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British India Corporation Ltd. Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case Number Civil Miscellaneous Writ Petition No. 2192 of 1957
Judge
Reported in[1962]13STC459(All)
AppellantBritish India Corporation Ltd.
RespondentState of Uttar Pradesh and ors.
Appellant Advocate J. Sarup and ; V.K.S. Chaudhry, Advs.
Respondent Advocate The Standing Counsel
DispositionPetition dismissed
Excerpt:
.....the district of mirzapur during the assessment years 1948-49 to 1953-54. sales tax was payable on 'woollen goods and knitting wool' at six pies per rupee under entry 3, list i, of notification no. the decision of the single judge was very well known in business circles and had raised high hopes in the breasts of the business community of this state that wherever sales tax had been paid under a mistake of law, it was refundable. it is well settled, that whosoever seeks relief by having recourse to the extraordinary remedy of a writ petition, must approach the court with expeditiousness. 10. reference was made to the dictionary meanings of these very simple and well known words in the english language. it is well known to legislative practice that sometimes, merely by way of abundant..........the meaning of the two words 'woollen goods' together all that they mean is articles made of wool. yarn is undoubtedly movable property, merchandise or ware. woollen carpet yarn, as the name implies is yarn, made of wool, for use in the manufacture of carpets. it follows that woollen carpet yarn is a variety of 'woollen goods'. it has not been possible for the learned counsel to show to me, how it can be argued that 'woollen goods' would not include woollen carpet yarn merely because that yarn may be specially or only adaptable for use in the manufacture of carpets.11. i am of the view that the addition of 'knitting wool' in the entry 'woollen goods and knitting wool' also, does not support learned counsel's submission. it is well known to legislative practice that sometimes,.....
Judgment:

Brijlal Gupta, J.

1. This is a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution.

2. The relief claimed in this petition is that a writ of certiorari may be issued quashing the assessment orders for the years 1948-49 to 1953-54 made under the U.P. Sales Tax Act in so far as they imposed sales tax on 'woollen carpet yarn' at 6 pies per rupee and not at 3 pies per rupee, and to issue a writ of mandamus requiring the respondents to refund a sum of Rs. 83,731-2-6, the difference between sales tax at 6 pies per rupee and 3 pies per rupee, at which latter rate according to the petitioner 'woollen carpet yarn' was properly chargeable to sales tax.

3. The material facts are that the petitioner, British India Corporation Ltd., supplied woollen carpet yarn to Obeetee Ltd., a well known carpet manufacturing company in the district of Mirzapur during the assessment years 1948-49 to 1953-54. Sales tax was payable on 'woollen goods and knitting wool' at six pies per rupee under entry 3, List I, of Notification No. ST-117/X-923-I948, dated 8th June, 1948, issued by the State Government under Section 3-A of the U. P. Sales Tax Act. The petitioner collected sales tax at this rate from Obeetee Ltd. Subsequently, on 16th March, 1955, an objection was raised by Obeetee Ltd., that woollen carpet yarn did not come within the entry 'woollen goods and knitting wool' but was chargeable to sales tax at three pies per rupee, as on general goods, under Section 3, and demanded refund at three pies per rupee on the supplies made to it by the petitioner during the periods in question. On receipt of this objection, the petitioner referred the matter to the Assistant Commissioner, Sales Tax, for his opinion. The Assistant Commissioner by letter dated 22nd March, 1955, replied to the petitioner that woollen carpet yarn was assessable at six pies per rupee, but that if the petitioner so desired, it might consult its legal advisers. Thereafter, the Carpet Manufacturers' Association, Mirzapur, made a representation to the Commissioner, Sales Tax, that woollen carpet yarn could be taxed only as general goods under Section 3 at the rate of three pies per rupee and by letter dated 12th July, 1955, the Commissioner 'confirmed the aforesaid premises' which probably means that he agreed with the point of view of the Association. Thereupon, on 16th February, 1956, the petitioner applied to the Assistant Commissioner, Sales Tax, for refund. On 21st September, 1956, a letter was received from the Assistant Commissioner, that instructions from the Deputy Commissioner, Sales Tax, had since been received, and he was of opinion that no refund was admissible. Thereafter an application for refund was again made on 18th December, 1956, but by letter dated 18th May, 1957, refund was again refused. The writ petition was then filed in this Court on 6th September, 1957.

