1. This writ petition (No. 287 of 1956) was referred to this Bench by Bishan Narain, J., on the view that it sought to challenge the vires of East Punjab General Sales Tax Act, 1948. Before us, however, it emerges from the arguments that what is in substantial dispute is not the validity of the Act but the application of that Act to the particular facts of the present case and the main controversy actually is about the facts themselves.
2. The petitioners are timber merchants of Yamunanagar in the Ambala district although the head offices of some of the petitioners are outside the Punjab. The petitioners are being assessed to sales tax under the East Punjab General Sales Tax Act, 1948, and they claim exemption in respect of certain sales of timber made by them to the Railway Department, and the exemption is claimed on the ground that those particular sales took place outside the State of Punjab and are consequently not hit by the Sales Tax Act. Only in the alternative it is suggested that if the East Punjab General Sales Tax Act purports to impose a tax on such sales made outside the State, then it is invalid as the State Legislature has no authority to impose such a tax. It is said in the petition that the contracts for those sales were entered into outside the Punjab State, that the deliveries were made outside the State and that the goods were to be consumed outside the State. These facts, however, are denied by the respondents, namely, the State of Punjab and the Excise and Taxation Officer as the Assessing Authority. It is obvious that the controversy cannot be settled satisfactorily unless the true facts are first discovered and that cannot be done without hearing evidence which this Court, as a Rule, does not do in proceedings of this kind. Even more important is the fact that the East Punjab General Sales Tax Act itself provides a machinery for the settlement of such disputes, for it has set up tribunals to determine the relevant facts and to make the assessment on the basis of those facts, and there is a provision for the settlement of disputed questions of law by the High Court.
3. Mr. Sibal, who appears for the petitioners, is unable to mention any convincing reason why in the present case the petitioners, who are sought to be assessed, should not be left to avail of the ordinary remedy provided by the Sales Tax Act itself instead of being allowed to invoke the extraordinary jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution. As I have already said, the main dispute is about the facts and they must be left to be settled by the tribunals appointed for the purpose. In my opinion, therefore, there is no occasion for us at this stage to go into this controversy and I would, therefore, decline to interfere and dismiss the petition as it stands. In all the circumstances, however, I would leave the parties to bear their own costs.
4. I agree.