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Sudershan Trading Co. and anr. Vs. Commercial Tax Officer, Warangal and 2 ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petition Nos. 2354, 4970, 5717, 5718, 6433 of 1979 and 1324, 2316, 2328, 2329, 2851, 3200, 3727
Judge
Reported in[1981]48STC263(AP)
ActsAndhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act - Sections 5(2) and 11; Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Rules, 1957 - Rules 6-A, 6-A(1), 6-A(4), 15, 17, 21(2), 27(2), 45(3) and 46(3)
AppellantSudershan Trading Co. and anr.
RespondentCommercial Tax Officer, Warangal and 2 ors.
Appellant AdvocateP. Venkatarami Reddi, Adv. for ;A. Suryanarayana Murthy, ;S. Dasaratharama Reddi, ;T. Ramam and ;N. Madhusudana Raj, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateGovernment Pleader for Home
Excerpt:
sales tax - second sales - sections 5 (2) and 11 of andhra pradesh general sales tax act, rules 6-a, 6-a(1), 6-a(4), 15, 17, 21 (2), 27 (2), 45 (3) and 46 (3) of andhra pradesh general sales tax rules, 1957 - petitioners purchased jaggery from commission agents claimed sales tax exemption on ground of second sale - purchasers who claim exemption on ground of second sales liable to comply 6-a which prescribes declaration by assessee which is signed by registered dealer - whether exemptions can be refused to petitioners who filed original declarations signed by registered dealer for reason of such declarations being issued to them by commission agents - commission agents acting on behalf of petitioners - filing of declarations supplied to them by commission agents from registered dealer.....ramachandra raju, j. 1. the petitioners in each of the writ petitions seek an appropriate writ or order especially in the nature of mandamus restraining the respondents from making assessments or revisions fastening the tax liability on them in respect of second sales of tax-suffered jaggery for the relevant assessment years by declaring that the petitioners are under no legal obligation to furnish the originals of declarations in form i prescribed by rule 6-a of the a.p. general sales tax rules, 1957, in relation to the jaggery purchased by them through commission agents or in the alternative to declare that rule 6-a of the a.p. general sales tax rules in so far as it insists upon the production of original declarations in form i issued by selling dealers is ultra vires and.....
Judgment:

Ramachandra Raju, J.

1. The petitioners in each of the writ petitions seek an appropriate writ or order especially in the nature of mandamus restraining the respondents from making assessments or revisions fastening the tax liability on them in respect of second sales of tax-suffered jaggery for the relevant assessment years by declaring that the petitioners are under no legal obligation to furnish the originals of declarations in form I prescribed by rule 6-A of the A.P. General Sales Tax Rules, 1957, in relation to the jaggery purchased by them through commission agents or in the alternative to declare that rule 6-A of the A.P. General Sales Tax Rules in so far as it insists upon the production of original declarations in form I issued by selling dealers is ultra vires and unenforceable.

2. Jaggery is classified as goods in respect of which tax is leviable under section 5(2)(c) of the Act at 6 per cent, at every point of sale in the State provided that - (a) where jaggery is sold to a dealer by a person who is not a registered dealer otherwise than through an agent, the tax shall be levied at the point of purchase and not at the point of sale at the rate of six paise in the rupee; (b) where any purchase of jaggery by a dealer is taxed in accordance with clause (a), the sale of such jaggery effected by the said dealer shall not be taxed again; and (c) where a registered dealer has purchased jaggery from another registered dealer and furnishes to the prescribed authority in the prescribed manner a declaration in the prescribed form and containing such particulars as may be prescribed duly filled and signed by the registered dealer from whom he purchased such jaggery the sale of such jaggery effected by the first mentioned registered dealer shall not be liable to tax. Rule 6-A of the A.P. General Sales Tax Rules, 1957, provides that the declaration referred to in proviso (c) to the Fifth Schedule shall be inform I. Rule 6-A, sub-rules (4) to (10), read as follows :

'(4) Every dealer, who claims exemption from payment of tax on the sale of jaggery effected by him, by virtue of proviso (c) to the Fifth Schedule, shall obtain a declaration in duplicate duly filed in and signed by the registered dealer who sold such goods, containing particulars as in form I. The dealer claiming exemption shall file the original of such declaration before the assessing authority concerned along with the return prescribed under rule 15 or rule 17 :

