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Rafeeq Ahmed and Co. Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax;Constitution
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petition Nos. 30, 31, 32, 33, 1112, 1113, 1270, 1271, 1273, 1372, 1556, 3597, 3598, 3835, 4089,
Judge
Reported in[1969]24STC430(AP)
AppellantRafeeq Ahmed and Co.
RespondentState of Andhra Pradesh and anr.
Appellant AdvocateT. Anantha Babu, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateP. Ramachandra Reddi, Principal Government Pleader
DispositionPetition allowed
Excerpt:
- - in the case of commodities, like cotton, which come under the category of 'declared goods',tax can be levied only at a single point, as is made clear by section 15(a) of the central act, and, in our opinion, there can be no legal liability for payment of tax accruing, until and unless the act or the rules framed thereunder, prescribe a single point for taxation. in fact it has to be seen from the observations at page 325 of the said report that the entries in the several sales tax acts in force in several states, including the state of andhra pradesh, were referred to in support of the arguments of the learned counsel appearing therein, that in the said entries the stage at which the tax has to be levied has been definitely and clearly indicated and that such a provision has not.....ramachandra rao, j.1. in this batch of writ petitions the petitioners who are all dealers in hides and skins and are registered both under the andhra pradesh general sales tax act, 1957 (hereinafter called the state act) and the central sales tax act of 1956 (hereinafter called the central act), challenge the assessments made or proposed to be made on the petitioners under the state act and also seek directions for considering their applications for refund of the sales tax levied under the state act. as the facts and questions of law raised are common in all the writ petitions, it is sufficient to refer to the facts in one of the writ petitions. we shall refer to the facts in w.p.no. 30 of 1968.2. briefly, the facts which are not in dispute in the said writ petition are as follows: the.....
Judgment:

Ramachandra Rao, J.

1. In this batch of writ petitions the petitioners who are all dealers in hides and skins and are registered both under the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1957 (hereinafter called the State Act) and the Central Sales Tax Act of 1956 (hereinafter called the Central Act), challenge the assessments made or proposed to be made on the petitioners under the State Act and also seek directions for considering their applications for refund of the sales tax levied under the State Act. As the facts and questions of law raised are common in all the writ petitions, it is sufficient to refer to the facts in one of the writ petitions. We shall refer to the facts in W.P.No. 30 of 1968.

2. Briefly, the facts which are not in dispute in the said writ petition are as follows: The petitioners purchase raw hides and skins in the State of Andhra Pradesh and sell the same to the dealers in Madras in the course of inter-State trade or commerce. They are being assessed to tax as last purchasers in the State under the State Act and also as sellers under the Central Act. But under Rule 27-A of the Rules framed under the State Act, they are entitled to claim a refund of the tax levied under the State Act subject to certain conditions. On 14th July, 1964, the State Government in exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-section (5) of Section 8 of the Central Act, issued G.O. Ms. No. 1094, Revenue, which provides that the sales of all 'declared goods' in the course of inter-State trade or commerce, be exempted from the tax payable by any dealer under the Central Act where tax has been levied and collected in respect of the sale or purchase of such declared goods under the State Act subject to certain conditions. The sales tax authorities were assessing the petitioners under the State Act without any liability to refund and waiving taxation under the Central Act. The petitioners were suffering assessments under the State Act and duly paying the tax so assessed without objection thereto as they were under the bonafide impression that such a procedure was legal. Such assessments were made and the tax paid for the years 1964-65, 1965-66 and 1966-67 and the authorities are also proposing to make such assessment for the year 1967-68.

3. On the aforesaid facts, Sri Anantha Babu, the learned counsel for the petitioners raises the following contentions:-

(1) That entry 9 of Schedule III read with Section 6 of the State Act contravenes the provisions of Section 15(a) of the Central Act inasmuch as the said entry makes a classification of the hides and skins into untanned and tanned hides and skins whereas under Section 14 of the Central Act, the 'hides and skins, whether in a raw or dressed state' are treated as one category, that the entry does not also fix a definite point with precision, that the words 'a tanner' and 'a manufacturer' are vague and it leads to multiple taxation at several points, that such a classification and fixation of several points is ultra vires the powers of the State Legislature as it offends the provisions of Section 15 of the Central Act.

