Skip to content


J. Srirangam Brothers and ors. Vs. Sales Tax Officer - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtOrissa High Court
Decided On
Case NumberO.J.Cs. Nos. 151, 161, 162, 203 to 210 of 1957
Judge
Reported in[1959]10STC257(Orissa)
AppellantJ. Srirangam Brothers and ors.
RespondentSales Tax Officer
Appellant AdvocateK.V. Venkatasubramania Ayyar, ;N.V. Ramdas, ;G.N. Murty ;and S.K. Ghose, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateG.K. Misra, Adv.
DispositionPetition allowed
Cases ReferredRaju Chettiar and Sons v. Stale of Madras
Excerpt:
.....coimbatore firm on the other, and not whether the kumbakonam artisans were 'manufacturers' or not. we may also take judicial notice of the fact that in this state big factories for the manufacture of gold ornaments such as may be found in cities like madras, bombay and calcutta, are practically unknown......silver ornaments. they claim exemption from payment of sales tax in respect of the sales of some gold ornaments on the ground that they were manufacturers of those ornaments and that while selling the same they were charging separately for the value of gold and the cost of manufacture. the exemption was claimed by virtue of notification no. 8728-c.t.-66/49 f dated the 1st july, 1949, of the government of orissa in the finance department issued in pursuance of section 6 of the orissa sales tax act, 1947, exempting certain classes of sales from payment of sales tax. the item with which we are concerned in these petitions is item 33 of the said notification which is as follows :-33. gold ornaments-when sold by the manufacturer who charges separately for the value of gold and the cost of.....
Judgment:

R.L. Narasimham, C.J.

1. These eleven original jurisdiction cases involve the same questions of law and they were all heard together and will be disposed of in one judgment. The petitioners are all merchants of Berhampur town carrying on the business of selling gold and silver ornaments. They claim exemption from payment of sales tax in respect of the sales of some gold ornaments on the ground that they were manufacturers of those ornaments and that while selling the same they were charging separately for the value of gold and the cost of manufacture. The exemption was claimed by virtue of Notification No. 8728-C.T.-66/49 F dated the 1st July, 1949, of the Government of Orissa in the Finance Department issued in pursuance of Section 6 of the Orissa Sales Tax Act, 1947, exempting certain classes of sales from payment of sales tax. The item with which we are concerned in these petitions is item 33 of the said notification which is as follows :-

33. Gold ornaments-When sold by the manufacturer who charges separately for the value of gold and the cost of manufacture.

At about the same time Government also issued a press note to the following effect:-

'Government of Orissa

Finance Department

PRESS NOTE

At present mill-made and handloom dhoti or sari costing not more than Rs. 5 a piece is exempted from sales tax. Government have since decided that with effect from the 1st July, 1949, handloom woven cloth or silk cloth of all kinds, costing not more than Rs. 10 a piece, shall be exempted from the tax. Mill-made dhoties or saris costing not more than Rs. 5 a piece, will continue to be exempted.

Similarly, bullion and specie were exempted when despatched outside Orissa to dealers registered in other Provinces.

The restrictive condition will now be withdrawn from the 1st July, 1949, and no sales tax will be levied on bullion and specie. Gold ornaments will also be exempted from sales tax when the manufacturer charges them separately for the value of gold and the cost of manufacture....

A copy of this press note was also forwarded to the Secretary, Gold Dealers Association, and to the Secretary, Chamber of Commerce, Ber-hampur. The Sales Tax Officer, Ganjam Circle, Berhampur (opposite party in these petitions) by his orders dated the 9th August, 1957 (in 0. J. Cs. 151, 161 and 162 of 1957), dated the 28th September, 1957 (in O. J. Cs. 209 and 210 of 1957) and dated the 25th October, 1957 (in O. J. Cs. 203 to 208 of 1957) refused to grant the exemption to the petitioners holding that they were not 'manufacturers' within the meaning of the exemption clause but were merely order-suppliers. He took down the statements of some of the petitioners regarding the method by which the gold ornaments were prepared and as it is admitted by both parties that those statements correctly represent the facts, I may sum them up as follows :-

The petitioners do not have a factory for the manufacture of those ornaments. They used to supply gold to some independent artisans who made it into ornaments with the help of their own tools. In some instances the artisans used to work in their own houses ; in others they used to work in the shop of the petitioners where they were given electrical facilities and seating arrangements. The petitioners used to pay labour charges to these artisans for converting gold into ornaments, and then they used to sell the ornaments to consumers showing, in their bills, the value of the gold and the cost of manufacture separately. In some instances gold used to be supplied to the petitioners by the consumers themselves ; and the petitioners, after getting it made into ornaments with the help of the artisans, used to charge the consumers for the actual cost of manufacture plus some margin of profit for themselves.

2. On these facts, the Sales Tax Officer, Ganjam Circle, Berhampur, held that the petitioners were not 'manufacturers' within the meaning of the exemption clause. According to him the expression 'manufacturer' would only mean a person who either manufactures the finishedproduct with his own hand or gets it done by his paid employees working in his own factory; and independent artisans who, with their own tools, convert the gold into ornaments either at their own houses or at the petitioners' shop on payment of labour charges, will not be his employees and that they would be the real manufacturers, the petitioners' position being only that of middlemen or order-suppliers.

