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Mansatta Industries Pvt. Ltd. Vs. the State of Gujarat - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtGujarat High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSales Tax Reference No. 12 of 1979
Judge
Reported in[1982]50STC194(Guj)
ActsGujarat Sales Tax Act, 1969 - Sections 69(1)
AppellantMansatta Industries Pvt. Ltd.
RespondentThe State of Gujarat
Appellant Advocate S.L. Mody, Adv.
Respondent Advocate J.R. Nanavati, Government Pleader, i/b., H.V. Chhatrapati, Adv. of Bhaishanker Kanga and;Girdharlal
Cases ReferredState of Tamil Nadu v. Pyare Lal Malhotra
Excerpt:
.....or not. the tribunal in appeal held that wire rods could not be taken as covered by the term 'rods'.the tribunal also failed to consider the question whether the articles there were in fact wire rods or not. the fact that items like 'rods' and 'bars',which are broadly similar in character, are separately mentioned is not a circumstance which can deter a broad view being taken. mody was, therefore, right when he urged that the impugned decision of the tribunal is not according to the correct principles of interpretation and more particularly in the light of the decision of this court in super diamond tools' case [1980] 46 stc 129. the tribunal has been impressed with the contention of the government that since copper strips are not specifically enumerated in the entry and having..........with which we are concerned herein is 'rods'. in the context in which the said word occurs in the entry in question, it means a straight bar of metal slender in proportion to its length. ordinarily, the word 'rods' which is used in plural, would include all varieties of rods. wire rods are a variety of rods and there does not appear to be any reason to hold that they are not comprehended within the meaning of the word 'rods' in the relevant entry. * * * * it is true that entry 27 specifically mentions various articles or goods manufactured out of non-ferrous metals and alloys which are covered by it and the articles broadly similar such as bars and rods are separately enumerated therein. however, as stated earlier, entry 27 covers a very wide field. the word 'rod' is used therein in a.....
Judgment:

Mehta, J.

1. At the instance of the assessee, the Gujarat Sales Tax Tribunal has referred the following question to us for our opinion under section 69(1) of the Gujarat Sales Tax Act, 1969 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Gujarat Act') :

'Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the Tribunal was right in law in holding that copper 'strips' sold by the applicant in the present case were not covered by entry 27 of Schedule II, Part A, to the Gujarat Sales Tax Act, 1969 ?'

2. The facts leading to this reference are as under :

The assessee-company is a private limited company registered under the Companies Act, 1956, and is also holding registration certificate as a dealer under the Gujarat Act. The assessee-company carries on business to manufacture and sell copper-wires, copper strips, etc., at Rajkot. In the course of the assessment period commencing from 1st January, 1973, to 31st December, 1973, the assessee-company had sold copper strips worth Rs. 4,52,573. A question, therefore, had arisen in the course of the assessment as to what should be the appropriate rate of tax at which the turnover of sales of copper strips of Rs. 4,52,573 should be subjected to tax.

3. The Sales Tax Officer concerned had found those sales to be covered by entry 27 of Schedule II, Part A, to the Gujarat Act, and therefore, levied sales tax on those sales at the rate of 5 per cent under the said Act. However, on scrutiny of the assessment record of the assessee-company, the Assistant Commissioner of Sales Tax was of the opinion that the strips of copper in question having width from 1' to 4' could not be validity subjected to tax under entry 27 of Schedule II, Part A, to the Gujarat Act inasmuch as the said entry did not specifically mention or refer to strips as one of the articles included therein. In the view of the Assistant Commissioner, therefore, the disputed sales would fall within the terms of residuary entry 13 of Schedule III to the said Act, and therefore, the sales of copper strips were chargeable to sales tax at the rate of 5 per cent and general sale tax at the rate of 3 per cent. He, therefore, revised the order of the Sales Tax Officer after issuing show cause notice to the assessee-company in that behalf and after giving an opportunity of hearing.

4. The assessee-company, therefore, being aggrieved with the order of the Assistant Commissioner, carried the matter in revision before the Gujarat Sales Tax Tribunal. The Tribunal was not impressed with the contention urged on behalf of the assessee-company that the copper strips were rightly subjected to tax by the Sales Tax Officer under entry 27 of Schedule II, Part A, to the Gujarat Act. The Tribunal by its order of 8th September, 1977, dismissed the revision application of the assessee-company which, therefore, sought the present reference and the question set out hereinabove has been referred to us for our opinion.

