Govinda Bhat, C.J. - These appeals are directed against the order in W.P. No. 1514 of 1974 and connected matters made by Venkataramiah, J., dismissed 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, 1956, hereinafter called the Central Act, the right of 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 not in dispute and they lie within a narrow compass. The appellants buy cardamoms from registered dealers and also from Commission Agents operating in the Agricultural Produce Marketing Yard at Sakleshpur. For the period from 1-4-1972 to 31-3-1973, the appellants filed their taxable turnover. It 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 Commissioner 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. 846 of 1974, M/s. Sha Pannalal Premraj and Co., filed a return in 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, nonliability to tax was claimed. They did not contended before the Assessing Authority that the purchases in the State. The commercial Tax Officer allowed the claim of the appellants in regard to the purchases made from registered dealers in the State and levied tax under Section 5(4) of the Act at 3% 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. 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 31-3-1973. 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 216 (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 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 Commercial Tax Officer, Hassan (1). Aggrieved by the said order, the writ petitioners have preferred the above appeals.
5. Before us, Sri K. Srinivasan, learned Counsel for the appellants, did not press the grounds that sub-section id void being repugnant to Article 286 (3) of the Constitution read with Section 15 (a) of the Central Act.
6. The Arguments of the learned counsel was that Article 286(3) of the Constitution imposes restriction on the powers of the States to levy tax on the sale or purchase of goods declared by the Parliament by law to be 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 good 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 cases 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 possibility of the State levying tax on declared goods at more than one stage and therefore, the said provisions 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 assessments 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 Section 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 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 un-necessary 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 the 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 all impugned assessment orders, as the assessments have been made on their own admission that they are first purchasers in the State. It is un-necessary 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 had 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 vs. Commissioner of Income Tax, Delhi and Rajasthan. (2) 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 the 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. Advocates fee Rs. 100/- in each appeal.