3. Mr. Venkatasubramania Ayyar on behalf of the petitioners urged that the Sales Tax Officer has taken a narrow view of the word 'manufacturer'. According to him, the exemption clause occurs in a notification issued by the State Government under the Sales Tax Act and consequently the word 'manufacturer' should be so construed as to refer to a 'manufacturer-seller' or 'dealer-manufacturer'. A person who supplies raw materials to independent artisans for the purpose of converting those raw materials into finished products for his sale after receiving from him their labour charges, would still be a 'manufacturer' within the meaning of the said exemption clause. In support of this argument he relied on the following definition of the expression 'manufacturer' occurring in the Hosiery Act, 1845 (8 and 9 Vic. C.-77, Section 9):-

'Manufacturer' means any person furnishing the materials of work to be wrought into hosiery goods to be sold or disposed of on his own account.

According to him the petitioners clearly come within this definition.

4. The dictionary meaning of the word 'manufacture' is 'to work up material into forms suitable for use or to make or fabricate from material, to produce by labour, now especially on a large scale'. Doubtless, in a statute dealing with sales tax it must, in the context, mean-'to bring into existence something in a form in which it is capable of being sold or supplied in the course of business'. Manufacture for the purpose of one's own consumption is not obviously contemplated in a sales tax law. The term 'manufacturer' must, therefore, mean necessarily one who brings into being from raw materials finished goods which are capable of being sold in the course of business.

5. The question is;-who is the person who brings into being such goods If the petitioners themselves had made the goods with the help of their paid employees in their own workshop, there will be no difficulty in describing them as 'manufacturers'. But it was urged by Mr. G. K. Misra on behalf of the Sales Tax Department that where independent artisans make ornaments they alone must be held to be the 'manufacturers' of the goods according to the dictionary meaning of the expression, even though they may not be the owners of the goods inasmuch as they were bailees to whom gold was supplied by the petitioners for a specific purpose. He also fairly conceded that as between those artisans and the petitioners there can be no 'sale' of the goods and the petitioners are undoubtedly the first owners of the finished products. But he urged that the concept of first ownership is not implied in the expression 'manufacturer' occurring in the exemption clause; and giving the expression its natural meaning it should be held, on the facts of the present case, that the independent artisans alone are the manufacturers. They could not obviously claim the benefit of the exemption because they did not sell the goods. But in any view of the case the petitioners cannot claim the benefit of that clause. In support of this view, he relied on some observations of the Madras High Court in Raju Chettiar and Sons v. Stale of Madras [1955] 6 S.T.C. 131. There, a firm of jewellers of Coimbatore used to supply silver in specie to some merchants in Kumbakonam who used to make it into silverware after receiving from that firm charges by way of wages for converting the silver into finished articles. The judgment proceeded on the assumption that, on these facts, the merchants of Kumbakonam were the manufacturers of the goods and it was held that there was no sale between them and the Coimbatore firm and consequently the latter were not liable to pay sales tax on those transactions. That decision is however clearly distinguishable because, there, the only point in controversy was whether there was a 'sale' between the Kumbakonam artisans on the one hand and the Coimbatore firm on the other, and not whether the Kumbakonam artisans were 'manufacturers' or not. But here we have to construe the exemption clause in a sales tax statute which purports to exempt manufacturer-sellers when they sell gold ornaments and charge separately for the gold and for making charges.

6. The point is not free from difficulty and if the dictionary meaning is to prevail there may be considerable force in the contention of Mr. G. K. Misra. But the context in which the word 'manufacturer' occurs in the exemption clause cannot be ignored. A manufacturer who is not the first owner of the goods or the first seller could not possibly have been thought of when the Government issued the exemption order. For such a manufacturer there is no question of sale or assessment to sales tax. The press note makes it clear that Government were anxious to exempt certain classes of jewellers from payment of sales tax apparently with a view to encourage the growth of this business in Orissa. We may also take judicial notice of the fact that in this State big factories for the manufacture of gold ornaments such as may be found in cities like Madras, Bombay and Calcutta, are practically unknown. Doubtless, an exemption clause in a taxing statute must be construed strictly, but it should not be so construed as to make the exemption practically illusory.

7. On the other hand, the construction put by Mr. Venkatasubra-mania Ayyar is not an artificial or strained construction. It is true that the definition given in the Hosiery Act was meant for the purpose of that Act only. But the very fact that even a person, who furnishes raw materials to another person to be made into finished products on behalf of the, former person, was a manufacturer, shows that such an interpretation is not artificial. The following observations in Corpus Juris Secundum, Vol. LV, p. 637, support this view :-

Even though 'manufacturer' has a popular meaning all persons who can be said to have manufactured an article are not to be classed as manufacturers, regardless of circumstances, and everyone who manufacturers is not embraced within the legal meaning of the term, but rather only those who manufacture articles of trade as the principal part of their business. A manufacturer makes to sell and depends for his profit on the labour which he bestows on the raw materials. He stands between the original producer and the dealer, or the first consumer. The term 'manufacturer' applies both to him who actually makes and to him who causes to be made.'

The words underlined above (Here italicised) would apply in the instant case. The original producer may be an independent artisan and the first consumer is the person to whom the petitioners sell the gold ornaments, but the ornaments are made, by the independent artisans for the petitioners who supplied the raw materials and paid the labour charges. The petitioners are the first owners of the goods.

8. I would, therefore, take the view that the expression 'manufacturer' occurring in the aforesaid exemption clause means the first owner of the finished product for whom it is made, either by his paid employees or even by independent artisans on receipt of raw materials and labour charges from him. On the findings of the Sales Tax Officer the petitioners must be held to be entitled to exemption from sales tax because it is admitted that while selling the finished goods to the consumers they used to charge separately for the value of the gold and for the cost of manufacture.

9. The petitions are, therefore, allowed and the opposite party is directed to revise the assessment of sales tax on the basis of the aforesaid observations. The petitioners are entitled to their costs. There will be a consolidated hearing fee of Rs. 200 (Rupees two hundred).

DAS, J.

10. I agree.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //