Skip to content


The State of Gujarat Vs. Sukan Industries - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtGujarat High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSales Tax Reference No. 21 of 1977
Judge
Reported in[1979]43STC344(Guj)
ActsGujarat Sales Tax Act, 1969 - Sections 62 and 69(4)
AppellantThe State of Gujarat
RespondentSukan Industries
Appellant Advocate G.T. Nanavati, Adv. for Bhaishanker Kanga and Girdharlal
Respondent Advocate S.L. Mody, Adv. for R.R. Shah, Adv.
Cases ReferredC) and Lakshmi Cotton Mfg. Co. Ltd. v. Commissioner of Sales Tax
Excerpt:
.....fitted to it) sold by appellant covered by entry 92 of schedule ii part a - entry 92 deals with domestic electrical appliances - held, domestic flour mills not covered by entry 92 of schedule ii-part a. - - it is only when all these three conditions are satisfied that the article would be covered within the meaning of the expression in question. this is precisely the view taken by the tribunal in respect of the flour mills manufactured and sold by the assessee and we see no reason to differ from the same. ' applying the test evolved as aforesaid, the judicial committee in that case came to the conclusion that the supporting structure of the tank, which merely served to give the tank elevation so that the water which was allowed to escape from it may have a fall, and the tank..........determination of the question as to what was the correct rate of tax payable on the sales of its domestic flour mills not fitted with electric motors. the assessee contended that the flour mill in question was covered by entry 16(1) of schedule ii - part a, that is to say, it was machinery used in the manufacture of goods. the deputy commissioner of sales tax, who heard the said application, rejected the contention of the assessee and held that the flour mill was a domestic electrical appliance covered by entry 92 of schedule ii - part a. against the aforesaid determination of the deputy commissioner of sales tax, the assessee preferred an appeal to the gujarat sales tax tribunal (hereinafter called 'the tribunal'). the tribunal reversed the decision of the deputy commissioner of sales.....
Judgment:

Desai, J.

1. The assessee-firm manufactures and sells domestic flour mills. It does not, however, manufacture electric motors required for supplying motive-power to such flour mills. An application was made by the assessee under section 62 of the Gujarat Sales Tax Act, 1969 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'), for the determination of the question as to what was the correct rate of tax payable on the sales of its domestic flour mills not fitted with electric motors. The assessee contended that the flour mill in question was covered by entry 16(1) of Schedule II - Part A, that is to say, it was machinery used in the manufacture of goods. The Deputy Commissioner of Sales Tax, who heard the said application, rejected the contention of the assessee and held that the flour mill was a domestic electrical appliance covered by entry 92 of Schedule II - Part A. Against the aforesaid determination of the Deputy Commissioner of Sales Tax, the assessee preferred an appeal to the Gujarat Sales Tax Tribunal (hereinafter called 'the Tribunal'). The Tribunal reversed the decision of the Deputy Commissioner of Sales Tax and, accepting the contention of the assessee, held that the domestic flour mills (without in-built electric motor) sold by the assessee were covered by entry 16(1) of Schedule II - Part A and not by entry 92 of Schedule II - Part A. The revenue thereupon moved the Tribunal to state a case in respect of the question of law arising out of the decision and, accordingly, the Tribunal has referred the following question for the opinion of this Court :

'Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the domestic flour mill (without electric motor fitted to it) sold by the opponent is covered by entry 92 of Schedule II - Part A to the Gujarat Sales Tax Act, 1969, as held by the learned Deputy Commissioner or entry 16(1) of Schedule II - Part A to the said Act as contended by the opponent ?'

2. The two entries with which we are concerned herein may be first set out :

'16. (1) Machinery used in the manufacture Three paise Three paise of goods excluding machinery in the in the specified in any other entry in rupee. rupee. this or any other schedule.

'92. Domestic electrical appliances Thirteen Thirteen including electric fans and paise in the paise in fluorescent tubes (including rupee. the chokes, starters, fixtures and rupee.' fittings and accessories) and other parts appertaining to such appliances but excluding bulbs.

3. On a plain reading of these two entires it is manifest, broadly speaking, that whereas entry 16(1) deals with machinery used in the manufacture of goods, entry 92 deals with domestic electrical appliances. It would, therefore, be necessary to appreciate the precise connotation of those two terms.

4. We shall first take up for consideration the question as to what is the true meaning of the expression 'domestic electrical appliances'. An article to fall within the coverage of the said expression must satisfy three conditions : (i) it must be an appliance, (ii) it must be an electrical appliance, that is to say, it must be fitted with some electrical device, and (iii) it must be normally used or capable of being used in the household. It is only when all these three conditions are satisfied that the article would be covered within the meaning of the expression in question.

