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Binjusaria Khandasari Sugar Mills Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberTax Revision Case No. 2 of 1977 and C.M.P. No. 4915 of 1977
Judge
Reported in[1978]41STC12(AP)
AppellantBinjusaria Khandasari Sugar Mills
RespondentState of Andhra Pradesh
Appellant AdvocateS. Dasaratharama Reddi, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateGovernment Pleader for Commercial Taxes
DispositionPetition dismissed
Excerpt:
- - this substance is different from molasses in name, in appearance, in quality, in price and in use as well. when we do not get assistance from the taxing statutes, we will have to travel to other enactments and to the dictionaries to gather the meaning of the word 'molasses'.it may also be pointed out that there is nothing like liquid jaggery as pointed out by the tribunal. the mollassine gur thus prepared is semi-crystalline, hard and good in taste. we are satisfied that the tribunal is right in holding that the substance is molasses and, consequently, according to the provisions of the andhra pradesh general sales tax act, it is taxable at 25 per cent......that is now subjected to tax at the rate of 25 per cent. all along, it has been treated as a liquid substance. it is also clear that molasses are obtained in the process of manufacturing sugar or khandasari sugar. it is stated that these molasses are processed twice or thrice according to the area to extract more and more sugar. it may be that ultimately it is reduced to a solid form, but so long as it retains a liquid form or a semi-liquid form it does not lose the characteristics of molasses. that is the decision of the tribunal and we see no reason to differ from it. the definition of the word 'molasses' given in the molasses control order, 1961, read with clause 11 thereof and the meaning given to it in the dictionaries and the very name which the petitioner itself gave to the.....
Judgment:

A. Sambasiva Rao, C.J.

1. The question in this tax revision case is:

Is the mother liquor which the petitioner calls liquid jaggery and patla gur produced by him during the course of manufacture of khandasari sugar liable to be taxed as molasses ?

2. The petitioner says that this commodity cannot be taxed as molasses and sales tax can be levied only as gur or general commodity. On the other hand, the department maintains and this argument has been upheld by the hierarchy of the authorities including the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal that it is taxable as molasses.

3. We will then note a few material facts. The petitioner is a dealer in khandasari sugar and jaggery. This problem arose in respect of the assessment year 1974-75. For that year, the petitioner submitted a return showing a turnover of Rs. 31,465 relating to sales of what he called 'liquid jaggery' (patla gur) and claimed that it should be taxed at 6 per cent only as jaggery, while the Commercial Tax Officer treated it as 'molasses' and taxed it at 25 per cent. The Assistant Commissioner confirmed the view of the Commercial Tax Officer. In second appeal also, the view was upheld. Hence, the present tax revision case by the petitioner.

4. Sri Dasaratharama Reddi points out that patla gur is a residue obtained during the process of manufacturing of khandasari sugar by the open pan process as distinct from the vacuum pan process. It is liquid jaggery and not molasses. This substance is different from molasses in name, in appearance, in quality, in price and in use as well. The average rate of jaggery is Rs. 150 per quintal, while the rate of patla gur is only Rs. 5 per quintal. The rate of molasses is only Re. 1. Further, patla gur is used for animals whereas molasses is used for fertilisers. He therefore urges that the Tribunal is wrong in thinking that it is molasses and taxing the commodity at 25 per cent.

5. The word 'molasses' is not defined in the Sales Tax Act. When we do not get assistance from the taxing statutes, we will have to travel to other enactments and to the dictionaries to gather the meaning of the word 'molasses'. It may also be pointed out that there is nothing like liquid jaggery as pointed out by the Tribunal. However, Sri Dasaratharama Reddi relies on a monograph prepared under the auspices of the Indian Central Sugarcane Committee which has dealt with patla gur.

6. There is no dispute that the petitioner is manufacturing khandasari sugar by the open pan process and that this process is somewhat different from the manufacture of regular sugar by the vacuum pan process. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the meaning of the word 'molasses' as 'uncrystallised syrup drained from raw sugar; syrup got from raw sugar, syrup got from sugar in process of refining, treacle'. The Chambers's 20th Century Dictionary, 1972 Edition, gives the meaning of the word 'molasses' thus:

A thick treacle that drains from sugar.

