Skip to content


international Radio Co. Vs. the State of Bombay - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtSales Tax Tribunal STT Mumbai
Decided On
Judge
Reported in19567STC210Tribunal
Appellantinternational Radio Co.
RespondentThe State of Bombay
Excerpt:
.....the x-ray tube, (2) the x-ray tube in which this high tension electrical -energy is converted to x-rays. these rays are used for viewing the internal organs or parts of the body." dr. m. mani, m.b.b.s., d.m.r. (london), in-charge, medical department, modak ltd., has also made an affidavit, extracts from which are given below :-"x-ray apparatus does not produce photographs which are made with cameras but a shadowgraph described as radiograph or skiagram. x-ray apparatus has no lens." "in camera the source is light unlike x-ray apparatus which is worked with x-rays by complicated electric connections". "x-ray apparatuses are of many types and are used for different purposes, (i) deep x-ray therapy, (ii) superficial x-ray therapy, (iii) x-ray crystallography and (iv) x-ray spectrography"......
Judgment:
1. The applicants deal in radios, their spare parts, gramophones, refrigerators and what have been variously described as X-ray machines, apparatus for taking X-ray photographs, X-ray equipments and X-ray apparatus by the authorities below. The point in dispute in this application concerns the last mentioned class of articles. The applicants sold 11 such articles for a total sum of Rs. 1,17,238-12-0 between 29th April, 1952, and 25th October, 1952. They have been held by the authorities below to be liable to the special tax under Clause (b) of Sub-section (1) of Section 6 of the Bombay Sales Tax Act of 1946 and entry No. 4 in Schedule I to the Act. The material part of Sub-section (1) of Section 6 reads as follows :- The tax payable by a dealer under this Act shall consist of (b) a special tax at the rate of one anna in the rupee levied on his taxable turnover in respect of sales or supplies of goods specified in Schedule I.If the sales in question are not covered by entry No. 4 in Schedule I, they would be liable to only the general tax, i.e., to one half of an anna in the rupee on the taxable turnover. Entry No. 4 in Schedule I reads thus :- Cinematographic, photographic and other cameras, projectors and enlargers; lenses and other parts of and accessories to such cameras, projectors and enlargers and films, plates, paper and cloth required for use therewith.

In March, 1951, the Government of Bombay issued a book called the Bombay Sales Tax Hand Book for the use of dealers and other persons affected by the Bombay Sales Tax Act of 1946. In Appendix A to the said Hand Book, it was stated that there had been some difficulty regarding the scope of the various entries in Schedules I and II as to whether particular items would or would not fall within their purview ; accordingly, explanations were added to the entries showing which classes of articles were included in the entries and which classes were not so included. The following articles were stated to be included in entry No. 4 : "Flash lights ; Flash light batteries and flash light bulbs ; X-ray films ; Apparatus for taking X-ray photographs; Speaker system and amplifier when sold along with the projector and its accessories as a composite unit ; Cinema projector carbons." Thus Government appear to have taken the view that apparatus for taking X-ray photographs and X-ray films were included in entry No. 4. We are not concerned with X-ray films, but with certain machines which have been variously described as above, and which are intended to be used not only for taking radiographs but also for fluoroscopic purposes and for purposes of radiological therapy. The crucial words in this case are "other cameras" used in entry No. 4, i.e., the question is whether in the expression "cinematographic, photographic and other cameras", the "words "other cameras" should be held to include articles like those under consideration in the present case. In the appeal against the assessment made by the Sales Tax Officer, 'D' Ward, Bombay, it was contended on behalf of the applicants that although articles like mass radiographic or fluoroscopic cameras might be included in entry 4, there was no justification for including X-ray apparatus in the said entry, for such an apparatus consisted of a control, a filament, transformer, a high tension transformer and an X-ray tube incorporated in a vaccum tube, an equipment which generates X-ray which have the property of activiting (sic) suitable sensitive material and registering an image either for viewing or for shadowgraphy, which functions are quite distinct from those of a photographic camera. It was also urged that as these X-ray apparatuses were generally used by medical practitioners, it could not be the intention of the Government to tax them at the rate of special tax. The Assistant Collector of Sales Tax who heard the appeal, however> relied on the clarification of the entry in question given in the Bombay Sales Tax Hand Book, and rejected the contentions of the applicants.

