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Andhra Steel Corporation Ltd. Vs. Commercial Tax Officer, Company Circle, Visakhapatnam - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petition No. 6382 of 1979
Judge
Reported in[1988]68STC126(AP)
ActsAndhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act - Sections 14(4); Central Sales Tax Act
AppellantAndhra Steel Corporation Ltd.
RespondentCommercial Tax Officer, Company Circle, Visakhapatnam
Appellant AdvocateT. Anantha Babu, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateThe Government Pleader for Commercial Taxes
Excerpt:
sales tax - reassessment - section 14 (4) (cc) of andhra pradesh general sales tax act, 1957 - show cause notice issued for reassessment challenged on ground that such reassessment can be made only on proof of escape of turnover from taxation - escape of turnover can be proved only on inquiry - notice issued as part of such inquiry valid - no precondition to be satisfied for exercise of power under section 14 (4) (cc). - - general sales tax act as well as the central sales tax act should be regarded as belonging to one and the same taxable commodity, namely, iron and steel. clearly, the above order of the government is intended to give relief to the dealers from the declaration of law made by the supreme court provided the conditions mentioned in the above g. the high court clearly.....p.a. choudary, j. 1. the petitioner is a dealer within the meaning of the andhra pradesh general sales tax act. it manufactures iron and steel products and sells the same. iron and steel is a declared goods under the central sales tax act. following the central sales tax act, entry 2 of the third schedule to the above a.p. general sales tax act declared iron and steel and several other iron products as liable to suffer sales tax only at the point of their first sale in the state of andhra pradesh. 2. for the assessment year 1971-72, the petitioner returned a gross turnover of rs. 1,42,76,227.22. but the petitioner claimed various exemptions as applicable to the aforesaid gross turnover of its sales. in this writ petition, our concern is only with two items of such turnover which relates.....
Judgment:

P.A. Choudary, J.

1. The petitioner is a dealer within the meaning of the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act. It manufactures iron and steel products and sells the same. Iron and steel is a declared goods under the Central Sales Tax Act. Following the Central Sales Tax Act, entry 2 of the Third Schedule to the above A.P. General Sales Tax Act declared iron and steel and several other iron products as liable to suffer sales tax only at the point of their first sale in the State of Andhra Pradesh.

2. For the assessment year 1971-72, the petitioner returned a gross turnover of Rs. 1,42,76,227.22. But the petitioner claimed various exemptions as applicable to the aforesaid gross turnover of its sales. In this writ petition, our concern is only with two items of such turnover which relates to sale of iron products. The first item of sale on which the petitioner had claimed exemption related to his sales of iron and steel products obtained out of iron scrap the sale value of which was put by the petitioner at Rs. 82,50,000. The second item related to the sale of iron and steel products obtained out of billets the sale value of which was put by the petitioner at Rs. 61,74,781.39. The Deputy Commercial Tax Officer, Visakhapatnam, who was the assessing authority, by his order dated 9th November, 1974, had allowed the claims of the petitioner to an extent of Rs. 53,24,000 with respect to the abovementioned first item of sales. Those iron products were claimed by the petitioner to have been made out of iron that had already suffered sales tax in the State. According to the legal view then prevalent, the sixteen heads of iron and steel products enumerated in the above entry 2 to the A.P. General Sales Tax Act as well as the Central Sales Tax Act should be regarded as belonging to one and the same taxable commodity, namely, iron and steel. On that basis, it was thought that the enumerated items found mentioned in entry 2 of the Third Schedule to the State Act should not be subject to any further sales tax, provided the iron out of which those products were made had already suffered sales tax in the State. It was on that basis the petitioner was granted exemption to an extent of Rs. 53,24,000. However, the claim for exemption made by the petitioner with respect to sales of iron and steel products made out of billets were rejected by the assessing authority for the following reasons :

(a) This claim for exemption by the petitioner was not originally made and that claim was made by the petitioner only for the first time while furnishing a reply to the show cause notice issued by the assessing authority.

