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Balusu Anandu and ors. Vs. Special Commercial Tax Officer (Evasions) - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case Number Writ Petition Nos. 1382, 1410, 1411, 1415, 1416 and 1432 of 1964
Judge
Reported in[1968]21STC424(AP)
AppellantBalusu Anandu and ors.
RespondentSpecial Commercial Tax Officer (Evasions)
Appellant Advocate T. Anantha Babu, ;K. Satyanarayana Murthy and ; T. Ramarao, Advs.
Respondent Advocate O. Adinarayana Reddy, Adv. for ;the Principal Government Pleader
DispositionPetition dismissed
Excerpt:
.....amended provision. - the areas can be assigned both to the commercial tax officers as well as special commercial tax officers for the purpose of making the assessment. in any case, i fail to see any inconsistency between the impugned g. once the definition of 'assessing authority' is interpreted to confer such authority, it could not be urged that the appointment of the special commercial tax officer was bad. nor can it be validly argued that the manner in which the work has been assigned to both these officers is bad in law. i am therefore satisfied that the government was competent to make the appointment of the special commercial tax officer (evasions) and was also competent to assign not only the area over which he will have authority to make the assessment but also to prescribe..........officers (evasions) under the notification, g.o. ms. no. 1091, revenue, dated 10th june, 1957, can make assessment in cases of all dealers in respect of whose transactions any suppression or omission (whether or not fraudulent or wilful) is detected by the special commercial tax officers or brought to their notice in any manner whatsoever. thus, the special commercial tax officer (evasions) whenever he is told or he learns that there has been some suppression or omission in regard to transactions which are liable to be taxed, he can make an assessment in such cases himself. i do not find any possibility of any conflict of assessment between the commercial tax officer and the special commercial tax officer. although there is no express provision in the act, it is obvious that when a case.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Gopal Rao Ekbote, J.

1. The six petitioners before me carry on their business at Kakinada. They were assessed under the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act for the year 1963-64. The petitioners submitted their returns and claimed certain deductions in their turnovers. They filed their returns before the Commercial Tax Officer. The Special Commercial Tax Officer (Evasions), Kakinada, inspected the business premises of the petitioners-assessees on different dates. During this inspection, he found that some transactions had not been entered in the returns and that the petitioners were trying to evade the payment of sales tax. The Special Commercial Tax Officer therefore issued notices to these petitioners on different dates asking them to explain as to why their assessment should not be made by him. It is to impugn these notices that these writ petitions are filed before this Court.

2. The first contention of Mr. T. Anantha Babu, the learned counsel for the petitioners, is that the appointment of the Special Commercial Tax Officer (Evasions) is inconsistent with the scheme of the Act. He cannot therefore have jurisdiction to assess the turnover of the petitioners for the purpose of taxing them. Their cases ought to have been dealt with by the Commercial Tax Officer of Kakinada. In order to appreciate this contention, it becomes necessary to read Section 2(1 )(b) of the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, hereinafter called 'the Act'.

3. Section 2(1)(b) defines 'assessing authority' which term means 'any person authorised by the State Government or by any other authority empowered by them in this behalf, to make any assessment under this Act.' It is clear from the definition that either the State Government may directly authorise any person to rnake anY assessment under the Act or such authorisation can be made by any other authority empowered by the Government in that behalf. What was argued was that Section 2(1 )(b) merely defines what is meant by 'assessing authority'. That provision does not, it is argued, substantively confer power on the Government or their nominee to authorise any person to make any assessment under the Act. I do not find any substance in this contention. It is not necessary that apart from the definition there should always be a substantive clause. The definition itself by necessary implication authorises the Government to make the appointment of assessing authorities for the purpose of making any assessment under the Act. A Full Bench of this Court held that such a power is vested in the Government by necessary implication: see Sree-ramulu Chetty v. State of Andhra [1958] 9 S.T.C. 215.

4. The next section to which my attention was drawn was Section 4. Under that section, the State Government may appoint as many Deputy Commissioners of Commercial Taxes, Assistant Commissioners of Commercial Taxes, Commercial Tax Officers and Deputy Commercial Tax Officers, as they think fit, for the purpose of performing the functions respectively conferred on them by or under the Act. Such officers shall perform the said functions within such local limits as the State Government, or any authority or officer empowered by them in that behalf, may assign to them. A reading of that section would indicate that no territorial limits are put upon the jurisdiction of the Deputy Commissioners of Commercial Taxes, Assistant Commissioners of Commercial Taxes, Commercial Tax Officers and Deputy Commercial Tax Officers in the section. The section merely empowers the Government to make the appointment of these officers and also delegates the power to the State Government to prescribe the local limits within which such officers shall perform their functions. It is for the State Government under this delegation of power to assign to these officers the work which they have to perform within specified local limits.