Provided that the assessing authority may, on application of the assessee and if he is satisfied that the assessee was prevented by sufficient cause from furnishing such declaration within time, allow such declaration to be furnished within such further time as it thinks fit before the completion of the final assessment. (5) Every dealer in jaggery shall keep and maintain a register in form J showing a true and correct account of the declaration forms obtained for issue by him and shall produce the register and the used and unused declaration forms obtained for issue by him and shall produce the register and the used and unused declaration forms before any officer authorised under the Act for the purpose of assessment, appeal or revision or on demand at any time by any officer authorised to inspect the place of business or for the purpose of an investigation incidental or ancillary to the verification.

(6) Every dealer who receives such form under sub-rule (4) shall maintain a register in form K in respect of the forms received from the registered dealers.

(7) If any form of declaration is lost, destroyed or stolen, he shall report the same to the authority from whom he obtained the forms and shall make appropriate entries in the remarks column of the register referred to in sub-rule (5).

(8) If a declaration form either blank or duly completed is lost while in the custody of the dealer or while in transit and has not reached the purchasing dealer, he shall furnish security equivalent to the tax due by way of an indemnity bond for each declaration form so lost to the authority from whom the forms were obtained.

(9) If a declaration duly filled and signed is lost while in the custody of the selling registered dealer he shall furnish security equivalent to the tax due by way of an indemnity bond for each such declaration, to the authority before whom he is required to file a return of his turnover under rule 15 or rule 17, as the case may be.

(10) If a declaration duly filled and signed is lost in transit or from the custody of the dealer he shall obtain a duplicate of the form with the following endorsement made in RED INK across the page in all the three parts and duly signed by the selling registered dealer. Until such a duplicate form is obtained, the sale in question shall not be eligible for exemption from tax :-

'I, ............................, hereby affirm that this is a duplicate of the declaration form No. ..................... signed on .................. and issued to ......... who is paying tax on the rolls of the ............... (assessing authority). Signature of the selling registered dealer.' '

3. Form I prescribed under rule 6-A(1) requires the declaration to contain the owing particulars :

'FORM I [See rule 6-A(1)] Form of declaration for jaggery dealers. Book No. Sl. No. 1. Name and address of the office of the issue. 2. Name and address of the dealer issuing the declaration. 3. Registration No. of the declarant and the name and address of the assessing authority. 4. Name and address of the purchasing dealer. 5. Registration No. of the purchasing dealer and the name and address of the assessing authority. 6. Quantity and value of the goods under sale. 7. Bill No. and date .......................... I hereby declare that the tax on the turnover covered by the sale bill No. ............... noted in Col. (7) of this declaration has been paid/or is liable to be paid by me/or has been exempted/or is eligible to be exempted from tax at my hand by virtue of the declaration in form issued to me by .................. R.C. No. ................... a registered dealer on rolls of .................... Assistant Commercial Tax Officer/Deputy Commercial Tax Officer/Commercial Tax Officer from whom jaggery is purchased by me. Signature of the purchasing dealer. Signature of the declarant.'

(In triplicate)

