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Berar Oil Industries and anr. Vs. Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in[1959]10STC199(AP)
ActsSales Tax Act - Sections 12B(1)
AppellantBerar Oil Industries and anr.
RespondentDeputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes
Appellant AdvocateM. Ranganatha Sastri and ;J.V. Srinivasarao, Advs. in Second, C.M.P. The Petitioner In T.R.C.
Respondent AdvocateM. Ranganatha Sastri, ;K. Krishnamurthi and ;S. Bhaskaran, Advs. in T.R.C. of C.M.P. Respondents In T.R.C.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Excerpt:
.....that these sales were covered by the explanation to article 286 and got an exemption on that score before the tribunal, it is precisely this kind of transactions that are affected by the explanation. it is well-recognised that tax could be collected either at sale point or purchase point and it is too late in the day to contest the authority of the department to levy tax at purchase point. nor can it be said that the nexus that is essential between the reason for the division and the object of the rules is absent in a case like this......as that does not touch the question whether the department has to await the sale of the very goods purchased by the dealer. there is no provision of law either in the act or in the rules which imposes such an obligation on the department. when once it is established that tax could be levied on purchase of certain goods, it cannot be postulated that the department has to wait till the commodities are disposed of by the purchaser. the submission lacks substance and has to be overruled.9. we will now deal with the argument bearing on the action of the government in withdrawing the rebate as regards the refined oil. the point sought to be made is, under section 3(5), proviso (ii), of the madras general sales tax act, where a dealer has been taxed in respect of the purchase of any goods.....
Judgment:

Chandra Reddy, C.J.

1. These revision cases raise common questions of law and can, therefore, be disposed of by one judgment.

2. The respondent in T.R.C. Nos. 47 and 48 of 1956 and the petitioner in T.R.C. Nos. 75 to 77 of 1956 is Messrs Thungabhadra Industries Ltd., (hereinafter referred to as the petitioners). The petitioners purchase groundnuts and convert them into refined oil as also vanaspati. For the years 1950-51 and 1952-53, the company was assessed to purchase tax is regard to certain purchases made by them. It is unnecessary for us to go into the details of the transactions or of the taxes levied thereon, as the findings of fact cannot be canvassed in these revision cases. One of the points presented in these cases is whether tax can be levied on the purchase of groundnut kernel; in other words, whether the word 'groundnut' includes groundnut kernel also. This was answered in T.R.C. No. 44 of 1956 (Since reported as Motilal Hari Prasad and Bros. and Others v. The State of Andhra 1959 10 S.T.C. 20), which was disposed of on 30th August, 1958. It was decided that the expression 'groundnut' is comprehensive enough to take in kernel also. This contention is therefore negatived.

3. Another argument pressed upon us is that as the sales in question were completed in other States, the fact that delivers were made in the Andhra State would not enable the Government to impose taxes. It may be mentioned here that before the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal, the petitioner succeeded on this issue on the ground that these deals fell within the scope of Article 286 of the Constitution. The Tribunal thought that having regard to the decision of the Supreme Court in The Bengal Immunity Company Limited v. The State of Bihar and Others : [1955]2SCR603 which departed from the view taken in The State of Bombay v. The United Motors (India) Ltd. : [1953]4SCR1069 , the company could not be assessed to tax as the transactions were saved by Article 286 of the Constitution. If matters had stood there, the Tax Revision Cases filed by the Government against the order of the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal will have to be dismissed. But, subsequently, the Sales Tax Laws Validation Act, 1956 (Act No. 7 of 1956) was passed by the Parliament to get over the effect of the decision in The Bengal Immunity Company Limited v. The State of Bihar : [1955]2SCR603 and to restore the law pronounced in The State of Bombay v. The United Motors (India) Ltd. : [1953]4SCR1069 . The result is that all sales which come within the range of the Explanation to Article 286 are taxable in the States in which the delivers are made. An attempt was made to get over the difficulty created by the passing of the Sales Tax Laws Validation Act by arguing that since the ownership in the goods passed in other States, they could not be regarded as inter-State transactions. Apart from the circumstances that the petitioner-company took the stand before the Tribunal that these sales were covered by the Explanation to Article 286 and got an exemption on that score before the Tribunal, it is precisely this kind of transactions that are affected by the Explanation. A reading of the Explanation leaves no room for doubt that a transaction where the sale has been completed in one State but the delivery is effected in another State as an integral part of the sale, attracts the Explanation to Article 286 of the Constitution. (Vide the decision in Sundararamier and Co. v. State of Andhra Pradesh (1958 9 S.T.C. 298)). We therefore reject this argument also.

4. It was next urged that the Sales Tax Act has not invested the Revenue with power to levy tax on the purchase of groundnut and that rule 4(2) of the Madras General Sales Tax (Turnover and Assessment) Rules, 1939, has not the effect of conferring the power of taxation at the purchase point. We are not very much impressed with this argument. Undoubtedly, it is section 3 that is the charging section and the power of taxation is not derived from rule 4(2) of the Sales Tax (Turnover and Assessment) Rules, 1939, in regard to groundnuts. That section enables the Sales Tax Authorities to tax the turnover of a dealer. But the legislature has left the power to Government to frame rules to determine the turnover, after defining the scope of the liability to tax and specifying the persons who are liable to pay tax etc.

