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Camphor and Allied Products Ltd. Vs. the Additional Revising Authority, Sales Tax and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Misc. Writ Petition No. 214 of 1977
Judge
Reported in[1979]43STC107(All)
AppellantCamphor and Allied Products Ltd.
RespondentThe Additional Revising Authority, Sales Tax and anr.
Appellant Advocate Bharatji Agarwal, Adv.
Respondent Advocate The Standing Counsel
DispositionPetition allowed
Cases ReferredInc. v. Appellate Assistant Commissioner
Excerpt:
.....the act contemplated a reference in respect of an interlocutory order passed under section 10. a revising authority while disposing of a revision passes not only orders adjudicating upon the rights of the assessee qua matters arising out of the orders by the appellate authority under section 9, but interlocutory orders, like adjourning a revision, refusing to permit an assessee to add grounds to the memorandum of revision filed and various other orders. 20, the question arose as to whether a reference application under section 66 lay against an order of the tribunal refusing to condone the delay in presentation of an appeal under section 33. it was held that as the order effectively terminated the appeal, a reference' was maintainable. an appeal filed before the appellate assistant..........was enhanced by the sales tax officer. he, thereupon, filed stay application before the additional revising authority for stay of the disputed tax and also made an application for waiver of one-third of the disputed tax. this application was made under section 10(4) of the act. the additional revising authority rejected the application for waiver, vide order, which is in the following terras:heard the parties and gone through the papers. in my opinion, no special and adequate reasons are made out. waiver is rejected.2. the petitioner has challenged this order on the ground that no reasons are given by the revising authority for passing the impugned order.3. sri v. d. singh, the learned standing counsel appearing for the respondents, has taken a preliminary objection to the.....
Judgment:

C.S.P. Singh, J.

1. The petitioner is a registered dealer. He submitted his return of turnover. That was rejected and the turnover was enhanced by the Sales Tax Officer. He, thereupon, filed stay application before the additional revising authority for stay of the disputed tax and also made an application for waiver of one-third of the disputed tax. This application was made under Section 10(4) of the Act. The additional revising authority rejected the application for waiver, vide order, which is in the following terras:

Heard the parties and gone through the papers. In my opinion, no special and adequate reasons are made out. Waiver is rejected.

2. The petitioner has challenged this order on the ground that no reasons are given by the revising authority for passing the impugned order.

3. Sri V. D. Singh, the learned standing counsel appearing for the respondents, has taken a preliminary objection to the maintainability of the petition. He has contended that the petitioner has an alternative remedy by filing a reference application and, as such, the petition is not maintainable. Before we enter into the question whether it was necessary that the revising authority should have given reasons for its order, it is necessary to dispose of this objection. In order to appreciate this contention, it is necessary to refer to Section 10(3), as it stood before the amendment, as also at present:

(3) (i) The revising authority or any additional revising authority may, for the purposes of satisfying itself as to the legality or propriety of any order made by any appellate or assessing authority under- this Act, in its discretion, call for and examine, either on its own motion or on the application of the Commissioner of Sales Tax or the person aggrieved, the record of such order and pass such order as it may think fit:

Provided that no such application shall be entertained in any case where an appeal lay against the order but was not preferred :

Provided further that an application for stay of realisation of any amount of tax, fee or penalty, shall not be entertained by the revising authority or by any additional revising authority unless an appeal or revision from the order of the assessing authority or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is pending before proper authority....

4. This provision has now been amended and the revisional power and power of granting stay which was contained in Section 10(3) earlier has been now split up into two sections, viz., Sections 10(2) and 10(4) of the Sales Tax Act, which are to the following effect:

(2) The revising authority or an addititional revising authority, on an application of the Commissioner of Sales Tax aggrieved by any order made by an assessing or appellate authority, or of any other person aggrieved by an order made by an appellate authority, not being an order mentioned in Section 10-A, may, in its discretion, for the purpose of satisfying itself as to the legality or propriety of such order, call for and examine the relevant record and, after giving the parties a reasonable opportunity of being heard and after making such further inquiry, if any, as it deems necessary, ...

(4) The revising authority or any additional revising authority, on an application of the dealer, may, after giving the Commissioner of Sales Tax an opportunity of being heard, stay the realisation of any amount of tax, fee or penalty payable by him under an order against which an appeal or revision is pending.

5. Both, before the amendment of Section 10 and as it now stands, it was necessary to serve copies of the order passed on the stay application. The provision of service of the order was earlier contained in Section 10(3-A) and is now contained in Section 10(5), which is to the following effect :

(5) A copy of the order passed by the revising authority or the additional revising authority, as the case may be, under any provision of this section or under Section 11 shall be served forthwith on both the applicant and the opposite party.