(2) The classification of dealers into 'tanners', 'manufacturers' and 'last dealers' is discriminatory and is not based on any reasonable classification and has no reasonable relation to the statutory purpose ; as such it offends the provisions of Article 14 and also Article 304 of the Constitution of India; and

(3) That the G.O. Ms. No. 1094, Revenue Department, dated 14th July, 1964, made by the State Government is ultra vires its powers raider Section 8(5) of the Central Act and the said G.O. and Rule 27-A framed under the State Act offend the provisions of Section 15, Sub-section (b), of the Central Act and are void.

4. Sri Ramachandra Reddi, the learned Principal Government Pleader contends that none of the objections raised by the learned counsel for the petitioners is tenable. He submits that there is no ambiguity in the fixation of the point under entry 9(a) and (b) of the State Act, that the point is fixed with utmost precision, that the procedure prescribed by the rules also do not leave any doubt with regard to the point of taxation, that the classification into tanned and untanned hides and skins under entry 9(a) and (b) of the Third Schedule is rational and reasonable and that it does not contravene the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. It is stated that the point raised by the learned counsel for the petitioners on the basis of Article 304 does not arise in these writ petitions, as none of the cases of the petitioners herein falls under entry 9(b). Lastly, he submits that Rule 27-A of the said Rules and the G.O. Ms No. 1094 dated l4th July, 1964, issued by the State Government do not in any manner contravene the provisions of Section 15(b) of the Central Act.

5. Before adverting to the several contentions raised by the learned counsel, it is useful to refer to the statutory provisions which are relevant for the purpose of this case. Section 14 of the Central Act deals with the goods which are of special importance in inter-State trade or commerce and item (iii) of the said section is 'hides and skins, whether in a raw or dressed state'. Section 15 of the said Act. is as follows:

Every sales tax law of a State shall, in so far as it imposes or authorises the imposition of a tax on the sale or purchase of declared goods, be subject to the following restrictions and conditions, namely:-

(a) the tax payable under that law in respect of any sale or purchase of such goods inside the State shall not exceed two per cent, of the sale or purchase price thereof, and such tax shall not be levied at more than one stage ;

(b) where a tax has been levied under that law in respect of the sale or purchase inside the State of any declared goods and such goods are sold in the course of inter-State trade or commerce, the tax so levied shall be refunded to such person in such manner and subject to such conditions as may be provided in any law in force in that State.

6. The provisions of the State Act which are relevant are as follows:

Section 6 : 'Tax in respect of declared goods--Notwithstanding anything contained in Section 5, the sales or purchases of declared goods by a dealer shall be liable to tax at the rate, and only at the point of sale or purchase specified against each in the Third Schedule on his turnover of such sales or purchases for each year, irrespective of the quantum of his turnover in such goods ; and the tax shall be assessed, levied and collected in such manner as may be prescribed :

Provided that where any such goods on which a tax has been so levied are sold in the course of inter-State trade or commerce, the tax so levied shall be refunded to such person, in such manner and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed.

7. Entry 9(a) of the Third Schedule which fixes the taxable point of sale or purchase is in the following terms :-

________________________________________________________S. No. Description Point of levy Rate of taxof good_____________________________________________________________9(a) Hides and skins :Untanned hidesand skins. When purchased 2 paise in theby a tanner in rupee.the State atthe point ofpurchase by thetanner and inall other casesat the point ofpurchase by thelast dealerwho buys them inthe State.(b) Tanned hides and When purchased byskins (which are a manufacturer 2 paise in thenot subject to in the State attax as untanned the point rupee.hides and of purchase byskins). the manufacturerand in all othercases at the pointof purchase by thelast dealer who buysthem in the State.___________________________________________________________

8. The provisions of Section 8(5) of the Central Act and the G.O. issued by the State Government and Rule 27-A of the State Rules which are relevant for the third point raised by the learned counsel will be referred to when we deal with the arguments on the aforesaid point.