5. Rules 7, 8 and 9 of the rules made under the Act indicate how the dealers have to submit their returns and to whom. According to Rule 7, in the case of a dealer having more than one place of business returns prescribed by the rules shall be submitted by the head office in the State and each branch has also to submit returns according to that rule. Under Rule 8, every dealer liable to pay tax under the Act shall, within 30 days of the commencement of the Act, submit to the assessing authority of the area concerned a return in Form A-1 showing the total and net turnovers of his business separately in goods liable to different rates of tax in the twelve months immediately preceding . the commencement of the Act. Similarly, Rule 9 prescribes that every dealer in goods liable to pay tax under the provisions mentioned in that rule and every agent of a nonresident dealer commencing business after 15th June, 1957, shall within 30 days of the commencement of the business submit to the assessing authority of the area in which his principal place of business is situated, a return in Form A.

6. It is true that under these rules, every dealer has to submit his returns to the assessing authority of the area concerned. I have already pointed out that under Section 4, it is the State Government which is to assign the local limits to the officers who are appointed by the Government under Section 4 of the Act.

7. On the basis of these provisions of law, it was contended by Mr. T. Anantha Babu that the dealers had a right to get their assessment done only by the assessing authorities of the area, in this case Kakinada. The Special Commercial Tax Officer (Evasions) therefore cannot insist that the assessment of the petitioners shall be made by him. It was therefore contended that the appointment of the Special Commercial Tax Officer and his trying to make the assessment became inconsistent with Rules 7, 8 and 9. Consequently, it was urged that the Special Commercial Tax Officer cannot have jurisdiction to make the assessment. Reliance was placed on Section 64 of the Income-tax Act and observations appearing in some Supreme Court decisions relating to that section. It is true that Section 64 of the Income-tax Act enjoins that the assessment shall be made by the officer of the area concerned. But no such provision appears in the Sales Tax Act. What Rules 7, 8 and 9 say is that the dealers should submit their returns to the assessing authorities of the area concerned. But those rules do not enjoin upon the assessing authorities of the area concerned alone to make the assessment and nowhere it is laid down that no other person could make the assessment. The observations made by the Supreme Court in the decisions cited before me undoubtedly say that the assessees have a right to get their assessment normally made by the assessing authority of the area concerned. But their Lordships also have held that if the case or cases are properly transferred under the relevant Act, the other officer also can make the assessment. In view of the different provisions of the Income-tax Act and the Sales Tax Act, it cannot be urged successfully that an assessee under the Sales Tax Act has a right to get his assessment made only by the assessing authority of the area concerned. Section 4 of the Act is wide enough to empower the Government to assign a local area to a Special Commercial Tax Officer. Section 2(1)(b) empowers the Government to make such an appointment. The areas can be assigned both to the Commercial Tax Officers as well as Special Commercial Tax Officers for the purpose of making the assessment. It is true that both these officers in some respects will have concurrent powers to make the assessment under the Act. But it must be remembered that while the Commercial Tax Officer of an area would deal with all the cases, the Special Commercial Tax Officers (Evasions) under the Notification, G.O. Ms. No. 1091, Revenue, dated 10th June, 1957, can make assessment in cases of all dealers in respect of whose transactions any suppression or omission (whether or not fraudulent or wilful) is detected by the Special Commercial Tax Officers or brought to their notice in any manner whatsoever. Thus, the Special Commercial Tax Officer (Evasions) whenever he is told or he learns that there has been some suppression or omission in regard to transactions which are liable to be taxed, he can make an assessment in such cases himself. I do not find any possibility of any conflict of assessment between the Commercial Tax Officer and the Special Commercial Tax Officer. Although there is no express provision in the Act, it is obvious that when a case is dealt with by the Special Commercial Tax Officer under the said notification, the Commercial Tax Officer of the area concerned will refrain from dealing with that case. I do not find any inconsistency between the notification appointing the Special Commercial Tax Officer and empowering him to make assessment in cases where transactions were suppressed or omitted from the return. It is for the Special Commercial Tax Officer to select the cases and that he can do if he has informed himself because of some inspection which he made or in any other manner whatsoever. Merely because there are two authorities operating in the same field to some extent, it cannot be said that their appointment and their making assessment would be inconsistent with each other. The law authorises the appointment of both these officers and limits the character of cases which they have to deal with. While the Commercial Tax Officer would deal with all the cases, the Special Commercial Tax Officer (Evasions) under the notification would deal only with those cases where he feels that there has been some evasion. In any case, I fail to see any inconsistency between the impugned G.O. and the provisions of the Act or the rules made thereunder. It was not contended that the Government could not have appointed the Special Commercial Tax Officer. Once the definition of 'assessing authority' is interpreted to confer such authority, it could not be urged that the appointment of the Special Commercial Tax Officer was bad. Nor can it be validly argued that the manner in which the work has been assigned to both these officers is bad in law. I am therefore satisfied that the Government was competent to make the appointment of the Special Commercial Tax Officer (Evasions) and was also competent to assign not only the area over which he will have authority to make the assessment but also to prescribe the character of cases in which he could make such assessment. The impugned G.O. Ms. No. 1091 dated 10th June, 1957, therefore does not, in my opinion, suffer from the infirmity alleged by the learned Advocate for the petitioners.