6. A reference of question of law arising out of the order of the revising authority is provided for by Section 11 with which at the time when the revising power and power of stay were combined in Section 10(3) was to the following effect:

11. Statement of case to the High Court.-(1) Within one hundred and twenty days from the date of service of the order [under Section 10(3)]...

7. It will be noticed that earlier a reference lay against an order passed under Section 10(3). Now, a reference lies against an order passed under Section 10. The learned standing counsel contended that the amendment to Section 11, which provides for a reference against an order passed under Section 10 is significant. It was urged that, in view of the amendment, a reference lies against every order passed under Section 10, and an order passed under Section 10(4), as is the case here, is covered by Section 11(1). The change in the phraseology of Section 11 is not of much significance, for earlier also the power of stay was contained in Section 10(3), and a reference lay against an order passed under Section 10(3). Thus, the amendment to Section 11(1) does not support the contention of the respondents. It was vehemently urged that as the words 'under Section 10' have been used in Section 11 of the Act, a reference lies at least in respect of such orders which are provided for specifically in Section 10. Phraseology of Section 11 is undoubtedly wide. It also cannot be denied that the revising authority passes orders regarding waiver and stay under Section 10(4), for it is this subsection which specifically provides for orders being passed on applications for waiver and stay. These orders have to be served on the assessee, as earlier the provision for service of the order was contained in Section 10(3-A) of the Act and now is contained in Section 10(5) of the Act. Section 11(1), which provides for making a reference application, states that the period of limitation starts running from the date when the order under Section 10 is served upon the assessee. Thus prima facie the conditions requisite for making a reference, viz., the existence of an order under Section 10, the service of the order passed under that provision, which starts the period of limitation, exist so as to attract the provision of Section 11(1). The question, however, remains as to whether the legislature while enacting Section 11(1) of the Act contemplated a reference in respect of an interlocutory order passed under Section 10. A revising authority while disposing of a revision passes not only orders adjudicating upon the rights of the assessee qua matters arising out of the orders by the appellate authority under Section 9, but interlocutory orders, like adjourning a revision, refusing to permit an assessee to add grounds to the memorandum of revision filed and various other orders. Was it the intention of the legislature to provide for a reference under Section 11 in respect of all such interlocutory or incidental orders which did not dispose of the revision Similarly, as regards stay matters where an appeal is pending before the appellate authority or a revision before the revising authority, before it finally decides the waiver and stay application has necessarily to pass interlocutory or incidental order before it finally disposes of the stay or waiver application. In order to resolve this dilemma, it will be useful to refer to cases under the Income-tax Act. Under the Income-tax Act, 1922, as also under the Income-tax Act, 1961, provision for reference is made in respect of questions of law arising out of appellate orders passed by the Tribunal. We may notice some cases bearing on the question as to the type of the orders passed by the Tribunal in exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, in respect of which a reference application can be made to the High Court. In the case of Commissioner of Income-tax, U. P. v. Shamsher Jang Bahadur [1951] 20 I.T.R. 31, a decision of our own Court, an appeal had been filed under Section 33 of the Income-tax Act, 1922, against appellate order of the Assistant Commissioner. While hearing the appeal, the Tribunal came to the conclusion that further material was required for disposing of the appealand, as such, directed the Income-tax Officer to make further investigation and send a report. After the Income-tax Officer's report was received, the Tribunal disposed of the appeal, and while so disposing of the appeal it considered only those matters in respect of which the remand report was called for from the Income-tax Officer, as the controversy in respect of other items of income had been disposed of earlier, while calling for a remand report. A reference application was made by the department against the final order passed by the Tribunal. An objection was taken that the reference was time-barred and it was contended that the limitation for making the reference started running from the date when the Tribunal passed the first order deciding the controversy between the parties in respect of some items of income and calling for a remand report from the Income-tax Officer in respect of others. This contention was rejected on the ground that Section 33(4), which dealt with the powers of the Tribunal, and against which an application could be made under Section 66, contemplated a final order which disposed of the appeal. It was held that the reference was within time. Thus, although the words under Section 66 of the Income-tax Act referred to a reference application being made against an order passed by the Tribunal under Section 33(4), the court took the view that the order in respect of which a reference could be made was the final order passed by the Tribunal under Section 33(4). Trikamlal Maneklal, Re [1958] 33 I.T.R. 725 is a decision of the Bombay High Court and it was held that there was nothing express or implicit under Section 33(4) and Section 66(1) of the Income-tax Act, 1922, which required that the order passed by the appellate authority against which an application for reference of a question of law may be made must be an order finally disposing of the assessment of the assessee. All that was required was that the order must be such that in so far as the Tribunal is concerned, it disposes of questions about the rights or obligations of the assessee. In R. Renganayaki Ammal v. Commissioner of Income-tax, Madras [1960] 38 I.T.R. 20, the question arose as to whether a reference application under Section 66 lay against an order of the Tribunal refusing to condone the delay in presentation of an appeal under Section 33. It was held that as the order effectively terminated the appeal, a reference' was maintainable. In Munnu Al & Sons v. Commissioner of Income-tax, U. P. [1965] 55 I.T.R. 508, a decision of this Court, the Tribunal had made an order on 15th December, 1955, calling upon the Income-tax Officer to make a report on certain points. The assessee applied for a reference. It was held that the order of the Tribunal calling upon the Income-tax Officer to make a report was not an order in respect of which reference would lie. The principle applied for reaching this conclusion was that Section 33, which contains the appellate power of the Tribunal, contemplated only one order, and that is the final order in respect of which a reference could be made. It did not take within its embrace interlocutory orders of the type in respect of which reference was sought for. The Bench also referred to the difficulty which the Tribunal would face in cases if reference against interlocutory orders were permitted, for it took the view that the opinion of the High Court on an interlocutory matter, would not enable the Tribunal to dispose of the appeal before it, conformably to the judgment passed by the High Court. This view was sought to be supported by the legislative practice that appeals against interlocutory orders did not find favour with the legislature. In Balbhadar Mai Kuthiala v. Commissioner of Income-tax, Punjab [1957] 31 I.T.R. 930, it was held that a reference lies only against an order passed by the Tribunal under Section 33(4) of the Act and it was not maintainable against orders passed by the Tribunal subsequent to the disposal of the appeal in exercise of its inherent jurisdiction. In Commissioner of Income-tax, West Bengal v. Calcutta Discount Co. [1971] 82 I.T.R. 941, the appellant had wanted to raise additional grounds of appeal and that was rejected by the Tribunal. It was held that the order of the Tribunal rejecting the application for additional grounds was not an order under Section 33(4), and no reference against such an order was permissible. In Commissioner of Income-tax, Madras v. MTT. AR. S. AR. Arunachalam Chettiar [1953] 23 I.T.R. 180 (S.C.), the Tribunal had partly allowed the appeal of the assessee and when the matter came before the Income-tax Officer for recomputation of the income, he made an order which was not favourable to the assessee. An appeal filed before the Appellate Assistant Commissioner failed on the ground that it was not maintainable.