7. Apart from the meaning that is given to the word 'molasses' by the dictionaries, the nature of molasses can be described as a residue obtained in refining sugar. In the process of manufacturing ordinary sugar or khandasari sugar, the residue that is obtained is a thick, dark, uncrystallised syrup. It is generally used in the manufacture of arrack, alcohol, cattle feed and manure and for other purposes. In this connection, we may refer to the Molasses Control Order, 1961, issued by the Government of India. Clause 2(2) of the Order defines 'molasses' thus :

the mother liquor produced in the final stage of manufacture of sugar by the vacuum pan process from sugarcane or gur;

8. Clause 11 of the same Order provides for application of provisions of the Order to molasses prepared by the open pan process. It says:

The provisions of this Order shall apply to and in relation to molasses prepared by the open pan process (that is to say, mother liquor produced in the final stage of the manufacture of khandasari sugar by the open pan process) from sugarcane or gur with the aid of power as they apply to and in relation to mother liquor produced in the final stage of the manufacture of sugarcane or gur with the aid of power.

9. The proviso to that clause is not necessary for the present consideration. In fact, these provisions were relied on by the learned counsel for the petitioner before the Tribunal. Evidently, he wanted to rely on the definition contained in Clause 2(2) of the above Control Order. There, he contended that mother liquor produced in the final stage of manufacture of khandasari sugar by the open pan process from sugrcane or gur cannot be called as molasses to attract the levy of tax at 25 per cent under entry 55 of the First Schedule to the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act. But Clause 11 of the Order shows that mother liquor produced in the final stage of the manufacture of khandasari sugar by the open pan process is also known as molasses. Therefore, reading Clause 2(2) with Clause 11 of the above Control Order clinches the issue that the mother liquor produced in the final stage of the manufacture of khandasari sugar by the open pan process is also known as molasses. The substance which is now held to be molasses by the Tribunal and to which the name of patla gur or liquid jaggery is given by the petitioner is undoubtedly mother liquor produced in the final stage of the manufacture of khandasari sugar by the open pan process. Such being the case, it is undoubtedly molasses. Therefore, the Tribunal is right in coming to the conclusion that the substance was molasses and is liable to be taxed accordingly.

10. However, as we have pointed out, Sri Dasaratharama Reddi relies on the monogarph prepared by the Indian Central Sugarcane Committee. The passage in that monograph to which we are referred by the learned counsel is under the caption : 'Manufacture of Molassine Gur'. Sub-title (ii) is 'Manufacture of molassine gur from exhaust molasses by mixing clarified juice'. The process described is in the following manner :

A weighed amount of cane juice is taken in a flat bottomed pan furnace and clarified with Deola mucilage in the usual way. Skimmer exhaust molasses equal to one-third of weight of cane juice is then mixed with the clarified juice. The mixture is boiled to gur in the ordinary way. The mollassine gur thus prepared is semi-crystalline, hard and good in taste. It can be distinguished with difficulty from the average quality gur sold in the market. It will be seen from the data given in the table that the purity of the gur prepared from clarified cane juice and exhaust molasses mixed with proportion of 3: 1 is 54-95, i. e., over 9 units higher. Leaving aside the chemical composition of this gur, it compares favourably with the ordinary gur available in the market. But owing to the increase in the impurities due to the addition of, molasses its keeping quality during rainy season is comparatively poor'. At a later stage it is stated in the monograph that 'the impurities of the diluted molasses get a better chance to come up to the surface and are then easily removable. During the boiling of the molasses, a solution of sodium bicarbonate in water is added after the removal of scum. This helps the impurities still remaining to come up in the form of white scums which are removed with the ladle. The boiling temperature of the molasses is to be kept to 122C to 125oC to get them proper strikes. The pan containing the concentrated mass is then removed from the furnace and the contents are poured into the cooling pan. Further operations are the same as followed for making gur in the usual way. This molassine gur is only a little inferior to gur made from fresh juice and its yield is much higher than that obtained in Northern India.

