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Mohd. Akhalaq Ahmed Vs. the State of Andhra Pradesh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case Number Writ Petition No. 576 of 1965
Judge
Reported in[1969]23STC204(AP)
AppellantMohd. Akhalaq Ahmed
RespondentThe State of Andhra Pradesh and ors.
Appellant Advocate Upendralal Waghary and ; P. Yadgiri Rao, Advs.
Respondent Advocate The Principal Government Pleader
DispositionPetition dismissed
Excerpt:
.....of the sea customs act (now replaced by the customs act, 1962). it provides that 'the procedure relating to offences and appeals shall, with such modifications and alterations as it may consider necessary or desirable to adapt them to the circumstances, be applicable in regard to like matters in respect of the duties imposed by section 3.'by virtue of this provision, a notification was made in 1963 declaring that the provisions of section 129 of the customs act, 1962, relating to matters specified in the notification be applicable in regard to like matters, in respect of the duties imposed by section 3 of the central excises and salt act. as we have said all these matters are matters within the legislative competence of the states and there is unfettered independence for each..........was assessed under the central sales tax act on the ground that the transactions amounted to inter-state sales, while he contended that they were local sales effected in andhra pradesh and were subjected to tax under the andhra pradesh general sales tax act (hereinafter referred to as the a.p.g.s.t. act) which he had already paid. against this order, he filed an appeal before the assistant commissioner, commercial taxes, which was rejected. as against the rejection of the appeal, he preferred an appeal before the sales tax appellate tribunal at hyderabad. the appellate tribunal required proof of payment of tax from the petitioner before the appeal could be registered but the petitioner contended that this was an appeal under the central sales tax act which did not make any provision.....
Judgment:

P. Jaganmohan Reddy, C.J.

1. The petitioner, who is a dealer in rose oil, was assessed under the Central Sales Tax Act on the ground that the transactions amounted to inter-State sales, while he contended that they were local sales effected in Andhra Pradesh and were subjected to tax under the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act (hereinafter referred to as the A.P.G.S.T. Act) which he had already paid. Against this order, he filed an appeal before the Assistant Commissioner, Commercial Taxes, which was rejected. As against the rejection of the appeal, he preferred an appeal before the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal at Hyderabad. The Appellate Tribunal required proof of payment of tax from the petitioner before the appeal could be registered but the petitioner contended that this was an appeal under the Central Sales Tax Act which did not make any provision requiring proof of payment of tax as a condition for entertaining the appeal unlike the provisions of the A.P.G.S.T. Act.

2. The restriction imposed as a condition for entertaining the appeal has been challenged on two grounds : firstly, that Section 9(3) of the Central Sales Tax Act does not incorporate by reference, all the provisions of the A.P.G.S.T. Act, and in particular, Section 21(6) of that Act, but only incorporated the procedural provisions relating to filing of the appeals and, consequently, the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to insist on payment of tax as a pre-condition for entertaining the appeal ; and secondly, that even if it is held that the restriction is valid and that the Tribunal can demand payment of tax before entertaining the appeal, that restriction is discriminatory, in that other States have no provision similar to this in their respective State Acts. Sri Upendralal Waghary has sought to apply by analogy the observations of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Collector of Customs and Excise, Cochin v. A.S. Bava (Civil Appeals Nos. 2007 and 2008 of 1966 dated 27th July, 1967 A.I.R. 1968 S.C. 13), while dealing with the provisions of the Central Excises and Salt Act and of the Sea Customs Act of 1878.

3. We may at the outset point out that the provisions which their Lordships of the Supreme Court were considering were not in pan materia with the provisions which we are called upon to consider. Section 12 of the Central Excises and Salt Act authorises the Central Government to apply the provisions of the Sea Customs Act (now replaced by the Customs Act, 1962). It provides that 'the procedure relating to offences and appeals shall, with such modifications and alterations as it may consider necessary or desirable to adapt them to the circumstances, be applicable in regard to like matters in respect of the duties imposed by Section 3.' By virtue of this provision, a notification was made in 1963 declaring that the provisions of Section 129 of the Customs Act, 1962, relating to matters specified in the notification be applicable in regard to like matters, in respect of the duties imposed by Section 3 of the Central Excises and Salt Act. Sub-section (1) of Section 129 of the Customs Act provides as follows :

Where the decision or order appealed against relates to any duty demanded in respect of goods which are not under the control of customs authorities or any penalty levied under this Act, any person desirous of appealing against such decision or order shall, pending the appeal, deposit with the proper officer the duty demanded or the penalty levied.

