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Shreeram Vastra Bhandar Vs. Sales Tax Officer and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax;Excise
CourtMadhya Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case Number Miscellaneous Petition No. 64 of 1976
Judge
Reported in1980MPLJ282; [1980]46STC107(MP)
AppellantShreeram Vastra Bhandar
RespondentSales Tax Officer and ors.
Appellant Advocate G.M. Chaphekar, Adv.
Respondent Advocate M.V. Tamaskar and ; J.M. Sood, Government Advs.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredIn Porritts & Spencer (Asia) Ltd. v. State of Haryana
Excerpt:
.....to prove his innocence. conviction of appellant is liable to be set aside. - 34, while deciding the question whether choli bits and saris fall within the term 'cloth' observed that the term 'cloth' in accordance with its dictionary meaning and in its ordinary popular meaning has to be understood as any woven fabric or stuff till it is transformed into an article like dress, garment or bed cover, etc......made thereof and hessian cloth.2. the only question involved in this petition is whether stitched pillow covers of the bombay dyeing and . sold by the petitioner-firm as its sole distributor fell within the ambit of the above-quoted entry 6 of schedule i to the act so as to be exempt from payment of sales tax under the act.3. the material facts giving rise to this petition may now be stated. the petitioner claimed that stitched pillow covers sold by it were exempt from payment of sales tax under the above entry 6 in schedule i to the act. the sales tax department did not agree with the petitioner's contention and, therefore, a notice was issued to the petitioner to show cause why sales tax should not be recovered in respect of the sales of pillow covers made by it. after hearing the.....
Judgment:

J.S. Verma, J.

1. The petitioner is a partnership firm having its head office at Raipur. It was sole distributor for the textile goods manufactured by the Bombay Dyeing and ., Bombay, in that area. The petitioner-firm is a registered dealer under the Madhya Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1958 (hereinafter called the Act). The relevant period for the purpose of this petition is 10th November, 1969 (Diwali), to 30th October, 1970 (Diwali). Section 10 of the Act relates to tax-free goods and provides for exemption of sales tax on goods specified in the second column of Schedule I, subject to the conditions and exceptions set out in the corresponding entry in the third column thereof. We are concerned in the present case with entry 6 in Schedule I to the Act, which at the relevant time read as under :

All varieties of cloth manufactured in mills or on power-looms or handlooms including processed cloth but excluding silk fabrics, articles made thereof and hessian cloth.

2. The only question involved in this petition is whether stitched pillow covers of the Bombay Dyeing and . sold by the petitioner-firm as its sole distributor fell within the ambit of the above-quoted entry 6 of Schedule I to the Act so as to be exempt from payment of sales tax under the Act.

3. The material facts giving rise to this petition may now be stated. The petitioner claimed that stitched pillow covers sold by it were exempt from payment of sales tax under the above entry 6 in Schedule I to the Act. The sales tax department did not agree with the petitioner's contention and, therefore, a notice was issued to the petitioner to show cause why sales tax should not be recovered in respect of the sales of pillow covers made by it. After hearing the petitioner, the Sales Tax Officer, Raipur, by his order (annexure D) dated 6th December, 1975, rejected the petitioner's contention and held that stitched pillow covers sold by the petitioner were exigible to sales tax. Aggrieved by this order, the petitioner filed a revision to the Commissioner of Sales Tax under Section 39 of the Act. The Commissioner by his order (annexure F) dated 26th December, 1975, has upheld this part of the Sales Tax Officer's order and reached the conclusion that stitched pillow covers sold by the petitioner are not exempt from payment of sales tax. This writ petition has been filed seeking a writ to quash these orders passed by the Sales Tax Officer and the Commissioner of Sales Tax.

4. Shri G. M. Chaphekar, the learned counsel for the petitioner, has reiterated the petitioner's contention that stitched pillow covers are included within the meaning of the words 'all varieties of cloth manufactured in mills...' occurring in the aforesaid entry 6 on account of which they are exempt from payment of sales tax by virtue of Section 10 of the Act. The short question, therefore, is whether stitched pillow covers can be treated as 'cloth manufactured in mills' which are the only relevant words in entry 6 for our purpose.

5. There is no dispute that the cloth out of which the pillow covers are made and stitched is manufactured in mills. The question really is whether cloth manufactured in mills after being cut into appropriate sizes and then stitched as pillow covers, continues to retain its initial identity as cloth manufactured in mills or it gets converted into a different article so as to lose that identity. The answer to this question would provide answer to the question involved in this petition. The fact that pillow covers are made of cloth has never been in dispute, but then can the stitched pillow covers prepared from cloth continue to be called merely 'cloth' and not a different article ?

6. The word 'cloth' is not defined in the Act. The Central Sales Tax Act, in Section 14 (ii-a), declares 'cotton fabrics' as defined in item No. 19 of the First Schedule to the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944, as one of the goods of special importance for the purpose of that Act. Item 19 of the First Schedule to the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944, defines 'cotton fabrics' as under :

'Cotton fabrics' mean all varieties of fabrics manufactured either wholly or partly from cotton, and include dhoties, sarees, bed-sheets, bed-spreads, counterpanes and table-cloths....

Thus, if the above-quoted definition of 'cotton fabrics' gives any indication to the meaning of 'cloth' in entry 6 of Schedule I to the Madhya Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1958, with which we are concerned, then the only word therein of significance is 'counterpanes'. It is obvious that this inclusive definition of 'cotton fabrics' which specifies dhoties, sarees, bed-sheets, bedspreads and table-cloths also in addition to counterpanes, does not assist the petitioner on the basis of articles other than counterpanes mentioned therein since those other articles of use are substantially unstitched pieces of cloth. The meaning of 'counterpanes' may now be seen.

