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Lala Gian Chand and ors. Vs. Punjab State and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution ;Sales Tax
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivi Writ No. 141 of 1957
Judge
Reported in[1957]8STC645(P& H)
AppellantLala Gian Chand and ors.
RespondentPunjab State and ors.
Appellant Advocate Gokal Chand Mittal, Adv.
Respondent Advocate S.M. Sikri, Advocate-General
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredIn The State of Bombay and Anr. v. United Motors
Excerpt:
.....have been amended accordingly. 4. the learned counsel for the petitioners has urged that under the proviso a notification levying a tax at double the rate has to be notified three months before the tax becomes enforceable and for this purpose has relied on the words 'of its intention so to do' and on the expression 'by like notification' in support of this contention. the words 'so to do' obviously refer to the amendment of the schedule and the expression 'like notification' merely means a notification of the type mentioned above. 479, have laid down :it is now well-established that while article 14 forbids class legislation, it does not forbid reasonable classification for the purposes of legislation. namely, geographical, or according to objects or occupations or the like. but no..........these two grounds separately.4. the learned counsel for the petitioners has urged that under the proviso a notification levying a tax at double the rate has to be notified three months before the tax becomes enforceable and for this purpose has relied on the words 'of its intention so to do' and on the expression 'by like notification' in support of this contention. there is no substance in this argument. the first sentence of the proviso deals with the levying of double the rate of tax. the second sentence which is an independent sentence deals with the notification relating to amendment of the schedule. as i read this proviso the government has to issue a notification giving at least three months' notice to amend the schedule, but no time is prescribed for issuing a notice doubling.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Bishan Narain, J.

1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution by five business concerns carrying on business in Ambala and Chandigarh and has arisen in the following circumstances.

2. The petitioners are registered dealers under the East Punjab General Sales Tax Act, 1948. Section 4 of this Act is a charging section while Section 5 gives the rate of tax. The tax on sales is paid by dealers. In 1952 Section 5 (1) was amended so as to limit the maximum tax to two pice in a rupee on the annual taxable turnover. In 1956 a proviso was introduced to this Sub-section (1) of Section 5 which reads:--

Provided that a tax at double the rate of tax so notified may be levied on the sale of luxury goods as specified in Schedule 'A' appended to this Act from such date as the State Government may by notification direct. The State Government, after giving by notification not less than three months' notice of its intention so to do, may by like notification add to or delete from this Schedule, and thereupon this Schedule shall be deemed to have been amended accordingly.

3. The Government published a notification on the 28th of November, 1956, levying double the rate of tax with effect from the 1st of December, 1956. The validity of this notification is challenged by this petition on the ground that the notification was not published in accordance with law and that in any case it violates Article 14 and Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. I shall deal with these two grounds separately.

4. The learned counsel for the petitioners has urged that under the proviso a notification levying a tax at double the rate has to be notified three months before the tax becomes enforceable and for this purpose has relied on the words 'of its intention so to do' and on the expression 'by like notification' in support of this contention. There is no substance in this argument. The first sentence of the proviso deals with the levying of double the rate of tax. The second sentence which is an independent sentence deals with the notification relating to amendment of the Schedule. As I read this proviso the Government has to issue a notification giving at least three months' notice to amend the Schedule, but no time is prescribed for issuing a notice doubling the rate of tax. The words 'so to do' obviously refer to the amendment of the Schedule and the expression 'like notification' merely means a notification of the type mentioned above. It is not possible to hold that the first sentence in this proviso lays down that at least three months' notice should be given for doubling the rate.

5. It was then argued that by taxing the petitioners the Government has violated the fundamental rights guaranteed to them under Articles 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. The petitioners have been registered under Section 7 of the Act as they are liable to pay tax on the ground that their annual turnover is Rs. 50,000 [vide Sections 4(1) and 4(5) (d) of the Act]. It is argued that the effect of this piece of legislation is that dealers with large business have to pay a tax which is higher than the rate paid by dealers with small business and that the petitioners have also to keep accounts for that purpose. The contention is that the object of the Act is to levy general tax on the sale of goods in Punjab as given in its preamble and it is not to help smaller businessmen. Their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Bidi Supply Co. v. Union of India and Ors. [1955] 39 I.T.R, 717 : A.I.R. 1956 S.C. 479, have laid down :-

It is now well-established that while Article 14 forbids class legislation, it does not forbid reasonable classification for the purposes of legislation. In order, however, to pass the test of permissible classification two conditions must be fulfilled, namely, (1) that the classification must be founded on an intelligible differentia which distinguishes persons or things that are grouped together from others left out of the group and (2) that that differentia must have a rational relation to the object sought to be achieved by the statute in question.

The classification may be founded on different bases; namely, geographical, or according to objects or occupations or the like. What is necessary is that there must be a nexus between the basis of classification and the object of the Act under consideration.

6. Applying this test there can be no doubt that it is open to the Government to impose a tax on persons with certain extent of business and exempt other business persons who have not got business of that extent. It is true that the tax is on sales, but it is not necessary for equal protection before the law that every business man must be taxed alike whatever his financial extent of the business. In The State of Bombay and Anr. v. United Motors (India] Ltd. and Ors. A.I.R. 1953 S.C. 252 a similar question arose under the Bombay Sales Tax Act of 1952. Under the charging Sections 5 and 10 of that Act the minimum taxable turnover was fixed at Rs. 30,000 and Rs. 5,000 respectively for general tax and special tax. An argument was raised that this differentiation amounted to discrimination violating Article 14 of the Constitution. Their Lordships of the Supreme Court repelled the contention and observed:-

* * * for it must be conceded that the general effect of fixing these minimum limits must necessarily be to enable traders whose taxable turnover is below those limits to sell their goods at lower prices to their customers than dealers whose turnover exceeded those limits, for the latter have to add the sales tax to the prices of their goods. But no discrimination is involved in this classification which is perfectly reasonable when it is borne in mind that the State may not consider it administratively worth while to tax sales by small traders who have no organisational facilities for collecting the tax from their buyers and turn it over to the Government. Each State must, in imposing a tax of this nature, fix its own limits below which it does not consider it administratively feasible or worth while to impose the tax. It is idle to suggest that any discrimination is involved in such classification.

7. If this rule is applied to the present case, then it is obvious that no discrimination is involved in the present case.

8. For all these reasons I have no hesitation in dismissing this petition, but I shall leave the parties to bear their own costs and I order accordingly.


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