11. It is on these passages that Sri Dasaratharama Reddi strongly relies to demonstrate that what is ultimately got as patla gur is a hard substance as distinct from the liquid form of molasses. But, as pointed out by the Tribunal, the substance which is now taxed as molasses at the rate of 25 per cent is liquid in form. Indeed, the petitioner himself called it as liquid jaggery. Therefore, the discussions contained in the monograph relating to the preparation of jaggery or molassine gur are not of much assistance for finding out the actual nature and character of the substance that is now subjected to tax at the rate of 25 per cent. All along, it has been treated as a liquid substance. It is also clear that molasses are obtained in the process of manufacturing sugar or khandasari sugar. It is stated that these molasses are processed twice or thrice according to the area to extract more and more sugar. It may be that ultimately it is reduced to a solid form, but so long as it retains a liquid form or a semi-liquid form it does not lose the characteristics of molasses. That is the decision of the Tribunal and we see no reason to differ from it. The definition of the word 'molasses' given in the Molasses Control Order, 1961, read with Clause 11 thereof and the meaning given to it in the dictionaries and the very name which the petitioner itself gave to the substance as liquid jaggery leave no doubt that the substance is still in the nature of molasses.

12. To sustain his contention, Sri Dasaratharama Reddi relies on quite a number of decisions. They are : Hindustan Agencies v. Deputy Commissioner (C.T.), Hyderabad (1977) 1 A.P.L.J. 190, where vim is held to be soap ; Nooka Agaiah v. Government of Andhra Pradesh (1976) 2 A.P.L.J. 329, where rice and puffed rice are held to be separate substances; Sri Siddhi Vinayaka Coconut & Co. v. State of A.P. [1974] 34 S.T.C. 103. where coconuts and watery coconuts were held to be separate commodities; Kotak & co. v. State of A.P. [1962] 13 S.T.C. 709. where cotton and cotton seed were held to be separate commodities ; Baliah Setty v. State of A.P. [1962] 13 S.T.C. 726, where butter and ghee were held to be separate substances; and finally Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes v. Iyanar Coffee and Tea Co. [1962] 13 S.T.C. 457, where coffee and French coffee were held to be separate from each other. It is also pointed out by the learned counsel that patla gur is treated and considered as different from molasses even in common parlance and the meaning given to it in common and trade parlance is the criterion to decide the nature of the substance for the purpose of fixing tax. These decisions no doubt point out the difference between the various substances unlike the first case, Hindustan Agencies v. Deputy Commissioner (C.T.), Hyderabad (1977) 1 A.P.L.J. 190, where it was held that vim is also soap. The process of manufacturing khandasari sugar from molasses on the second and third occasions is not disputed. More than once, they are subjected to the process of manufacturing khandasari sugar and the liquid that comes out of the manufacturing process so being completed, still remains to be in the nature of molasses. The difference in price or the difference in use may not change the basic characteristic of this liquid. It is the liquid from out of which khandasari sugar is manufactured and it is the liquid out of which khandasari sugar has been extracted once or twice earlier. Therefore, as the Tribunal has pointed out, the basic characteristic and nature of molasses remains with this liquid product. We are satisfied that the Tribunal is right in holding that the substance is molasses and, consequently, according to the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, it is taxable at 25 per cent. The question therefore is answered in favour of the revenue and against the assessee. The tax revision case is dismissed. Since we are informed that this is the first time that this question has come up for consideration, we direct the parties to bear their own costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 200.

13. Sri Dasaratharama Reddi seeks leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. We have not experienced any difficulty in finding ourselves to be in agreement with the view taken by the Tribunal. It may be that this decision applies to the commodity that is manufactured by several khandasari units. By itself, it is no ground for granting a certificate. We see no substantial question of law and, therefore. we decline to grant a certificate. The request is therefore rejected.


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