4. The proviso and Sub-section (2) of that section have been omitted as they are not relevant for the purposes of this case. Their Lordships held that the provision relating to the deposit of tax as a condition for entertaining the appeal, contained in Section 129(1) was not a procedural provision but a substantive provision, and consequently, the notification was beyond the scope and powers conferred by Section 12 on the Central Government. The observations of S.R. Das, J., as he then was, in Hoosein Kasam Dada (India) Ltd. v. The State of Madhya Pradesh [1953] 4 S.T.C. 114, were approved and held to be applicable to the facts and circumstances of that case. Sikri, J., who delivered the judgment of their Lordships said : 'Section 129 of the Customs Act debars the hearing of them unless the duty or penalty is paid. This, it seems to us, is not procedure relating to appeals.'

5. The provisions which we have to deal in this case are not similarly worded. Sub-section (3) of Section 9 of the Central Sales Tax Act authorises the authorities for the time being empowered to assess, collect and enforce payment of any tax under the general sales tax law of the appropriate State not only to assess, collect and enforce payment of any tax including any penalty, payable by a dealer under the Central Sales Tax Act, on behalf of the Government of India and subject to any rules made under the Central Sales Tax Act in the same manner as the tax on the sale or purchase of goods under the general sales tax law of the State is assessed, paid and collected, but also empowers them to exercise all or any of the powers they have under the general sales tax law of the State. It was further provided that the provisions of such law, including provisions relating to returns, appeals, reviews, revisions, references, penalties and compounding of offences shall apply accordingly. It is under this provision of the Central Sales Tax Act that the Appellate Tribunal is seeking to apply the provisions of Sub-section (6) of Section 21 of the A.P.G.S.T. Act dealing with appeals to the Appellate Tribunal.

6. Section 21 of the A.P.G.S.T. Act deals with appeals to the Appellate Tribunal, and prescribes the procedure regulating the filing of an appeal. Sub-section (6) of that section provides that except in a case where a stay is in operation as provided in Sub-section (2-C) of Section 19, no appeal shall be entertained under Sub-section (1) unless it is accompanied by a satisfactory proof of the payment of tax as determined in any appeal under Section 19 or in revision under Section 20. It is no doubt true that this provision is a substantive provision, and unless we construe the provisions of Sub-section (3) of Section 9 of the Central Sales Tax Act pertaining to application of State law relating to appeals as being confined only to the procedural provisions relating thereto, the provisions of Section 21(6) would be equally applicable to appeals filed in respect of assessments under the Central Sales Tax Act. We do not however consider having regard to the comprehensive and all-embracing provisions of Sub-section (3) of Section 9 that only the procedural, and not the substantive, provisions of Section 21 of the A.P.G.S.T. Act were intended to be made applicable to appeals under the Central Sales Tax Act. The words 'and the provisions of such law, including provisions relating to returns, appeals, reviews, revisions, references, penalties and compounding of offences' would have the effect of applying all the provisions of the Sales Tax Act of any State. The Legislature has been careful enough to particularise the provisions relating to appeals, revisions and reviews in the State law as being made applicable to proceedings under the Central Sales Tax Act, notwithstanding the fact that the words 'the provisions of such law' would have sufficiently met the requirements, because they would apply not only to substantive provisions but also to the procedural provisions. By contrast, Section 12 of the Central Excises and Salt Act merely refers to procedure relating to offences and appeals as contained in the Sea Customs Act, and because of this, the substantive provisions of that Act could not be made applicable.

7. In The State of Mysore v. Lakshminarasimhiah Setty [1965] 16 S.T.C. 231, 239, their Lordships of the Supreme Court were considering the interpretation to be put on the words 'in the manner provided' used in Sub-section (1) of Section 9 of the Central Sales Tax Act, which directs that the tax payable by a dealer shall be levied and collected in the manner provided in that sub-section. Sikri, J., who spoke for the Court, observed:

8. The expression 'in the manner' may give rise to two conflicting views, namely (i) it is concerned only with the calculation of the tax, and (ii) it deals not only with the calculation of the rates but also the manner of levy of the tax. But Section 9(1) dispels the ambiguity for it says that the tax payable by any dealer under the Central Act shall be levied and collected in the appropriate State by the Government of India in the manner provided in Sub-section (2) ; and Sub-section (2) of Section 9 empowers the appropriate State authorities to assess, collect and enforce payment of any tax payable by any dealer under the Central Act in the same manner as the tax on the sale or purchase of goods under the general sales tax law of the State is assessed, paid and collected.... When Section 9(1) says that under the Central Act tax shall be levied in the same manner as the tax on the sale or purchase of goods under the general sales tax law of the State is assessed, paid and collected, it is reasonable to hold that the expression 'levied' in Section 9(1) of the Central Act refers to the expression 'levied' in Section 5(3)(a) of the State Act. There is no reason why the Central Act made a departure in the manner of levy of tax on the specified goods which are taxed only at a single point under the State Act; if any such radical departure was intended, the Central Act would have expressly stated so. The Central Act was passed to levy and collect sales tax on inter-State sales to avoid confusion and conflict of jurisdictions ; the tax is also collected only for the benefit of the States.

