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Commissioner of Sales Tax Vs. the Siemens India Limited - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
Subject Sales Tax
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberS.T.R. No. 13 of 1981
Judge
Reported in[1986]61STC194(Delhi)
ActsDelhi Sales Tax Act, 1975 - Sections 4(1), 45 and 49
AppellantCommissioner of Sales Tax
RespondentThe Siemens India Limited
Cases ReferredEngineering Traders v. State of Uttar Pradesh
Excerpt:
.....high court, namely, that a monoblock pump-set is an agricultural implement when sold to an agriculturist would clearly apply to a case like the present. the full bench held :we are thus clearly of the opinion that pumping sets in question are connected intimately with agriculture and are commonly used and understood as agricultural implements......entry no. 17 to contend that the words 3 to 7 1/2 h.p. occurring in that entry covered monoblock pump-sets and not electric motors. the alternative contention on behalf of the assessed was that in case electric motors 3 to 7 1/2 h.p. were covered by entry no. 17 and other electric motors fell outside, then the same should be treated as an industrial machinery covered by entry no. 27 of the notification dated 21st october, 1975, which made the operative duty 5 per cent. in any case, electric motors were not electrical goods as given in entry no. 15. the claim was that electric motors had no independent existence as they were a means of converting electrical energy into mechanical energy and thus entry no. 27 applied. 5. it appears that the case of the assessed was that a motor run by.....
Judgment:

Kapur, J.

1. These two Sales Tax References (Nos. 13 and 14 of 1981) have been made at the instance of the Commissioner of Sales Tax as well as the assessed under section 45 of the Delhi Sales Tax Act, 1975. The reference is consequent to the order of the Tribunal dated 6th November, 1980, whereby the learned Tribunal had held that electric motors sold by the assessed were exempt from sales tax. The question referred to us at the instance of the Commissioner, Sales Tax, is as follows :

'Whether electrical motors other than that of 3 to 7 1/2 h.p. fall within the ambit of entry No. 17 to the Third Schedule of the Delhi Sales Tax Act, 1975, and the sales thereof were exempt from the levy of sales tax ?'

2. The question referred at the instance of the dealer is as follows :

'In case electric motors other than that of 3 to 7 1/2 h.p. are held as falling under entry No. 17 to the Third Schedule of the Delhi Sales Tax Act, were they covered by entry No. 15 to the First Schedule of the Act or were they parts of industrial machinery as given in entry No. 27 of the notification dated 21st October, 1975 ?'

3. The statement of case indicates how this whole question has arisen. The assessed is a manufacturer of electrical equipment of various types, such as transformers, switch gears, switch boards, L.T. electric motors, agricultural pumping sets, woodblocks and coupled, etc. Two electric motors of 15 h.p. were sold to M/s. Jackson Engineers of Delhi and subjected to sales tax at the rate of 10 per cent. The dealer applied for under section 49 of the Delhi Sales Tax Act, 1975, to the Commissioner, Sales Tax, seeking a determination of the rate of tax. It was the case of the dealer that the electric motors were covered by entry No. 17 of the Third Schedule. The Commissioner did not accept the submission, but held that electric motors between 3 to 7 1/2 h.p. were exempt from the sales tax under entry No. 17, but not other electric motors; hence, the chargeable tax was at the rate of 10 per cent.

4. On appeal before the Appellate Tribunal, reliance was placed on entry No. 17 to contend that the words 3 to 7 1/2 h.p. occurring in that entry covered monoblock pump-sets and not electric motors. The alternative contention on behalf of the assessed was that in case electric motors 3 to 7 1/2 h.p. were covered by entry No. 17 and other electric motors fell outside, then the same should be treated as an industrial machinery covered by entry No. 27 of the notification dated 21st October, 1975, which made the operative duty 5 per cent. In any case, electric motors were not electrical goods as given in entry No. 15. The claim was that electric motors had no independent existence as they were a means of converting electrical energy into mechanical energy and thus entry No. 27 applied.