5. It is pursuant to the power conferred by section 3(4) of the Madras Sales Tax Act, 1939, which says,

'For the purposes of this section and the other provisions of this Act, turnover shall be determined in accordance with such rules as may be prescribed'

6. That the Turnover and Assessment Rules, 1939, were framed. Rule 4(2) specifies certain categories of goods in regard to which the purchase thereof will constitute turnover. As we have already pointed out, it is the turnover of a dealer which is subject to the levy of sales tax and in regard to the goods enumerated in rule 4(2) including groundnut, the purchase amount will be deemed to be the turnover. Consequently, power is vested in the department to levy tax on goods at the purchase point. It is well-recognised that tax could be collected either at sale point or purchase point and it is too late in the day to contest the authority of the department to levy tax at purchase point.

7. Finding the futility of the submission, counsel for the petitioner fell back upon the argument that although the tax is levied on the purchase of commodities mentioned in rule 2, the department has to wait to impose the tax till the goods involved in the purchases were ultimately sold by the company. As substantiating this proposition, the learned counsel calls in aid a Full Bench decision of the Madras High Court in Hajee Abdul Shukoor and Co. v. State of Madras (1955 6 S.T.C. 352 (F.B.)). The passage that is relied on by the learned counsel occurs at page 364 of the report and it reads thus :

'The conclusion we have reached as a result of the above discussion is that (1) the charging provision section 3 is subject, in the case of transactions in hides and skins, to the terms of section 5(vi) under which a single point of taxation in a series of sales has to be fixed by the rules; (2) rule 4(2) is not the fixation of a single point within section 5(vi) but is merely designed to determine whether it is the buyer or the seller that shall be liable to be taxed; (3) the single point is fixed and the liability to tax is established only under rule 16; and (4) that under rule 16(2)(i) it is only the sale of untanned hides and skins by a licensed dealer to a licensed tanner who tans the same that gives rise to a tax liability and that purchases of untanned hides and skins by tanners from persons other than licensed dealers are not within the taxing provisions.'

8. We do not think that this judgment affords us any guidance. That decision merely pointed out that rule 4(2) did not purport to fix the single point taxation in regard to hides and skins but it is rule 16 that achieved that object. So far as groundnut are concerned, they are dealt with in rule 4(2) and they are subject to multiple taxation. The ruling of the Full Bench of this Court in State of Andhra Pradesh v. Mohammed Azam Abdul Bari & Co. (1958 9 S.T.C. 231 (F.B.)), which followed the decision in Hajee Abdul Shukoor & Co. v. State of Madras (1955 6 S.T.C. 352 (F.B.)), is also not relevant to the present enquiry, as that does not touch the question whether the department has to await the sale of the very goods purchased by the dealer. There is no provision of law either in the Act or in the Rules which imposes such an obligation on the department. When once it is established that tax could be levied on purchase of certain goods, it cannot be postulated that the department has to wait till the commodities are disposed of by the purchaser. The submission lacks substance and has to be overruled.

9. We will now deal with the argument bearing on the action of the Government in withdrawing the rebate as regards the refined oil. The point sought to be made is, under section 3(5), proviso (ii), of the Madras General Sales Tax Act, where a dealer has been taxed in respect of the purchase of any goods in accordance with rules referred to in clause (i), he shall not be taxed again in respect of any sale of such goods effected by him and consequently it is not within the competence of the Government to cancel the rebate concerning the refined oil. It may be noticed that the Government granted rebate in regard to refined oil also upto 1951 when the Turnover and Assessment Rules were amended excluding the refined oil from the ambit of rule 18 by adding sub-rule (5). Sub-rule (5) enacted that sub-rules (1) to (4) which enable the dealers to claim rebate in regard to oils would not apply to refined oil. The argument pressed upon us by Sri Ranganadha Sastry is that the object of the second proviso to section 3(5) of the Sales Tax Act, 1939, being to avoid double taxation, refined oil also should be deemed to come within the purview of 'such goods' mentioned in the second proviso. We are unable to give effect to this contention. It is true that the intendment of the section is not to tax a transaction twice, but that does not mean that the Government is under a duty to give rebate in regard to all products of groundnut. It would be straining the meaning of the words 'such goods', if we were to interpret them as including oils extracted out of the 'goods'. That will be unduly enlarging the content of that expression. We have to give plain meaning to the words occurring in an enacted legislation, unless the circumstances compel us to deviate from such a course. If citation is needed for such a proposition, the decision in Pithapuram Tobacco Merchants' Union v. State of Andhra Pradesh (1958 9 S.T.C. 723; 1958 2 An. W.R. 100) may be referred to. In this decision, it was remarked by Subba Rao, C.J., (as he then was) and Jaganmohan Reddy, J., that cigars, cheroots, bidi, snuff etc., made out of tobacco leaves were not 'such goods' as tobacco within the definition of the second proviso to section 3(5) of the General Sales Tax Act. Hence, the argument that the withdrawal of rebate as regards refined oil is inconsistent with the main provision of the enactment, falls and is negatived. Alternatively, it is contended that this cancellation contravenes the wholesome principle underlying Article 14 of the Constitution. It is said that this withdrawal is in conflict with the doctrine of equality before law and equal protection of laws contained in Article 14 of the Constitution. We do not think we can accept this argument. Either the rule granting the rebate or the one withdrawing the rebate in regard to refined oil does not disclose the reasons therefor. Perhaps the object in granting the rebate is to encourage the conversion of seeds into oil and then export it instead of the groundnut being exported in the shape of kernel. This would result in the saving of cake for the country. Finding that it was no longer necessary to continue the rebate in regard to refined oil since refined oil is mostly consumed in the country, the Government might have taken the step it did in this behalf. That apart, it cannot be predicated that there is no reasonable basis for classifying the oil into crude oil and refined oil. Nor can it be said that the nexus that is essential between the reason for the division and the object of the rules is absent in a case like this. As we have already remarked, the idea of rebate might have emanated from a desire to encourage the export of oil to other countries. In these circumstances, we hold that this argument also is equally untenable and is overruled. No other points are argued in these revision cases.

10. It follows that T.R.C. Nos. 47 and 48 of 1956 are allowed except to the extent of weighment charges which were treated as permissible deductions and the respondent will pay the costs of the petitioner herein. Advocate's fee is fixed at Rs. 250 in each of these cases. T.R.C. Nos. 75 to 77 of 1956 are dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee in each of them is fixed at Rs. 200.TAX REVISION CASE NO. 25 OF 1956.

11. The petitioner herein in Messrs Berar Oil Industries carrying on the business of manufacture of groundnut oil at Akola in Madhya Pradesh. It has a branch at Adoni within the State of Andhra Pradesh. In regard to the purchases of groundnut made by the petitioner in the State of Andhra Pradesh in the year 1951, the Sales Tax Department levied taxes amounting to Rs. 9, 359-13-0. The total turnover in this behalf was estimated at Rs. 6, 00, 858-13-3. For the purpose of this revision, the turnover may be divided into two categories. In regard to certain purchases amounting to Rs. 2, 74, 762-7-3, the petitioner figured both as the consignor and the consignee, while in respect of the turnover of Rs. 3, 34, 358-4-0 the consignor was the seller, the petitioner being the consignee.

12. With regard to the first category, the case was not seriously pressed either before the Tribunal or before us.

13. In scrutinising the transactions, it is important to note that the petitioner had a branch at Adoni. It was argued here that these purchases are not subject to any tax for the reason that delivery was made outside the State of Andhra Pradesh and consequently they fell within the ambit of the Explanation to Article 286 of the Constitution. It is only the State where delivery has been made that is entitled to collect the tax on these goods. We are not inclined to accept this argument. With regard to the first category, there could be no room for any argument that the delivery was outside the State of Andhra Pradesh. The various documents produced and the probabilities of the case establish beyond doubt that the representative of the petitioner took possession of the goods and later on despatched them to Akola. This is not a case where the seller himself, notwithstanding that the sale had been completed within one State, had transported the goods to another State where delivery was taken by the purchaser. On the proved facts, the goods were delivered to the agent of the vendee, who in his turn despatched them to the principal place of business. The position does not seem to be very different even in respect of transactions where the consignor is the seller and the consignee is the purchaser. The invoices produced by the petitioner before the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal and which have been marked as Exhibits A-1 to A-10 make out that the goods were delivered to the petitioner in the Andhra Pradesh State itself. It is true that the seller is described as the consignor in the railway receipt, but the reason for this is set out by the Tribunal in its order. We are unable to disagree with the Tribunal in this regard. The probabilities also are that delivery must have been effected in the Andhra Pradesh State itself because the petitioner company has a branch at Adoni.

14. It was argued by the counsel for the petitioner that even so these transactions are governed by the Explanation to Article 286 of the Constitution for the reason that transport of goods is an integral part of the sale. We do not think we can give any weight to this argument. The Explanation is concerned only with the delivery to the buyer and not with the transport of the goods by his agent across the border and handing them over to his principal in another State. It is only in cases where the delivery is made by the seller himself to the buyer in another State that the Explanation is attracted and the right to levy tax thereon is vested in the State where delivery is effected. See Mohammed Ishok v. State of Madras (1955 6 S.T.C. 230 at 236).

15. For these reasons, we hold that the petitioner cannot claim exemption in these cases also on the ground that they are saved by the Explanation. This revision case also fails and is dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee is fixed at Rs. 150.C.M.P. Nos. 7919 TO 7922 OF 1958.

16. These petitions are not pressed and they are dismissed.


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