7. Several dictionaries were referred to us at the hearing and none of them, except Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary (reprinted 1979), gives any assistance to the petitioner's contention. In Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary, the meaning of counterpane given is 'a coverlet for a bed'. However, further, in that meaning, after mentioning 'counterpoint' is stated 'a stitched pillow'. Shri Chaphekar relies on this definition of counterpane in the Chambers's Dictionary and this is obviously the only thing which may be taken to support the petitioner's contention. It is of significance that the dictionary meaning of the word 'counterpane' given even in the Chambers's Dictionary is 'a coverlet for a bed', which substantially means a bed-spread and, therefore, it cannot be construed to be the same as a stitched pillow cover. For this reason, we are unable to read the meaning of 'counterpane' given in the Chambers's Dictionary as fully supporting the petitioner's contention. Moreover, as indicated hereafter, there are weighty reasons to uphold the view taken by the sales tax authorities.

8. The meaning of 'counterpane' given in Webster's Dictionary and Shorter Oxford English Dictionary does not support the petitioner's contention. The meaning of the word 'cloth' with which we are concerned, in ordinary parlance, means only unstitched cloth in the shape in which it is manufactured prior to its conversion into a specific article for use. 'Cloth' ordinarily means fabric or material out of which different articles of use can be made by cutting it and stitching it for that purpose. Conversion of cloth into a specific article for use has the result of its being then known and treated by a specific name given to that article for use and that article from that stage is not described merely as cloth but a particular article made out of cloth. Therefore, the word 'cloth', as it is understood in ordinary parlance, does not support the petitioner's contention that a stitched pillow cover continues to be described and known merely as cloth so as to fall within the ambit of the aforesaid entry 6 of Schedule I to the Act.

9. Shri Chaphekar referred to us the decision in L. Cotton Mills Co. Ltd. v. Sales Tax Officer [1962] 13 S.T.C. 1031, wherein the meaning of 'cloth' was considered in the context of the U. P. Sales Tax Act, 1948. In that decision, while deciding the point which arose for decision therein, it was observed as under :

Further, it is the usual thing for bed-sheets, pillow cases, bed covering and wrapping to be described as 'household linen' or 'bed linen'. 'Linen' only means cloth. It follows that so far as chadars and towels are concerned, they are also merely 'cloth'.

Shri Chaphekar relies on these observations to contend that pillow cases were treated in the same category as bed-sheets and bed covers described as 'bed linen' and bed linen means cloth. It is sufficient to say that the point for decision in that case was not whether pillow cases fall within the definition of 'cloth'. It is, however, significant that while deciding the point which arose in that case, it was also observed earlier at page 1037 as follows :

Of course, where, after cloth has been manufactured, something more is done to it, by some other agency, which makes it into a different kind of product or makes it adaptable for a particular kind of use, it would cease to be 'cloth' simpliciter and will have to be described by a different name.

This extract from the same judgment supports the view that pillow covers cease to be 'cloth' simpliciter after the cloth is cut and is stitched and made into pillow covers. We are, therefore, unable to read the Allahabad decision relied on by Shri Chaphekar as supporting the petitioner's contention.

10. A Division Bench of the Madras High Court in Sri Kittappa Dress Manufacturing and Embroidery Works v. State of Madras [1962] 13 S.T.C. 34, while deciding the question whether choli bits and saris fall within the term 'cloth' observed that the term 'cloth' in accordance with its dictionary meaning and in its ordinary popular meaning has to be understood as any woven fabric or stuff till it is transformed into an article like dress, garment or bed cover, etc., which comes into ready use as such article, and after such transformation the article can no longer retain its previous state of cloth, though it is made of cloth. This decision negatives the petitioner's contention.

11. A Division Bench of the Orissa High Court in Radhika v. State of Orissa [1977] 39 S.T.C. 93 expressly held that where pillow covers were made by cutting mill-made cloth into different sizes and stitching and making them ready for use in a particular way and the operation was neither incidental nor ancillary to the process of manufacture, pillow covers would not be covered by the relevant entry relating to exempted goods and sales of pillow covers, therefore, would be liable to sales tax. The relevant entry in that case was substantially similar to the above-quoted entry 6, with which we are concerned and, therefore, that decision is a direct authority negativing the petitioner's contention. The test that the cutting of mill-made cloth into different sizes and stitching and making it ready for use in a particular way as pillow covers is not an operation either incidental or ancillary to the process of manufacture is, in our view, the correct test to be applied in such a case and with respect we concur with the view taken in this decision.

12. In Porritts & Spencer (Asia) Ltd. v. State of Haryana [1978] 42 S.T.C. 433 (S.C.), it has been pointed out that a word requiring interpretation for the purpose of grant of exemption from tax must be interpreted according to its popular sense, meaning that sense which people conversant with the subject-matter with which the statute is dealing would attribute to it. The meaning attributed to a word in its ordinary parlance has, therefore, to be accepted as its correct meaning, unless the statute itself gives a contrary indication. We have already pointed out that the Madhya Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1958, does not define the word 'cloth' and that the word 'cloth' according to its popular sense and as understood in ordinary parlance means any unstitched cloth and certainly not a pillow cover even though it is made of mill-made cloth after cutting it to appropriate sizes for pillow covers and stitching it for that purpose. This is also the conclusion reached with the aid of the above authorities throwing light on the question before us.

13. As a result of the above discussion, it follows that the sales tax authorities did not commit any error in reaching the conclusion that a pillow cover does not fall within the ambit of entry 6 of Schedule I to the Madhya Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1958, and for this reason it was not exempt from payment of sales tax by virtue of Section 10 of that Act.

14. Consequently, the petition fails and is dismissed but, in the circumstances of the case, without any order as to costs. The security amount shall be refunded to the petitioner.


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