(b) The petitioner had not adduced any proof to the effect that the iron and steel out of which the iron products were made, was tax-paid.

(c) There was no proof to show that the stock purchased for Rs. 61,74,781.39 was sold in this State only.

3. Having been aggrieved by the above order of the assessing authority, the petitioner appealed to the Assistant Commissioner, Kakinada. The subject-matter of the petitioner's appeal comprised several items. But, we are here concerned only with the above sales of iron and steel products made out of the billets. The Assistant Commissioner had, by his order dated 22nd February, 1975, rejected the petitioner's appeal.

4. The petitioner made a further appeal to the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal, Hyderabad, in Tribunal Appeal No. 344 of 1975 complaining against the above orders of the Assistant Commissioner, Kakinada, refusing to grant the petitioner exemption on the abovementioned turnover of Rs. 61,74,781.39. By the time the Appellate Tribunal had heard the petitioner's appeal, the Supreme Court in State of Tamil Nadu v. Pyare Lal Malhotra [1976] 37 STC 319 declared that the words occurring in the Central Sales Tax Act relating to the iron and steel products as referring to different iron and steel products each of which is liable to be treated as a separate taxable commodity. The Supreme Court ruled that the various enumerated iron products are several separate taxable commodities and are not merely illustrations of the meaning of the word 'iron and steel' with which that entry opens. The effect of this judgment of the Supreme Court is to make the various enumerated iron products separate and independent taxable commodities each liable to suffer a single tax.

5. Following the above judgment of the Supreme Court, the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal dismissed the petitioner's Tribunal Appeal No. 344 of 1975. That order was passed by the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal on 27th July, 1976. Against these orders of the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal, the petitioner filed T.R.C. No. 67 of 1977 to this Court which was disposed of by this Court by its order dated 25th January, 1977. By that time, the Government of Andhra Pradesh had issued G.O.Ms. No. 1050 dated 20th September, 1976 exempting sales of enumerated iron and steel products from liability to pay sales tax, provided the sales of those iron products were effected during the period of 1st April, 1970 and 31st March, 1976 and those iron products were made out of tax suffered iron and steel. Clearly, the above Order of the Government is intended to give relief to the dealers from the declaration of law made by the Supreme Court provided the conditions mentioned in the above G.O. were complied with. As the question whether the G.O. was complied with by the petitioner or not, required investigation into the facts, the High Court directed the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal to dispose of the petitioner's tax appeal according to law. The High court clearly meant to direct the Tribunal to apply the aforementioned G.O. to the facts of the petitioner's case. After the matter reached back, the Sales Tax appellate Tribunal in its turn had remanded the matter to the assessing authority by its order dated 14th July, 1978 for fresh disposal. After the remand the Commercial Tax Officer, Visakhapatnam, by his order dated 30th September, 1978, granted the petitioner exemption with respect to the abovementioned turnover of Rs. 61,74,781.39.

6. After all this, the petitioner had received on 11th July, 1979, a show cause notice dated 10th July, 1979 from the Commercial Tax Officer, Company Circle, Visakhapatnam, proposing to withdraw the exemption of Rs. 53,24,000 and Rs. 61,74,781.39. It is against that show cause notice the present writ petition has been filed by the petitioner.

7. In this writ petition, the petitioner seeks the issuance of the writ prohibiting the Commercial Tax Officer, Company Circle, Visakhapatnam, to desist from taking any proceedings in furtherance of his notice dated 10th July, 1979.

