H.N. Seth, J.
1. The petitioner, Messrs. Hulas Rai Tulsi Ram Oil Mills, is a registered firm manufacturing mustard oil with the aid of Bengal type kolhus and expellers run by diesel engine. On 22nd January, 1969, the State Government issued a notification under Section 4-B, U.P. Sales Tax Act, declaring oils of all kinds other than edible oils, manufactured on ghannis by human or animal power, to be notified goods under the said Section. It further declared that with effect from the date of the notification purchase tax under Section 3-D on the first purchase of raw material by a dealer holding a recognition certificate for the manufacture of the said oil will be levied at the rate of 2 paise per rupee. In order to claim the relief granted by the aforesaid notification, the petitioner made an application on 26th March, 1969, under Rule 25-A of the Rules framed under the Act, praying for the grant of a recognition certificate. The Sales Tax Officer, Shahjahanpur, issued the recognition certificate prayed for on 9th April, 1970. It was mentioned in the certificate that it will come into effect from the date of the application, namely, 26th March, 1969. Subsequently, the Sales Tax Officer passed an order on 1st August, 1970, purporting to be under Section 22 of the U.P. Sales Tax Act, directing that the aforesaid recognition certificate was to take effect from the date of its issue, i. e., 9th April, 1970, and not from the date of the application as mentioned in it. According to the petitioner, before making alteration in the recognition certificate, the Sales Tax Officer did not issue any notice to him nor did he afford any opportunity to him to have his say in the matter. Subsequently, for the assessment year 1969-70, he assessed the petitioner to purchase tax as if the recognition certificate issued on 9th April, 1970, did not enure for that assessment year.
2. The petitioner has now approached this court for exercising its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution. He contends that the Sales Tax Officer had no jurisdiction to make any alteration in the recognition certificate without issuing notice to the petitioner. Since the petitioner made the application for issue of recognition certificate on 26th March, 1969, it was rightly mentioned in it that it was to come into effect with effect from that date. It follows that the petitioner held the recognition certificate during the period, relevant to the assessment year 1969-70, it was not liable to pay purchase tax on sarson in excess of 2 per cent and the assessment order dated 18th September, 1970, levying purchase tax at the rate of 3 per cent was without jurisdiction. The petitioner, therefore, prays for a writ of certiorari for quashing the assessment order dated 18th September, 1970, levying purchase tax at the rate of 3 per cent and also for a writ of mandamus or other order or direction commanding the Sales Tax Officer, Shahjahanpur, to treat the recognition certificate issued in favour of the petitioner as being effective with effect from 26th March, 1969.
3. The petitioner further contends that Sub-rule (5) of Rule 25-A, which specifically provides that the recognition certificate is to take effect from the date of its issue, is ultra vires and that this part of the rule should also not be enforced by the Sales Tax Officer.
4. The petition is contested on behalf of the respondents. In the counter-affidavit filed on their behalf, it is mentioned that although the application for issue of recognition certificate was moved by the petitioner on 26th March, 1969, it was not accompanied by court-fee stamp of Rs. 10. The office also put up a report to this effect. Requisite court-fee stamp of Rs. 10 was supplied on 9th April, 1970, and the recognition certificate was issued on that very day. By inadvertence it was mentioned in the certificate that it was to be effective with effect from 26th March, 1969. When the mistake was discovered, the Sales Tax Officer exercised his power under Section 22 of the U.P. Sales Tax Act and made the necessary correction. It was denied that any part of Rule 25-A is ultra vires. It may be mentioned here that in the counter-affidavit, the assertion made in the petition that the order rectifying the recognition certificate was made behind the back of the petitioner and without affording him any opportunity of being heard, has not been controverted.
5. In the rejoinder affidavit filed on behalf of the petitioner, it has been asserted that as a matter of fact the application for recognition certificate moved on 26th March, 1969, was accompanied by court-fee stamp of Rs. 10 of the erstwhile Rampur State issued by the Shahjahanpur treasury. Staff of the Sales Tax Office, Shahjahanpur, however, felt doubtful whether that court-fee stamp could be accepted. Accordingly, a note was made on the back of that stamp for making enquiry from the Treasury Officer, whether court-fee stamp belonging to the Rampur State could be validly used. Later on, the head clerk returned that stamp to the petitioner and asked him to supply another court-fee stamp which the petitioner did on 26th March, 1969 (sic). The petitioner claims that the application dated 26th March, 1969, was not defective in any manner. Court-fee stamp belonging to the Rampur State and issued by the Shahjahanpur treasury was quite valid and the Sales Tax Officer should have acted upon it. The petitioner was, therefore, entitled to recognition certificate with effect from 26th March, 1969.