8. It was then contended that the G.O. confers uncontrolled and unregulated powers of selecting cases on the Special Commercial Tax Officer (Evasions). It was contended that the Special Commercial Tax Officer is likely to be arbitrary in selecting such cases. Such uncanalized powers, therefore, argues the learned counsel, are violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. He relies on Dwarka Prasad v. State of U.P. A.I.R. 1954 S.C. 224 at 227 in support of this contention. I do not think I can give any effect to this contention. Clause (iii) of the proviso to paragraph II of the impugned notification, which is very relevant, is in the following terms:

A Commercial Tax Officer specially appointed for the investigation of evasions shall within his jurisdiction exercise, at his discretion, the powers of an assessing authority in the case of all dealers in respect of whose transactions any suppression or omission (whether or not fraudulent or wilful is detected by such officer or brought to his notice in any manner whatsoever.

9. If it is borne in mind that in so far as the procedure relating to making of the assessment is concerned it is the same whether the assessment is made by the Commercial Tax Officer of the area concerned or a Special Commercial Tax Officer (Evasions) appointed under the said G.O., there will be no difficulty in reaching the conclusion that there is no invidious discrimination made between the members of the same class. What Article 14 postulates is that among equals law shall be equal and shall be equally administered. It is not disputed that the assessees, whose transactions have been suspected to be suppressed or omitted (whether or not fraudulent or wilful) can be classed together. Between the members of this class the notification does not make any distinction. It empowers the Special Commercial Tax Officer to select all or such cases which are brought to his notice. The notification clearly provides a guidance to the Special Commercial Tax Officer regarding the cases which he can choose for the purpose of making the assessment. It is only in cases where he detects or it is brought to his notice that there has been some suppression that he makes the assessment. Once he makes that selection, then, as stated earlier, the entire procedure would be the same and nothing was pointed out to me to establish that there is any invidious discrimination between the general assessees and the assessees who are suspected of suppressing their transactions. Their rights are the same excepting the fact that the Special Commercial Tax Officer in some cases is empowered to select the case in which he would make the assessment. There is no particular discrimination which could be pointed out by the learned counsel for the petitioners, and I am clearly of the opinion that in order to make selection of cases where he would make the assessment, Clause (iii) provides sufficient guidance and mentions the categories of cases which he could select for the purpose of making the assessment. The decision cited before me was in reference to the Coal Control Order which on the face of it was quite arbitrary. There was no right of appeal in that case. In this case, however, it is not denied that apart from the fact that the procedure before the Commercial Tax Officer and the Special Commercial Tax Officer is not only the same, in both these cases, appeals and revisions are provided against their orders of assessment under the same provisions of the law. When no unequal treatment is meted out either between the members of the same class or even between the general assessees and the assessees selected for the purpose of making assessment by the Special Commercial Tax Officer (Evasions), I fail to see how the provisions of Article 14 can be said to be attracted to these cases. I was not impressed by the argument that merely because it is the notification and not the Act which empowers the Special Commercial Tax Officer (Evasions) to select the case that the treatment would be unequal. But it is not disputed that if this provision had appeared in the Act, it could not have been found fault with. I fail to see what difference it makes when a notification is validly issued under the same Act, the validity of which is not attacked on any other ground. Some argument was advanced that the assessees would find it difficult to go to Kakinada to get their assessment made by the Special Commercial Tax Officer (Evasions) whose jurisdiction comprises of not only Kakinada but two other adjoining districts. In this case, that question does not arise because the petitioners are the residents of Kakinada where they also carry on their business. When the headquarters of the Special Commercial Tax Officer is at Kakinada, I do not know how the petitioners can be said to be inconvenienced because their cases would be dealt with by the Special Commercial Tax Officer (Evasions) rather than by the Commercial Tax Officer at Kakinada. There are no features therefore in these cases which indicate that the impugned G.O. confers uncanalized powers on the Special Commercial Tax Officer (Evasions) particularly when there is a right of appeal and revision under the Act against the assessment order made by any such Special Commercial Tax Officer. I am satisfied that the impugned G.O. does not suffer from the vice of being inconsistent with Article 14 of the Constitution.

10. Finally it was contended that Section 5A is not valid in law. The argument was that it is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution as it makes invidious distinction between those assessees whose turnover is more than three lakhs and those whose turnover is less than three lakhs. I had occasion to consider this argument in W.P. No. 1207 of 1964 since reported as The Guntur District Co-operative Marketing Society Ltd. v. The State of Andhra Pradesh and Anr. [1967] 20 S.T.C. 476, and I rejected such a contention by the judgment dated 16th June, 1966. That conclusion was based upon an earlier Bench decision of this Court. I do not therefore experience any difficulty in rejecting that contention.

11. Since no other argument was advanced, I find no merit in these writ petitions. The writ petitions are therefore dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 50 in each case.


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