9. It is, therefore, clear from this decision that the Central Sales Tax Act did not intend to make a departure in respect of levy, assessment and collection or in respect of provisions relating to appeals, reviews or revisions including both procedural and substantive provisions relating thereto available under the particular State Sales Tax Act. The contention of the learned Advocate that the provisions of Section 21(6) of the A.P.G.S.T. Act cannot be made applicable to proceedings under the Central Sales Tax Act has, therefore, no validity.

10. The second contention of the learned Advocate in our view has equally no substance, because the discrimination which would justify striking down of a provision as offending Article 14 of the Constitution must be contained in the Act itself, discriminating things or persons classified thereunder. There can be no question of any discrimination violative of Article 14 where different State laws provide for different matters in exercise of the legislative powers conferred on them by the Constitution. To hold so would be to place a restriction on the legislative powers of the State without any criteria. That is to say, merely because State X has some provisions in the law of that State, which State Y does not provide for, Article 14 would not be applicable. It is not the case of the learned Advocate for the petitioner that the Central Sales Tax Act itself is discriminatory. It is only when the Central Sales Tax Act is read with the different State Acts that there may be some differences in exercising the right of appeal. In fact, it is difficult for us to envisage a unanimity in sales tax provisions either relating to the rate of tax, the commodities upon which tax is imposed or the point at which any particular commodity is exigible to tax. As we have said all these matters are matters within the legislative competence of the States and there is unfettered independence for each Legislature to make provisions as it thinks necessary in the best interests of that State.

11. Prior to the amendment of Article 269 of the Constitution, each State was trying to impose a tax on transactions which were inter-State transactions, by treating them as intra-State transactions. In order to avoid this confusion, Article 269 as well as List I of Schedule VII to the Constitution were amended by inserting Sub-clause (3) in Article 269 and item 92-A in List I, for the purpose of empowering Parliament to enact legislation dealing with inter-State transactions and to formulate principles for determining when a sale or purchase of goods takes place in the course of inter-State trade or commerce. The object of these amendments was to make available the amounts collected under the provisions of the Central Sales Tax Act to the respective States. With that object in view, the Central Sales Tax Act was passed and as is evident, the States were authorised by virtue of the provisions in that Act not only to levy and collect sales tax under the Central Act but to appropriate the amounts so collected as State revenues. The purpose and the object of the Act itself would therefore show that it had given freedom for each State to levy and collect sales tax in accordance with the provisions of the Sales Tax Act of that State. There could, therefore, be no question of any discrimination merely because one State Act makes in certain matters provisions different from another State.

12. In E.I. Sandal Oil Distilleries Ltd. v. State of Andhra Pradesh [1962] 13 S.T.C. 79, a Bench of this Court to which one of us (the Chief Justice) was a party, was dealing with a similar argument pertaining to discrimination, namely that Section 8 of the Central Sales Tax Act is discriminatory. Chandra Reddy, C.J., held that Section 8 had adopted the broad classification of goods; those that are completely exempted from tax and those that are partially exempted, and accepted for the purpose of exempting goods of the former kind and eschewed those of the latter. At page 86, he said:

In evolving this formula, Parliament has taken into account the laws of different States which have selected certain class of goods for general exemption and certain others for partial exemption, such as those envisaged by sections 9 and 5(3) of the State Act. Since the Central Government was acting only for the States in the matter of levy and collection of these taxes, the Act had to select the goods, which were subject to tax in those States for the levy of tax on inter-State sales. The States were the best judges on the questions as to what goods or commodities should be generally exempted in order to give protection and to stimulate trade with regard to those commodities. They appear to have made the classification on a consideration of the local needs. The section has merely accepted the selection devised by the different States. It does not by itself purport to make any classification.

13. Accordingly, the Bench held that the discrimination, if any, is not traceable to Section 8 but to the difference existing in the laws of the different States and that on that premises, it is difficult to postulate that Section 8 suffers from the vice of discrimination and that Article 14 has been violated. By a parity of reasoning, we also fail to see how the provision relating to payment of tax as a condition for entertaining an appeal can be said to be discriminatory, merely because some other States have not incorporated a similar provision in their Sales Tax Acts. There is also no material for us to consider this question, because it has not been shown whether there are any States in India which have in their Sales Tax Acts not incorporated provisions similar to the one contained in Section 21(6) of the A.P.G.S.T. Act.

14. For these reasons, we do not consider that this writ petition has any force. It is accordingly dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 100.


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