4. Taking the facts in W.P. No. 2851 of 1980 as typical of this batch of writ petitions, all the writ petitioners are registered dealers in jaggery among other goods. Petitioners 1 to 7 are registered as dealers on the file of the Commercial Tax Officer, Khammam, while petitioners 8 to 11 are registered as dealers on the file of the Deputy Commercial Tax Officer, Khammam. The petitioners buy jaggery at times through their commission agents mostly from registered dealers of Kamareddy and Anakapalli. The selling dealers collect sales tax at 6 per cent on the sales made to the agents but in turn pass on the same to the petitioners in the pattis issued by them under section 11 of the Act. The agents also obtain the declaration in form I from the selling dealers in proof of the fact that tax has been paid or is payable by the sellers. The agents purchase jaggery in lots. Such purchases are made by them not only on behalf of various principals but also on their own account and the agents cannot part with the originals given to them in form I by the selling dealers. It is not possible for such agents to issue the declaration in the original form I to any of the principals. The agents have given to the petitioners certificates issued by their assessing authority to the effect that the jaggery purchased by them on behalf of the petitioners has suffered tax. They have also issued in turn the particulars in form I to the effect that the tax has been paid on the goods showing therein the particulars about the various selling dealers from whom the jaggery has been purchased. For the assessment years 1976-77 and 1977-78, the petitioners have produced before the assessing authorities the certificates in form I issued in their favour by their agents and claimed exemption on their sales of jaggery on the ground that they are second sales. The assessing authorities accepted the same and granted exemption and the petitioners believe that all the assessing authorities all over the State have been granting similar exemptions. In the circles relating to the jurisdiction of the Deputy Commissioner, Warangal, however, such exemption was being disallowed on the ground that forms I produced by the petitioners are not in accordance with rule 6-A. For the assessment year 1978-79, the petitioners have received show cause notices from the respondents proposing to disallow exemption on the second sales of jaggery even though covered by the declarations. The 1st petitioner has received the show cause notice dated 9th June, 1980, proposing to disallow exemption claimed by him.

5. In W.P. No. 2354 of 1979, the petitioners are registered dealers in jaggery at Warangal. They purchase jaggery through their commission agents in regular markets at Kamareddy, Nizamabad and Jogipet. They were granted exemption by the appellate authority for the assessment year 1976-77. But the Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, Warangal, the 2nd respondent, gave a notice dated 1st March, 1979, to show cause why the assessment order made for that year should not be revised and the exemption granted to the petitioners be disallowed. He expressed himself in that show cause notice :

'It is incumbent on the assessee claiming the benefit of exemption from tax to file originals of declarations obtained from the selling registered dealers in the State. According to the law, as it now stands, there is no legal sanction to order exemption from tax on sales of jaggery based upon other indirect evidence in support of the declaration in form I to be obtained from the selling registered dealers.'

6. In W.P. No. 4970 of 1979, the petitioners are registered dealers in jaggery at Warangal. The exemption claimed by them for the year 1977-78 was disallowed by the assessing authority by his order dated 21st March, 1979, on the ground that the declaration filed was not in order and, therefore, the exemption was disallowed. The petitioners in W.P. No. 5717 of 1979 are registered dealers in jaggery at Warangal. For the assessment year 1976-77, the assessing authority granted exemption by its order dated 7th June, 1977. The succeeding officer, however, issued a show cause notice dated 2nd August, 1979, proposing to revise the assessment and levy tax on purchases made through local agents at Kamareddy, Nizamabad and Anakapalli. The petitioners in W.P. No. 5718 of 1979 are registered dealers in jaggery at Warangal. Their assessment for the year 1976-77 was made on 10th September, 1977, granting exemption to sales of jaggery purchased by them through the local commission agents. The succeeding officer, however, issued a show cause notice dated 2nd August, 1979, proceeding to revise the assessment made for that year by withdrawing the exemption earlier granted. The petitioners in W.P. No. 6433 of 1979 are dealers in jaggery at Janagaon. For the year 1976-77, the exemption claimed by them was disallowed both by the assessing authority and to some extent by the appellate authority. The petitioners in W.P. No. 1324 of 1980 are various registered dealers in jaggery at Jagtiyal. While making the assessment for the assessment year 1975-76 onwards, the exemption which was earlier granted was sought to be reopened by the commercial tax authorities by the notice given to the parties on 6th August, 1976, in respect of the assessment year 1975-76 and by notice dated 3rd March, 1980, in respect of the assessment year 1977-78. In W.P. No. 2316 of 1980, the petitioners are registered dealers in jaggery at Warangal. For the assessment year 1978-79, the exemption claimed by them was disallowed on the ground that the petitioners failed to produce the declaration forms in form I as required under rule 6-A of the A.P. General Sales Tax Rules. In W.P. No. 2328 of 1980, the petitioners are registered dealers in jaggery at Warangal. For the assessment year 1978-79, the exemption claimed by them was disallowed on the ground that the declaration forms in form I as required under rule 6-A of the Rules were not produced In W.P. No. 2329 of 1980, the petitioners are registered dealers in jaggery at Warangal. The exemption claimed by them for the assessment year 1977-78 was disallowed as the assessing authority did not accept the declarations obtained by the petitioners from the commission agents. In W.P. No. 3200 of 1980, the petitioners are registered dealers in jaggery carrying on their business at Madhira. The exemption claimed by them for the assessment year 1978-79 was disallowed as the declarations issued by the buying agents were not sufficient despite the fact that the petitioners produced certificates from the Commercial Tax Officers, Kamareddy and Nizamabad, that the tax in respect of jaggery in question has been paid by the buying agents. The petitioners in W.P. No. 3727 of 1980 are all dealers of Janagaon in jaggery. Petitioners 2 and 4 were assessed to tax for the year 1976-77. Petitioners 1 and 3 requested the assessing authority to postpone the assessment proceedings pending disposal of their writ petition. But their request was negatived by the Deputy Commissioner. The petitioners in W.P. No. 5043 of 1980 are registered dealers in jaggery at Mahabubabad. Their claim for exemption for the assessment year 1979-80 was negatived on the ground that the declarations issued by the selling commission agents are either defective or that the declarations are not in accordance with the provisions of the A.P. General Sales Tax Rules. The petitioner in W.P. No. 5606 of 1980 is a registered dealer in jaggery at Maheswaram, whose claim for exemption for the assessment year 1978-79 was disallowed on the ground that the declaration obtained from the purchasing commission agent is not admissible under the provisions of the A.P. General Sales Tax Rules. The petitioner in W.P. No. 5609 of 1980 is a registered dealer of Narsampet in jaggery, whose claim for exemption for the assessment years 1976-77 to 1979-80 was disallowed on the ground that the originals of declarations in form I obtained from the purchasing commission agents are not admissible. The petitioners in W.P. No. 6645 of 1980 are registered dealers of Warangal or Kesamudram in jaggery, whose claim for exemption for the assessment years 1978-79 and 1979-80 was disallowed on the ground that the declarations obtained by them from the commission agents are not in conformity with clause (c) of the Fifth Schedule to the A.P. General Sales Tax Act.

