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The Indian Iron and Steel Co. Ltd. Vs. Sales Tax Officer and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Misc. Writ No. 1908 of 1972
Judge
Reported in[1973]32STC95(All)
AppellantThe Indian Iron and Steel Co. Ltd.
RespondentSales Tax Officer and anr.
Appellant AdvocateB.P. Agarwal, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateStanding Counsel
DispositionPetition allowed
Excerpt:
.....the rectification of an error of judgment. 487, where it was held that 'hume pipes' were not 'sanitary fittings'.it was observed in that case that every article connected with sanitation does not come within the expression 'sanitary fittings',which is restricted to such articles as are used in bath-rooms and lavatories like commodes, cistern tank, urinals, etc. but he has recorded no such finding, even though the petitioner in his written objection had clearly stated that the pipes in question were not used as 'sanitary fittings',but were used for laying water lines to carry water or steam under pressure and were sold to water works and sugar mills. we must record-our strong disapproval of this attitude of the department. 10. we are satisfied that the present case was neither..........the sales tax officer issued a notice under section 22 of the act on the ground that the pipes in question were 'sanitary fittings' and were liable to tax under section 3-a at the rate of 8 per cent. the petitioner filed a written objection dated 13th september, 1971, contending that neither the pipes in question were 'sanitary fittings' nor was section 22 applicable. the sales tax officer has overruled this objection and has passed the impugned order levying tax at the rate of 8 per cent.3. now, section 22 has a limited scope. it cannot be used to rectify every type of mistake. in concrete spun pipe works v. the sales tax officer, sector v, kanpur [1969] 24 s.t.c. 48, this court has clearly laid down that the jurisdiction of the assessing authority under section 22 is confined.....
Judgment:

R.L. Gulati, J.

1. This petition under Article 226 of the Constitution is directed against an order dated 7th December, 1971, passed by the first respondent, the Sales Tax Officer, Sector 4, Kanpur, under Section 22 of the U. P. Sales Tax Act.

2. In respect of the assessment year 1967-68, the petitioner was assessed to sales tax on the turnover of spun pipes and G. I. pipes at the rate of 3 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively by an assessment order dated 23rd December, 1967. Thereafter the Sales Tax Officer issued a notice under Section 22 of the Act on the ground that the pipes in question were 'sanitary fittings' and were liable to tax under Section 3-A at the rate of 8 per cent. The petitioner filed a written objection dated 13th September, 1971, contending that neither the pipes in question were 'sanitary fittings' nor was Section 22 applicable. The Sales Tax Officer has overruled this objection and has passed the impugned order levying tax at the rate of 8 per cent.

3. Now, Section 22 has a limited scope. It cannot be used to rectify every type of mistake. In Concrete Spun Pipe Works v. The Sales Tax Officer, Sector V, Kanpur [1969] 24 S.T.C. 48, this court has clearly laid down that the jurisdiction of the assessing authority under Section 22 is confined to the rectification of mistakes apparent on the face of the record of the assessment and it does not envisage the rectification of an error of judgment. That was also a case of an assessee engaged in the manufacture and sale of cement and concrete pipes, the turnover of which was assessed at the rate of 2 per cent., which was later enhanced to 7 per cent, under Section 22 on the ground that cement concrete pipes come within the description of 'sanitary fittings'. This court held that Section 22 was not applicable to such a case and the order passed under that Section was quashed.

4. The petitioner objected to the jurisdiction of the Sales Tax Officer on the basis of this ruling. This is what the petitioner said in its written objection of 13 th September, 1971 :

We further draw your kind attention towards the ruling of the High it of Allahabad in the case of Concrete Spun Pipe Works v. The Sales Tax Officer, Sector V, Kanpur [1969] 24 S.T.C. 48, that the action under Section 22 of the U.P. Sales Tax Act cannot be taken when the matter involved is an error of judgment so far as law is concerned and not a mistake apparent from the records which only is rectified under Section 22 of the U. P. Sales Tax Act, 1948.

5. The objection of the petitioner was fully borne out from the aforesaid ruling of this court. But the Sales Tax Officer has chosen to ignore it and has not said a word about it in the impugned order.

6. Now coming to the merits, we find that the matter is again completely covered by two decisions of this court. In Commissioner of Sales Tax v. Jagan & Co. Sales Tax Reference No. 469 of 1970 decided on 6th july, 1971, this court held that A. C. pipes were not 'sanitary fittings'. It followed an earlier decision of this court in Indian Hume Pipe Co. v. Commissioner of Sales Tax Civil Misc. Writ No. 1111 of 1970; since reported in [1972] 29 S.T.C. 487, where it was held that 'hume pipes' were not 'sanitary fittings'. It was observed in that case that every Article connected with sanitation does not come within the expression 'sanitary fittings', which is restricted to such Articles as are used in bath-rooms and lavatories like commodes, cistern tank, urinals, etc. Both these decisions were brought to the notice of the Sales Tax Officer and in fact a copy of the judgment in the case of Jagan Co Sales Tax Reference No. 469 of 1970 decided on 6th july, 1971, was also filed before him. Now, according to the ratio of these two cases the pipes in question could only be held to be 'sanitary fittings' if the Sales Tax Officer gave a finding that they were used in lavatories and bath-rooms. But he has recorded no such finding, even though the petitioner in his written objection had clearly stated that the pipes in question were not used as 'sanitary fittings', but were used for laying water lines to carry water or steam under pressure and were sold to water works and sugar mills. It is thus clear that in the absence of a finding that the pipes in question were used in bath rooms and lavatories, the Sales Tax Officer was bound to hold that they were not 'sanitary fittings' in accordance with the law laid down by this court in the aforesaid two decisions.

7. There is no reference of the cases in the impugned order. However, from the letter of the Sales Tax Officer dated 3rd September, 1971, (annexure A) it appears that he tried to distinguish these cases on the ground that neither of them dealt with G. I. pipes. That distinction to our mind is frivolous. Whether the pipes in question were of one kind or the other made no difference whatsoever. What was material was to find if they were used in bath-rooms and lavatories, according to the test laid down by this court.

8. The Sales Tax Officer has followed the decision of the Judge (Revisions), in the case of Commissioner of Sales Tax v. Pyarelal Om Prakash (Revision Application No. 1149 of 1965 decided on 13th April, 1967), where it has been held that G. I. pipes are 'sanitary fittings'. The standing counsel has shown us a copy of that decision. It does not contain any reason, but is based upon a decision in another case. It is obvious that the Sales Tax Officer has chosen to follow the decision of the Judge (Revisions) in prefernce to the decision of this court. This was highly improper. The decision of a Judge (Revisions) may be carried out by a Sales Tax Officer in a particular case, but he cannot treat such a decision as a precedent to be followed in other cases in preference to and in contravention of the law laid down by this court. This is an elementary principle which the Sales Tax Officer ought to have known.

9. What is more distressing is that in the counter-affidavit filed on behalf of the respondents no attempt has been made to make amends for the gross impropriety committed by the Sales Tax Officer and instead an attempt has been made to justify his action. We must record-our strong disapproval of this attitude of the department. We make it clear that the law laid down by this court is binding upon all the sales tax authorities and it is to be followed even if any of the sales tax authorities entertains a contrary view.

10. We are satisfied that the present case was neither covered by Section 22 nor were the pipes in question 'santitary fittings'.

11. Accordingly, the petition is allowed with costs. The impugned order dated 7th December, 1971 (annexure C to the writ petition), is quashed.

12. A copy of this judgment may be sent to the Commissioner of Sales Tax, U. P., Lucknow.


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