8. The assessee, thereupon, made a miscellaneous application on the ground that the order passed by the Income-tax Officer was not proper, as it was not passed in the course of giving effect to the Tribunal's order. On a reference being filed, it was held that the reference was incompetent, as the orders passed by the Tribunal were not under Section 33(4) of the Act. What do these decisions lead us to In our view, they suggest that a reference does not lie against an interlocutory order. It lies only against an order which decides the substantive rights of the parties. Looked at from this point of view, an order passed by the revising authority on a stay or a waiver application in a revision pending before it does not finally dispose of the revision. It is essentially an interlocutory order and, as such, no reference under Section 11(1) lies in respect of such an order. The same, we think, would be the position in respect of a stay or waiver application made where an appeal is pending before the appellate authority, for although the revising authority finally disposes of the stay and waiver application, the appeal still remains pending before the appellate authority. The legislature must be presumed to have knowledge of the Income-tax Act, which contained pari materia provisions for reference, and the decisions given under that Act to the effect already indicated. This being so, it is permissible to interpret the words 'order passed under Section 10', as occurring in Section 11, as meaning only final orders which decided the rights of the parties substantively. No substantive rights of the parties are decided in a waiver or stay application. One cannot also lose sight of the fact that, in most cases, reference applications in respect of an order passed by the revising authority on a waiver or stay application would become academic, for by the time the reference is disposed of, the appeal or revision would itself be decided. Further, as the revising authority has, after receiving the decision of the High Court, to dispose of the 'case' in conformity with the decision, it is not possible to hold that the word 'case' means a part of the case. The rational interpretation to adopt is that the orders in respect of which a reference is permissible under Section 11 are orders not in the nature of interlocutory orders, but orders which decide the substantive rights of the parties in the assessment proceedings. In view of these conclusions, the preliminary objection raised on behalf of the State must fail.

9. Coming now to the merits of the controversy, viz., as to whether it was incumbent on the revising authority to give reasons for rejecting the applications :

The revising authority discharges judicial functions while deciding the revision and the stay and waiver applications. The order under Section 10(4) of the Act is subject to scrutiny under articles 136 and 226 of the Constitution. The order as such must be a speaking order and the decision given must be supported by reasons, so that the superior court is assured that it is in accordance with law and is not a result of caprice, whim, fancy, or reached on the basis of policy or expediency (see Mahabir Prasad Santosh Kumar v. State of U. P. A.I.R. 1970 S.C. 1302 and Travancore Rayons Ltd. v. Union of India A.I.R. 1971 S.C. 862). Absence of reasons vitiates the conclusions of a judicial authority. In the Travancore Rayons case A.I.R. 1971 S.C. 862, the order passed by the Government of India ran as under :

Government of India have carefully considered the points made by the applicant(s), but see no justification for interfering with the order under appeal.