5. The question as to what is the true meaning of the word 'appliances' came up for consideration before this Court in Star Radio Electric Co. v. Commissioner of Sales Tax ([1971] 27 S.T.C. 367.). Considering the meaning assigned to the said word in different dictionaries and standard books, it was held that : (1) an 'appliance' is distinct from the 'materials' from which it is made and (2) and 'appliance', as an apparatus, device or instrument, is 'a means to an end'. It was there pointed out that its service 'as a means to an end' is its main feature which would bring an article within the definition of the word 'appliances'. In other words, the article should be capable of rendering the desired service. The article with which the court was there concerned was a fluorescent tube without its accessories, namely, choke and starter, and the question was whether it was a 'domestic electrical appliance' within the meaning of entry 52 of Schedule B of the Bombay Sales Tax Act, 1953. It was observed that the service which is rendered by a fluorescent tube light is to produce light having coloured luminosity. Therefore, if a starter and choke are found essential for obtaining the desired service, namely, dispelling of darkness and supply of fluorescent light through the fluorescent tube, then a fluorescent tube without a starter and a choke cannot fall within entry 52 of Schedule B. The real test which requires to be applied in determining the question as to whether an article can be said to be an appliance, therefore, is the utility of such article to serve the object for which it is produced.

6. It order that an appliance could be properly termed an electrical appliance, it is necessary that it should be fitted with some electrical device. In Special Civil Application No. 1251 of 1972, which was heard with two other matters, this Court had an occasion to consider whether domestic grinding mills or flour mills, manufactured by the petitioners in that case, with no inbuilt electric motor, attracted duty under entry 33C of the First Schedule to the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944. Under the entry in question, 'domestic electrical appliances, not elsewhere specified' were liable to duty at the rate of 25 per cent. ad valorem. In the course of its decision rendered in the said matter on 18th December, 1974, this Court considered the entry along with its explanations and exemption notifications and held that any appliance in order to be covered by the said entry must be a completely assembled appliance and that, therefore, it should have the electric element or electrical motor fitted into it. Unless the manufacture has manufactured a complete domestic electrical appliance, duty under the item in question would not be attracted. If, therefore, the manufacturer has produced only a domestic appliance, which can be converted into a domestic electrical grinder only after separately fitting into it an electric motor, excise duty would not be attracted under the entry in question. It was in terms observed that it is the electric element or electrical motor, rotor or starter, which gives the specific character 'electrical appliance' to the goods and that unless electric element by which the said appliance works is fitted into it, the rest of the assemblage would be only domestic appliance which would not fall within the tariff item in question. It is true the entry which was under consideration in that case was construed by particular reference to the exemption notifications which had mentioned articles which were fitted with electrical device. The basic approach of the court, however, points in the direction that a domestic appliance in order that it can be properly called a domestic electrical appliance must have as its in-built device an electrical contrivance which would make it a complete unit fit to render the designed service. A domestic appliance which is merely an assemblage of various component parts minus that contrivance which gives to it the electric motive power would not be a domestic electrical appliance properly so-called.

7. The word 'domestic' need not detain us. It meaning does not need to be expounded in detail. It means an apparatus which is or is capable of being used in the household.

8. Against the aforesaid background, it is clear that domestic flour mills manufactured and sold by the assessee cannot be properly called an 'appliance' and it cannot (without in-built electric motor) certainly be called an 'electrical appliance'. The function of a domestic flour mill is to grind grains. It is manufactured to serve that end. If that flour mill cannot serve as a means to obtain flour because it is not fitted with an electrical device, it cannot be treated as an appliance, much less can such flour mill be treated as an electrical appliance. Without the electrical device, it may at the highest be termed as a mere assemblage of articles which is designed to serve as a domestic appliance. This is precisely the view taken by the Tribunal in respect of the flour mills manufactured and sold by the assessee and we see no reason to differ from the same. In our opinion, therefore, the Tribunal rightly held that the domestic flour mills manufactured and sold by the assessee are not covered by entry 92 of Schedule II - Part A.

9. The next question is whether such domestic flour mills are 'machinery used in the manufacture of goods'. The said expression takes in two concepts, namely, (1) that there must be an article which can be properly called 'machinery' and (2) that such machinery must have a use in the manufacture of goods, that is to say, it must play some role in the entire integrated process carried on by the manufacturer for converting raw materials into finished goods

10. The controversy has centred round only one question, namely, whether the domestic flour mills manufactured and sold by the assessee without electric motors can be properly called 'machinery'. That raises the question as to what is the true meaning of the word 'machinery' and we shall examine only that question.