6. The first question that arises for consideration is whether before directing rectification of the recognition certificate it was obligatory upon the Sales Tax Officer to issue notice to the petitioner and to afford him an opportunity of being heard. As stated earlier, the Sales Tax Officer has purported to rectify the mistake in exercise of his powers under Section 22 of the U.P. Sales Tax Act. This Section enables the assessing authority to rectify any mistake apparent on the face of the assessment record. It further provides that no such rectification which has the effect of enhancing assessment shall be made unless the authority concerned has given notice to the dealer of its intention to do so and has allowed him a reasonable opportunity of being heard. Learned counsel for the respondents contends that in this case no rectification has been made so far as quantum of assessment is concerned and, as such, the impugned order did not have the effect of enhancing the assessment made against the petitioner. In the circumstances, the further provision in Section 22 which requires notice to the dealer did not apply and the mistake, which was apparent on the face of the record, could be rectified without notice to him.
7. We are unable to accept this submission. According to the proviso to Section 22, any rectification which has the effect of enhancing the assessment should not be made without giving notice to the dealer. It cannot be disputed that, in this case, directly as a result of the order rectifying the recognition certificate, petitioner's liability to be assessed in respect of purchase tax rose from 2 per cent to 3 per cent. In our opinion, such a rectification on the face of it has the effect of enhancing the assessment which was to be made against the petitioner. It is significant to note that the proviso uses the words 'the rectification which has the effect of enhancing assessment' instead of the words 'order enhancing assessment'. This proviso, in our opinion, is not confined merely to such cases where an assessment order is rectified as such. It also covers, within its ambit, cases where rectification is ordered before actual assessment is made provided its direct result is that the assessment is to be made at a figure higher than that at which it would have been made had the order not been made. We are, therefore, of the opinion that the petitioner was entitled to a notice and opportunity of being heard before the rectification order dated 1st August, 1970, was passed.
8. In support of the contention that the recognition certificate could not be amended without notice to the dealer without affording him an opportunity of being heard, learned counsel for the petitioner also relied upon Rule 25-A(9), which lays down that the Sales Tax Officer may on his own motion, where he is satisfied that any of the events mentioned in Sub-section (4) of Section 4-B has occurred, after giving the dealer a reasonable opportunity of being heard, cancel or amend the recognition certificate. He contends that this rule clearly provides that the recognition certificate cannot be amended without notice to the dealer concerned. It may be mentioned that Rule 25-A. (9) enables a Sales Tax Officer to cancel or amend a recognition certificate only if he is satisfied that any of the events mentioned in Sub-section (4) of Section 4-B has taken place. In the present case, the certificate has been rectified as under the law it is required to take effect from the date of its issue, but by mistake it had been made effective from the date of application. Sub-section (4) of Section 4-B does not contemplate amendment of recognition certificate on this ground. In our opinion, therefore, the petitioner cannot derive any advantage from Rule 25-A(9). But, as stated earlier, in this case the certificate could not be amended under Section 22 of the Act without notice to the petitioner as it had the effect of enhancing its assessment.
9. Although the recognition certificate has been amended without following the procedure laid down in the proviso to Section 22 of the Act, this court will not exercise its extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution if it comes to the conclusion that in the circumstances of the case the order passed by the Sales Tax Officer results in restoring the correct legal position. It has been held by the Supreme Court in the case of Venkateswara Rao v. Government of Andhra Pradesh A.I.R. 1966 S.C. 828, that jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution should not be exercised in order to restore an illegal position.
10. Rule 25-A very clearly provides that a recognition certificate issued under Section 4-B (2) is to be effective from the date of its issue and not from the date on which the application for obtaining the certificate is made. The Sales Tax Officer, therefore, was in error when at the time of issuing the recognition certificate he mentioned in it that it was to be effective from 26th March, 1969, the date on which the application for obtaining the certificate is said to have been made. When he amended the certificate making it effective from 9th April, 1970, the date of its issue, he merely did what the Act and the Rules required him to do. In the circumstances, this court will not exercise its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution in order to restore a position which is not tenable in law.
11. Learned counsel for the petitioner then contended that although Section 4-B provides that the concession provided in that Section is to be available to a person who holds a recognition certificate and Rule 25-A(5) says that the recognition certificate will be effective from the date of its issue, the words used in Section 4-B and Rule 25-A(5) should not be interpreted literally. Literal interpretation of these provisions leads to an absurdity and has the effect of defeating the very object of the concession granted under the Act. In this connection he relied upon the following observations made by the Supreme Court in the case of Tirath Singh v. Bachittar Singh A.I.R. 1955 S.C. 830:
Where the language of a statute in its ordinary meaning and grammatical construction leads to a manifest contradiction of the apparent purpose of the enactment or to some inconvenience or absurdity, hardship or injustice presumably not intended, a construction may be put upon it which modifies the meaning of the words and even structure of the sentence.
12. Rules of interpretation are there for finding out the real intention of the Legislature from the words used by it in the enactment, so that full effect may be given to the legislative intent. If the grammatical construction, as pointed out by the Supreme Court, leads to a manifest contradiction of the apparent purpose of the enactment or to some inconvenience or absurdity, hardship or injustice, which presumably was not intended by the Legislature, it can be safely presumed that the Legislature did not use the expressions in its ordinary sense. These observations cannot possibly mean that irrespective of the intention of the Legislature the law courts can alter the language used in a statute or to change its meaning so as to bring in accordance with their own notions of reasonableness. As we read Section 4-B and Rule 25-A(5) it is quite clear that the Legislature intended the concessions enumerated in Section 4-B to be given to a person who holds a recognition certificate which becomes effective from the date of its issue.
13. Aforesaid conclusion is further strengthened if the language used in Section 4-B and Rule 25-A is compared with the provisions in Section 4 and Rules 19 and 19-A. Section 4 of the Act enables the State Government to exempt persons or class of persons from payment of sales tax on such condition and payment of such fees as may be specified by it. Rule 19 provides for the procedure to be adopted by a dealer for obtaining exemption certificate. According to Rule 19-A the exemption certificate issued under Rule 19 is to take effect from the date of application. It follows that in a case where it was intended that a certificate is to take effect from the date of application, it has been said so in the rules. In the circumstances, there is absolutely no reason to think that when Rule 25-A(5) states that a recognition certificate is to take effect from the date of its issue, the rule-making authority really intended that it should take effect from the date of application.
14. Learned counsel for the petitioner then urged that in case it is held that the recognition certificate is to become effective from the date of its issue as provided in Rule 25-A, the rule would be discriminatory and hit by the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution. He contends that the rule does not provide the order in which various applications for certificate are to be dealt with. It is open to the Sales Tax Officer not to pass an order on the application of one individual and to keep his application pending whereas in the case of another applicant he may make an order forthwith. Such a discretion given to the Sales Tax Officer which is not fettered by any guiding principle is clearly discriminatory. We are unable to accept this submission. According to Rule 25-A, an application for issue of a recognition certificate has to be made specifying certain facts. Sub-rule (3) provides for payment of a fee of Rs. 10. Sub-rule (4) then enjoins upon the Sales Tax Officer to make enquiries and to satisfy himself that the particulars contained in the application are correct and complete, the fee referred to in Sub-section (4) has been paid and the Security required to be furnished under Sub-section (3) of Section 4-B has been furnished by the dealer within time, before granting the recognition certificate. Now, before issuing the certificate, the Sales Tax Officer has to make enquiries which in some cases may take less time than what it would take in other cases. So far as Sub-rule (4) of Rule 25-A is concerned, it provides a clear guideline according to which the Sales Tax Officer has to issue a certificate immediately after completing the enquiry and satisfying himself that the particulars required to be furnished in the application for recognition certificate are correct. If in some case, the grant of certificate is delayed as the inquiry cannot be completed earlier and recognition certificate is issued to another dealer who applied for it subsequently, but in whose case the inquiry has been completed, it cannot be said that any discrimination forbidden by Article 14 has taken place. The time that a Sales Tax Officer takes to complete the enquiry depends upon the facts of each case and the load of work with him at a particular time. The rule-making authority has taken care to provide that as far as possible the Sales Tax Officer should complete his enquiry and issue recognition certificate within a period of 30 days from the date of application. If, however, for some reason it is not possible for the Sales Tax Officer to complete the enquiry and issue the certificate within that period, he has to report the matter to the Assistant Commissioner (Executive) and to obtain his approval for his action in not issuing the recognition certificate within 30 days. This provision has been made in order to keep supervision over the Sales Tax Officer so that he may perform his duties promptly. We are, accordingly, of the opinion that the provisions in the Act and the Rules, with regard to the issue of recognition certificate, do not violate Article 14 of the Constitution.
15. Learned counsel for the petitioner then contended that in this case, there was inordinate delay on the part of the Sales Tax Officer in issuing recognition certificate. There is no reason why if the petitioner did all that he was required to do under the law on 26th March, 1969, he should be denied the concession for whole of the assessment year 1969-70, merely because the Sales Tax Officer did not perform his duty. In the first place the reason why the petitioner's application could not be dealt with earlier has been explained in the counter-affidavit. Moreover, even if there was some lapse on the part of the Sales Tax Officer in dealing with the petitioner's application, it would not provide any justification for interpreting the clear provisions of Section 4-B and Rule 25-A in a wrong manner. If the petitioner thought that the Sales Tax Officer was delaying consideration of the application for certificate, he should have sought his remedy before an appropriate authority much earlier.
16. In the result, we are of the opinion that as the order dated 1st August, 1970, directing that the recognition certificate be effective from the date of its issue restores the correct legal position, no interference with it in exercising our jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution is called for. The petition fails and is dismissed with costs.