4. The learned counsel for the petitioner argued that consequent upon the decision of this Court reported in The Stale of U. P. and Ors. v. Kanhaiya Lal Makund Lal Saraf [1956] 7 S.T.C. 579, the mistake was discovered that sales tax, in excess of three pies per rupee had been paid under the mistake of law that woollen carpet yarn did not come under general goods but came under the entry 'woollen goods and knitting wool,' and that on the discovery of this mistake, the petitioner became entitled to the refund of the excess amount of sales tax paid.

5. Two supplementary affidavits were filed, in addition to the affidavit originally filed with the petition. By these supplementary affidavits, a valiant effort has been made to explain the delay, which was caused in filing the writ petition. It is not possible to come to the conclusion that the delay has been satisfactorily explained. The decision reported in The State of U. P. and Ors. v. Kanhaiya Lal Makund Lal Sarraf [1956] 7 S.T.C. 579 is of 1st December, 1955, and must have been published in the law reports by the middle of 1956. This was the decision of the Division Bench in the special appeal. The decision of the Single Judge was dated 30th November, 1954, and was widely published in the newspapers. The decision of the Single Judge was very well known in business circles and had raised high hopes in the breasts of the business community of this State that wherever sales tax had been paid under a mistake of law, it was refundable. In any case, I see no justification at all why the petitioner waited for one whole year after 21st September, 1956, before coming to this Court, and merely contented itself by repeating its request for refund by another application made on 18th December, 1956. This application was refused on 18th May, 1957. The filing of the writ petition in this Court on 6th September, 1957, is beyond 90 days even from this date. It is, therefore, clear that the petitioner tarried long and unjustifiably before coming to this Court. The attempt, which I have described as a 'valiant attempt' made in the two supplementary affidavits to explain the delay, does not convince me that the delay was caused for any valid reasons. It seems to me that some kind of explanation has been spun out, merely for the sake of explaining away the delay. I am quite clear that the petitioner was wasting time unnecessarily.

6. The matter may be examined from another point of view. The question about the rate at which woollen carpet yarn was chargeable to tax, depending upon the meaning and scope of the entry 'woollen goods and knitting wool' was raised by Obeetee Ltd. as early as 16th March, 1955, nearly two years and a half before the filing of the writ petition. The case of Kanhaiya Lal Makund Lal Sarraf, [1956] 7 S.T.C. 579 did not decide this question. It merely laid down that tax paid under a mistake of law may be refundable in certain circumstances. Refund was refused on 21st September, 1956. The petitioner should have come up to this Court immediately after this date as Kanhaiya Lal Makund Lal Sarraf did in that case to claim refund of sales tax in respect of forward transactions of sales upon decision of the case reported in Sales Tax Officer v. Budh Prakash Jai Prakash [1954] 5 S.T.C. 193.

7. In view of the facts already stated above and rejecting the explanation given in the supplementary affidavits, I am of the view that this writ petition must be dismissed on the ground of delay and laches alone. It is well settled, that whosoever seeks relief by having recourse to the extraordinary remedy of a writ petition, must approach the Court with expeditiousness. It would not be a sound exercise of the discretion of this Court in granting relief under Article 226 to entertain stale claims.

8. However, as learned counsel has addressed me at some length on the merits of the writ petition, I propose to enter into the merits also. The argument is that woollen carpet yarn is not covered by the entry 'woollen goods and knitting wool' and, therefore, it must necessarily come under general goods. It is argued that as general goods are assessable at three pies per rupee, woollen carpet yarn is assessable at that rate, and not at six pies per rupee at which 'woollen goods and knitting wool' are assessable.

9. The short question for decision so far as the merits are concerned is whether woollen carpet yarn is included in the entry 'woollen goods and knitting wool'. The argument of the learned counsel is twofold: (1) that 'woollen goods' cannot include woollen carpet yarn, and woollen carpet yarn is not included in 'knitting wool'. Therefore woollen carpet yarn does not fall under the entry 'woollen goods and knitting wool'. And (2), that even if woollen carpet yarn falls within 'woollen goods' then by reason of the separate mention of 'knitting wool' under the entry and 'knitting wool' being admittedly one variety of yarn, it must be taken that the intention of the legislature was to exclude from 'woollen goods' woollen yarn of all kinds other than 'knitting wool' which it, therefore, specifically mentioned.

