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Shri Ram Shanker Lal Vs. Collector of Mirzapur and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Misc. Writ Nos. 2204, 2205, 2206, 2207 and 2208 of 1957
Judge
Reported inAIR1960All732
ActsConstitution of India - Article 226; Bihar Sales Tax Act; Sales Tax Laws Validation Act, 1950 - Sections 2
AppellantShri Ram Shanker Lal
RespondentCollector of Mirzapur and anr.
Appellant AdvocateS.C. Khare, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateT.N. Sapru, Adv. and ;Standing Counsel
DispositionPetitions dismissed
Excerpt:
(i) sales tax - sale made during the period specified - section 2 of sales tax laws validation act, 1956 - sale made in the course of interstate trade - state can impose tax - whether levy made within or beyond specified period. (ii) constitution - writ jurisdiction - article 226 of constitution of india - collection of sales tax - assessed by collector - acting as an agent of state - writ of mandamus not maintainable. - - this question has been dealt with at length in that case and it will he futile for me to incorporate all the argument which bad been urged before the supreme court......superintendent of sales tax and the state of bihar, who are responsible for the enactment of the bihar sales tax act and its enforcement. in their absence to declare invalid an act made by the legislature of bihar would, in my opinion, not be proper, and since both these authorities are beyond the jurisdiction of this court, i do not think that this court should issue any writ or direction. however, as on the merits i do not agree, i do not wish to elaborate on this point any further. 5. learned counsel for the petitioner placed reliance on the case of the bengal immunity company limited v. the state of bihar, 1955-2 scr 603: ((s) air 1955 sc 661) under which these taxes were not valid taxes. it was after the decision of that case that the sales tax laws validation act (act vii) of.....
Judgment:
ORDER

V.D. Bhargava, J.

1. These are five connected writ petitions filed by five different petitioners who had been assessed to sales tax by the State of Bihar. The State of Bihar had sent an order of collection to the Collector of Mirzapur, who was making collections on behalf of the State of Bihar. These writ petitions have been filed on the ground that the order passed by the State of Bihar under the Sales Tax Laws Validation Act VII of 1956 was not a valid one and, therefore, the Collector of Mirzapur has no jurisdiction to realise the illegal tax on behalf of the sales tax authorities at Bihar.

2. The real order, which is being challenged, is the order of the Assistant Superintendent, Sales Tax, Central Circle, Bihar, Patna. Unless the order of that authority is set aside no mandamus can be issued to the Collector of Mirzapur directing him not to realise tax. So long as that order stands it will be deemed to be a valid order and if it is a valid order then no objection can be taken to the realisation of tax by the Collector of Mirzapur. He is only acting as an agent of the State of Bihar. The matter was considered by me at length in Writ Petn. No. 1747 of 1957, Altafur Rahman v. Collector Central Excise Allahabad, decided on 7th January 1960, (AIR 1960 All 551), where I have held:--

''The reason given for this finding was that by issuing a writ against the agent or the subordinate authority under those circumstances, the High Court would be putting him in a position, whereby, he would be compelled to disobey the orders of his principal, and directions would be of no avail for the simple reason, that an agent or the inferior authority was to obey all lawful directions of his principal and not directions, which the High Court holds to be unlawful or not justified in law.' In the circumstances mentioned, the Collector, Mirzapur would obey the order unless set aside by proper authority in whose jurisdiction the Collector is situate and he cannot be restrained from realising the tax.

3. Learned counsel for the petitioner has placed reliance on a Bench decision of this Court in Moinuddin v. Deputy Director, Military Lands and Cantonments, Eastern Command, AIR 1956 All 684, where it was held that:

'The jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 can be exercised within the territories in relation to which its ordinary jurisdiction extends, and further a direction, order or writ under that Article can be issued only to a person or authority residing within those territories. The mere fact that the official or authority concerned whose central office is beyond the jurisdiction of the Court has also an office or property within the jurisdiction of the High Court will not give it a jurisdiction to issue a direction, order or writ against him.' So far as that portion of the judgment is concerned, it agrees with my view. But reliance was actually placed on another portion of the judgment where it has been mentioned:

''But where an order of an official or authority, who is not resident within the jurisdiction of the Court is a total nullity and is altogether inoperative, it may be ignored, and the official, who resides within the jurisdiction of the Court and, who intends to put such a null and void order into effect, may be restrained, because, in such a case, this Court will not he issuing even indirectly any direction, order or writ to the official body residing beyond the limits of the jurisdiction of the Court.'