2. There was a revision application against his order, and it was contended before the Additional Collector of Sales Tax who heard the said application that X-ray equipments generated X-rays, that as the process by which such rays were caught on the sensitive plates was radiography and shadowgraphy, it could not be the same as photography, and that the said equipments, therefore, could not be called cameras.

The Additional Collector of Sales Tax, however, relied not only on the explanation given in the Hand Book referred to above, but on the popular meaning of the word camera, i.e., an apparatus designed to take photographs, and concluded that an X-ray apparatus which took X-ray photographs could be regarded as an X-ray camera. According to him the fact that an X-ray apparatus generated its own rays for taking photographs could not alter the issue, and he held that the X ray equipments in question were intended to be covered by the words "other cameras" in entry 4. The opinions of certain experts recorded in their affidavits were not held to be sufficient to displace or disprove the view taken by the Additional Collector. The revision application was accordingly dismissed by him.

3. We might at this stage refer to some of the affidavits which were produced before the Additional Collector of Sales Tax. The following are some of the passages to be found in the affidavit made by Dr. C.G.Talwalkar, M.B.B.S., D.M.R.E., President of the Bombay Radiological Association : - The X-ray apparatus is a generator and not a recording medium as is an ordinary camera." "Fortunately for medical science and the whole of mankind, this radiation has the property of being able to penetrate matter several centimeters thick, and it is just this property of the X-radiation that makes it so useful for purposes of the medical investigation and examination of a diseased person." "X-rays are also useful in the treatment of diseases like cancer, and in physical research and in many other ways too numerous to detail here." "The ordinary camera is a recording medium. In the X-ray line the recording medium is not the X-ray generator but the X-ray film held in a cassette or a light tight envelope. This part of the X-ray equipment is the only part which may by any stretch of imagination be called or considered a camera. But even in this case the purpose for which the cassette is used is never such as can be classified as luxury." Dr. S. R. Savur, M.B.B.S., D.M.R., Hon.

Secretary, Bombay Radiological Association, has made an affidavit from which the following extracts are given. "An X-ray apparatus has nothing in common with the photographic camera, as the latter is used to photograph true objects like portraits, scenery, etc., and can be handled by any layman, whereas an X-ray apparatus is a distinct medical apparatus. It consists of (1) a high tension transformer which converts the electrical energy to a high tension current of a form suitable to be passed through the X-ray tube, (2) the X-ray tube in which this high tension electrical -energy is converted to X-rays. These rays are used for viewing the internal organs or parts of the body." Dr. M. Mani, M.B.B.S., D.M.R. (London), In-charge, Medical Department, Modak Ltd., has also made an affidavit, extracts from which are given below :-"X-ray apparatus does not produce photographs which are made with cameras but a shadowgraph described as radiograph or skiagram. X-ray apparatus has no lens." "In camera the source is light unlike X-ray apparatus which is worked with X-rays by complicated electric connections".

"X-ray apparatuses are of many types and are used for different purposes, (i) Deep X-ray Therapy, (ii) Superficial X-ray Therapy, (iii) X-ray Crystallography and (iv) X-ray Spectrography". The opinions of these gentlemen, however eminent they may be, cannot, of course, be regarded as conclusive in determining the question under consideration.

4. Turning to dictionaries, we find the following in the Dictionary of Photography by F. J. Mortimer, 15th Edition :-"The old term, camera obscura, is now shortened into camera, excepting in a few cases where an old-style tent-camera is used as an exhibition at a sea-side holiday resort. Every form of camera now used is actually a dark chamber or box into which the image of external objects may be projected by means of a lens or other image-forming device.... Certain cameras are described, under appropriate headings, as hand camera, miniature camera, stand camera, panoramic camera, reflex camera, cinematograph". Webster's New International Dictionary, 1948 Edition, p. 385, contains the following under "camera":-"A camera obscura ; a closed box or similar chamber through the aperture of which the image of an object is recorded on a light-sensitive material. The pinhole camera has a minute aperture and no lens. Commercial camera consists essentially of a converging lens, a carrier for roll film, cut film or plates with suitable shield or bellows for excluding extraneous light, and shutter to make and regulate the exposure. The box camera with single lens and rotary shutter is the simplest commercial form. Folding cameras are usually fitted with larger aperture compound lenses, and have provision for focussing at different object distances. A motion picture camera is adopted to make rapid exposure to moving objects on a strip of film perforated along the edges to ensure accurate registration".

