question and the exercise of that power comes to an end when he passes an order in respect thereto. All that section 21(3) says is that the power conferred under section 21(2) is exercisable within four years from the date of the order of assessment, that is proposed to be revised. As mentioned earlier, the exercise of the power under section 21(2) commences as soon as the records mentioned therein are called for. If that act is done within the period mentioned in section 21(3), then no question of limitation arises. Mr. Srinivasan is not right in his contention that the powers of the Commissioner to call for the records, to examine them and to pass such orders as he thinks fit are three independent powers and all those powers should be exercised within the time fixed in section 21(3). They are all facets of one single power, namely, the power to revise and that power is exercisable within the time mentioned in section 21(3).
10. We are also unable to agree with Mr. Srinivasan that the power to call for records under section 21(2) is not a part of the quasi-judicial power of the Commissioner to revise the orders of his sub-ordinates. The power to call for records is a part of the revisional power of the Commissioner.
11. The expression 'shall be exercisable' found in section 21(3) refers to the commencement of the exercise of the power referred to, and not the completion of the exercise of that power. Like all periods of limitation, section 21(3) also refers to initiation of the proceedings and not its completion.
12. For the reasons mentioned above, these appeals fail and they are dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 100, one set.
13. Appeals dismissed.