Inder Dev Dua, J.
1. The petitioner, Messrs Sant Singh Kanwarjit Singh claims to be a registered dealer holding a registration certificate under the Punjab General Sales Tax Act with liability to pay sales tax with effect from 6th April, 1962. This firm was required to file quarterly returns and claims to have been filing these returns for the quarters ending 30th June, 1962, and 30th September, 1962. By means of annexure 'A', the Assistant Excise and Taxation Officer has requested the firm to appear before him on 6th February, 1963, and explain as to why his registration certificate should not be cancelled under Section 7(4) of the Punjab General Sales Tax Act, 1948. In case of non-compliance, the petitioner-firm is to deem its registration certificate to be cancelled with immediate effect. The reasons given for this notice are three, namely:--
(1) That the returns filed by the firm for the quarters ending 30th June, 1962, and 30th September, 1962, do not show sales of any taxable goods, but actually the firm had been purchasing huge quantities of vegetable ghee from the market;
(2) that the firm had submitted the return for the quarter ending 31st December, 1962, which does not contain list of sales made to registered dealers; and
(3) that the petitioner-firm had failed to produce account books for the purpose of assessment for the quarters ending 30th June, 1962, and 30th September, 1962, which resulted in assessment on best judgment basis and that the firm had also failed to produce account books at the time of the inspection of the shop.
2. It is urged on behalf of the petitioner-firm that the grounds contained in the notice are not good grounds for cancelling the registration certificate. Reference has in this connection been made to Section 7(4) of the General Sales Tax Act which is in the following terms:--
7. ...(4) The Commissioner may from time to time amend or cancel any certificate of registration in accordance with information furnished under Section 16 or otherwise received.
3. Section 16 reads as under:--
16. If any dealer to whom the provisions of Sub-section (3) of Section 10 apply--
(a) sells or otherwise disposes of his business or any place of business, or
(b) discontinues or transfers his business or changes his place of business or opens a new place of business, or
(c) changes the name, constitution or nature of his business, or
(d) wants to make any change in the class or classes of goods specified in his certificate of registration for use in the manufacture of any goods for sale, he shall within the prescribed time inform the prescribed authority accordingly; and if any such dealer dies, his legal representative shall in like manner inform the said authority.
4. It is emphasised that the grounds on which the petitioner's registration certificate is sought to be cancelled do not fall within the ambit of this section.
5. On behalf of the State, Shri M.R. Sharma has, to begin with, read annexure 'A' and has submitted that ground No. 1 necessarily implies that the petitioner-firm has discontinued its business. I regret my inability to read ground No. 1 in annexure 'A' to mean what the counsel asserts. According to this ground, all that it means is that though the. dealer has been purchasing huge quantities of vegetable ghee from the market, no sales are shown by him in the returns filed which obviously means that the returns are false. This does not seem to be one of the grounds justifying applicability of Section 16. And then, this is not the ground taken in the return filed by the Excise and Taxation Commissioner dated 21st November, 1963. All that is stated in the return is that the Assessing Authority is competent to cancel the registration certificate according to law and that the power to cancel such certificate stands vested in the Commissioner under Section 7(4) of the Punjab General Sales Tax Act, which has been delegated by him to the Assessing Authority under Section 15 of the Act. The main reliance in the return has been placed on the plea that the petitioner has an adequate alternative remedy by way of an appeal or revision and that this Court should not interfere on writ side. A faint hearted attempt has also been made by Shri Sharma to urge that power to grant registration certificate implies the power to cancel, but this argument does not touch the real objection raised on behalf of the petitioner, namely, that the ground on which it is being cancelled is not covered by the statutory provisions under which the notice is being issued or under which the cancellation can under the law take place. The plea taken in the return of there being an equally efficacious alternative remedy, which has not been urged before me at the Bar, is wholly unavailing in the case in hand because such remedy, as is now very well settled, is not an absolute bar. The existence of an alternative remedy can only be taken into account as one of the circumstances in considering whether or not to allow this Court's writ jurisdiction to be invoked. In the case in hand, the infirmity is patent on the face of the record and the notice is wholly misconceived and unauthorised. It is unfortunate that the departments should not apply their mind to the law before issuing such notices which must necessarily entail unnecessary expenditure to the State by litigation which must go against the departments.
6. Merely because the petitioner is doing something which is highly objectionable and is committing fraud on the revenue does not mean that the department should also act in an illegal manner. It must be remembered that ours is a legal State in which no officer and no department has any powers outside those conferred by law. I have no doubt that the department has sufficient powers under the law to avoid fraud on the revenue and illegal evasion of legitimate taxes, but resort to illegal notices, however, can scarcely be encouraged by this Court and a writ petition cannot be thrown out merely because the petitioner is doing something unbecoming of an honest citizen and is playing fraud on the revenue.
7. Though the respondent does not urge it, but had there been some explanation necessary from the petitioner, I would merely have directed the firm to appear before the Assessing Authority and explain that these grounds are not good grounds for cancelling the registration certificate, but seeing that the notice is completely outside the provisions of the section, I think it would be a proper exercise of discretion to grant the relief in the present proceedings.
8. For the foregoing reasons, I am constrained to allow this petition which succeeds. The petitioner is entitled to costs.