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Karnal Machinery Store Vs. the Assessing Authority and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ No. 2295 of 1970
Judge
Reported in[1973]31STC3(P& H)
AppellantKarnal Machinery Store
RespondentThe Assessing Authority and ors.
Appellant Advocate Bhagirath Dass,; B.K. Jhingan,; S.K. Hirajee and;
Respondent Advocate M.S. Jain, Adv.-General
DispositionPetition allowed
Cases ReferredMadras v. The State of Madras
Excerpt:
.....accessory depending for its potency and power on the chemical combination, cannot be classified as electrical goods or appliances. its use certainly depends on the functioning of the electrical equipment as well. this principle is well recognised and has been followed by the supreme court in several cases. 13. at another place, their lordships observed thus :while interpreting items in statutes like the sales tax act, resort should be had not to the scientific or the technical meaning of such terms but to their popular meaning or the meaning attached to them by those dealing in them, that is to say, to their commercial sense. 14. this court had occasion to deal with a like question in the state of andhra pradesh v. 84 (sic) to which a reference has already been made, a lathe, which is..........authority, karnal, charging sales tax at the rate of 10 percent, on the price of the 'monoblock pumping sets' sold by the respective dealers with effect from 22nd august, 1968, to 31st march, 1969 and at the rate of 6 per cent, thereafter. the assessment year in civil writ no. 1552 (messrs. anil traders, chaura bazar, karnal) is 1966-67 and in civil writ no. 2295 of 1970 (messrs. karnal machinery store, karnal) is 1968-69. the petitioners instead of going up in appeal to the excise and taxation commissioner, haryana and in further appeal to the sales tax tribunal, haryana, have come to this court under article 226 of the constitution of india. their contention is that the 'monoblock pumping sets' do not fall under item 17 in schedule a, but fall under item 34 in schedule b and,.....
Judgment:

Mahajan, Actg. C.J.

1. This order will dispose of Civil Writs Nos. 1552 and 2295 of 1970. They are directed against the order of the Assessing Authority, Karnal, charging sales tax at the rate of 10 percent, on the price of the 'monoblock pumping sets' sold by the respective dealers with effect from 22nd August, 1968, to 31st March, 1969 and at the rate of 6 per cent, thereafter. The assessment year in Civil Writ No. 1552 (Messrs. Anil Traders, Chaura Bazar, Karnal) is 1966-67 and in Civil Writ No. 2295 of 1970 (Messrs. Karnal Machinery Store, Karnal) is 1968-69. The petitioners instead of going up in appeal to the Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Haryana and in further appeal to the Sales Tax Tribunal, Haryana, have come to this court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Their contention is that the 'monoblock pumping sets' do not fall under item 17 in Schedule A, but fall under item 34 in Schedule B and, therefore, these pumping sets are not liable to any sales tax.

2. Section 4 of the Punjab Sales Tax Act as applicable to Haryana, provides that:

Subject to the provisions of Sections 5 and 6, every dealer, except one dealing exclusively in goods declared tax-free under Section 6, whose gross turnover during the year immediately preceding the commencement of this Act exceeded the taxable quantum, shall be liable to pay tax under ' this Act on all sales effected after the coming into force of this Act.

3. Section 5 provides the rate of tax. In the case of luxury goods the extent of tax is 10 per cent., whereas in the case of other goods, it is 6 per cent. Luxury goods have been enumerated in Schedule A, but have not been defined either in the Act or the Rules made thereunder. Section 6 deals with tax-free goods. Tax-free goods are specified in the first column of Schedule B. Section 6 enables the Government to put conditions and make exceptions with regard to tax-free goods. The Government can, after giving a notice of not less than two months, either add to or delete from Schedule B.

4. Sales tax authorities have treated the 'monoblock pumping sets' as goods falling in Schedule A, entry 17. This entry reads as under :

Electrical goods other than electrical plants, equipments and their accessories including service meters required for generation, transmission and distribution.

5. The case of the assessee, on the other hand, is that 'monoblock pumping sets' are not luxury goods, much less electrical goods. It is further contended that 'monoblock pumping sets' are agricultural implements and, therefore, fall in Schedule B, entry 34, vide Section 6 of the Act. The assessing authority did not accept the stand taken by the assessee and treating the pumps as electrical goods and thus luxury goods, imposed tax at the rate of 10 per cent, for the period already specified and thereafter at he rate of 6 per cent.

6. In these petitions no objection has been raised by the State that the normal procedure provided in the Act has not been followed, namely, an appeal, further appeal and then a reference to this court and, therefore, they should not be entertained. As these petitions have been admitted and there is a reference on the same point in the case of Messrs. Gandhi General Store (Sales Tax Reference No. 5 of 1971), we have decided to dispose of these petitions on merits.