9. The first contention to be considered is whether entry 9(a) of Schedule III of the State Act contravenes the provisions of Section 15(a) of the Central Act. The first submission on this aspect of the case is that under item (iii) of Section 14 of the Central Act, the 'hides and skins, whether in a raw or dressed state' are treated as one category of declared goods and that in so far as entry 9(a) and (b) of the State Act splits up the said goods into two categories as tanned hides and skins and untanned hides and skins, it contravenes the provisions of Section 14 of the Central Act. According to the learned counsel, hides and skins from the raw stage to the dressed stage are treated as one category under the Central Act and the splitting up into two categories according to different stages which the raw hides and skins have to pass before reaching the dressed stage, should not be made the basis for differentiating them as belonging to different categories. We are unable to uphold this submission. The mere fact that the two articles, viz., raw hides and skins and dressed hides and skins are mentioned in a single head, does not lead to the inference that they constitute a single commodity. Even the language of the said entry does not warrant drawing of such an inference. The entry should be read as comprising two types of commodities, viz., hides and skins in raw state and hides and skins in dressed state. That this is the correct interpretation to be placed on the said entry is clear from the decision of the Supreme Court in Hajee Abdul Shukoor & Co. v. State of Madras, [1964] 15 S.T.C. 719 where their Lordships dealing with a similar contention observed as follows at page 727 :

Hides and skins in the untanned condition are undoubtedly different as articles of merchandise than tanned hides and skins.

10. After referring to the decisions in Government of Andhra v. Nagendrappa, [1956] 7 S.T.C. 568 and State of Andhra Pradesh v. M.A. Abdul Bari & Co. [1958] 9 S.T.C. 231 and other cases, their Lordships held that 'raw hides and skins and dressed hides and skins constitute different commodities or merchandise and they could, therefore, be treated as different goods for the purposes of the Act', viz., the Madras General Sales Tax Act, 1959. The said decision is fully applicable to the facts of the present case.

11. The next question to be considered is whether entry 9(a) of the Third Schedule does not fix the point or stage with precision. Sri Anantha Babu relies upon a decision of a Division Bench of this court, consisting of one of us (Jaganmohan Reddy, C.J.) and Krishna Rao, J., in State of Andhra Pradesh v. Lakshmi Oil Mills. [1967] 20 S.T.C. 489 The contention of Sri Anantha Babu is that the words 'when purchased by a tanner' in entry 9(a) and 'when purchased by a manufacturer' in entry 9(b) are vauge and that they may cover any tanner or any manufacturer or any dealer and that it is impossible to know whether the goods suffered tax and if so at what point or stage. In support of this proposition, he relies upon a decision of the Supreme Court in Bhawani Cotton Mills Ltd. v. State of Punjab, [1967] 20 S.T.C. 290 where their Lordships of the Supreme Court while delivering the majority judgment under the provisions of the Punjab General Sales Tax Act, held that

levying purchase tax on declared goods specified in Schedule 'C' contravenes the provisions of Section 15(a) of the Central Sales Tax Act, as the stage at which purchase tax was levied was neither definite nor ascertainable, and that there was a possibility of the tax being levied at more than one stage.

12. But it has to be noticed that the entry which fell for consideration was the item in Schedule 'C' of the said State Act which runs as follows:

Cotton, that is to say, all kinds of cotton (indigenous or imported) in its unmanufactured state, whether ginned or unginned, baled, pressed or otherwise, but not including cotton waste.

13. Their Lordships observed at page 328 :

that it is here that there is considerable difficulty caused by the absence of any provision, either in the Act or in the rules or the forms, indicating the stage at which the tax is to be levied. In the case of commodities, like cotton, which come under the category of 'declared goods', tax can be levied only at a single point, as is made clear by Section 15(a) of the Central Act, and, in our opinion, there can be no legal liability for payment of tax accruing, until and unless the Act or the rules framed thereunder, prescribe a single point for taxation.