5. It appears that the case of the assessed was that a motor run by electricity was not covered by that expression 'electrical goods'.

6. On behalf of the department, it was urged that electric motors were not industrial machinery, but machines in themselves.

7. The Tribunal decided the matter as follows : Entry No. 17 was capable of two meanings, the words '3 to 7 1/2 h.p.' could be taken to qualify electric motors and also to qualify monoblock pump-sets only. If it was the intention to cover electric motors, then the wording would have been different. The Tribunal was of the view that the proper construction was to put a comma after the words pump-sets. As neither a comma was there nor any other indication, the Tribunal preferred to give an interpretation which was favorable to the subject as opposed to the construction favorable to the revenue. The alternative contention urged on behalf of the assessed was rejected. It was held that electric motors were electrical goods following the decision of the Orissa High Court in State of Orissa v. Rama Engineering and Manufacturing Works [1976] 37 STC 182

8. In order to understand and clarify the reference made to us, some provisions of the Delhi Sales Tax Act have to be referred to. The Act has three Schedules. The rate of tax chargeable is specified in section 4(1). It is 12 per cent in respect of taxable turnover in respect of goods specified in the First Schedule. In respect of goods specified in the Second Schedule, the rate is not to exceed 4 per cent as specified by the Central Government from time to time in the official Gazette. The turnover of certain goods is treated as tax-free. Those are the ones specified in the Third Schedule. It is, thereforee, of some importance to discover in which schedule and under which entry, electric motors are included. The tax to be paid in respect of electric motors is dependent on the entry which operates in respect of such motors.

9. There is no doubt that we are dealing with electric motors of 15 h.p. rating because the case of the department is that it depends on the horse-power rating of the electric motors. This is because of the wording used in entry No. 17 of the Third Schedule. That entry reads :

'17. Agricultural implements including chaff-cutters and Persian wheels or parts thereof and electric motors including monoblock pump-sets of 3 to 7.5 horsepower.

Explanationn. - The goods covered by this entry do not include tractors and component parts, spare parts and accessories thereof.'

10. The Explanationn was added with effect from 16th September, 1976, and is not material for this case which relates to a sale made on 20th November, 1975. The question before the Tribunal was whether the words '3 to 7.5 h.p.' occurring at the end of this clause covered only monoblock pump-sets or they covered electric motors or they covered all the articles.

11. The construction of the words does not present as real a problem as was encountered by the Tribunal. The entry is essentially concerned with agricultural implements or is it concerned with agricultural implement and electric motors. The idea of having one entry seems to indicate that the exemption was made to a particular type of electric motors which were used for agricultural purposes. Otherwise, one would have expected a separate entry for electric motors. There is no connection between agricultural implements and electric motors except in the case where electric motors are used for drawing water to be used in agriculture. The framers of the entry have, thereforee, really dealt with two types of articles, agricultural implements and electric motors. As far as agricultural implements are concerned, some words have been used for including articles which may not look like agricultural implements. The words 'agricultural implements' are followed by the words 'including chaff-cutters and Persian wheels or parts thereof'. The reason why such words are used in the statute is to include within the ambit of agricultural implements some other articles which might not look exactly like agricultural implements. For instance, chaff-cutters and Persian wheels or their parts might ordinarily not be treated as agricultural implements. The legislature in its wisdom added the words 'including chaff-cutters and Persian wheels or parts thereof' as part of agricultural implements. In other words, when a question arises is a chaff-cutter an agricultural implement, the answer has to be yes, because the legislature has included this article in the definition of 'agricultural implements'.