10. Reference was made to the dictionary meanings of these very simple and well known words in the English language. 'Woollen' is merely an adjective from 'wool'. 'All that it means is, something which is made of or manufactured from wool. 'Goods' is generally descriptive of movable property, merchandise or wares. Taking the meaning of the two words 'woollen goods' together all that they mean is articles made of wool. Yarn is undoubtedly movable property, merchandise or ware. Woollen carpet yarn, as the name implies is yarn, made of wool, for use in the manufacture of carpets. It follows that woollen carpet yarn is a variety of 'woollen goods'. It has not been possible for the learned counsel to show to me, how it can be argued that 'woollen goods' would not include woollen carpet yarn merely because that yarn may be specially or only adaptable for use in the manufacture of carpets.

11. I am of the view that the addition of 'knitting wool' in the entry 'woollen goods and knitting wool' also, does not support learned counsel's submission. It is well known to legislative practice that sometimes, merely by way of abundant caution, expressions or descriptions are used, which are not strictly necessary to convey the meaning. They are used only for the sake of clarity and to dispel doubt and uncertainty. According to the meaning of 'woollen goods' as shown above, 'knitting wool' would also be included in that expression, and, therefore, to my mind, it was not necessary to add to the words 'woollen goods' the words 'knitting wool' separately. As already stated, the only reason for the addition of those words appears to me to be, merely by way of abundant caution to make the language of the entry fool-proof, and to avoid any possible chance of misunderstanding. It is true that 'knitting wool' is a particular kind of woollen yarn, but merely because a particular kind of woollen yarn has been specifically added to the general description 'woollen goods' it does not follow that other classes of woollen yarn, in this particular case, woollen carpet yarn, should be deemed to have been excluded from that description. The petitioner's counsel Sri Jagdish Swarup and the learned author of the book, 'The Interpretation of Indian Statutes' has not been able to point out to me any principle of statutory construction that by the addition of a mere superfluity, abundenti cautela, something can be derogated from the amplitude of the general expressions used in a particular notification or other statutory provision. On the other hand, I find the rule of interpretation stated by high authority as follows:-

In Yorkshire etc. Insurance Co. v. Clayton (1881) 8 Q.B.D. 421, at 424, Lord Jessel, M. R., observed at page 424 as follows :-

It may not always be possible to give a meaning to every word used in an Act of Parliament and many instances may be found of provisions put into statutes merely by way of precaution.

12. In Income Tax Commissioners v. Pemsel [1891] A.C. 532, Lord Macnaghten at page 589 observed as follows :-

Nor is surplusage, or even tautology, wholly unknown in the language of the Legislature. It is not so very uncommon in an Act of Parliament to find special exemptions which are already covered by a general exemption.

13. In that very case, it was observed by Lord Herschell at page 574 as follows :-

Such specific exemptions are often introduced ex majori cautela to quiet the fears of those whose interests are engaged or sympathies aroused in favour of some particular institution, and who arc apprehensive that it may not be held to fall within a general exemption.

14. The same propositions were laid down by Lord Jesse], M. R., in Fryer v. Morlands (1876) 3 Ch. D. 675, at 685 and by Lord Brett, M.R., in Hough v. Windns (1883) 12 Q.B.D. 224, at p. 232. In Re Bank of London, (1871) I-R- 6 Ch. App. 421, at p. 426 Lord Hatherley said :-

I do not attach much importance to the exception of insurance companies in Section 27 of 20 & 21 Viet. C. 14. I think it is mere surplusage, and unfortunately such surplusage is not uncommon in Acts of Parliament.

15. Learned counsel also sought to draw inspiration for his argument by a comparison of the language of this particular entry with the language used in some other entries in the relevant list. He was, however, not able to show to me how a comparison with the language of the other entries in that list helps him to establish his point regarding the meaning of the particular entry in this case. Accordingly, I must overrule learned counsel's submission, and hold that woollen carpet yarn is included in the entry 'woollen goods and knitting wool'. It follows that it was properly chargeable at six pies per rupee and not at three pies, and no amount is therefore refundable to the petitioner.

16. Certain other points were mentioned in the grounds in the writ petition but in the view that I took of the true meaning of the relevant entry, learned counsel did not consider it necessary to address me on those other points.

17. For the reasons stated above, this writ petition must fail and is accordingly dismissed with costs.


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