7. The first question that has to be determined is whether 'monoblock pumping sets' are agricultural implements. It can be least doubted that pumping sets have to be motivated either by electric energy or by oil engines or by any other means which can provide locomotion. The purpose of these pumps is to draw water from the soil either for irrigation of lands or for drinking purposes or for industrial purposes. If one says that the pumping sets are merely used for the purpose of agriculture, the statement will not be wholly true. Similarly, the converse will also be not true, namely, that the pumping sets have nothing to do with agricultural operation. In fact, no agriculture worth the name is possible without irrigation and in 'that sense pumping sets are an integral part of all agricultural operations. We have stated all this in order to show that only that implement will be an agricultural implement which has intimate connection with agriculture, In case the implement has no connection whatsoever with agriculture, it would not be an agricultural implement. There can be implements which are common to agriculture as well as to other occupations. For instance, nobody can deny that a spade is an agricultural implement, whereas in all building operations in big towns, spade is as much a part of a building implement as it is part of an agricultural implement in a village. Merely because, a spade is put to various other uses unconnected with agriculture, it will not cease to be an agricultural implement. It will now be proper to refer to a very illuminating discussion in The State of Andhra Pradesh v. Indian Detonators Ltd., Hyderabad [1971] 28 S.T.C. 84. The judgment of the court was delivered by the learned Chief Justice. While dealing with the entries in the schedule of the relevant Sales Tax Act of the State of Andhra Pradesh and after referring to the observations of the Supreme Court in Ramavatar Budhaiprasad v. The Assistant Sales Tax Officer, Akola and Anr. [1961] 12 S.T.C. 286 (S.C.), it was observed :

The expression 'electrical goods' has not been defined in the Act. Neither the Act nor the Rules thereunder have laid down any test to be satisfied before any given article is brought within the scope of entry 37. The appellate authority, therefore, relying on the test laid down in William Jacks and Co. v. The State of Madras [1955] 6 S.T.C. 301, held that electric detonators are electrical goods inasmuch as they cannot be operated by any means other than electric energy to ignite the fuse. The Appellate Tribunal did not agree with this view for, in bringing any goods under the classification of electrical goods, the goods are to be taken as a whole. For this purpose their component parts cannot be taken separately. To put it differently, the article sold is to be taken as a unit and cannot be split up and considered. On this basis, which has also been clearly stated in the case relied on, the Tribunal seems to have held that inasmuch as the electric energy is used only for the limited purpose of ignition, the detonator which is primarily and essentially an explosive accessory depending for its potency and power on the chemical combination, cannot be classified as electrical goods or appliances. In our judgment, the approach of the Tribunal to the problem is correct. The appellate authority was no doubt impressed greatly by the fact that the electrical detonators cannot be used without electrical energy. But before that test is applied, it is essential that the goods must be capable of being classified as electrical goods. It may be that certain goods cannot be used without electrical energy ; yet they need not necessarily be electrical goods. Take the case of a motor car. Its use certainly depends on the functioning of the electrical equipment as well. In fact without electrical energy it may not be possible to start or make it run. But on that account the motor car does not become electrical goods. There can be innumerable instances of this kind. The nature of the goods, therefore, has to be determined taking the goods as a whole and not by any of its single factor.

8. In William Jacks and Co. Ltd., Madras v. State of Madras [1960] 11 S.T.C. 340, the Madras High Court referring to its earlier decision in William jack's case [1955] 6 S.T.C. 301 clarified this position. The question for consideration was whether lathe can be classified as electrical goods. It was observed thus:

A lathe, by itself, even though driven by electrical energy will not come within the scope of the expression 'electrical goods' in Section 3(2)(viii) of the Madras General Sales Tax Act, 1939.

9. It is unnecessary to refer to the line of reasoning in that case more elaborately for the position has been made further clear in a later decision of the Madras High Court in Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, Madurai Division, Madurai v. Ravi Auto Stores ([1968] 22 S.T.C. 172). It was laid down therein as follows:

Intrinsically, the goods in question must be electrical goods and secondly their use cannot be had without electrical energy. Merely because an article cannot be used without electricity, it may not be decisive. It is necessary that, apart from that fact, the article, by its very nature, answers the description of 'electrical goods'.

10. We find ourselves in respectful agreement with this proposition.

11. The expression 'electrical goods', of course, as already stated, is not defined in the Act or the Rules. In the absence of any specific meaning given to it in the Act we have to necessarily construe it and understand the same in the sense it is used in common parlance. This principle is well recognised and has been followed by the Supreme Court in several cases. While construing the word 'vegetables' in item 6 in Schedule II of the C.P. and Berar Sales Tax Act (21 of 1947) in Ramavatar Budhaiprasad v. The Assistant Sales Tax Officer, Akola and Anr. [1961] 12 S.T.C. 286 (S.C.) the Supreme Court observed thus :

But this word must be construed not in any technical sense nor from the botanical point of view but as understood in common parlance. It has not been defined in the Act and being a word of everyday use, it must be construed in its popular sense meaning 'that sense which people conversant with the subject-matter with which the statute is dealing would attribute to it.' It is to be construed as understood in common language: Craies on Statute Law, page 153 (5th Edition). It was so held in Planters Nut and Chocolate Co. Ltd. v. The King (1952) 1 Dom. L.R. 385, 389.

12. This view was reiterated in Commissioner of Sales Tax, Madhya Pradesh, Indore v. Jaswant Singh Charan Singh [1967] 19 S.T.C. 469 (S.C.) where the question arose whether charcoal is included in the word 'coal' specified in entry 1 of Part III of Schedule II to the Madhya Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1958. There it was observed thus :.while construing the word 'coal' in entry 1 of Part III of Schedule II, the test that would be applied is what would be the meaning which persons dealing with coal and consumers purchasing it as fuel would give to that word. A sales tax statute being one levying a tax on goods, must, in the absence of a technical term or a term of science or art, be presumed to have used an ordinary term as coal according to the meaning ascribed to it in common parlance.

13. At another place, their Lordships observed thus :

While interpreting items in statutes like the Sales Tax Act, resort should be had not to the scientific or the technical meaning of such terms but to their popular meaning or the meaning attached to them by those dealing in them, that is to say, to their commercial sense.

14. This court had occasion to deal with a like question in the State of Andhra Pradesh v. Satyanarayana Kaithan (P.) Ltd. [1967] 20 S.T.C. 409, where the question arose whether 'manganese' includes 'manganese ore'.

15. In view of the settled principle the question to be considered is whether according to the popular meaning or the meaning attached to the word in commercial world, electrical detonators can be termed 'electrical goods'.

16. If the above observations are kept in view, the question that will have to be determined is, what is the nature of the monoblock pump The main purpose of the machine is to pump water. It cannot be used for any other purpose. The electric motor is merely the locomotion to work the pump. If the pumping part is removed, it ceases to be of any use as a pump. Thus, the monoblock pumping sets cannot be classed as electrical goods.

17. An agriculturist who is installing a pump to irrigate his land will call a pumping set as an agricultural implement, whereas a person having such a pump to provide water for his personal use at his residence will not term it as an agricultural implement. It will be seen that the instrument or the tool remains the same, but its use will make it either an agricultural implement or not. It is for this reason that we mentioned the illustration of a spade, which no one can deny is an agricultural implement. Mr. Jain has relied upon the decision in Delta Engineering Co. Private Ltd. v. Commissioner of Sales Tax [1963] 14 S.T.C. 515, where the centrifugal water pump was not held to be an agricultural implement. With utmost respect to the learned Judges, who took that view, we are unable to agree with the same. We have already indicated our reasons in detail, that a pumping set used mainly to irrigate agricultural lands is merely an agricultural implement. In the Indian Detonator's case [1971] 28 S.T.C. 84 (sic) to which a reference has already been made, a lathe, which is driven by a main electrical motor and some ancillary electrical motors, was held not to be 'electrical goods'. If that reasoning is extended to a pumping set, we fail to see how a pumping set can be classified as electrical goods. It is true that the pumping set was treated as, 'electrical goods' in William Jacks and Co. Ltd., Madras v. The State of Madras [1955] 6 S.T.C. 301 but the various aspects of the matter to which we have made a reference were not taken into account. This decision was noticed but was not relied upon while holding a lathe not to be 'electrical goods' in Delta Engineering Company's case [1963] 14 S.T.C. 515 (sic). The tests which really commend to us are those laid down in Indian Detonators' case [1971] 28 S.T.C. 84. One has to see the purpose for which a tool is being used. All tools work by external motivation. Merely because in the case of one tool, the motivation is by electrical energy, it does not and will not make it 'electrical goods'. It is the intrinsic nature and the purpose for which a tool is used which would, in our opinion, determine its nature. In view of what has been said above, the only conclusion possible is that pumping sets are agricultural implements when used by agriculturists for agricultural operations.

18. The sales tax authorities have not determined how many of such pumping sets were sold to agriculturists for irrigation purposes and how many were sold to non-agriculturists for other purposes. That is a matter which they will have to determine in order to bring to tax pumping sets which have been sold for purposes not mainly connected with agriculture.

19. For the reasons recorded above, we allow both the petitions and quash the orders of the assessing authority, imposing sales tax on the sale of monoblock pumps to agriculturists to irrigate their lands. It will be open to the assessing authority to determine whether any pumping sets have been sold for purposes other than irrigation of agricultural land and if the authority comes to the conclusion that they have been so sold, to levy sales tax thereon. We make no order as to costs.


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