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Tarsem Lal Sham Lal and ors. Vs. the Assessing Authority and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ No. 6318 of 1975
Judge
Reported in[1977]39STC47(P& H)
AppellantTarsem Lal Sham Lal and ors.
RespondentThe Assessing Authority and ors.
Appellant Advocate D.S. Nehra and; Arun Nehra and; R.K. Gupta, Advs.
Respondent Advocate D.N. Rampal, Deputy Adv.-General
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredIn Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. Birla Cotton
Excerpt:
.....as under :the policy of law was clearly laid down by the legislature, by enacting amendment acts from the year 1958 onwards that the legislature clearly and expressly decided to impose tax on the purchase of goods specified in schedule c, according to the rates prescribed under section 5 of the act......which are mentioned in schedule b to the act and under section 6 of the act no tax can be levied on goods specified in the first column of this schedule. it is conceded that if a commodity is rightly included in schedule c to the act, it can be exigible to purchase tax. the precise argument raised is that it is not open to the state government to include an article which answers the description of vegetables in schedule c to the act in exercise of powers under section 31 of the act. the constitutional validity of section 31 of the act is also challenged on the ground that it confers wide and arbitrary power on the state government to specify commodities on which purchase tax can be levied.3. for the first contention reliance has been placed on behalf of the petitioners on a.....
Judgment:

M.R. Sharma, J.

1. Whether chillies are exigible to purchase tax under the Punjab General Sales Tax Act (hereinafter called the Act) or not is the short point involved in Civil Writ Petitions Nos. 6318, 6390 and 7421 of 1975, which are being disposed of by this Judgment.

2. It is submitted on behalf of the petitioners that chillies should be regarded as vegetables, which are mentioned in Schedule B to the Act and under Section 6 of the Act no tax can be levied on goods specified in the first column of this schedule. It is conceded that if a commodity is rightly included in Schedule C to the Act, it can be exigible to purchase tax. The precise argument raised is that it is not open to the State Government to include an article which answers the description of vegetables in Schedule C to the Act in exercise of powers under Section 31 of the Act. The constitutional validity of Section 31 of the Act is also challenged on the ground that it confers wide and arbitrary power on the State Government to specify commodities on which purchase tax can be levied.

3. For the first contention reliance has been placed on behalf of the petitioners on a Judgment reported as Mangulu Sahu Ramahari Sahu v. Sales Tax Officer, Ganjam A.I.R. 1974 S.C. 390. While relying upon an earlier case reported as Ramavatar Budhaiprasad v. Assistant Sales Tax Officer, Akola A.I.R. 1961 S.C. 1325, their Lordships of the Supreme Court observed as under :.the word 'vegetables' must be construed neither in a technical sense nor from the botanical point of view ; it should be understood as in common parlance. A word which is not defined in the Act but which is a word of every day use must be construed in its popular sense. In that case, this Court took the view that the word 'vegetables' should be understood as denoting the class of vegetables which are grown in kitchen garden or in a farm and are used for the tables. There can be no dispute that both chillies and lemons are grown in kitchen gardens or at any rate in farms and they are used for the tables.

4. In the context in which the chillies were being considered by the Supreme Court along with lemons, it is obvious that their Lordships regarded those chillies as vegetables which were being used for the tables. This Judgment is no authority for the proposition that even dried chillies which are usually sold by the grocers can also be regarded as vegetables. No order of assessment has been passed in either of these cases and in this situation I cannot assume that the petitioner in these cases were dealing in green chillies alone, nor can such a controversial question of fact be properly determined in proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution. The petitioners would have been well-advised to wait for the determination of this fact by an Assessing Authority whose Judgment could be more properly questioned before the Appellate Tribunal. This ground alone is sufficient to non-suit the petitioners.

5. Even otherwise, it is settled law that provisions of a statute are to be read as a whole in a harmonious manner. The term 'vegetables' is a term of general import and embraces in its ambit many edible herbs and roots used for human consumption either cooked or raw. The inclusion of this term in Schedule B relating to tax-free goods does not necessarily mean that purchase tax should not be levied on dried chillies even when the term 'chillies' is expressly included in Schedule C to the Act, which enumerates the commodities upon which the purchase tax can be levied.

6. The second point regarding the constitutional validity of Section 31 of the Act stands concluded against the petitioners by a Division Bench of this Court in Babu Ram Jagdish Kumar & Co. v. State of Punjab [1976] 38 S.T.C. 259 (Civil Writ No. 354 of 1975 decided on 8th March, 1976), in which the Bench observed as under :

The policy of law was clearly laid down by the legislature, by enacting Amendment Acts from the year 1958 onwards that the legislature clearly and expressly decided to impose tax on the purchase of goods specified in Schedule C, according to the rates prescribed under Section 5 of the Act. This is clear from the definition of 'purchase' given in Section 2(ff) and Section 4(1) of the Act. In Section 4(2)(a) of the Act, it has also been laid down that the tax will be only at one point, that is, there will be no sales tax if tax on the purchase of any goods has been provided.

7. I may also add that before the State Government makes addition to or deletion from Schedule C to the Act, it has to give at least 30 days notice by issuing a notification of its intention to do so. The public gets sufficient information about the imposition of purchase tax on a particular commodity. The tax is quantified in the Act which contains an elaborate machinery for its assessment. When all these provisions are read together it cannot be said that the grant of power to a State Government to select commodities upon which tax may be levied is either arbitrary or constitutes excessive delegation. In Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. Birla Cotton, Spinning and Weaving Mills, Delhi A.I.R. 1968 S.C. 1232, it was held as under :

What guidance should be given and to what extent and whether guidance has been given in a particular case at all depends on a consideration of the provisions of the particular Act with which the court has to deal including its preamble. Further it appears to us that the nature of the body to which delegation is made is also a factor to be taken into consideration in determining whether there is sufficient guidance in the matter of delegation.

8. These observations apply to the instant case with full vigour.

9. For the reasons mentioned above, I order that these petitions be dismissed.


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