5. At the time of hearing of this reference, Mr. S. L. Mody, the learned Advocate appearing on behalf of the assessee-company, urged three ground challenging the order of the Tribunal rejecting the revision application of the assessee-company. The three grounds are as under :

(1) Inasmuch as entry 13 of Schedule III to the Gujarat Act is in the nature of a residuary entry, if any articles or item of goods in question would fall within any specified entry of the earlier schedule to the said Act, the taxing authorities would not be justified nor would they have power or jurisdiction to subject the turnover of sales of such goods or articles under the residuary entry, and the Tribunal, in so far as it confirmed the order of the Assistant Commissioner, committed a clear error of law.

(2) The Tribunal has committed an error of law inasmuch as it failed to construe entry 27 of Schedule II, Part A, in its real perspective and according to the correct principle of law an enunciated by this court in Super Diamond Tools v. State of Gujarat [1980] 46 STC 129.

(3) On a true construction and effect of entry 27 of Schedule II, Part A, to the Gujarat Act, the articles in question, namely, copper strips, squarely fall within the terms of the said entry inasmuch as they were included in the articles enumerated in the said entry, namely, bars or sheets, in any case.

6. We are of the opinion that the grounds urged by the learned Advocate for the assessee-company are well-founded obviously for the following reasons : In the first place, this entry 27 of Schedule II, Part A, to the Gujarat Act had come for consideration before this very Division Bench in Super Diamond Tool's case [1980] 46 STC 129. The Division Bench was concerned in that case with the question as to whether wire rods were included in the said entry 27. The assessee in that case approached the Commissioner of Sales Tax for determination of the rate of tax on the sale of wire rods under the two bills of 21st September, 1972. That application came up for hearing before the Deputy Commissioner of Sales Tax who held that since entry 27 specifically enumerates bars and rods separately, wire rods could not be included in the entry and if the legislative intention had been otherwise the legislature would have specifically enumerated and included such articles in the entry by specifically providing for the same. The Deputy Commissioner failed to record a positive finding on the question of fact as to whether the articles in question were wire roads or not. The Tribunal in appeal held that wire rods could not be taken as covered by the term 'rods'. The Tribunal also failed to consider the question whether the articles there were in fact wire rods or not. In that context, the Division Bench, speaking through my learned brother P. D. Desia, J., considered the scope and width of entry 27 and made the following pertinent observation on the construction of the said entry which are to be found at page 131 :

'Before coming to grips with the problem, it would be pertinent to note that entry 27 is cast in very wide words. It takes in articles manufactured out of non-ferrous metals and alloys cast into different sizes and shapes such as sheets, rods, bars, slaps, blocks, ingots and circles. What is significant to note is that besides including these articles of various sizes and shapes, the entry also covers scrap of non-ferrous metals and alloys. The inclusion of articles or goods of various sizes and shapes from sheets to blocks and the inclusion even of scrap indicates that the legislature wanted this entry to cover a wide variety of articles manufactured out of non-ferrous metals and alloys. Besides, there is no internal indication requiring the entry as a whole or each one of the items specifically mentioned therein to be given a narrow or constructed meaning. When, therefore, the question arises as to the true meaning of each one of the items mentioned in the said entry, it would be legitimate to approach the question bearing in mind that there is no reason to confine its scope and ambit to a restricted field.

The specific item with which we are concerned herein is 'rods'. In the context in which the said word occurs in the entry in question, it means a straight bar of metal slender in proportion to its length. Ordinarily, the word 'rods' which is used in plural, would include all varieties of rods. Wire rods are a variety of rods and there does not appear to be any reason to hold that they are not comprehended within the meaning of the word 'rods' in the relevant entry.