10. The order was struck down on the ground that reasons for rejecting the points in appeal had not been disclosed. In Bhagat Raja v. Union of India A.I.R. 1967 S.C. 1606, the Supreme Court deprecated the practice of one word order of the type 'rejected' or 'dismissed'. Similarly, in the case of Dhondi Ba Gundu Pomaje v. State of Maharashtra A.I.R. 1976 S.C. 1151, the High Court had dismissed a criminal appeal summarily under Section 421 of the Code of Criminal Procedure by one word order 'dismissed' ; it was held that some reasons should have been given by the High Court why no arguable case was made out on a perusal of the record. There is a vital difference between the conclusions and reasons. Reasons are the links between the materials on which conclusions are based. The actual conclusion should disclose how the mind is applied to the subject-matter for a decision, and should reveal a rational nexus between the facts considered and the conclusion reached : see Union of India v. M. L. Capoor A.I.R. 1974 S.C. 87 at 98. What is the position here We have already extracted the order. It discloses that the revisional authority heard the parties and went through the papers. It, however, did not give any reasons for its conclusion. It is not possible for this Court to guess what weighed with the Judge (Revisions) for holding that the petitioner had not made out a case for the exercise of its discretion under Section 10(4) of the Act. The standing counsel contended that whatever may be the position under the general law, inasmuch as the second proviso to Section 10(4) contemplates a speaking order only in cases where the revising authority decides to waive or relax the requirements of the first proviso, it is not necessary to give any reason for rejecting the application. According to him, reasons are necessary only in cases where the revising authority allows the application. We are unable to accept this contention. The second proviso does not absolve the revisional authority from giving reasons for rejecting an application. All that it provides for is that the waiver application should be allowed only for special and adequate reasons and not as a matter of course. If this contention of the standing counsel is to be accepted, the revisional authority would be absolved from giving reasons for its revisional order also, for Section 10(2) does not contain any explicit provisions for the revisional authority giving any reasons for its ultimate order. Similar is the position under Section 9. But as against an order passed under Section 9, a revision lies and a reference lies against an order passed under Section 10 to this Court, it is incumbent on those authorities to give reasons while disposing of the appeal and the revisions. The legislature need not provide for the obvious, and as the necessity for giving reasons is inherent in the nature of judicial function, the omission to provide by statute the necessity for giving reasons does not lead one to the result that the revisional and appellate authorities can pass orders with faces of sphinx. Such a course is an antithesis of the judicial process. This is, however, not to say that detailed reasons need be given for refusing stay or waiver applications. All that law requires is that reasons appropriate to the controversy should be recorded. Thus, in a stay or waiver application all that is required is that some reasons should be given to support the conclusion reached for rejecting the application. Our attention is drawn to a single Judge decision of this Court in Raza Textiles Ltd. v. Additional Judge {Revisions), Sales Tax, Moradabad 1977 S.T.I. 31, where an order of the type with which we are concerned had come up for consideration. The writ petition was dismissed on the ground that as the order was discretionary, it was not an appropriate case for interference under Article 226 of the Constitution. With respect, we are unable to agree with this view. The mere fact that the revising authority had a discretion to grant or refuse stay or waiver application does not take the case out of the ambit of Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Even discretionary orders are amenable to interference under Article 226 of the Constitution where a case had been made out for interference. Lack of any reasons for passing an order under Section 10(4) can be interfered with on the principle initiated by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in the case mentioned earlier. The Madras High Court in the case of Chesebrough Pond's Inc. v. Appellate Assistant Commissioner [1973] 32 S.T.C. 464 has, with respect, rightly held that although the power of stay under the Sales Tax Act is discretionary, a laconic order unsupported by reasons cannot be upheld.

11. We accordingly allow the writ petition and quash the impugned order. As the appeal filed by the petitioner has been pending before the appellate authority for a considerable length of time, we direct the appellate authority to dispose of the appeal within a month of the receipt of this order. The said period to run as from the date on which the order is communicated to it by the assessee and on the assessee putting in appearance. The stay order is discharged. No order as to costs.

12. This order will govern Writ Petitions No. 756 of 1976, 250 of 1977, 233 of 1977, 187 of 1977, 323 of 1977, 334 of 1977, 7 of 1977, 219 of 1977 and 231 of 1977.


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