8. It may be mentioned that no writ of prohibition can be issued from this Court unless it is shown that the Commercial Tax Officer is acting, in issuing the above notice, without jurisdiction. It is argued by the learned counsel for the petitioner that the impugned show cause notice is without jurisdiction inasmuch as its proposal to withdraw the exemption already granted in relation to Rs. 53,24,000 was barred by limitation of four years prescribed by section 14, sub-section (4) read with sub-section (4-A) of the Sales Tax Act. The learned counsel said that the assessing authority cannot deprive the petitioner of the benefit of exemption already granted to it. He argued that only a revisional authority can, if at all, exercise such powers under section 20 of the Act and not the assessing authority. the learned counsel argued that assuming that the reopening of the assessment by the Commercial Tax Officer falls under sub-section (4) of section 14 of the A.P. General Sales Tax Act, the power under that sub-section (4) cannot be invoked in this case, because there was no turnover which can be said to have escaped assessment to tax or which can be said to have been under-assessed or had been wrongly granted exemption. The learned counsel said that the proposed reassessment cannot be justified under sub-clause (cc) of sub-section (4) of section 14 of the A.P. General Sales Tax Act, because the pre-conditions that have been mentioned in sub-section (4) for the application of sub-clause (cc) are not present in this case. He argued that under section 14, sub-section (4) of the Act, the assessing authority can assess the correct amount of tax payable only in a case where the turnover of the dealer escaped assessment or any deduction or exemption had been wrongly allowed. On that basis, he contended that it cannot be said in this case that the turnover had escaped assessment or any exemption had been wrongly allowed to the petitioner. The learned counsel argued that the impugned notice was issued merely because of a change in the opinion of the assessing authority. He also argued that the notice was issued proposing withdrawal of exemption merely because the petitioner failed to maintain its accounts as required by rule 45, clause (7) of the A.P. General Sales Tax Rules.

9. Now the question is whether the Commercial Tax Officer had issued the impugned notice calling for objections of the petitioner without jurisdiction. It must be noted at the outset that what the Commercial Tax Officer proposed to do is only to hold an enquiry into the question whether the earlier exemptions which had been granted to the petitioner were legally granted or not or whether the petitioner's turnover had escaped assessment It must be admitted that according to the judgment of the Supreme Court in Pyare Lal's case [1976] 37 STC 319, the petitioner had been granted exemption wrongly within the meaning of section 14, sub-section (4), sub-clause (cc) of the A.P. General Sales Tax Act. It is only basing on G.O.Ms. No. 1050, the petitioner can claim exemption. Application of G.O.Ms. No. 1050 must be established by the petitioner by showing that the goods which are sold by him were made out of the iron and steel materials which had already suffered tax and that the so-called second sales were effected within the State. The show cause notice proceeds on the basis that the exemption granted to the petitioner either with respect to his first item or the second item mentioned above was not based upon any such proof of the fact offered by the petitioner. Now in section 14, sub-section (4), sub-clause (cc) of the Sales Tax Act gives ample power to reopen such assessments which had wrongly allowed exemptions to the assessees. Section 14, sub-section (4) does not make the holding of an enquiry into the question whether any turnover had escaped assessment or any exemption had been wrongly allowed dependent upon the authority showing to this Court that any part of the turnover had escaped the assessment to tax or any exemption has been granted wrongly. Those are the questions, the answers to which can only be found out through a regular process of enquiry which the assessing authority proposes to hold. It would be arguing in a circle to say that unless the assessing authority first shows that a part of turnover had already escaped assessment to tax, he cannot exercise his powers under sub-section (4) of section 14 of the A.P. General Sales Tax Act. We are, therefore, of the opinion that the assessing authority proposing to hold such an enquiry is not bound to show at this stage that the petitioner's turnover had escaped assessment or had been granted exemption wrongly. In any case, in this case, it is amply clear that the petitioner's turnover had escaped assessment and it had been allowed exemption wrongly. For the above reasons, the petitioner's argument that the pre-conditions imposed for the exercise of powers under sub-section (4) of section 14 have not been complied with in this case, should be rejected. In the Deputy Commissioner of Agricultural Income-tax and Sales Tax, Quilon v. Dhanalakshmi Vilas Cashew Company [1969] 24 STC 491, the Supreme Court observed, referring to section 15(1) of the Kerala General Sales Tax Act :

'Section 15(1) is meant for interference when there is some illegality or impropriety or irregularity in the order of the assessing authority which has to be set right. It can hardly be said to cover those cases in which the turnover has escaped assessment ..... The rule which confers power to assess escaped turnover is normally to be exercised 'on matters de hors the record of assessment proceedings' before the assessing authority.'