14. Further, the language of the entry in Schedule 'C of the Punjab Act is not in pan materia with entry 9(a) and (b) of the State Act with which we are concerned in these petitions. In fact it has to be seen from the observations at page 325 of the said report that the entries in the several Sales Tax Acts in force in several States, including the State of Andhra Pradesh, were referred to in support of the arguments of the learned counsel appearing therein, that in the said entries the stage at which the tax has to be levied has been definitely and clearly indicated and that such a provision has not been made in the Punjab Act. The learned Government Pleader has stated that the Punjab Act has since been amended prescribing a definite stage for the levy of tax and when the validity of the said Amendment Act was challenged, the provision as amended was held by the Supreme Court to have made the stage quite clear and the validity of the said provision was upheld by their Lordships. The full judgment of the subsequent decision of the Supreme Court is not available. But the learned Government Pleader drew our attention to short notes report of the same in Rattan Lal and Co. and Anr. v. Assessing Authority and Anr. [1968] 22 S.T.C. Sh. N. 9 In the cases before us, there can be no ambiguity with regard to the point at which the tax is to be levied as it is fixed having regard to the nature of the goods and the commercial activity involved in the business of sale or purchase of hides and skins. A tanner purchases untanned hides and skins mainly for the purpose of tanning. The Legislature did not contemplate that a tanner would merely purchase the untanned goods for the purpose of reselling them in the same state. A tanner normally sells them after tanning the raw hides and skins. The moment the untanned goods are tanned, they lose their identity as untanned goods and assume the character of a different commodity, viz., that of tanned goods. Entry 9(a) has, therefore, to be understood according to the trade usage or practice and construed accordingly. The moment the untanned hides and skins reach the hands of a tanner by way of purchase, the transaction becomes exigible to tax under the. aforesaid entry. Such an event happens the moment the untanned hides and skins are purchased by a tanner. This obviously refers to the first purchase by a tanner. Therefore, the expression 'when purchased by a tanner' in entry 9(a) of the State Act is referable only to the purchase by a first tanner in the State. If so, we do not find that there is any doubt or indefmiteness with regard to the fixation of the stage or the point at which the tax is leviable on purchases of untanned hides and skins. The further contention of Sri Anantha Babu that it is impossible to ascertain whether the goods suffered tax earlier, and if so, at what stage, is without force inasmuch as the rules made under the State Act prescribe a definite procedure which enables the purchaser to find out whether the goods had suffered tax earlier or not. Rule 45 requires every dealer to maintain a true and correct account of the value of the goods produced, manufactured or bought by him, the names and addresses of each of the persons from whom goods were purchased, supported by a bill or delivery note issued by the seller duly signed and dated and other particulars. Rule 45(2) of the Rules framed under the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act enjoins upon a dealer to issue a bill or cash memorandum in respect of every sale and Rule 45(3)(b) of the said Rules in particular requires, that the bills or cash memoranda issued in the case of sales of goods liable to a single point tax shall contain the following certificate in the form prescribed which is as follows :

Certified that in respect of the turnover of the goods mentioned in item (a) of this bill the tax has been paid or/is payable by me or/is payable by Shri/M/s...being the dealer who has purchased them from me.

15. The provisions of the entry read with the rules therefore make it amply clear as to the stage at which tax is to be levied and also enables a dealer including a tanner to ascertain whether the goods had already suffered tax at an earlier stage. In this view, we are supported by a decision of a Bench of this court consisting of one of us (the Chief Justice) and Krishna Rao,, J., in State of Andhra Pradesh v. Lakshmi Oil Mills [1967] 20 S.T.C. 489. In the said case, entry 6 of the Third Schedule of the State Act which fixed the point of tax in respect of groundnuts, which are declared goods, was challenged on similar grounds as are raised in these petitions, viz., that the point of levy fixed by the said entry was not precise or definite. The said entry reads as follows:

________________________________________________________________S. No. Description of Point of levy. Rate of tax.the goods.(1) (2) (3)_________________________________________________________________6. Groundnuts. When purchased by a miller 2 naye paiseother than a decorticating in themiller in the State, at rupee.the point of purchase bysuch miller and in allother cases at the point ofpurchase bythe last dealer who buysin the State._________________________________________________________________

16. Their Lordships held at page 493 as follows :

On a plain reading of the section, we uphold this construction and hold that the words 'when purchased by a miller' refer to purchase by the first miller irrespective of the fact whether the said miller retained the goods either wholly or in part for the purpose of crushing or whether he merely sold them as an ordinary dealer. Once groundnut is purchased by the first miller, that is enough to bring him within the net of taxation. It is not the duty of the taxing authority to examine as to what he did with the stock or wait till he thinks of crushing them into oil. The Legislature never contemplated a miller taking the role of a mere dealer.

17. The reasoning contained in the aforesaid observations, in our view, applies in construing entry 9(a). In this view, we hold that entry 9(a) does not contravene the provisions of Section 15(a) of the Central Act.

18. The next question for consideration is, whether the provisions of entry 9(a) are discriminatory and are violative of the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution. The argument of the learned counsel for the petitioners is that the classification of dealers in hides and skins into tanners, manufacturers and dealers, is not rational and that it brings about an uneven burden of taxation. The tanned goods nearly cost 30 to 70 per cent. more than the untanned goods and consequently the dealers and manufacturers who deal in tanned goods have to pay a much higher tax than the dealers and tanners who deal in untanned goods, and such a classification is not contemplated or permitted by the provisions of Section 14(iii) of the Central Act. There is no force in this contention. We have already held in dealing with the first point that the untanned hides and skins lose their identity when they are tanned and that tanned goods and untanned goods are different commodities. Such a classification is permissible and it does not offend Sections 14 and 15 of the Central Act. Apart from the two commodities covered by sub-items (a) and (b) of entry 9 being different, it is also to be noticed that the transactions in the said goods will be by different, types of dealers and that the values of the said goods also vary widely. The transactions in untanned hide's and skins are mainly carried on by tanners while manufacturers mainly deal in tanned goods. The Legislature was fully aware of the difference in the two types of goods and in the types of dealers who generally deal in such goods and have, therefore, fixed two different points of levy. The tanned hides and skins and untanned hides and skins do not, therefore, fall within the same class of goods and consequently the dealers in the said two classes also do not fall within the same class. Hence, the said classification made with respect to dealers in tanned goods and untanned goods is based upon a reasonable classification, having a reasonable relation to the statutory object of levying and collecting sales tax on transactions in those goods. The fixation of two points of levy cannot, therefore, be said to bring about any hostile or invidious discrimination so as to offend Article 14 of the Constitution.

19. In Hajee Abdul Shukoor & Co. v. State of Madras, [1964] 15 S.T.C. 719 already referred to by me, their Lordships of the Supreme Court observed at page 730 as follows :

If the statute treats both these kinds of hides and skins as different commodities the provision of Sub-rule (1) of Rule 16 providing for the levy of tax on raw hides and skins at a certain point even in the absence of any provision for the taxation of dressed hides and skins cannot be said to be discriminatory and invalid. The articles to be taxed were not the same and the Legislature could provide differently about their taxation.

20 We are not, therefore, persuaded that by reason of the fixing of the different points of taxation in respect of tanners and dealers in untanned hides and skins and dealers in tanned hides and skins, the provisions of entry 9(a) are violative of the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution.

21. Sri Anantha Babu next submits that the provisions of the said entry are discriminatory inasmuch as the dealers in tanned goods have to pay more tax than the dealers in untanned goods. But this difference in the burden of taxation arises on account of the different values of the respective goods, viz., tanned and untanned goods. Consequently this does not bring about any discrimination so as to offend the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution.

22. The next submission of Sri Anantha Babu is that the second limb of Clause (a) of entry 9 of the Third Schedule deals with last purchasers other than tanners and that these purchasers fall into two categories:-

(i) Those who sell the goods in inter-State trade or commerce and transport them across State boundaries ; and

(ii) those who transport them across State boundaries and then sell; and that the first of the categories of purchasers mentioned above, need not pay any tax under the State Act or under the Central Act. At any rate they are entitled to a refund of the tax so paid and that they need not also pay any tax under the Central Act in view of the decision of the Supreme Court in State of Mysore v. Lakshminarasimhiah Setty and Sons, [1965] 16 S.T.C. 231 while the second category of purchasers are liable to pay tax under the State Act, and that this constitutes an unjust discrimination between the persons similarly situated. This contention in our view is again devoid of any force inasmuch as under entry 9(a) of the Third Schedule, the point of levy is fixed for the purpose of levy of sales tax under the State Act and this entry, standing by itself, does not create any discrimination between the last purchasers of untanned hides and skins. It is only the subsequent dealings with the said goods and the operation of the provisions of the Central Act that entitle the dealers to claim refund or exemption from tax under the State Act. The point of purchase by the last dealer in the State is a transaction anterior to the subsequent sales by such dealers, whether they sell them in the course of the inter-State transactions and transport them across the boundaries of the State or whether they transport them across the State boundaries and then effect a sale. The uneven burden of tax is brought about by the difference in the nature of the transactions effected by the said dealers after the last purchase. This cannot, therefore, be a ground for holding that the differentiation in the treatment of the dealers is the result of the said entry. The subsequent dealings constitute separate transactions which are covered by separate provisions of the State Act or the Central Act. It has been held by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in State of Madras v. N.K. Nataraja Mudaliar, [1968] 22 S.T.C. 376 that,