4. It was observed on the basis of this observation that the order of the Assistant Superintendent of Sales Tax, Patna was wholly a null and void order and, therefore, a writ or direction can be issued to the Collector of Mirzapur not to obey that order. Reliance was further placed by learned counsel on the decision in E. Sefton and Co., Mirzapur v. Textile Mill Mazdoor Union, AIR 1958 All 80, where this decision appears to have been followed though not in very clear words. I felt a little hesitant in following the distinction which has been drawn in these cases and the matter might have been referred to a larger Bench, but in my opinion the order of the Assistant Superintendent Sales Tax cannot be said to be null and void and therefore, this question does not arise at all in the present case.

In my opinion the validity or invalidity of that order could not be tested in the absence of the Assistant Superintendent of Sales Tax and the State of Bihar, who are responsible for the enactment of the Bihar Sales Tax Act and its enforcement. In their absence to declare invalid an Act made by the Legislature of Bihar would, in my opinion, not be proper, and since both these authorities are beyond the jurisdiction of this Court, I do not think that this Court should issue any writ or direction. However, as on the merits I do not agree, I do not wish to elaborate on this point any further.

5. Learned counsel for the petitioner placed reliance on the case of the Bengal Immunity Company Limited v. The State of Bihar, 1955-2 SCR 603: ((S) AIR 1955 SC 661) under which these taxes were not valid taxes. It was after the decision of that case that the Sales Tax Laws Validation Act (Act VII) of 1956 was enacted by the Parliament. By Section 2 of that Act it was enacted:

'Notwithstanding any judgment, appeal or order of any Court, no law of a State imposing or authorising the imposition of a tax on the sale or purchase of any goods where such sale or purchase took place in the course of inter-State trade or commerce during the period between the 1st day of April, 1951, and the 6th day of September, 1955, shall be deemed to be invalid or ever to have been invalid merely by reason of the fact that such sale or purchase took place in the course of inter-State trade or commerce; and all such taxes levied or collected or purporting to have been levied or collected during the aforesaid period shall be deemed always to have been validly levied or collected in accordance with law.'

The Bengal Immunity Company's case 19.55-2 SCR 603: ((S) AIR 1955 SC 661) came up for consideration of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in a later case, after the Sales Tax Laws Validation Act had been passed, in the case of Sundararamier and Co. v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 1958-9 STC 298: (AIR 1958 SC 468). They came to the conclusion that:

'The policy behind the Sales Tax Laws Validation Act, 1956 is to declare the law as interpreted in State of Bombay v. United Motors (India) Ltd., AIR 1953 SC 252, as law governing sales falling within the Explanation up to the date of the judgment in Bengal Immunity case, 1955-2 SCR 603: ((S) AIR 1955 SC 661) and to give effect to the law as laid down in that decision for the sales effected subsequent thereto.'

They further held that:

'The effect of the provision (contained in the Sales Tax Laws Validation Act) was merely to liberate the State laws from the fetter placed on them by Article 286(2) and to enable such laws to operate on their own terms. The true scope of the Act is that it lifts the ban imposed on the statutes against taxing inter-States sales and not that it validates or ratifies any such laws.' They further held that the Sales Tax Laws Validation Act was not ultra vires the Parliament. The Act according to that decision was in no sense a temporary Act and its life was not limited to any specific period; it was a permanent statute operating on all sales which took place during the specified period. They had specifically considered the question whether the impugned Act validated only levies and collections made during the specified period, or whether it authorised imposition and collection of taxes on such sales in future.

'The sum and substance of that decision, as I have been able to understand, is that if the sale has taken place, during the specified period then in that case it was open to the State to impose tax on inter-State sale also, whether the levy has been made within the specified period or beyond the period mentioned in the Act. This question has been dealt with at length in that case and it will he futile for me to incorporate all the argument which bad been urged before the Supreme Court. I think that the decision being of the Supreme Court is final and has set the matter at rest, and under the circumstances I do not think that the legality of the tax can be challenged now after that decision.

6. If the tax was a legal tax then, in that event, the other question that had arisen could not be agitated. Learned counsel for the petitioner argued that no opportunity had been given to him to contest the assessment. On the other hand, it has been denied by the opposite party. It is a pure question of fact whether opportunity had been given or not. That question could, if at all, be decided in a writ petition by the High Court within whose jurisdiction the assessment had taken place.

7. Another ground taken by learned counsel for the petitioner was that actually these were not the sales at all within the Bihar Sales Tax Act. That again has been denied in the counter affidavit and will also be a question depending on the facts, which I do not think that I can go into, in this writ petition.

8. Another ground that has been taken is a preliminary ground on behalf of the opposite party that there was a right of appeal under the Bihar Sales Tax Act and also a right of revision and review, and those remedies have not been availed of. I think that would be another ground for not entertaining this writ petition.

9. Under the circumstances I see no force in these writ petitions. They are accordingly dismissed with costs.


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