10. Those observations of the Supreme Court would show that the power under sub-clause (cc) of sub-section (4) of section 14 of the Sales Tax Act can be exercised de hors the record of assessment proceedings before the assessing authority. We, therefore, hold that section 14 confers on the assessing authority ample power to assess the correct amount of tax payable in all cases where exemptions have been wrongly allowed.

11. The judgment of Rajamannar, C.J., reported in State of Madras v. Louis Dreyfus and Company Ltd. [1955] 6 STC 318 (Mad.) [FB] shows that turnover can be said to have escaped assessment even by lack of care on the part of the officer or by reason of his inadvertence by reason of the fact that the turnover had been suppressed by the assessee. Applying the above observations to the interpretation of the similar language to be found in sub-section (4) of section 14, it should be held that the granting of exemption to the petitioner had resulted in turnover escaping assessment because the granting of such exemption had been the result of a failure to apply the mind of the assessing authority to the matter. The assessing authority had granted exemption to the petitioner's first item of turnover wholly without the authority of law. Similarly, he granted exemption to the second item of the petitioner's turnover without calling for the proof of the facts mentioned by the abovementioned G.O.Ms. No. 1050. We find that this is not a case where the proposal to set aside the exemptions already granted were based merely on the fact that the petitioner had not maintained two sets of account books as required under rule 45, clause (7). The fact of the matter was that the assessing authority had granted exemption to the petitioner without any reference to any justifying evidence showing that the iron and steel out of which the petitioner claims to have manufactured iron products had already suffered sales tax. For this reason, we hold that the judgment of a Division Bench of this Court reported in Sri Lakshmi-narayana General Traders v. Commercial Tax Officer, Tenali [1975] 36 STC 402 would have no application to the facts of this case, nor can the circular issued by the Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, Hyderabad dated 24th April, 1980 have any application to the facts of this case. The above circular and the above judgment would be of use to the petitioner only when the petitioner can show that he attempted to prove his allegations that the goods had already suffered tax but he was prevented by the assessing authority from doing so on the ground that the proof offered by him was not in accordance with rule 45, clause (7).

12. This is not a case where there was any change of opinion by the assessing authority. The notice has been issued in this case, because the assessing authority had thought that exemption had been wrongly granted to the assessee without calling upon him to furnish necessary proof of the facts. In other words, the proposal to hold enquiry is based upon the allegation that the conditions laid down by G.O.Ms. No. 1050 were not shown to have been complied with by the petitioner. The judgment of this Court in Fatechand and Sons v. Commercial Tax Officer, V Circle, Hyderabad [1983] 54 STC 166 must be referred in this context. Those observations dealing with the powers under section 14, sub-section (4), sub-clause (cc) of the Sales Tax Act are to the following effect :

'...... That provision applies to a situation where on a finding of fact arrived at with reference to the goods in question, the assessing authority has come to a particular conclusion as to whether it falls under one or the other items of the various Schedules, but in granting exemption, has committed some mistake or error, it is only that 'wrongful' exemption that could be rectified under section 14(4)(cc) of the Act ......'

13. The above judgment is a clear authority to show that under section 14(4)(cc) wrongly allowed exemption can be set aside and rectified. The observations in the judgment to the effect that a change of opinion cannot form the basis of the exercise of that power has only reference to the nature of the goods itself. Those observations cannot be of any application to the facts of this present case, because here there is no dispute to the nature of the goods at any time.

14. We next deal with the argument of the learned counsel that section 14, sub-section (4), sub-clause (cc) of the Act which came into force with effect from 17th January, 1978 has no retrospective application. The learned counsel appears to say that the petitioner's assessment related to the year of 1971-72 and that, therefore, the Act which has come into force with effect from 17th January, 1978 cannot have any application to such an assessment. But a similar argument has been advanced in the abovementioned Fatechand's case and had been rejected by the Division Bench of this Court in the following words :

'...... In our view, the mere fact that the assessment orders related to an assessment year when section 14(4)(cc) of the Act was not in force, it does not preclude the Commercial Tax Officer from exercising his powers thereunder if in fact the assessment order was made on or after 17th January, 1978, when the amendment came into force.'

15. We, therefore, reject this argument also.

16. The argument that the assessing authority is coerced by the audit party into taking the present action is not supported by any evidence on record. Even otherwise, the liability to pay sales tax cannot be evaded by the petitioner by showing that the assessing authority is trying to apply the correct law of sales tax at the behest of some other authority, co-equal or superior.

17. We accordingly hold that for the exercise of power under section 14(4)(cc) of the Sales Tax Act, there is no legal bar. Such exercise of power under section 14(4)(cc) of the Act is not limited by any pre-conditions except that exemption has been wrongly granted. In answering the question whether exemption has been wrongly granted, the very facts which should be established by going through the process of enquiry and investigation cannot be required to be established as a condition precedent for holding such an inquiry. It cannot, at this stage, be urged that the petitioner's turnover has not escaped assessment or there is no wrong grant of exemption and that, therefore, no enquiry should be held under section 14(4)(cc) of the Act. That is a question which can be decided only after holding an enquiry. Similarly the question whether the petitioner has been wrongly granted exemption cannot be decided at this stage. This is also a question which can be decided only by going through the process of an enquiry. To say, as the learned counsel says, that it must, at this stage of the inquiry, be shown by the department that the petitioner's turnover has already escaped assessment or suffered under-assessment or he has been granted exemption wrongly even before holding any enquiry, appears to us to put the cart before the horse. The statute imposes no pre-conditions for the exercise of the powers by the authority under section 14(4)(cc) of the Act. In view of the above, we reject the arguments of the petitioner.

18. We, however, draw the attention of all the authorities administering the Sales Tax Act that they should keep in mind the well drawn distinction between those provisions which impose tax liability that should be interpreted strictly and those provisions which merely provide for quantification and collection of the tax liability that should be interpreted liberally. It is the legislature that imposes the liability to pay sales tax. The authorities merely quantify and collect that liability. These are the machinery provisions. The authorities should note that in relation to these machinery provisions of a taxing statute, the rule of strict interpretation does not apply. In Associated Cement Co. Ltd. v. Commercial Tax Officer [1981] 48 STC 466, the Supreme Court observed :

'It is settled law that a distinction has to be made by courts while interpreting the provisions of a taxing statute between charging provisions which impose the charge to tax and machinery provisions which provide the machinery for the quantification of the tax and the levying and collection of the tax so imposed. While charging provisions are construed strictly, machinery sections are not generally subject to a rigorous construction. The courts are expected to construe the machinery sections in such a manner that a charge to tax is not defeated. The above rule of construction of a taxing statute has been adopted by this court in India United Mills Ltd. v. Commissioner of Excess Profits Tax, Bombay : [1955]27ITR20(SC) in which section 15 of the Excess Profits Tax Act came up for consideration.'

19. Granting of a wrong exemption not only amounts to deflecting the statutory imposition of liability, but would also amount to acting unconstitutionally by shifting the total tax burden as fixed by the provisions of valid laws. The distribution of tax burden is a legislative task which no Judge of a constitutional court, being conscious of the constitutional doctrine of separation of power, will easily interfere with. He should not, therefore, entertain occult doubts about the implementation of a taxing statute. Upholding of claims to exemptions except in clearest cases is not constitutionally permissible. In Bank of Commerce v. State of Tennessee 40 L Ed 645 it was said :

'Taxes being the sole means by which sovereignties can maintain their existence, any claim on the part of any one to be exempt from the full payment of his share of taxes on any portion of his property must on that account be clearly defined and founded on plain language. There must be no doubt or ambiguity used upon which the claim to the exemption is founded. It has been said that a well founded doubt is fatal to the claim; no implications will be indulged in for the purpose of construing the language used as giving the claim for exemption, where such claim is not founded upon the plain and clearly expressed intention of the taxing power.'

20. The only real question of juridical importance which can be said to arise in this case is whether the proposed assessment is barred by limitation or not In considering that question, we have to note that section 14, sub-section (4-A) imposes for the exercise of powers under sub-section (4) a period of limitation of four years from the date on which any order of assessment or levy was served on the assessee. The question is whether the proposed action is within time. We think that the impugned action is well within time. Assuming that the power under section 14(4)(cc) should be exercised within the said period of four years, it must be noted that by reason of sub-section (7) of section 14, that period of limitation gets enlarged. The period between the date of the order of such assessment and the date on which it has been set aside either by a court or by other competent authority starts off a fresh period of limitation. Such a period of time should be added to the four year period in computing the period of those four years specified by sub-section (4) of section 14. On 14th July, 1978, the Sales Tax appellate Tribunal had set aside the assessment. Applying the above provision, it must be held that fresh assessment made within 4 years from 14th July, 1978 when the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal has remanded this matter would be within time. It cannot, therefore, be said that the action which is now proposed to be taken is barred by limitation. The present petitioner in one of its easily affordable grounds of litigation had raised that question in Andhra Steel Corporation Ltd. v. Commercial Tax Officer, Company Circle, Visakhapatnam . In that case, additional assessment order was made on 19th March, 1976 which was set aside by the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal on 14th July, 1978. Thereafter a notice dated 3rd July, 1979 proposing to bring the escaped turnover to tax was issued. It was contended that the proposal was barred by time. In repelling that contention, a Division Bench of this Court observed :

'Inasmuch as sub-section (7) of section 14 directs that in computing the period of four years within which the assessment under sub-section (4) of section 14 has to be completed, the period between the dated of such assessment and the date on which it has been set aside should be excluded. The petitioner-dealer cannot contend that the Commercial Tax Officer is not competent to bring the turnover of Rs. 7,89,385,01 which had allegedly escaped assessment to tax on the ground that it was barred by limitation. The notice dated 3rd July, 1979, or the impugned notice dated 29th August, 1979, cannot be said to be either without jurisdiction or barred by time.'

21. Following the above view, we reject the argument of the petitioner that the proposed revision of assessment is barred by time.

22. The only other point that falls for consideration is whether the above provision of law contained in section 14(7) of the Act would apply to the exemption which has been granted to the petitioner on 9th November, 1974 with respect to its sales turnover representing an amount of Rs. 53,24,000. The argument of the learned counsel for the petitioner is that when the assessing authority had granted this exemption on 9th November, 1974, that order has become final by reason of the fact that neither the Revenue nor the petitioner had made nay grievance of that order granting exemption. All these years, spread over nearly a decade, what is being leisurely agitated in courts by the petitioner, presumably by spending the interest amount earned on the sum of money saved on tax does not relate to the above turnover of Rs. 53,24,000. It is, therefore, argued that the order made by the Tribunal on 14th July, 1978 remanding the matter to the Commercial Tax Officer for fresh consideration, cannot be held to relate to the order of assessment made on 9th November, 1974 with respect to Rs. 53,24,000. In order to appreciate the correctness of this somewhat attractive argument, we have to examine the statutory language a little more closely. Before that we must note that law of limitation in the Sales Tax Act relates only to orders of assessment. Section 14, sub-section (7) would apply only to orders of assessment which had been set aside by a court or other competent authority. It should follow that mere granting of exemption to a part of turnover has any relevance in rejecting application of section 14(7) of the Act. Can the order made on 9th November, 1974 by the assessing authority granting exemption to a part of the turnover of the petitioner be said to be an order of assessment at all What is the order of assessment The assessment is a single order of declaration of assessee's liability to pay tax. Such a declaration is made normally, on the basis of the return submitted by the assessee showing his turnover. Determination of correct turnover though an essential step for making assessment is not by itself an order of assessment. It is only a preparatory step taken for making an order of assessment. An order of assessment is only one single and indivisible, even though in making such a single and indivisible order, the assessing authority has to compute the net taxable turnover after allowing for the various exemptions provided for by the statute. In allowing or disallowing these deductions or exemptions or in accepting or rejecting the turnover figures returned by the assessee, the assessing authority is not making any order of assessment. It is only computing the turnover. Acts of preparation for declaration of a war are different both in law and fact from actual declaration of war. So is the computation of turnover of each item is different from passing an order of assessment. That is why, section 14(1) uses the words 'he shall assess the amount of tax payable by the dealer' if he is satisfied that any return submitted under section 13 is correct and complete. Section 19 which speaks of right of appeal to the dealer not only against orders of assessment, but also against the proceedings recorded, keeps that distinction between computation of turnover and passing order of assessment in view, section 14(7) refers specifically only to orders of assessment and such orders being set aside by a court or other competent authority. That section has nothing to do with computation of turnover. These clear indications which can be gathered from the Act and which are deducible from general principles would show that every decision of the assessing authority which is necessary and preparatory for the making of an assessment order, is by itself cannot be treated as an assessment order. It follows, therefore, that there can only be one assessment order made by the assessing authority and when that order is set aside by the higher authority, the provisions contained in section 14(7) of the Sales Tax Act would apply to the entire assessment proceedings. Granting of exemption with reference to the first item abovementioned is not passing an order of assessment with reference to that item of turnover. The amount of tax which should be paid by the assessee can only be determined on the total turnover. Each component of the total turnover accepted or rejected by the assessing authority cannot be treated as a separate order of assessment. They are various orders made for computing the total turnover on which alone a single assessment can be made. We are, therefore, of the opinion that the provisions contained in section 14(7) would be attracted to the entire assessment proceedings including the first item in this case by reason of the fact that the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal had set aside the order of assessment on 14th July, 1978. For the aforesaid reasons, we cannot agree with assumption underlying the learned counsel's argument that there can be any number of separate assessments.

23. The learned counsel relied upon the judgment of the Supreme Court reported in State of Madras v. Madurai Mills Co. Ltd. [1967] 19 STC 144. The question that fell for consideration of the Supreme Court in that case was whether the order of the Board of Revenue dated 25th August, 1958 was illegal because that order was made after a period of four years from 28th November, 1952 when the Deputy Commercial Tax Officer had communicated his order of assessment to the Madurai Mills Co. Ltd. That question for its answer was dependent upon the question whether the order revised by the Board of Revenue was a revisional order passed by the Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes dated 21st August, 1954 or alternatively the order of the Deputy Commercial Tax Officer dated 28th November, 1952 holding that the order revised by the Board of Revenue was the order of the Deputy Commercial Tax Officer and not of the Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes. The Supreme Court held the order passed by the Board of Revenue was barred by the period of four years' limitation. In doing so, the Supreme Court rejected the contention of the State of Madras that the order of the Deputy Commercial Tax Officer had merged in the order of the Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes. That decision, in our opinion, is not an authority for holding that under the A.P. General Sales Tax Act more than one order of assessment can be made by the authorities. We are, therefore, of the opinion that that case has no application to the present case.

24. In State of Andhra Pradesh v. Sri Rama Laxmi Satyanarayana Rice Mill [1975] 35 STC 601 (AP), the question whether there can be more than one assessment order made within the framework of the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act was not considered. Similarly also in Andhra Steel Corporation Ltd. v. Commercial Tax Officer , this question was not considered. Accordingly, we cannot derive any benefit out of that judgment.

25. Accordingly, we hold that there can be only one order of assessment under the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act passed by the authorities. The appellate order of the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal has the effect of setting aside the order of assessment directing the making of a fresh assessment.

26. Accordingly, we hold that the writ petition should be dismissed. It is accordingly dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 250.

27. Writ petition dismissed.


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