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Allied Motors Private Ltd. and ors. Vs. New Delhi Municipal Committee and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectOther Taxes
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetter Patent Appeal No. 121 of 1973
Judge
Reported inAIR1982Delhi11; 20(1981)DLT305
ActsPunjab Municipal Act, 1911 - Sections 61
AppellantAllied Motors Private Ltd. and ors.
RespondentNew Delhi Municipal Committee and ors.
Advocates: Soli J. Sorabjee,; Ravinder Narayan,; D.N. Mishra and;
Cases ReferredNew Delhi Municipal Committee v. Ishar Dass Sahni and
Excerpt:
- - the traders carrying on business in the area under the delhi municipal corporation were, thereforee, in a better position. the 'name',according to chamber's 20th century dictionary revised edition means 'that by which a person or a thing is known or called'.name' would apply to the name of the traders as well as the name of the thing or the article. the purpose behind displaying these articles at best, can be to indicate that these articles were available in that shop. 7. however) if the neon-sign reads 'lambretta, a good scooter' or such similar word, then such a neon-sign would not be covered under clause (a). this appears to be the only resonable interpretation......petitioners exhibit neon sign boards and/or business/trade names. appellant no. 1 exhibit eight neon-signs reading: 1.allied motors private ltd. 2. perkings 3. perkings 4. r.r. 5. bedford 6. lambretta 7. burshane 8. gaskets in view of these neon-signs, the committee raised a demand by way of advertisement tax. feeling aggrieved the appellants field a petition praying for an appropriate writ, declaring that the said advertisement tax was un-constitutional, and void and restraining the committee from levying, collecting or recovering the advertisement tax and quashing the demand notice dated july 16, 1963. it was averred that display of the aforesaid neon-signs did not amount to advertisement, as contemplated in the aforesaid resolution and did not attract the advertisement tax. the.....
Judgment:

G.C. Jain, J.

(1) This appeal under clause X of the Letters Patent is directed against the judgment of a learned single judge dated May 24, 1973. Respondent No. 1, N.D.M.C. (hereinafter referred to as 'the Committee') is admittedly governed by the provisions of the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911 (for short 'the Act'). Sub-section I of section 61 of the Act empowers 'the Committee' to impose the taxes mentioned in clauses (a) to (g) thereof. Sub-Section (2) empowers the Committee to impose, with the previous sanetion of the State Government, any other tax which the State Legislature has power to impose in the State under the Constitution. In exercise of these powers 'the Committee' by resolution No. 5 adopted in its special meeting held on February 7, 1958 (copy Ex. A) levied the advertisement tax. This tax came into force with effect from May 1) 1958 vide Notification No. F.3 (56)/56-LGG dated 23-1-1958 (Ex. E). Bye-laws relating to the control and regulations of advertisement in New Delhi Municipal area were framed and notified vide C.C. Notification No. F. 3(13)/LGG dated September 17, 1960.

(2) Appellant No. I M/s. Allied Motors (P) Ltd. carries on business of sale, purchase and repairs etc. of motor cars, Lambretta Scooters, and truck chasis and also deals in the sale of Burshane Gas. Appellant No. 2 is its Managing Director. Appellant No. 3 is an Association of Traders having their business place in the area under the Committee. Petitioners exhibit neon sign boards and/or business/trade names. Appellant No. 1 exhibit eight neon-signs reading:

1.Allied Motors Private Ltd. 2. Perkings 3. Perkings 4. R.R. 5. Bedford 6. Lambretta 7. Burshane 8. Gaskets

In view of these neon-signs, the Committee raised a demand by way of advertisement tax. Feeling aggrieved the appellants field a petition praying for an appropriate writ, declaring that the said advertisement tax was un-constitutional, and void and restraining the Committee from levying, collecting or recovering the advertisement tax and quashing the demand notice dated July 16, 1963. It was averred that display of the aforesaid neon-signs did not amount to advertisement, as contemplated in the aforesaid resolution and did not attract the advertisement tax. The impugned tax was discriminatory and vocative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India inasmuch as under Section 142 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act such tax as not livable in certain cases. The traders carrying on business in the area under the Delhi Municipal Corporation were, thereforee, in a better position. It was also averred that the tax was illegal, un-constitutional and void, inasmuch as Section 61(2.) of the Act was un-constitutional and was viloative of the fundamental rights guaranteed to the appellants to carry on their business under articles 1(l)(f) and 19(l)(g) of the Constitution. The appellants also challenged the correctness of the demand on the allegations that certain neon- signs were not in existence during the period for which demand had been raised.

(3) On behalf of the Committee an affidavit was filed by its Secretary, Shri R.S.Saxena. It was maintained that the advertisement tax had been levied under due process of law, with the prior sanction of the Chief Commissioner and the tax charged was within the ambit of the bye-laws and the notifications. It was also urged, by way of preliminary objection, that the writ petition was not maintainable and remedy under Section 84 of the Act was available to the appellants.

(4) The learned single Judge did not feel it proper to refuse the relief claimed simply on the ground that remedy by way of an appeal under Section 84 of the Act was available. On merits he formulated the following three questions for determination :

(I)Whether the levy is illegal, unconstitutional on the ground that Section 61(2) of the Act is unconstitutional as it transgreater the permissible limit of delegated legislation and abdicates the legislative function in favor of a Subordinate authority besides giving unrestricted powers to a subordinate authority to impose taxes without laying down any principles or policy or any limits within which the said taxation power is to be exercised;

(II)Whether the levy would result in differential treatment to the shopkeepers carrying on their trade within the area of the New Delhi Municipal Committee viz-a-viz the shopkeepers carrying on their trade within the area of Delhi Municipal Corporation in which area exemption from advertisement tax is provided if the advertisement is exhibited according to the provisions of sub-clauses (b), (c) and (d) of Section 142 of the Municipal Corporation Act, 1957.