* * * * It is true that entry 27 specifically mentions various articles or goods manufactured out of non-ferrous metals and alloys which are covered by it and the articles broadly similar such as bars and rods are separately enumerated therein. However, as stated earlier, entry 27 covers a very wide field. The word 'rod' is used therein in a generic sense and every conceivable type of rod would, therefore, be covered by the said entry. It would be against the legislative intent, therefore, to hold in the context of such width and ambit of the entry that one of the varieties of rods is excluded from the coverage of the said entry, though 'rods' are specifically included. The fact that items like 'rods' and 'bars', which are broadly similar in character, are separately mentioned is not a circumstance which can deter a broad view being taken. 'Bars' and 'rods', howsoever slender might be the difference between the two, are different commercial articles and it was, therefore, necessary that they should be mentioned separately .....'

7. It is no doubt true that the Tribunal had not the benefit of this judgment when it decided the revision application of the assessee-company. Mr. Mody was, therefore, right when he urged that the impugned decision of the Tribunal is not according to the correct principles of interpretation and more particularly in the light of the decision of this Court in Super Diamond Tools' case [1980] 46 STC 129. The Tribunal has been impressed with the contention of the Government that since copper strips are not specifically enumerated in the entry and having regard to the distinct commercial characteristic of the articles in question, namely, the copper strips, the Assistant Commissioner was perfectly justified in revising the order of the Sales Tax Officer by holding that the articles of copper strips could not be taxed under entry 27 and since there is no other appropriate entry applicable to the said articles, they should be brought to tax under the residuary entry 13.

8. We must state, with respect to the Tribunal, that the Tribunal has unnecessarily emphasized the non-inclusion of the articles in question, namely, copper strips, in entry 27, and therefore, they cannot be taxed under that entry. The Tribunal has lost sight of the fact that there is no indication in the entry as a whole or in each of the specified articles in the entry to indicate that the legislative intent was to give restricted meaning to that entry or to the different articles specified therein. The articles which have been specified in entry 27 are in generic terms though having different commercial characteristics. But unless we are satisfied either from the entry itself as a whole or with reference to the articles mentioned therein that the manifest intention of the legislature was to restrict the width and scope of the entry, we are unable to agree with the Tribunal that the omission of copper strips from the entry would inevitably result in treating those articles under the residuary entry. It should be recalled that the Division Bench in Super Diamond Tool's case [1980] 46 STC 129 was of the opinion that in the context in which the specified articles occur in the said entry there was no justifiable reason which would warrant the conclusion that the enumeration was exhaustive in the entry. It is in that view of the matter that the Division Bench opined that rods would include wire rods also. The Tribunal was persuaded to take the view that entry 27 was exhaustive and the legislative intent was that the articles which are not specifically enumerated were not to be included within the generic meaning of the specified articles therein. The Tribunal, in support of this view, referred to entry 3 of Schedule II, Part A, to the Gujarat Act where different articles of iron and steel have been enumerated, and item (vi) of entry 3 specifically enumerates strips as inclusive within the generic articles mentioned in entry 3, namely, iron and steel. In our opinion, the Tribunal was not justified in concluding by reference to entry 3 of Schedule II, Part A, that the legislative intent, so far as entry 27 was concerned, was to make it exhaustive by specifically enumerating all the articles of non-ferrous metals and alloys. The Tribunal, in our opinion, with respect, overlooked the structure and tenor of entry 3 where, on the face of it, the legislative intent was mainfest that all articles or goods of iron and steel were to be specifically and exhaustively enumerated. The indication of the legislative intent is to be found in the tenor of the entry which reads as under :

'3. Iron and steel, that is to say, -

(i) .......................

(ii) .......................

(iii) .......................

(iv) Steel bars (rounds, rods, squares, flats, octagons and hexagons, plain and ribbed or twisted, in coil form as well as straight lengths);

(v) Steel structurals (angles, joists, channels, tees, sheet piling sections, Z sections or any other rolled sections);

(vi) Sheets, hoops, strips and skelp, both black and galvanised, hot and cold rolled, plain and corrugated, in all qualities, in straight lengths and in coil form, as rolled and in rivetted condition;

...............................'