12. When we turn to electric motors, the words used are 'electric motors including monoblock pump-sets of 3 to 7.5 horse-power'. The reason for using the words 'including monoblock pump-sets' is that otherwise it might be said that monoblock pump-sets are not electric motors. If a monoblock pump-set is examined by any person, he would not normally state that it is an electric motor. We have been told that this is a combination of an electric motor and a pump which is commonly used for agricultural purposes to pump water. The words 'including monoblock pump-sets' is the legislature's attempt to treat monoblock pump-sets as being equal to electric motors. Then follow the crucial words 'of 3 to 7.5 horse-power'. The question we have to ask is why are these words used 'of 3 to 7.5 horse-power'. Is it a qualification about electric motors or, is it a qualification about monoblock pump-sets We do not think that these words can be used for qualifying monoblock pump-sets because electric motors include monoblock pump-sets. If all electric motors are exempt, then monoblock pump-sets using bigger or smaller electric motors will also be exempt. There is no purpose in using the words 'of 3 to 7.5 horse-power' if they are not to qualify electric motors. The words 'including monoblock pump-sets' are to be read as if they are in brickets, i.e., the proper meaning to be given to the clause is as follows : 'Electric motors (including monoblock pump-sets) of 3 to 7.5 horse-power.' The qualification in respect of horse-power cannot, thereforee, be read as a qualification only of monoblock pump-sets, but is a qualification in respect of electric motors. In fact, the idea of the legislature appears to have been that certain types of electric motors were being used by agriculturists for the purposes of pumping water and those were normally of 3 to 7.5 horse-power. The purpose of giving the exemption was to permit agriculturists getting electric motors, which they normally use for pumping water, exempt of sales tax. Other electric motors of larger or smaller size are used either for industrial purposes or for domestic purposes.

13. A number of cases were cited before us, but they do not really help us in construing this section. We refer to them in short.

Daulat Ram Mehnidratta v. Lt. Governor, : AIR1982Delhi470 was cited before us because it was held by the Full Bench that punctuation does not form any part of an Act. The judgment of the Supreme Court in Hindustan Aluminium Corporation Ltd. v. State of Uttar Pradesh [1981] 48 STC 411 (SC) was cited before us for giving the meaning of the word 'including'. It so happened that the word 'including' in the context of that case had to be given as a special meaning and was read as the word 'and'. Of course, electric motors including monoblock pump-sets could also be read as electric motors and monoblock pump-sets, in the present case. However, the context of user is very significant. In the case of agricultural implements, chaff-cutters and Persian wheels are included. It may be recalled that chaff-cutters and Persian wheels are used for agriculture and there can be a doubt whether they are implements. The word used is 'including' in place of 'and'. The legislature has clarified that these two articles are also to be considered as agricultural implements. In the case of electric motors and monoblock pump-sets, the distinction becomes much more clear. A monoblock pump-sets is a pump to which an electric motor is attached. Instead of having a motor and a pump separately, the motor is attached to the pump in one block. It is a kind of an electric motor with a pump pre-attached. There could be a doubt as to whether it is an electric motor. For instance, an ordinary fan is an electric motor to which blades are attached to give breeze. A fan could not be described as an electric motor, but yet essentially it is an electric motor with blades attached. The legislature merely clarified that for the purpose of this entry, monoblock pump-sets would be considered as an electric motor.

14. If you look at entry No. 18, it is cattle feed including fodder and poultry feeds. Poultry feed would not be cattle feed, but if treated the same way by using the word 'including' it would have to be exempt just like cattle feed.

15. If we look at many of the entries in the Third Schedule, the word, 'including' is used for purposes of clarification. For instance, in entry No. 1, cereals and pules include all forms of rice, brans and cooked dal. In entry No. 2, flour includes atta, maida, besan and suji. In entry No. 10, milk includes boiled and sugared milk, but not condensed milk. In entry No. 26, betel leaves include prepared pan and in entry No. 34 scientific goods include scientific glass goods, geometrical and drawing goods used in schools and colleges. In entry No. 35, livestock includes poultry. The word 'including' is, thereforee, essentially used for clarificatory purposes. It qualifies about something which may be doubtful. Similarly, the word 'excluding' is used when a doubtful thing is excluded, such as 'color pencils' are excluded in entry No. 25 from 'crayons'.