5. Some of the distinctions between ordinary photographic cameras and the articles in question are as follows : (1) a photographic camera has a dark chamber or box into which the image of external objects may be projected by means of a lens or other image-forming device, while the machines in question have neither a dark chamber nor a lens or other image-forming device; (2) a photographic camera uses visible light, i.e., sun light or other artificial light visible to the eye, while the rays used in the machines - in question are invisible rays of light commonly known as X-rays ; (3) in photographic cameras light is reflected from the object to be photographed, while the radiographic image is recorded on a sensitive plate after X-rays have passed through the body in question, such rays having been stopped wholly or partially by certain parts of the body ; (4) the X-ray tube essential to these machines and the generators of the special kind of light rays are absent in the case of ordinary photographic cameras and (5) the machines in question, though they are capable of taking radiographs may be and generally are used for other purposes also, for instance, fluoroscopic, i.e., for viewing internal organs or parts of the human bodies, and therapeutic, i.e., for purposes of effecting therapy in cases of certain illnesses of the human body by the exposure of certain parts thereof to X-rays which penetrate deeply into the body or produce salutary results on the surface of the skin. These appear to us to be be important distinctions between the class of articles known ordinarily as cameras and the machines under consideration. Shri Kabe for the opponent has, however, contended that we should interpret the expression "cameras" in accordance with the popular usage, and not by taking into consideration either the opinions of the learned experts or meanings to be found in the dictionary. He has relied on the decision of this Tribunal in the case of Rukmanibai N. Shah v. The Government of Bombay 1 Bom. S.T.T. S.D. 40, in which in interpreting the term "newspaper" this Tribunal held that the popular meaning of the expression should be taken as the guide, although the meaning given in the dictionaries would be of use in ascertaining such meaning. Shri Kabe has also relied on the Exchequer Court of Canada in His Majesty The King v. Planters Nut and Chocolate Co. Limited [1951] C.T.C. 16, where the question for determination was whether salted peanuts and cashewnuts were vegetables or fruits. Evidence was adduced in that case that both the peanuts and cashewnuts are vegetables in the wider meaning of the word, that each is a "fruit", the former belonging to the same class as peas or beans and the latter to the dry drupe classification like the coconut, and that neither is a nut. The learned Judge, however, did not accept the botanist's conception as to what constituted a "fruit" or "vegetable" and was of opinion that they were ordinary words in every day use and must therefore be construed according to their popular sense. In his opinion those were not used in the sense in which they were understood in any particular science or art, and they were to be construed as they were understood in common language. Shri Kabe has also relied on the decision of the Madhya Pradesh Board of Revenue in the case of Mohanlal Ramkisan Nathani v.The State [1952] 3 S.T.C. 305, where the learned Board rejected the dictionary meaning of "glass-ware" and held that sales of glass sheets should be taxed- not at the rate of one anna in the rupee but at the ordinary rate of six pies in the rupee. They observed, after referring to the definition of "glass-ware" in the Concise Oxford Dictionary as "articles made of glass" : "In this generic sense, it is just possible to hold that plain glass sheets are covered by 'glass-ware', but dictionary meaning cannot be regarded as the last word on the subject.

According to Maxwell (page 34 of the Interpretation of Statutes, 9th edition) definitions in dictionaries have been deprecated. He quotes Lord Coleridge.... 'Dictionaries are not to be taken as authoritative exponents of the meanings of words used in Acts of Parliament, but it is a well-known rule of courts of law that words shall be taken to be used in their ordinary sense, and we are therefore sent for instruction to those books'.