By leaving it to the States to levy sales tax in respect of a commodity on intra-State transactions no discrimination is practised ; and by authorising the State from which the movement of goods commences to levy on transactions of sale Central sales tax, at rates prevailing in the State, subject to the limitation set out above, no discrimination can be deemed to be practised.

23. The last aspect of the argument based on Article 14 of the Constitution is that the use of the expression 'a tanner' and 'a manufacturer' in the entries 9(a) and (b) vest an arbitrary discretion in the assessing authority to pick and choose any tanner or manufacturer at random and that these provisions contain the potential for invidious discrimination and are, therefore, unconstitutional. But in the view we have taken earlier, that the expression 'when purchased by a tanner' should be taken as referable to the first purchase in the State, it cannot be said that there is any arbitrariness in the entry, nor-can it empower the assessing authority to pick and choose any tanner. Once the entry is held to mean that the point of levy is the first purchase by a tanner in the State, there is no scope for imposing the levy in any discriminatory manner. For all the foregoing reasons, we hold that entry 9(a) is not unconstitutional or invalid and it does not offend the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution.

24. In this context, Sri Anantha Babu sought to raise another contention, viz., that entry 9(b) of the Third Schedule violates Article 304 of the Constitution. But it is unnecessary for us to express any opinion on the said contention inasmuch as it has not been shown to us that any of the petitioners is sought to be taxed under entry 9(b) of the Third Schedule. All the petitioners are admittedly purchasers of untanned hides and skins who export them outside the State ; but they do not import any tanned goods into the State. Even otherwise under entry 9(b) only a manufacturer is taxed at the point of purchase of tanned hides and skins. Admittedly the petitioners are not manufacturers and are not being subjected to any tax under the aforesaid entry. It is, therefore, unnecessary for us to deal with the contention raised on Article 304 of the Constitution.

25. We shall now notice the last of the submissions made by the learned counsel for the petitioners, that G.O. Ms. No. 1094, Revenue Department, dated 14th July, 1964, issued by the State Government is ultra vires the powers of the State Government and conflicts with the provisions of Section 15(b) of the Central Act and is null and void. He also contends that the provision in Rule 27-A of the Rules made under the State Act prescribing a time-limit of three months from the end of the month in which the goods were sold, for claiming a refund, is invalid as it is an unreasonable limitation on the petitioners' right to claim refund and that it conflicts with the provisions of Section 15(b) of the Central Act as well as the proviso to Section 6 of the State Act. In order to appreciate this contention, it is necessary to notice the relevant provisions of law which have a bearing on this question. In respect of declared goods which are of special importance in inter-State trade or commerce, tax payable thereon under the Central Act as well as under the State Act is to be controlled by restrictions and conditions to be imposed by Parliament by law, by virtue of the provisions of Article 286(3) of the Constitution of India. Section 14 of the Central Act enumerates goods which are of special importance in inter-State trade or commerce. Section 15 of the Central Act provides that the tax payable under the State law in respect of any sale or purchase of such goods inside the State shall not exceed two per cent, of the sale or purchase price thereof, and such tax shall not be levied at more than one stage. It is necessary to read the provisions of Section 15(b) of the Central Act in this context:

(b) where a tax has been levied under that law in respect of the sale or purchase inside the State of any declared goods and such goods are sold in the course of inter-State trade or commerce, the tax so levied shall be refunded to such person in such manner and subject to such conditions as may be provided in any law in force in that State.

26. The State Act correspondingly provided for a refund in respect of such sales. Section 6 of the State Act reads as follows :

6. Tax in respect of declared goods-Notwithstanding anything contained in Section 5, the sales or purchases of declared goods by a dealer shall be liable to tax at the rate, and only at the point of sale or purchase, specified against each in the Third Schedule on his turnover of such sales or purchases for each year irrespective of the quantum of his turnover in such goods, and the tax shall be assessed, levied and collected in such manner as may be prescribed.

27. Provided that where any such goods on which a tax has been so levied are sold in the course of inter-State trade or commerce, the tax so levied shall be refunded to such person in such manner and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed.

28. In order to give effect to the provisions of this section, the State Government has framed Rule 27-A which is in the following terms:

27-A. (1) Where any tax has been levied and collected under Section 6 in respect of the sale or purchase inside the State of any declared goods and such goods are subsequently sold in the course of inter-State trade or commerce, the tax so levied and collected shall be refunded to the person in the manner and subject to the conditions specified in Sub-rules (2) to (4).

(2) The refund of tax referred to in Sub-rule (1) shall be made to the dealer who effected the first sale in the course of inter-State trade or commerce.

(3) Every application for refund under this rule shall be filed by the dealer claiming refund before the assessing authority having jurisdiction over his place of business within a period of three months from the end of the month in which he sold the goods :

Provided that the assessing authority may condone for reasons to be recorded in writing, any delay in the filing of such application.

(4) The burden of proving that a dealer is entitled to a refund under this rule shall be with the dealer claiming such refund.

29. Presumably with a view to obviate the necessity of making refund under the aforesaid provisions, the State Government thought fit to invoke the provisions of Section 8(5) of the Centra] Act and issued the Notification G.O. Ms. No. 1094, Revenue Department, dated 14th July, 1964, which is to the following effect:

G.O. Ms. No. 1094, Revenue, dated 14th July, 1964:

In exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-section (5) of Section 8 of the Central Sales Tax Act, 1956 (Central Act 74 of 1956), the Governor of Andhra Pradesh hereby directs that the sales of all 'declared goods' in the course of inter-State trade or commerce, be exempted from the tax payable by any dealer under the said Act where tax has been levied and collected in respect of the sale or purchase of such declared goods under the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1957 (Andhra Pradesh Act VI of 1957), subject to the following conditions, namely :-

(i) the burden of proving that the tax under Section 6 of the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1957 (Andhra Pradesh Act VI of 1957) has been levied and collected in respect of any such declared goods shall lie on the dealer; and

(ii) the dealer shall not claim refund under Clause (b) of Section 15 of the Central Sales Tax Act, 1956 (Central Act 74 of 1956), of the tax levied and collected under Section 6 of the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1957.

30. The contention of Sri T. Anantha Babu is that under the State law, the untanned hides and skins are taxable at the point of purchase by a tanner or a last dealer in the State and consequently no Central sales tax is leviable at the sale point under the Central Act by reason of the decision in State of Mysore v. Lakshminarasimhiah Setty and Sons, [1965] 16 S.T.C. 231 and that secondly, that the goods purchased by them, having been sold in the course of inter-State trade, they are entitled to get a refund by reason of the provisions of Section 15(b) of the Central Act as well as the provisions of the proviso to Section 6 of the State Act and that such right cannot be fettered in the manner that is sought to be done by the impugned G.O. Ms. No. 1094, Revenue Department, or Rule 27-A of the State Rules. We feel that this contention of the learned counsel is justified and has to be upheld. It is to be noticed that under Section 15(b) of the Central Act, the right to refund arises the moment the goods purchased by a tanner or last purchaser are sold in the course of inter-State trade. The language of the section does not warrant the imposition of any further condition for getting a refund of the tax levied under the State Act. But the impugned G.O. takes away the said right and instead makes the said dealers of the declared goods subject to levy of tax under the State law at the purchase point. The impugned G.O. is intended to obviate the necessity of taxing a dealer in declared goods both under the State Act and the Central Act and then refund the State levy on application by the said dealer. The G.O. obviously therefore applies only to cases of dealers whose turnover in declared goods attracts the liability to tax both under the State Act and the Central Act. Only such a dealer gets an exemption from the Central levy and suffers tax under the State Act without claiming any refund under Section 15(b) of the Central Act or the proviso to Section 6 of the State Act. But the said G.O. cannot apply to a case where the transactions in declared goods of the same dealer do not become exigible to tax under both the Acts. By reason of the decision in State of Mysore v. Lakshminarasimhiah Setty and Sons, [1965] S.T.C. 231 any exemption from taxation given by the State Act or the point determined by it at which the sale is to be taxed, applies to assessment under the Central Act. As raw hides and skins are taxable only at the point of purchase by a tanner or last dealer in the State under the State Act, no tax can be levied under the Central Act at the sale point on the inter-State sales of such dealers. The petitioners who are all tanners or last purchasers in the State and who sold the goods in the course of inter-State trade, are not therefore liable to pay any tax under the Central Act in respect of such sale transactions. The G.O. is, therefore, inapplicable to the case of the petitioners and the petitioners are entitled to claim a refund in accordance with the provisions of Section 15(b) of the Central Act and the proviso to Section 6 of the State Act. In this view, it is unnecessary to decide the further question that the G.O. is ultra vires the powers of the rule-making authority.