16. A reference was made to Commissioner of Wealth-tax, Bihar and Orissa, Patna v. Kripashankar Dayashanker Worah : [1971]81ITR763(SC) , wherein the rule of strict construction in a taxing statute was explained. It was held that in the case of ambiguity, the benefit must go to the assessed. But, if the intention was clear but the drafting was not clear then the clear intention must be given effect to. A similar view was expressed in Commissioner of Income-tax, Patiala v. Shahzada Nand and Sons : [1966]60ITR392(SC) , in which it was held that if there was a reasonable doubt, the construction beneficial to the assessed must be given.

17. As already indicated, in the present case, if all electric motors are exempt, as contended by the assessed, then we do not see why monoblock pump-sets are exempt only between 3 to 7.5 horse-power, they should all be exempted irrespective of their horse-power rating.

18. In the course of arguments, reference was made to Polestar Electronic (Pvt.) Ltd. v. Additional Commissioner, Sales Tax [1978] 41 STC 409 (SC), to a passage at page 421 where a rule of construction regarding taxing statutes was set out. The rule of literal construction was accepted as correct. There was no room for adding in the words. We accept this in normal statutory definitions, but it is an accepted and customary device to include or expand the meaning of particular words by giving them a different meaning from the dictionary one. Such a definition has the effect of extending the meaning of a word by including therein some doubtful or even different object. This is exactly the device used in the present case, i.e., in electric motors, monoblock pump-sets are included. If the dictionary meaning or literal meaning was given, electric motors would not include monoblock pump-sets, but the effect of that inclusion does not mean that the limiting words regarding horse-power apply only to the additional object and not to the principal object, namely, electric motors.

19. Reference has now to be made to a decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Karnal Machinery Store v. Assessing Authority, Karnal [1973] 31 STC 3 dealing with monoblock pump-sets. It was held by the court that monoblock pump-sets were not electrical goods, but agricultural implements, which fell under entry No. 34 of Schedule B to the Punjab General Sales Tax Act, 1948. In that case, the order imposing sales tax on the sale of monoblock pumping sets to agriculturists was quashed. It was, however, held that if such pumping sets were sold for other purposes then the authority might conclude that sales tax was leviable. William Jacks and Co. Ltd., Madras v. State of Madras [1955] 6 STC 301 is a judgment of the Madras High Court to define what is meant by electrical goods. One of the articles dealt with in this judgment was a pump-set and it was held that as these pump-sets had to be driven by electricity and there was no other alternative power supply, they were to be treated as electrical goods. There is then State of Andhra Pradesh v. Indian Detonators Ltd., Hyderabad [1971] 28 STC 84 in which a detonator was held to be not electrical goods. For this conclusion, the common parlance interpretation was adopted.

20. In J. B. Advani-Oerlikon, Electrodes Pvt. Ltd. v. Commissioner of Sales Tax, M.P. [1972] 30 STC 337 the question was whether electrodes used for welding purposes were electrical goods. These electrodes were rods carrying electricity. It was held that they were not electrical goods because to be electrical goods two things were necessary - (a) that it should not be capable of being used without electricity, and (b) by its very nature it could be described as electrical goods. In State of Tamil Nadu v. Blue Star Engineering Co. Madras Private Limited [1977] 39 STC 194 the problem was whether a duplicating machine was 'electrical goods'. The problem was answered by the fact that there was a specific entry dealing with duplicating machines. It was held that where there is a specific entry, the same must be applied and the general entry must be excluded. In Sri Sakthi Textiles Ltd. v. State of Tamil Nadu [1979] 43 STC 404 the question was whether a cone-winding machine fitted with an electric motor was included in the term 'electric goods'. It was held that it was not sufficient that the machinery should be usable by electrical energy, it should also be such, that it would come within the description of electrical goods. So, the article, a cone-winding machine, was treated as not being electrical goods. The Orissa High Court held in State of Orissa v. Rama Engineering and Manufacturing Works [1976] 37 STC 182 that electric motors were included in the term 'electrical goods'.

