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H. and R. Johnson (India) Ltd. Vs. Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectOther Taxes
CourtGujarat High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1981)22GLR10
AppellantH. and R. Johnson (India) Ltd.
RespondentAhmedabad Municipal Corporation and anr.
Cases Referred and State of West Bengal v. Washi Ahmed
Excerpt:
- - it is, therefore, clearly an inclusive definition and the fittings referred to therein are not exhaustive. tiles would fall within the group of building materials and once we are satisfied that glazed tiles do not fall within entry 28-c, we would have to consider if the municipal corporation is justified in invoking entry 28-a. it is well established that in interpreting the meaning of words in a taxing statute the acceptation of a particular word by the trade and its popular meaning should commend itself to the authority. now, the word 'textiles' is not defined in the act, but it is well-settled as a result of several decisions of this court, of which we may mention only a few, namely, ramavatar budhaiprasad v......under which octroi duty is being levied and charged from petitioner no. 1 and others dealing in glazed tiles.2. petitioner no. 1 is a company incorporated under the companies act having its head office in bombay and branches throughout india including abmedabad. petitioner no. 2 is an association of merchants dealing in sanitarywares and tiles. the first respondent is the ahmedabad municipal corporation and the second respondent was the municipal commissioner of the first respondent corporation at the relevant point of time. under entry 28-c octroi duty can be charged and recovered on flooring tiles at rs. 1-75 pc. adv. while under entry 28-a the duty chargeable in respect of sanitary fittings is rs. 3-50 pc. adv. the petitioners contend that initially the municipal corporation was.....
Judgment:

A.M. Ahmadi, J.

1. The short question that arises for our determination in this application is whether glazed tiles fall within Entry 28-C-'flcoring tiles' or Entry 28-A'sanitary fittings' in Schedule A to Rule 14 of the Octroi Rules framed under Section 457(7) read with Section 149(1) of the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporations Act, 1949. The two entries may be read in juxtaposition-

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28A. Sanitary fittings, including C.I. pipes, 28C. Flooring tiles,

lead pipes, cement pipes, earthenware

pipes, stone ware pipes, gunmetal

valves, gunmetal and brass cocks and

their fittings.

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According to the petitioners giazed tiles would fall within Entry 28-C and not Entry 28-A under which octroi duty is being levied and charged from petitioner No. 1 and others dealing in glazed tiles.

2. Petitioner No. 1 is a Company incorporated under the Companies Act having its Head Office in Bombay and Branches throughout India including Abmedabad. Petitioner No. 2 is an Association of merchants dealing in sanitarywares and tiles. The first respondent is the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and the second respondent was the Municipal Commissioner of the first respondent Corporation at the relevant point of time. Under Entry 28-C octroi duty can be charged and recovered on flooring tiles at Rs. 1-75 pc. Adv. while under Entry 28-A the duty chargeable in respect of sanitary fittings is Rs. 3-50 pc. Adv. The petitioners contend that initially the Municipal Corporation was recovering octroi duty on glazed tiles under Entry 28-C but of late they have stated to levy and recover octroi duty on glazed tiles under Entry 28-A. The question, which therefore, arises for our consideration is, whether octroi duty can be charged by the Municipal Corporation in respect of glazed tiles under Entry 28-A reproduced earlier.

3. The Octroi Superintendent of the Municipal Corporation in his &ffidavit-in-reply; states that flooring tiles are made out of cement concrete and are of sufficient thickness as they are intended to bear load unlike glazed tiles which are of earthenware of far kster thickness not intended to bear load. Little dirt over the glazed tiles would show itself and can be easily removed. Thus glazed tiles are used as sanitary fittings in water closets and bathrooms while flooring tiles are used in places where they are intended to bear load. To the same effect is the affidavit of the Deputy City Engineer of the first respondent Corporation. He in tents states that glazed tiles cannot be utilised as flooring tiles having regard to their strength, durability and resistance to wear and tare. He then proceeds to add that in the market also glazed tiles are not known as flooring tiles. According to him persons dealing in flooring tiles do not generally sell glazed tiles. On the other hand, says she deponent, glazed tiles would be available from merchants dealing in sanitary fittings and sanitarj wares. He then says that in fact, so far as specifications for glazed tiles are concerned, the Indian standard specifications for glazed tiles have been adopted by the Indian Standards Institution on 19th December 1970 which standard was finalised by the Sanitary Appliances and Water Fittings Sectional Committee; vide Annexuie 'A' to the affidavit. That Annmire shows that glazed earthenware files are generally used in finishing floors and walls of kitchens, bath-rooms, water closets, hospitals etc., where cleanliness is an important criterion. It is also pointed out therein that an additional performance requirement for chemical resistance is included as the tiles are often cleansed with detergents. On the basis of this statement made in Annexure 'A', the deponent states that glazed tiles cannot form part of flooring tiles which are cement concrete tiles, the standard whereof is set out in Annexure 'B' appended to the affidavit. That annexure shows that three tests, namely tests for transverse strength, resistance to wear, and water absorption have been specified hi respect of flooring tiles which are expected to take load. There can, therefore, be no doubt that flooring tiles which are made out of cement-concrete are chosen for floorings as they are capable of load-bearing and can withstand the wear and tear having regard to their strength and durability. Glazed tiles, on the other hand, are earthenware tiles having a comparatively lesser thickness and are generally used in bath-rooms, water closets and kitchens. It would appear from these affidavits filed on behalf of the Municipal Corporation that glazed tiles which are generally used in sanitary blocks are not flooring tiles within the meaning of Entry 28-C quoted earlier.