31. Sri Ramachandra Reddi relies upon a decision reported in Khader & Co. v. State of Madras, [1966] 17 S.T.C. 396 of the Madras High Court. But the said case was merely concerned with the question of refund of the tax levied under the Central Act and the question arising in the cases before us did not arise for consideration in the said decision. Sri Ramachandra Reddi then contends that the petitioners had entered into agreement not to claim a refund under Section 15(b) of the Central Act and that therefore the petitioners are precluded from challenging the levy of tax under the State Act. But it is well established that there can be no taxation by agreement when there is no legal basis for imposing such a tax and such an agreement would be void and would not estop either party from invoking the statutory provisions relevant thereto and requiring compliance with the said provisions (vide Allahabad Milling Company v. Commissioner of Income-tax (1932) 6 I.T.C. 286 and Muthiah Chettiar v. Commissioner of Income-tax [1959] 35 I.T.R. 339. Under the provisions of Article 265 of the Constitution of India, no tax shall be levied or collected except by authority of law. But where an agreement entered into by the taxing authorities and the assessee, or the undertaking given by the assessee is not covered by the statutory provisions, that would not clothe the taxing authority with any power to tax. We, therefore, hold that the petitioners are not estopped or precluded from claiming refund of tax under the State Act in accordance with the provisions of Section 15(b) of the Central Act and the proviso to Section 6 of the State Act.

32. Sri Anantha Babu further contended that Rule 27-A of the Rules framed under the State Act is ultra vires the powers of the rule-making authority inasmuch as it offends the provisions of Section 15(b) of the Central Act which did not prescribe any such time-limit and that fixing three months time from the end of the month in which the dealer sold the goods for making an application for refund is unreasonable. But in the instant case, it is clear that the petitioners were bona fide under a wrong impression that by virtue of the operation of the G.O. Ms. No. 1094, Revenue, dated 14th July, 1964, and the undertakings given pursuant thereto, they could not apply for refund. Proviso to Sub-rule (3) of Rule 27-A of the said Rules confers ample power on the assessing authority to condone the delay and entertain the application. We are satisfied that in the case of the petitioners, there are sufficient grounds for the delay in the submission of their applications for refund under Section 15(b) of the Central Act, and the assessing authorities should entertain the applications made by the petitioners and consider the same on merits without reference to the G.O. Ms. No. 1094, Revenue, dated 14th July, 1964. As we are of the view that the applications should be entertained and disposed of by the assessing authorities, it is unnecessary for us to decide the question whether Rule 27-A of the Rules under the State Act is ultra vires the powers of the rule-making authority.

33. For all the foregoing reasons, we, therefore, allow the writ petitions to the extent mentioned above and direct the respondents herein to entertain the applications of the petitioners herein for refund of the sales tax levied under the State Act in accordance with the provisions of Section 15(b) of the Central Act and the proviso to Section 6 of the State Act, and dispose of them according to law. In the circumstances of the case, we make no order as to costs.


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