1. The petitioner is a company incorporated and registered under the Indian Companies Act, 1913, and has its registered office at 121, Queen's Road, Bombay, It curries on the business of manufacturing and selling cement and has its factories in various States of India including a factory known as Krishna Cement Works at Tadepalli within the Guntur district. It is a 'registered dealer' within the meaning of the Madras General Sales Tax Act as it applied to the former State of Andhra. This writ petition relates to sales tax levied from the petitioner with respect to the assessment year commencing from 1st April, 1955, and ending with 31st March, 1956. The company objected on various grounds to the imposition of the tax on five categories of transactions of sale carried on by it. The Commercial Tax Officer, Guntur West, who was the original taxing authority overruled the objections and has determined the amount of tax payable by the petitioner at a particular amount. An appeal against his order is admitted to be pending before the Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, Guntur. This petition seeks the issue of a writ of certiorari quashing the order of the Commercial Tax Officer
2. Now the Act provides not only an appeal to the Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes but a further appeal to the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal with a right to take up the matter still further in revision to the High Court. This is the ordinary course of a tax dispute contemplated by the Act. In view of these statutory provisions, I do not think it would be proper for this Court to interfere at this stage with the order of the Commercial Tax Officer. The petitioner, it is to be noticed, is not seeking a writ of prohibition. The proceedings have advanced far beyond the stage where one could be asked for; they have actually resulted in a determination by the initial taxing authority of the amount of tax exigible from the petitioner. In my opinion, it would certainly be an extroradinary thing for this Court to ignore the provisions of the Act and by-pass the tribunals created by it for the hearing and determination of objections to the levey of the tax. The petitioner complains that he has to pursue a long and expensive course before reaching the High Court. That would be so in every similar case. Nor can the fact that the case involves a very considerable sum justify intervention. It would set up a very bad precedent, the effect of which would be to abrogate the ordinary statutory provisions providing a regular machinery for the settlement of disputes between an assessee and the State.
3. The case cited by Mr. Narasimha Ayyangar, i.e., Bengal Immunity Co , Ltd. v. State of Bihar 1955 S.C.J. 672, was a case where the Supreme Court was called upon to issue a writ of prohibition and not a writ of certiorari. There the proceedings sought to be initiated were wholly without jurisdiction and the petitioner objected at the earliest moment to his being launched upon a long career of litigation before he reached the highest Court. There a question of the right of the State to impose the tax and the jurisdiction therefor of the officer concerned was involved. I agree that the mere existence of an alternative remedy does not necessarily preclude the exercise by this Court, of its power under Article 226 of the Constitution. But when a person has started on a course of proceedings which ultimately would lead to this Court, it would not be proper for it to interfere at an earlier stage. On this ground I think the writ petition ought to be dismissed.
4. The writ petition is dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 250.