11. The leading decision on the point is Corporation of Calcutta v. Cossipore Municipality (A.I.R. 1922 P.C. 27.). The question there was whether a steel tank with the supporting structure for storage of water was machinery within the meaning of the third proviso to section 101 of the Bengal Municipal Act, 1884. At page 29, the Judicial Committee observed that it was not an easy task to define the meaning of the word 'machinery' in the absence of the definition of the said term. At page 31 are the following pertinent observations as to the meaning of the said word in its ordinary sense :

'A completed machine or a number of completed machines may, of course, according to the ordinary use of language, be properly described as 'machinery', so may those parts or members of a machine which when assembled, as it is styled, from a complete machine so also may some such of those parts, which when assembled with the other necessary parts, would form a complete machine be styled 'machinery' ......'

12. At page 32 are to be found further relevant observations which may be quoted :

'The word 'machinery' must mean something more than a collection of ordinary tools. It must mean something more than a solid structure built upon the ground, whose parts either do not move at all, or, if they do move, do not move the one with or upon the other in interdependent action with the object of producing a specific and definite result.'

13. Having made these observations, the Judicial Committee, sounding a note of caution, observed that there was great danger in attempting to give a definition of the word 'machinery' which would be applicable in all cases. It might be impossible to succeed in such an attempt. Then followed the following pertinent observations at the same page :

'If their Lordships were obliged to run the hazard of the attempt they would be inclined to say that the word 'machinery', when used in ordinary language, prima facie, means some mechanical contrivances which by themselves or in combination with one or more other mechanical contrivances, by the combined movement and interdependent operation of their respective parts generate power, or evoke, modify, apply or direct natural forces with the object in each case of effecting so definite and specific a result ........

But their Lordships think that however skilful definitions of 'machinery' may be framed, the determination in any given case of what is or is not 'machinery' must, to a large extent, depend upon the special facts of that case.'

Applying the test evolved as aforesaid, the judicial Committee in that case came to the conclusion that the supporting structure of the tank, which merely served to give the tank elevation so that the water which was allowed to escape from it may have a fall, and the tank itself which was no more than a receptacle into which water was poured and remained stationary and escaped through hole or holes in its side into pipes only by the force of gravity which was not a force that was generated, modified, directed or applied to the tank, cannot properly be called 'machinery'.

14. We cannot venture to undertake the exercise, which even the Judicial Committee has not thought it fit to embark upon, to precisely define the term 'machinery' in such a manner as to be applicable to all cases irrespective of the facts and circumstances of each case. For the purposes of this case, we will only emphasise some of the aspects which have been brought into sharp focus by the meaning assigned to the said term in the decision of the Judicial Committee. An article to be machinery in its ordinary sense must be : (i) a completed machine or a number of completed machines, or (ii) parts or members of a machine which, when they are assembled, form a complete machine, or (iii) some such of those parts which, when they are so assembled with the other necessary parts, would form a complete machine. The emphasis obviously is on an article or on a number of articles which is or are a complete whole or on the different parts or members of such articles which, when assembled, will form a complete machine. Any contrivance, in order to be properly styled as machinery must, by itself or in combination with one or more other mechanical contrivances, by the combined movement and interdependent operation of the respective parts, generate power or evoke, modify, apply or direct natural forces with the end in view of producing a definite and specific result.

15. In Ambica Wood Works v. State of Gujarat ([1979] 43 S.T.C. 338.) (Sales Tax Reference No.5 of 1977), which was decided by this Bench on 4th December, 1978, the question whether screen print block tables of wood which were sold to different textile mills for use in the process of screen printing were covered within the meaning of the expression ''machinery' used in the manufacture of goods, and spare parts and accessories thereof' used in entry 15 of Schedule C to the Bombay Sales Tax Act, 1959. My learned brother, speaking for the Bench, made the following observations while considering the question as to what is the true meaning of the word 'machinery' :

'It is no doubt true that mere assembly of articles or things would not amount to a machinery. Some solid structure with no moving parts cannot be termed as machinery. It would be machinery only if such structure, complete in itself, has moving parts is relation with others when they move interdependently by application of force - mechanical or manual - with an avowed object to produce a given product. In other words, in order to be a machinery the following four factors must exist, namely : (1) a complete and integrated collection of several objects or articles; (2) these objects or articles should interact in unison upon or with each other; (3) this interaction is prompted by application of force which may be manual or motive power; and (4) the movement should be with a view to do some specific activity or to obtain specific or definite result.'