7. Mr. Dasaratharama Reddi, the learned counsel appearing for some of the petitioners, has made the following submissions. Rule 6-A requiring the filing of the original declaration is beyond the rule-making power of the State as proviso (c) to item 1 of the Fifth Schedule does not contemplate any such requirement. It is enough if authenticated forms of copies are filed. Even otherwise rule 6-A is directory and not mandatory and it is enough if there is substantial compliance of the same. If the rule is interpreted otherwise, the dealers who buy jaggery through the agents are put to a disadvantageous position in not being able to claim exemption on the technical ground that the copy of the declaration furnished by the agent is not strictly in accordance with rule 6-A while dealers who purchase directly from the registered dealers can easily comply with the rule and obtain exemption. This amounts to hostile discrimination against persons like the petitioners who choose to purchase through agents and offends articles 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India. If rule 6-A is read along with sub-rules (7) and (10) thereof, it will be clear that the requirement of filing original declaration is not absolute and that in some cases, a duplicate can also be received.

8. We find no substance in the submission made that rule 6-A is beyond the rule-making power of the State and is, therefore, bad. The amending Act No. 5 of 1976 was passed to enable the Government to levy sales tax on jaggery sales. While, therefore, arming themselves with the power to levy sales tax at every point of sale in the State, it was provided in the amending Act that if the jaggery has once suffered tax, the subsequent dealers can claim exemption on producing the declaration in the prescribed form containing such particulars as are prescribed dully filled in and signed from the registered dealer from whom he purchased such jaggery. Rule 6-A provided for the formalities to be complied with by the registered dealer claiming exemption. If rule 6-A, sub-rule (4), provided for the production of the declaration in original in form I by the dealer claiming exemption, we do not see how it is beyond the scope of proviso (c) to item 1 of the Fifth Schedule. We are alike unimpressed with the submission that rule 6-A amounts to any hostile discrimination against persons like the petitioners who choose to purchase through agents or that the said rule offends articles 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India. The dealers are not classified in any manner by rule 6-A. It only enabled a dealer to claim exemption provided he complied with the formalities prescribed therein. We do not find any unreasonableness or arbitrariness or discrimination in the said rule. The right to carry on trade is not in any manner interfered with and, being so, there is no contravention of article 19 of the Constitution of India. We have, therefore, no hesitation in rejecting these two submissions made by Mr. Dasaratharama Reddi. We, however, find substance in the last submission made by Mr. Dasaratharama Reddi that rule 6-A should be construed, in the circumstances, as directory and not mandatory and it is enough if there is substantial compliance with the said rule and if copies of declarations in form I given by the registered selling dealers are produced by the petitioners claiming exemption.

9. It is submitted that the exemption in this case is claimed in respect of goods purchased by the various petitioners through commission agents in whose favour the necessary declaration in form I was given by the registered selling dealers and that the commission agents who purchase blocks of jaggery in market yards, also purchase some jaggery on their own account and in the nature of things, it is not possible for the commission agent to obtain individual declarations from the selling registered dealers in favour of each of the principals who were purchasing jaggery through the same commission agent. It is further submitted that the commission agent would retain the original declaration given by the selling registered dealer and the petitioners have all filed copies of the said original declaration in support of their claim for exemption and that it is for the assessing authorities to satisfy themselves whether the goods covered by the various pattis issued by the selling agents in favour of the petitioners have already suffered sales tax or not. Elaborating this submission, it is stated that the petitioners can purchase jaggery either by themselves or through commission agents and if the tax could not be levied on the commission agent even treating him as a registered dealer, such tax cannot be levied against the petitioners who, in their turn, have purchased the jaggery through such commission agents and the petitioners cannot be in a worse position than the commission agents themselves. We find considerable force in the submissions. A proper reading of proviso (c) under item 1 of the Fifth Schedule makes it clear that the main object is to levy the tax at the point of purchase and though it is provided that such levy can be made at every point of sale in the State, an exemption from a second levy on second and subsequent sales is permitted if it is established that the jaggery in question has already suffered tax provided certain formalities prescribed under the Act and the Rules have been complied with.

10. Rule 6-A, sub-rule (4), of the A.P. General Sales Tax Rules enables the dealer claiming exemption to do so if he filed the original declaration duly filled in and signed by the selling registered dealer. There is no dispute that the declarations have been duly filled in and signed by the selling registered dealer. The petitioners, in claiming exemption, could file copies of such declaration in form I furnished to them by the commission agents through whom they have made the purchases. True, sub-rule (4) contemplates the filing of the original declaration in support of the claim for exemption, but the question is whether in respect of purchases made through commission agents, the exemption can be refused because the original declaration containing particulars as in form I could not be led for the reasons given by the individual petitioners. We feel that in such circumstances, the filing of a copy of the declaration given by the selling registered dealer is substantial compliance of the rule and should be accepted as fulfilling the requirements of the rule. As the commission agent purchases jaggery on behalf of several principals, he cannot be expected to part with the original declaration in favour of any one of them. It is submitted by the learned Government Pleader that the commission agent could have obtained individual declarations in form I from the selling registered dealer in the names of each of the principals for whom the commission agent purchased jaggery. The jaggery will be sold in auctions and the requirements of the individual principals will have to be met by the commission agents from out of such purchases of lots made by them. The commission agent cannot be expected, in the circumstances, to obtain individual declarations in form I in favour of his principals from the selling registered dealers. It is for the assessing authority to be satisfied that in fact the copies filed before it by the assessees are true copies of the original declaration given by the selling registered dealer and if the assessing authority has any doubts about such declaration, it should make such enquiry as is necessary to have that doubt cleared either by corresponding with the assessing authority concerned with the selling registered dealer or the commission agent through whom the petitioners have purchased the jaggery in question and satisfy itself that the disputed turnover has already suffered sales tax.

11. In State of Orissa v. M.A. Tulloch and Co. Ltd. : [1964]7SCR816 , the Supreme Court while considering an analogous rule 21(2) of the Orissa Sales Tax Rules, 1947, have observed :

'The production of declaration under rule 27(2) is not always obligatory on the part of a selling dealer when claiming the exemption. It is open to him to claim exemption by adducing other evidence so as to bring the transaction within the scope of section 5(2)(a)(ii) of the Act .................................. In our opinion, rule 27(2) must be reconciled with the section and the rule can be reconciled by treating it as directory. But the rule must be substantially complied with in every case. It is for the Sales Tax Officer to be satisfied that, in fact, the certificate of registration of the buying dealer contains the requisite statement, and if he has any doubts about it, the selling dealer must satisfy his doubts. But if he is satisfied from other facts on the record, it is not necessary that the selling dealer should produce a declaration in the form required in rule 27(2), before being entitled to a deduction.'

12. In Commissioner of Sales Tax, Maharashtra State v. Hindustan Silk Mills ([1972] 29 S.T.C. 99.), the question arose whether the assessee could rely on the entries made by him in an exercise-book in support of the claim for exemption when the rules provide form J as the relevant form. Negativing the claim made by the department that exemption was wrongly allowed by the assessing authority, the Bombay High Court held :

'It is undisputed that every bit of the information which form J requires was furnished by the respondents to the Sales Tax Officer. The grievance of the department is that though all the information, which the dealer should have supplied, was in fact supplied, the information was written out in an exercise book and, therefore, could not be said to have been supplied in the prescribed form. This contention, in our opinion, is wholly devoid of substance. The genuineness of the exercise-book not having been challenged or doubted, it makes no difference whether the information was supplied separately in regard to every sale or whether it was supplied in a consolidated form. It must be stated that the forms are not supplied by the Government but are prepared procured by the dealers independently. Looking at the substance of the matter, respondents must be held to have complied with the legal requirement.'

13. In Sri Lakshminarayna General Traders v. Commercial Tax Officer, Tenali ([1975] 36 S.T.C. 402.), Sri Kondaiah, J. (as he then was), was dealing with the question as to how the assessee-dealer could prove that the transactions are second sales of jaggery and were not, therefore, liable to tax. It was observed :

'Whether a particular disputed transaction of sale of jaggery within the State is the first or second sale is one of fact depending upon the facts and circumstances of each case. One of the modes of proving the disputed sales to be second or third sales is by the production of cash bills or memoranda in respect of the first sale of jaggery within the State. A certificate to the effect that the same jaggery was already sold by the agriculturist to a dealer and tax, if payable, was paid either by the grower or by the first seller may be produced. The proof of the fact that the sale in question is a second sale may be established by adducing oral or documentary evidence.'

14. Adverting to the compliance with rule 45(3)(b), the learned Judge observed :

'On a close and careful consideration of this rule and the relevant provisions of the Act, I am satisfied that the mere failure or omission on the part of the dealer to produce the bill or cash memorandum accompanied with the certificate as required by rule 46(3)(b) would not ipso facto entitle the assessing authority to include such turnover in the assessment and levy tax thereon without affording fair and reasonable opportunity to the assessee-dealer to prove his case by adducing any other evidence - oral or documentary. There may be cases of sale of jaggery by a ryot or agriculturist whose turnover is less than Rs. 10,000 in a year and who did not maintain any account. Such ryot or agriculturist might not have issued a bill or cash memorandum or the certificate as required by rule 46(3)(b) evidencing the first sale of the jaggery in question. In such cases, it is incumbent on the assessing authority to afford a reasonable opportunity to the dealer to establish his case by adducing any other evidence. The assessing authority may examine the ryots from whom the jaggery was purchased by the dealer if their correct addresses or particulars are furnished, as the assessing authority has got ample power and jurisdiction to summon for them and examine them during the enquiry. The dealer has also in his turn a duty to co-operate with the assessing authority in furnishing the particulars pertaining to the ryots from whom he has purchased the jaggery in the first instance to enable the assessing authority to trace such persons and levy tax upon them. In the circumstances, I have no hesitation to hold that the stand taken by the assessing authority as per the impugned notices cannot be sustained.'

15. Sub-rules (7) to (10) of rule 6-A provide for cases where the form of declaration is lost, destroyed or stolen and such provisions give sufficient indication that the filing of the original is not a sine qua non for claiming exemption and that if the assessee could establish that the jaggery has already suffered tax, in such cases a duplicate form could be obtained from the selling registered dealer. We do not find why in respect of purchases made through commission agents in whose names alone the selling registered dealer gave the necessary declaration in form I, a copy of it could not be relied upon by the petitioners in these cases to establish that the jaggery in dispute has already suffered tax. It is submitted by the learned Government Pleader that the assessment proceedings would be unduly delayed if the assessing authorities are to accept such copies and have to make any enquiry either departmentally or otherwise. We see no substance in this submission. The petitioners cannot be made to suffer because the assessing authorities would require some more time to make the necessary enquiry and finalise the assessment proceedings. We have, therefore, no hesitation in declaring that production of a copy of the declaration in form I is sufficient compliance with rule 6-A, sub-rule (4), and that in such cases, it is open to the assessing authorities to act upon the said copy or to make further enquiries and satisfy themselves that the goods covered by the declaration have already suffered tax.

16. The learned Government Pleader has submitted that the petitioners have a right of appeal against the assessment orders and as the Act provides an alternate remedy, this Court ought not to exercise its jurisdiction under article 226 of the Constitution of India. We have earlier observed that while some of the assessing authorities were prepared to accept the copies as sufficient proof for granting exemption, the Deputy Commissioner has expressed himself that the assessing authorities should not accept such copies as proper compliance with rule 6-A, sub-rule (4). The assessing authorities were feeling bound by the decision of the Deputy Commissioner and no useful purpose would be served if the petitioners pursued the remedy available to them by way of appeal. We are, therefore, inclined to hold that these are proper cases where we ought to exercise our powers under article 226 of the Constitution of India and grant the necessary relief to the petitioners.

17. The learned Government Pleader has relied upon a judgment of a Bench of this Court in Soma Chandraiah and Sons v. State of A.P. (T.R.C. No. 22 of 1977 decided on 1 st November, 1977 (Andhra Pradesh High Court). In that case, the declaration as required under rule 6-A and the Fifth Schedule in support of they claim for exemption was not filed before the assessing authority, but the declaration forms issued by the purchasing commission agents of jaggery were filed during the course of appeal. This Court refused exemption by observing :

'Rule 6-A of the A.P. General Sales Tax Rules makes it incumbent upon the dealer who claims exemption relying upon proviso (c) to the Fifth Schedule, to file the declaration before the assessing authority along with the return prescribed under rule 15 or rule 17. The assessing authority is also empowered, on an application made by an assessee, if 'for any reason he was prevented by sufficient cause from furnishing such declaration in time, to grant such further time as the assessing authority may think fit before the completion of the final assessment .........' The assessee in this case has not filed the C form claiming exemption along with the monthly return filed by him under rule 17; nor had he asked the assessing authority for extension of time on the ground that he was prevented from furnishing such declarations within time, by a sufficient cause. It is thus manifest that the assessee had not complied with the statutory requirements of rule 6-A read with proviso (c) to the Fifth Schedule. The fact that the assessee filed C forms subsequently before the Assistant Commissioner, will not entitle it to the exemption provided under proviso (c) to the Fifth Schedule and rule 6-A.'

18. We fail to see how the said decision supports the department. There is no dispute in this batch of cases that the required declarations have been filed before the assessing authorities themselves and these are not cases where the petitioners have tried to file for the first time copies of the declarations in the course of any appeals before the Assistant Commissioner of Sales Tax.

19. In the result, the writ petitions are allowed in part, declaring that there is substantial compliance with rule 6-A, sub-rule (4), if instead of filing the declaration in original in form I signed by the selling registered dealer, the petitioners have filed copies of such declarations supplied to them by the commission agents who purchase goods on their behalf from the selling registered dealers and the assessing authorities are directed to act on such copies in the light of the observations made in this judgment and dispose of the objections raised by the petitioners and complete the assessments pending, if any, for the relevant years. In cases where assessments have already been made, those assessments are set aside so far as the disputed turnovers are concerned and those assessing authorities will reassess the dealers in the light of the objections filed by them and in the light of the observations made in this judgment. The writ petitions, in other respects, are dismissed. The parties, in the circumstances, are directed to bear their respective costs. Government Pleader's fee Rs. 50 in each case.

20. Petitions partly allowed.


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