4. The question then is, can glazed tiles be said to be 'sanitary fittings' within the meaning of Entry 28-A in the Schedule to Rule 14 of the Octroi Rules? Mr. Vin submitted that tiles cannot be said to be fittings and merely because glazed tiles art used in sanitary blocks, they cannot be described as sanitary fittings within the meaning of that entry. We are not impressed by this submission made by Mr. Vin. Entry 28-A which refers to 'sanitary fittings' includes C.I. pipes, lead pipes, cement pipes, earthenware pipes, stone ware pipes, gunmetal valves, gunmetal and brass cocks and their fittings. It is, therefore, clearly an inclusive definition and the fittings referred to therein are not exhaustive. It is not possible to agree that only those fittings which are specifically referred to in the Entry fall within that Entry and other fittings not referred to therein would either be covered by some other Entry or the residuary Entry. The Schedule is divided into different groups and Group 'C' deals with building materials. Tiles would fall within the group of building materials and once we are satisfied that glazed tiles do not fall within Entry 28-C, we would have to consider if the Municipal Corporation is justified in invoking Entry 28-A.

5. The term 'sanitary fittings' means fittings which promote cleanliness. Glazed tiles immediately show even little dirt and can be kept clean with the help of detergents. It is because glazed tiles can be, with little effort, kept free from dirt and are generally conducive to maintenance of heal thy conditions that they are widely used in bathrooms, water closets, kitchens and hospitals. Stray use of glazed tiles in temples and mausoleums for decorative purposes will not change their basic character. The essential attribute of glazed tiles is that they insure sanitary conditions. That is why they are fitted in places where healthy conditions have to be main tained. They are, therefore, covered within the expression 'sanitary fittings'. Once it is found that glazsd. tiles are principally used for maintaining cleanliness i.e., for sanitary purposes, their occasional use for other purposes will not take them out of the expression 'sanitary fittings' as understood in the broad sense in which that expression is used in Entry 28-A. We are, therefore, of the opinion that glazed tiles would be covered by Entry 28-A.

6. The affidavits on record show that in common parlance and even amongst the mercantile community glazed tiles are known to be an item of sanitaryware. That is why petitioner No. 2, an Association of dealers in sanitaryware, is impleaded as a patty to safeguard the interest of its members. The common parlance test was applied by the Supreme Court in South Bihar Sugar Mills Ltd., etc. v. Union of India : 1973ECR9(SC) , in the following words:

The Kiln gas in question therefore is neither carbon dioxide nor compressed carbon dioxide known as such to the commercial community and therefore cannot attract Item 14-H in the First Schedule.

The aforesaid passage was quoted with approval in Dunlop India Ltd. v. Union of India A.I.R. 1977 S.C. 597. Their Lordships in paragraph 31 of the Judgment restated the test in the following words:

It is well established that in interpreting the meaning of words in a taxing statute the acceptation of a particular word by the Trade and its popular meaning should commend itself to the authority.

Applying the aforesaid test, the Supreme Court in Porritts & Spencer (Asia) Ltd. v. State of Haryana : 1983(13)ELT1607(SC) proceeded to make the following observations:

Now, the word 'textiles' is not defined in the Act, but it is well-settled as a result of several decisions of this Court, of which we may mention only a few, namely, Ramavatar Budhaiprasad v. Asst Sales Tax Officer Akola : [1962]1SCR279 and Motipur Jamindary Co. Ltd. State of Bihar : AIR1962SC660 and State of West Bengal v. Washi Ahmed : [1977]3SCR149 that in a taxing statute words of everyday use must be construed not in their scientific or technical sense but as understood in common parlance.

7. Applying the aforesaid test laid down by the Supreme Court and having regard to what has been stated in the affidavits filed on behalf of the respondents, we are of the opinion that glazed tiles would fall within the term 'sanitary fittings' in Entry 28-A having regard to its ordinary use.

8. For the above reasons we are of the opinion that glazed tiles do not fall within Entry 28-C and the respondent Corporation rightly levies and charges octroi duty on glazed tiles under Entry 28-A of Rule 14 of the Octroi Rules. We, therefore, do not see any merit in this petition and dismiss the same. Rule discharged. No order as to costs. Mr. Vin orally requests for a certificate of fitness to appeal to the Supreme Court under Article 133(1) of the Constitution. We do not think that the question involved is a substantial question of law of general importance which needs to be decided by the Supreme Court. We, therefore, do not grant the certificate requested for on behalf of the petitioners.


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