9. The Supreme Court in State of Tamil Nadu v. Pyare Lal Malhotra [1976] 37 STC 319 (SC) had considered the meaning of the expression 'that is to say' and held that in the context of single point sales tax when imposed on separate catagories of specified goods, the said expression was apparently meant to exhaustively enumerate the kinds of goods in a given list. The Division Bench of this Court in Super Diamond Tools' case [1980] 46 STC 129 distinguished the above case law after setting out the relevant paragraphs in that behalf from the Supreme Court decision and observed as under :

'The extracted observation has to be read in the context of the legislative history and the mould in which the relevant entry therein considered was cast in the scheme of the statute. Those observations cannot be lifted and applied straightway in the context of entry 27 with which we are concerned and which has to be interpreted against its own background and in its own context and collocation.'

10. The real question, therefore, which arises is that if entry 27 was not restricted in its ambit and scope and was not meant to be exhaustive as held by this Court in Super Diamond Tools' case [1980] 46 STC 129 whether the copper trips could be included in the term 'bars' which is a specified article in the said entry or in the sheets which is also specified therein. The Tribunal rejected this contention on behalf of the assessee-company on the erroneous ground. This is what the Tribunal has recorded while rejecting the contention of the assessee-company that strips would, for all practical purposes, either 'rods' or 'bars', fall within the meaning of these two terms of the said entry 27, in paragraph 22, of its order :

'22. Therefore, the question which now remains for our consideration is as to whether 'strips' in dispute are 'rods' or 'bars' as would fall under entry 27 of Schedule II, Part A, to the said Act or not. We are not inclined to accept this alternative contention of Mr. Mody also, because in our view, 'rods' or 'bars' are very different commodities from 'strips' because a road or a bar bears the distinctive emphasis of thickness, width and length whether it is round, square or angular in shape. In our view, a strip is devoid of the attributes of width and thickness worth consideration.'

11. In the first place, the Tribunal has failed to appreciate the correct meaning of the term 'strip' when it observed that it is devoid of width and thickness. It is no doubt true that a strip has not such width or thickness as a bar would have it; but therefore, it does not mean that it would not be entitled to be included in the term 'bar'. What is the popular as well as metallurgical sense of the term 'strip' is very succinctly stated in Corpur Juris Secundum, Vol. 83, page 547, as under :

'Strip. - In popular usage as well as in the metallurgical sense, the noun 'strip' denotes a long, flat, and narrow piece, as contradistinguished from a long thin cylinder, like a wire; a narrow piece, comparatively long.'

12. In the metallurgical sense the noun 'strip' is further defined as meaning 'an ingot prepared for rolling into plates; a narrow flat bar of iron or steel'.

13. The dictionary meaning of the term 'bar' in its generic sense is : 'A straight piece of wood, metal, or other rigid material, long in proportion to its thickness.' It also means : 'A straight strip or stripe, narrow in proportion to its length, a broad line; e.g., of colour' (vide meanings 1 to 5 of The Oxford English Dictionary, Vol. 1, page 660). Similarly the dictionary meaning of the word, 'strip' in its generic sense is : 'A narrow piece ....... of approximately uniform breadth.' In the metallurgical sense it means : 'An ingot prepared for rolling into plates; a narrow flat bar of iron or steel; hence, iron or steel in 'strips'' (vide meanings 1 and 4 of The Oxford English Dictionary, Vol. X, page 1143). In Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary, at page 148, the meaning of the term 'bar' has been given as 'a strip, stripe, band, or broad line, as of light or color.'

14. Having regard to these accepted meanings of the terms 'bar' and 'strip', we do not think that the Tribunal was justified in holing that the strips would not be entitled to be included in 'bars' since it does not possess the attributes of width and thickness as those of a bar. In our opinion, it is merely begging the question. The crux of the problem, as we have stated above, is whether entry 27 is restrictive or exhaustive, and secondly whether in the said entry as a whole or in the specified items we get any glimpse of the legislative intent that the specified items were to be interpreted narrowly and given a restricted meaning. On both these questions, the Division Bench in Super Diamond Tools' case [1980] 46 STC 129 has held otherwise. We are, therefore, of the opinion that the Tribunal was not right in rejecting the contention of the assessee-company that the goods in question, namely, copper strips, were not entitled to be included within entry 27 of Schedule II, Part A, and taxed accordingly.

15. We, therefore, answer the question referred to us in the negative, that is, in favour of the assessee-company and against the revenue. The State shall pay the costs of this reference to the assessee.

16. Reference answered in the negative.


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