6. Shri Kabe has contended that as any instrument which records photographs is ordinarily regarded as a camera, it would be proper to regard machines in question as cameras. In our opinion, that matter cannot be disposed of in such a simple fashion. In the case of Rukmanibai v. The Government of Bombay Bom. S.T.T. S.D. 40, referred to above, the Tribunal decided to accept the popular meaning of the word "newspaper" but also observed "The meaning as given in the dictionaries will certainly be of use in ascertaining it". We do not think it is easy to ascertain what is the "popular meaning" apart from the meaning given in the dictionary of an expression. In Attorney-General v.Selborne [1902] 1 K.B. 388 at p. 396, Collins, M.R. said : "The Crown fails if the case is not brought within the words of the statute interpreted according to their natural meaning: and if there is a case which is not covered by the statute so interpreted, that can only be cured by legislation and not by any attempt to construe the statute benevolently in favour of the Crown". We think that the expression "natural meaning" is to be preferred to the expression "popular meaning", and that it would not be improper to consult the dictionary meaning to ascertain such natural meaning. In Micklethwait, In re (1855) 11 Exch. 452, Lord Wensleydale observed : "It is a well established rule, that the subject is not to be taxed without clear words for that purpose and also that every Act of Parliament must be read according to the natural construction of its words".

7. In our opinion, after considering all the relevant factors as to the construction of the word "camera", there remains a considerable amount of doubt as to whether the machines in question can properly be classed as cameras. In Commissioner of Income-tax, Burma v. Phra Phraison Salarak (1929) 6 Rang. 598, it was observed that the subject is not to be taxed without clear words to the effect and that in dubio courts should always lean against the construction which imposes a burden on the subject. The principle that the benefit of doubt in a fiscal measure is to be given to the subject has been enunciated in numerous cases, for instance, in Killing Valley Tea Co., Ltd. v. Secretary of State (1920) 48 Cal. 161, John & Co., In re (1921) 43 All. 139, and Rowe & Co., In re (1922)67 I.C. 781. In Foley v. Fletcher (1902) 4 Tax Cas. 487, it was stated that the rule properly understood is that the burden of proof is on the assertor, not that, wherever there is any doubt a statute is to be said not to mean what it does mean.

8. Although the analogy of other enactments, and particularly decisions of executive departments of the Government, is never a safe guide, we might, perhaps to some purpose, refer to the distinctions drawn by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, in their periodical Customs Tariffs and their Import Trade Control Policy, with regard to the ordinary photographic cameras and the kind of machines which are under consideration. In the Indian Customs Tariff, (Thirty-Sixth Issue) issued by the Department of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, as in operation on the 1st July, 1952, we find a heading, "73(9) Electro-medical apparatus", in section XVI of the First Schedule, -Import Tariff-wherein the customs duty to be levied is shown as 20 per cent, ad valorem, while another item, viz., "77(5) Photographic Instruments, apparatus and appliances" is shown in section XVIII of the said schedule, and the duty leviable thereon is given as 471/4 per cent. ad valorem. Thus the two classes of articles are differently treated by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, which has apparently regarded that photographic instruments or apparatus as deserving to be more highly taxed than electro-medical apparatus.

Similarly, Import Trade Control Policy for the licensing period January-June 1952 issued by the same Ministry shows (page 122), "Electro-medical apparatus including ultra violet and infra red lamps" as subject to an open general licence, while among articles which are not covered by open general licence are "photographic instruments, apparatus and appliances other than cinema, all sorts, not otherwise specified". It is true, as observed by this Tribunal in the case of Tuljaram v. Commissioner of Sales Tax, Bombay 1 Bom. S.T.T. S.D. 27, that the classification adopted by an executive authority can scarcely be treated as an authority for holding that a particular article falls under a particular class; but there can be no doubt that the Government of India has not put articles like those under consideration in the same class as ordinary photographic cameras. This fact, in our opinion, reinforces the doubt felt by us as to whether the interpretation of the word "camera" given by the authorities below is the correct one. In view of such doubt, we must hold that it has not been established that the expression "other cameras" in entry No. 4 in Schedule I to the Act of 1946 covers articles like those under consideration.

9. Accordingly, we allow the application, set aside the orders of the authorities below, and direct that the articles in question shall be assessed under Clause (a) of Sub-section (1) of Section 6 of the Act of 1946, i.e., the tax payable on the taxable turnover in respect of the sales of the said machines shall be the general tax at the rate of one half of an anna in the rupee.


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