21. Several other cases were cited, but it would not be useful to refer to all the judgments, because the point essentially remains the same. On the construction of entry No. 17, we have already held that the words 'including monoblock pump-sets' include within electrical motors a particular type of pump-set and the qualifying words regarding the horse-power rating are to govern electrical motors.

22. The next question is whether electrical motors are to fall within the general definition of entry No. 15 in the First Schedule. That entry reads :

'15. All electronic and electrical goods other than torches, torch cells and filament lighting bulbs.'

23. It does not appear that electric motors can be described as anything but electrical goods. They are not only electrical by description but seem to be particularly well-suited for being included in the meaning of this term. It is interesting to note that in the First Schedule there are a number of articles which are even otherwise electrical goods being especially referred to. For example, refrigerators and air-conditioners are covered by entry No. 3; wireless, radios and televisions are covered by entry No. 4. Tape-recorders, dictaphones and sound-recording equipment are covered by entry No. 10. Telephones and loud-speakers are covered by entry No. 11. Gramophones, record-players and record-changers are covered by entry No. 14. So, In spite of being electrical goods, there are some other entries to make the matter quite plain. So, the conclusion must be that electric motors are covered by entry No. 15, but before a final conclusion is arrived at, the other point raised by the assessed has now to be considered.

24. The question that now needs to be considered is the effect of the notification dated 21st October, 1975, issued under the third proviso to sub-section (1) of section 4 of the Delhi Sales Tax Act, 1975, whereby the Administrator fixed the rates of sales tax in respect of particular items. In the case of electronic and electrical goods, i.e., item No. 15, the rate was fixed at ten paise in the rupee, i.e., ten per cent. So, the rate is not 12 per cent, but 10 per cent. Then, there is another notification dated 21st October, 1975, issued under the same provision whereby the Administrator fixed the rates of sales tax for other items at lower than 10 per cent. This notification is No. F. 4(73)/74-Fin.(G)(i). The other notification previously referred to does not have the letter '(i)' at the end of it, otherwise it has the same number and is of the same date.

25. Under the second notification, entry No. 27 reads :

'Safety-razor blades and surgical instruments or parts of industrial machinery and plant.'

26. It is contended before us that the electric motors covered by the present case, which are of 15 horse-power, are really industrial machinery and plant because they are intended for operating an industry and are practically of no importance in any other fields. We agree and as far as we can see, the electric motors in question have to be used in an industry but, the question is, can they be described as 'parts of industrial machinery and plant'. Learned counsel for the assessed contended that the words 'industrial machinery and plant' are general words, and thereforee electric motors or any other machinery or plant used in a factory would come under the general meaning of industrial machinery and plant. We would initially be of the view that electric motors would not come ordinarily, in such a vague phrase as 'industrial machinery and plant' because an electric motor is by its very nature capable of use in whatever field it might be operated by the owner. However, what then is 'industrial machinery and plant' Any machine used in an industry, such as, a lathe or a loom or a mechanical press or a crane and any other type of machine that may be fitted in a factory must also have some name. It could easily be urged that in the case of such machine also, that they were not 'industrial machinery and plant'.

27. In this connection, it is useful to refer again to the judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, viz., Karnal Machinery Store v. Assessing Authority, Karnal [1973] 31 STC 3 where it was held that a monoblock pump-set was an agricultural implement when sold to an agriculturist. When a special exemption or reduction in tax is given for industrial machinery and plant, the object appears to charge a reduced amount in order to encourage the setting up of an industrial project. It is difficult to imagine at this age and time that any industry can be run without an electric motor. It would, thereforee, appear that although an electric motor does not sound or appear to be industrial machinery or plant, it may be included in the application of this entry.

