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Kuchi Rajeswara Sastry and Sons and anr. Vs. Commercial Tax Officer - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case Number W.P. Nos. 157 and 158 of 1964
Judge
Reported in[1967]20STC548(AP)
AppellantKuchi Rajeswara Sastry and Sons and anr.
RespondentCommercial Tax Officer
Appellant Advocate G. Balaparameswari Rao and ; G. Srirama Rao, Advs.
Respondent Advocate J. Krishna Sarma, Adv. ;for Third Government Pleader
DispositionPetition dismissed
Excerpt:
- .....which is as follows:-'coconuts' in this schedule means fresh or dried coconuts, shelled or unshelled, including copra, but excluding tender coconuts.3. this incidentally became item 5 in schedule iii under the andhra pradesh general sales tax act by virtue of an amendment in 1963. previously, as i said earlier, the incidence of tax was at the first purchase. that was changed to the last purchase, so that the result is that coconuts, within the meaning of the explanation, attract tax only once at the point of consumption, which will be the last purchase.4. in this case, the petitioner in each of the petitions purchased copra from dealers and crushed it into oil and sold the oil. the purchase of copra is taxed on the ground that he is the last purchaser as the same is consumed and.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Jaganmohan Reddy, J.

1. The question in these writ petitions is whether copra is exempt from sales tax by virtue of an amended explanation added by Act 16 of 1963 to the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act on 26th September, 1963, on which date the incidence of tax has been imposed on the last purchaser.

2. The word 'coconut' in the Third Schedule is at item 5. Prior to the amendment, the items in the Schedule were 7 and 8 which contained 'coconuts' and 'copra' as separate items. By an amendment of Schedule III in 1957/ for the word 'copra' the words 'tender coconuts' were substituted, so that copra went out of the picture and was therefore probably exempt, because at that stage there was no explanation added to the Schedule. On 11th September, 1961, an explanation was added to the word 'coconut' which is as follows:-

'Coconuts' in this Schedule means fresh or dried coconuts, shelled or unshelled, including copra, but excluding tender coconuts.

3. This incidentally became item 5 in Schedule III under the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act by virtue of an amendment in 1963. Previously, as I said earlier, the incidence of tax was at the first purchase. That was changed to the last purchase, so that the result is that coconuts, within the meaning of the explanation, attract tax only once at the point of consumption, which will be the last purchase.

4. In this case, the petitioner in each of the petitions purchased copra from dealers and crushed it into oil and sold the oil. The purchase of copra is taxed on the ground that he is the last purchaser as the same is consumed and is no longer in that shape. The learned Advocate, Sri Balaparameswari Rao, contends that this construction is erroneous, because the Legislature imposed tax on the last purchase of coconuts, which includes copra, so that if the coconut including copra is already taxed, copra separately after it is shelled cannot again be taxed. Accordingly, he says it is exempt and the tax levied is illegal.

5. In support of this argument, he has cited two decisions of the Kerala High Court, in one of which cashew-nut which has been defined in similar terms as including the kernel is said to have changed once the cashew-nut is shelled and the kernel was held to be no longer cashew-nut (K. A. Karim v. Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal [1963] 14 S.T.C. 36). In another case, Poulose Bros. v. State of Kerala [1963] 14 S.T.C. 40, coconut has been defined as including copra, and therefore sales tax levied on copra was held to be not legal. But before I examine these cases, on a reading of the explanation it is apparent that dried coconuts shelled or unshelled including copra come within the definition of coconuts. I asked Mr. Balaparameswari Rao what is the meaning of shelled coconuts and whether it is not copra. His answer is that those are only coconuts without the fibre, and that they are not copra. While I am prepared to accept his contention that unshelled coconut is not copra as such, shelled coconut is certainly copra. The mere removing of the fibre does not remove it from the category of coconuts. It is only after the hard casing of the coconut is removed or shelled that what remains is copra. It may also be noticed that the words 'shelled' or 'unshelled' including copra are used with reference to dry coconuts and where fresh or tender coconuts are concerned, no such words occur. A fresh coconut certainly has no copra. Dried coconut only is capable of being crushed into oil. A reference to the Chambers's English Dictionary for the word 'copra' would show that it is the dried kernel of the coconut yielding coconut oil. This definition also is consistent with the definition in the Act, where the Legislature intended to include in the word 'copra' dried coconuts, shelled or unshelled, so that shelled or unshelled dried coconuts including copra are exigible to tax at the last point of purchase. If so, what is the last point of purchase? In my view, the last point of purchase within a State is the point at which the commodity is consumed. Sri Balaparameswari Rao contends that as soon as coconut is shelled it is consumed, for which proposition he relies on a judgment of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Anwarkhan Mehboob Co. v. State of Bombay [1960] 11 S.T.C. 698. I may at once state that that decision was not dealing with the definition of 'copra' and as such it can have no application to the facts of the present case. That case deals with levy of sales tax on tobacco which has been utilised in making beedies. Further, the matter that fell for determination in that case was as to which State has power to tax having regard to Article 286 of the Constitution in respect of inter-State sales. The meaning of the word 'consumption' which has been used in Article 286 was considered and in considering that, reference was made to the observations of Das, J., in State of Travancore-Cochin v. Shanmugha Vilas Cashew-nut Factory [1954] S.C.R. 53, viz.,

The raw cashew-nuts, after they reach the respondents, are put through a process and new articles of commerce, namely, cashew-nut oil and edible cashew-nut kernels, are obtained. It follows, therefore, that the raw cashew-nut is consumed by the respondents in the sense I have mentioned.

6. This is not the point which I am now called upon to determine. The question here is whether dried coconut as such, within the definition, can be treated as copra, and sales tax can be levied on the last purchase. I have already given my reasons for treating it as such, so that when once dried coconut, shelled or unshelled, including copra is converted into oil by a dealer, it is no longer a coconut and he is the last purchaser and is liable to tax.

7. Now coming to the decision cited by Mr. Balaparameswari Rao, viz., Poulose Bros. v. State of Kerala [1963] 14 S.T.C. 40, it may be observed that that case was dealing with item 41 of the Schedule, which merely reads 'coconut including copra', and in considering those words, they applied the decision in the case of K. A. Karim v. Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal [1963] 14 S.T.C. 36, which dealt with the interpretation of the words 'cashew-nut including its kernel', and came to the conclusion that when the raw product including the kernel has been taxed at the last point of purchase within the State, the kernel itself cannot be taxed separately. In that case, the same Bench which decided the later case of Poulose Bros. v. State of Kerala [1963] 14 S.T.C. 40 held that 'cashew-nut including its kernel' means cashew-nut inclusive of its kernel, i.e., the whole or unshelled nut with the kernel inside. This view does not help the petitioner, because in the instant case the definition is 'shelled or unshelled'. The word 'shelled' has significance, and by way of contrast, the Legislature used the word unshelled to give greater emphasis to its including copra in the word coconut so as to make the meaning clear that not only is an unshelled coconut a coconut but also copra. If this is the meaning to be attached to the definition, and I have no doubt that it is, there is no escape from the conclusion that copra is exigible to tax at the last point of purchase. The petitioner being the last purchaser, the tax has been properly levied.

8. The writ petitions are accordingly dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 100.


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