(III)Whether the Boards displayed by the petitioners are not 'advertisement' boards but merely sign-boards of the items in which the petitioners deal.

(5) Question No. I was answered against he appellants in view of the bench decision of this Court in New Delhi Municipal Committee v. Ishar Dass Sahni and brothers (R.S.A. No. 254-9 of 1963) decided on 28th March 1972. The plea of discrimination and violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India was negatived on the ground that Delhi Municipal Corporation area and the N.D.M.C. area were under two distinct bodies. On question No. 3 it was held that neon-signs in question were advertisement and were not exampt under bye-law No. 7. The plea, that the tax was being charged for the period for which some of the neon-signs were not even installed, was disallowed on the ground that it raised a disputed question of fact which could not be gone into in these proceedings. With these findings the petition was dismissed. Hence this appeal.

(6) Learned counsel appearing for the appellants contended that neon-signs displayed by appellant No. I were merely name boards and were, thereforee, exempt by virtue of clause (a) of bye-law No. 7. The word 'name' used in the said clause (a), argued the learned counsel, included not only the name of the trader but also the name of the things and would cover all the neon-signs in dispute. On behalf of the respondent's counsel it was contended that read with clause (e) of bye-law 7 the word 'name' would include the name of the trader only and not the names of the things and/or articles, bye-law No. I and clauses (a) and (e) of bye-law No. 7 which are relevant read as under :

'1.Every person who erects, exhibits, fixes, paints carries or retains upon or over any land, building, wall scores, hoarding, structure or vehicle any advertisement within the limits of the New Delhi Municipal Committee and as mentioned in the Chief Commissioner's Notification No. F. 8(56)/56-LCG dated the 23rd January 1958 shall be liable to pay advertisement tax on the same according to the schedule of rates appended to the said notification. This schedule of rates is reproduced in Appendix (A to these bye-laws.) X X Xx

(7) The tax shall not be payable on the following categories of advertisements;

A)Name Board displayed by the traders on their own premises provided the board is purely a name board and it does not contain any item of advertisement. X Xxx (c) Advertisement which relates to the trade profession or business carried on within the land or building upon or over which such advertisement is exhibited or to any sale or letting of such land or building or any effects therein or any sale, on entertainment or meeting to be held on or upon or on the same. : Provided that exemption under this item shall apply only to one board displayed by the owner or his agent.'

Bye-law I imposes liability to pay advertisement tax, according to the schedule of rates appended to the said notification, on erection, exhibition, fixation, painting etc. of any advertisement. Bye-law No. 7 gives exemptions in respect of certain categories of advertisements. The question whether the neon-signs were advertisements or not, is not much relevant for purposes of deciding the above-mentioned contentions of the parties Question of exemption would arise only when the particular display etc. was an advertisement. If the display of a particular board etc. is not an advertisement, then there is no question of exemption. The opening words of bye-law No. 7 are very clear. This will show that bye law 7 grants exemptions in respect of certain categories of advertisements. Presuming thereforee, that neon-signs in dispute were advertisements, the question which falls for determination is whether the same were covered by clause (a) and were, thereforee, exempt. To claim exemption under clause (a), it must be proved that the advertisement in dispute was ( I ) the name board, (2) had been displayed by the trader at his own premiles and (3) it was purely a name-board and did not contain any item of advertisement. So far as requirement No. 2 is concerned, there is no dispute. Admittedly) the appellant No. I has displayed the neon-signs in dispute on its own premises. We have no doubt that these neon-signs are nearely name boards. The 'name', according to Chamber's 20th Century Dictionary Revised Edition means 'that by which a person or a thing is known or called'. 'Name' would apply to the name of the traders as well as the name of the thing or the article. We find nothing in this clause to limit its application to the name of a trader only. The purpose behind displaying these articles at best, can be to indicate that these articles were available in that shop. This, may, technically bring these neon-signs within the meaning of the word 'advertisement'. Merely that circumstance cannot mean that these would not fall under category (a) of bye-law 7. As observed above, the exemption has been granted only to items of advertisement. The third requirement in our view also stands fulfillled because these neon-signs contain names only and are thus purely name-boards. They do not contain any item of advertisement besides being name-boards. As observed above, technically even a name board may be an advertisement but to bring that name- board within the purview of the last portion of clause (a) of bye-law (7) name-board must contain an additional item of advertisement besides the name. For examble, a neon-sign containing the word 'Lambretta' is a merely name-board and would fall within clause (a) of bye-law No. 7. However) if the neon-sign reads 'Lambretta, a good scooter' or such similar word, then such a neon-sign would not be covered under clause (a). This appears to be the only resonable interpretation.

(8) Learned counsel for the respondent contained that clause (e) of bye-law 7 applied to the advertisement relating to things or articles sold within the premises, and, thereforee, the word 'name-board' in clause (a) meant name board containing the name of the trader. We do not find any merit in this contention We cannot add the words 'containing the name of the trader after the word, 'name-borard' in clause (a)'. It appears to us that clause (e) would apply to those advertisements which relates to the trade or profession or business and are something more than the mere name boards. We say so because the words used in the later part of clause (a) provide that the board should be purely a name-board and not containing an item of advertisement.

(9) No other point was argued. We consequently -accept the appeal and set aside the judgment of the learned Single Judge and holding that neon-signs in question were exempt under clause (a) of bye-law No. 7, quash the demand of advertisement tax in respect thereof. Parties are left to bear their own costs.


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