28. This question does not seem to have been urged as such before the Appellate Tribunal, but is included in the question referred to us and has been, urged before us.

29. In helping to construe the meaning of the words 'industrial machinery and plant', it is useful to refer to certain provisions of the Income-tax Act, 1961, where similar words are used. By section 31 repairs and insurance is allowed as a deduction in respect of machinery, plant and furniture used in the business or profession. Similarly, the provisions of section 32 provided that depreciation is to be allowed in respect of buildings, machinery, plant or furniture owned by the assesee and used for the purpose of business or profession. Turning again to the language of entry No. 27, the peculiarity of the entry is that it refers to 'parts of industrial machinery and plant' and not to the industrial machinery and plant itself. We think that the whole must consist of parts and if the parts are to be taxed at 5 per cent, probably the whole has also to be taxed at the rate of 5 per cent. However, that is not the question before us. If only the 'parts' of industrial machinery and plant are to be taxed at 5 per cent, then can an electric motor be described as a part of industrial machinery and plant. As seen by reference to the Income-tax Act, 1961, there would be little doubt that an electric motor would either be treated as machinery or plant. No one can deny that a purchaser of an electric motor would be entitled to get the deduction mentioned in section 31 and section 32 of the Income-tax Act, 1961, if such a motor is used for business or profession. Is there any reason why we should give a different meaning to industrial machinery and plant when the words appear in entry No. 27 of the notification.

30. We think that a reasonable answer, though it may not strictly follow from the language used in the entry, is that an electric motor which is fitted up in an industrial unit would be considered a part of the machinery or plant fitted up in that industrial unit. The test given by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, namely, that a monoblock pump-set is an agricultural implement when sold to an agriculturist would clearly apply to a case like the present. The electric motor would be a part of industrial machinery and plant if used in an industry. Hence, the eventual destination of the motor is to be seen. If the electric motor is sold to be utilised in an industry, it is to be charged at the rate of 5 per cent. If it is to be used for other purposes, it is to be charged at 10 per cent, and if it is a motor between 3 to 7.5 h.p. then it is exempt.

31. There is a Full Bench judgment of the Allahabad High Court reported as Engineering Traders v. State of Uttar Pradesh [1973] 31 STC 456 (FB), where the question arose whether a water-pumping set was an agricultural implement. It was held that previous decisions of the court holding that pumps used in tube-wells were not agricultural implements, and holding that pumping sets were not agricultural implements, had not laid down the law correctly. The Full Bench held :

'We are thus clearly of the opinion that pumping sets in question are connected intimately with agriculture and are commonly used and understood as agricultural implements.'

32. Following this line of reasoning, it appears that large electric motors must be understood as being part of industrial machinery or plant. They are nor likely to be used for any other purpose. At least we cannot think of any other purpose for which a 15 horse-power engine could be used. The normal utilisation of such a machine would be in industry. So, we think that in the case of the two motors we are dealing with, i.e., of 15 horse-power sold to M/s. Jackson Engineers, 47, Shardhanand Marg, Delhi-110006, these motors should be treated as parts of industrial machinery or plant. However, as observed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, if these motors are not being used for industrial purposes, then they would be taxable under the general entry as electrical goods.

33. In view of the above reasoning, our answers to the questions can now be set out. As far as the question referred to us at the instance of the Commissioner of Sales Tax is concerned, we hold that only electric motors of between 3 to 7.5 horse-power are exempt from the levy of sales tax falling within the ambit of entry No. 17 of the Third Schedule of the Delhi Sales Tax Act, 1975.

34. As far as the question referred at the instance of the assessed is concerned, we hold that electric motors are covered by entry No. 15 of the First Schedule of the Act unless they are used for industrial purposes when they fall under entry No. 27 of the notification dated 21st October, 1975. In case the motors are covered by entry No. 15, the effective tax is 10 per cent by reason of the other notification dated 21st October, 1975.

35. We think a fair order is that the parties should bear their own costs.


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