16. This definition also emphasises that an article in order that it could be properly styled as machinery should be a complete and integrated collection of several objects or articles which must interact in unison upon or with each other by application of force with the end in view of doing some specific activity or producing some specific result.

17. The question, which must then be considered is whether the domestic flour mills (without in-built electric motor) manufactured and sold by the assessee satisfy the aforesaid test. Be it noted at this stage that entry 16(1) uses the word 'machinery' by itself and not in conjunction with the words 'spare parts' and/or 'accessories thereof'. Therefore, for an article to fall within the coverage of the said entry, it must solely satisfy the test of machinery. It is not sufficient that it is merely an accessory or spare part of machinery. While dealing with the question as to whether the flour mills in question are machinery, the Tribunal in paragraph 8 of its order referred to the decision of the High Court of Mysore in D. B. Bhandari v. State of Mysore ([1967] 20 S.T.C. 25.). The Tribunal also referred to the decision of the same High Court is State of Mysore v. M. N. V. Rao ([1964] 15 S.T.C. 540.). In Bhandari's case ([1967] 20 S.T.C. 25.), the word 'machinery' was defined to mean 'a contrivance whereby several things are put together to work in such a way that force may be applied at a most convenient point in a most convenient way to get a particular work or an item of work done or to produce a specific article or manufactured goods'. This definition broadly accords with the view taken as regards the meaning of the word 'machinery' herein and in Ambica Wood Works v. State of Gujarat ([1979] 43 S.T.C. 338.) (S.T.R. No. 5 of 1977). The Tribunal, having set out the aforesaid definition, straightway proceeded to observe that on the basis of the two decisions of the Mysore High Court 'we can safely say that the flour mill in the present case as sold by the appellant is machinery used in the manufacture of goods (grains manufactured into flour) ...' It would thus appear that the Tribunal, though it was somewhat informed as regards the true meaning of the word 'machinery' and the requirements which an article must satisfy before it can be properly called 'machinery' straight-way proceeded to record the finding that domestic flour mills in question are machinery without first finding the basic and essential facts necessary to reach such decision. The result, therefore, is that we derive no assistance, for the want of essential finding of fact, from the order of the Tribunal so that it would be possible for us to answer the question and to finally resolve the dispute on the point whether domestic flour mills in question are 'machinery' within the meaning of entry 16(1) of Schedule II - Part A. If, for example, the Tribunal had examined the question whether the domestic flour mill (without electric motor) is a complete and integrated unit which, by the interaction in unison of its various component parts upon application of manual force, is capable of producing the desired result, namely, manufacture of flour out of grains, it would have been possible for us to answer the question one way or the other (depending upon the findings of the Tribunal) on the application of the tests indicated above. However, as the Tribunal has failed to record the material findings of fact, we are unable to undertake any such exercise.

18. The question then is as to what course should be adopted so far as answer to the alternative question is concerned, namely, whether the domestic flour mills in question are 'machinery' within the meaning of entry 16(1) of Schedule II - Part A. It appears to us that, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the best course for us to adopted would be to decline to answer the alternative question and to leave it to the Tribunal to adjust its decision under section 69(4) in accordance with the observations made herein. If, instead of following that procedure, we call upon the Tribunal, to send a supplementary statement of the case, the Tribunal will be confined to the material on record and it will not be open to it to take into consideration additional evidence, if any, on the point which the parties might like to lead. Under such circumstances, following the precedent in the cases of Commissioner of Income-tax v. Indian Molasses Co. P. Ltd. : [1970]78ITR474(SC) and Lakshmi Cotton Mfg. Co. Ltd. v. Commissioner of Sales Tax ([1970] 26 S.T.C. 263 (S.C.).), we decline to answer the question as to the applicability of entry 16(1) of Schedule II - Part A.

19. It is true that the question herein is one and single but the query therein relates to two distinct entries. There are, therefore, two distinct parts of the single question, namely, the first part relating to entry 92 of Schedule II - Part A, and the second part relating to entry 16(1) of the same schedule, and each one of those parts is capable of being treated as a separate question. It is on that basis that we propose to decline to answer the second part of the question that has been referred to us for our opinion.

20. In the result, the reference stands disposed of as follows :

(a) The first part of the question is answered in the negative, that is to say, in favour of the assessee and against the revenue.

(b) The second part of the question is declined to be answered and the Tribunal will adjust its decision on that part of the question under section 69(4) in accordance with the observations made herein.

21. On the facts and in the circumstances of the case, there will be no order as to costs of the reference.

22. Reference answered accordingly.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //