V.P. Tyagi, J.
1. This writ petition, has been filed by a Trust known as His Highness the Maharaja of Jaipur Museum Trust, City Palace, Jaipur, (hereinafter called the Trust) under Article 226 of the Constitution to challenge the levy of entertainment tax on the proceeds received by the Trust for allowing admission of the visitors to the museum on payment of certain fees prescribed by the Trust.
2. His Highness the Maharaja of Jaipur by a registered deed created a Trust on the 16th April, 1959, and founded a museum in a portion of the city palace, Jaipur. It was a public charitable Trust. His Highness had a vast collection of various articles of historical, scientific, literary and archaeological importance which came in his possession from several generations. The Maharaia relinquished all his rights., title and interest in those articles and handed over them to be placed in a museum for which the aforesaid Trust was created by him. According to the petitioner, this museum was founded for the benefit of the public and the visitors who visited the historic city of Jaipur. It is also contended that research scholars, students of history and persons interested in archaeology, architecture, science or arts derive benefit out of this museum which provides an opportunity for further studies and to augment their knowledge in the above subjects.
The entrance fee that is charged from the visitors to the museum ranges from Re. 1/- to Rs. 4/- per head and the collection made from the entrance fee is utilised for the improvement of the museum and other charitable purposes. It is said that His Highness donated a further amount of rupees one lac for the upkeep and maintenance of the said museum. On the 1st December, 1961, the Entertainment Tax Officer-cum-Sales Tax Officer 'B' Circle, Jaipur City, issued a notice to the petitioner to pay entertainment tax leviable on the admission tickets issued by the Trust and demanded year-wise account of the sale of the tickets issued till 15th December, 1961. The petitioner by filing a reply to the said notice urged that the sale proceeds of the tickets sold to the visitors of the museum cannot be subjected to entertainment tax under the provisions of the Rajasthan Entertainments Tax Act, 1956 (hereinafter called the Act).
This objection, it so appears, was examined by the Department and it is said that the Commercial Taxes Officer received instructions from the Commissioner, Excise and Taxation Rajasthan, that since museums are educational and historical institutions, they cannot be termed as places of entertainment, and, therefore, no entertainment tax can be charged. This instruction of the Commissioner, it appears, was accepted by the then Sales Tax Officer who had issued the notice to the petitioner, and, therefore, he did not proceed to assess the petitioner for a period of over seven years.
The respondent No. 2, after the lapse of a period of seven years again issued a notice on the 28th October, 1967, in the same terms in which the previous notice dated the 1st December, 1961, was issued by the Department. This notice has been placed on record and is marked as An-nexure F. The petitioner by his reply dated the 6th November, 1967, submitted to the respondent No. 2 that this matter stands decided by the instruction issued by the Commissioner on the 1st January, 1962. A copy of the letter of the Commissioner was also sent along with the reply; but it so appears that the present Taxation Officer was not convinced by the departmental instructions issued by the Commissioner and he proceeded to assess the petitioner under the provisions of the Act.
On the 12th January, 1968, the petitioner again submitted a written representation to respondent No. 2 saying that the museum was a registered trust of which educationalists like the Vice-Chancellor and other eminent persons were the trustees. The petitioner also drew the attention of the Taxation Officer that item No. 12 in List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution indicates that museum has been considered by the Constitution makers in the categories of libraries, ancient and historical monuments etc. and not in categories of dramatic performances, cinemas, sports, entertainments and amusements as mentioned in Item No. 33 of the said List. According to the petitioner, the scope of the Act is to levy tax only on theatres, cinemas and other places of entertainment and not to tax the proceeds received bv the museum which is spent for charitable and educational purposes. In spite of the notices received, no account was submitted by the petitioner to the assessing authority for completing the assessment, and, therefore, the assessing authority proceeded to assess the petitioner without any material before it and passed an order on the 3rd October, 1968, which is placed on record as Annexure L.
From this order it appears that the following findings were given by the assessing authority, namely, the Commercial Taxts Officer 'B' Circle, Jaipur:
(1) The museum comes within the definition of entertainments as given in the Act.
(2) Tax is leviable on the admission fee charged for admissions.
(3) The Director has failed to comply with the provisions of Section 6(1) which lays down that no person shall be admitted to an entertainment except with a ticket stamped with adhesive stamps denoting that proper entertainment tax has been paid.
(4) The offence under Section 6 (1) is being committed daily. According to report of the Commercial Taxes Inspector dated the 20th September, 1968, the number of persons admitted on 17-7-68, 18-7-68, 19-7-68 and 20-7-68 was as under:
No. ofpersons admitted
3. Since the default of the petitioner was found punishable under Section 10 (3) (a) of the Act and as the petitioner was committing the default in spite of the instructions issued by the assessing authority every day, a penalty was imposed by the respondent No. 2 on the petitioner for the contravention of Section 6 (1) of the Act as follows:
Amount of penalty
4. The petitioner has challenged the aforesaid order of imposing penalty by filing this writ petition inter alia on the ground that the museum does not fall within the definition of 'entertainment' as given in S. 3 (5) of the Act, and, therefore, no entertainment tax is leviable on the receipts obtained by the petitioner after selling the tickets from the visitors entering the museum. Another notice Ex. M for a period of seven days commencing from the 1st August, 1968, to 7th August, 1968, was given by the respondent No. 2 which has also been challenged by the writ application on similar grounds.
5. A joint reply has been filed on behalf of the respondents wherein it has been averred that the Maharaja of Jaipur has donated a large number of pictures, paintings, portraits, works of arts, several caskets, silver wares, ivory wares, china wares, glass wares, cut glass, books of arts, ornament pieces, priceless rugs, armoury antics, rare manuscripts and other articles of curiosity connected with Mughal period as also with which the various Rulers of Jaipur were associated and other collections to be displayed as pieces of art to provide amusement to the people who get an entry to the place of exhibition of these articles after payment of certain entrance fees, and this display clearly falls within the definition of the word 'entertainment' as given in the Act. Regarding the letter issued by the Commissioner that 'museums' do not fall within the definition of 'entertainment' it was averred that there can be no estoppel against statutes and the opinion of the Commissioner is not binding on the assessing authority to discharge his duties under the provisions of the Act.
It was also averred that it was wrong to say that only the students of history or research alone find an entry in the museum. According to the respondents, this museum is open to all and even the farmers and pilgrims, who visit Jaipur, go to see this museum after the payment of the regular fees charged from every visitor. A plea was also raised by the respondents in their reply that the petitioner has an alternative remedy by way of appeal under the statute which was not availed by him, and, therefore, he cannot be permitted to invoke the extraordinary jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution.
6. Since the question of jurisdiction of the assessing authority has been raised by the petitioner for levying a tax under the provisions of the Act, I think the petitioner cannot be prohibited from invoking the extraordinary jurisdiction of this Court by filing a writ petition. The second objection therefore has no force and it is dismissed summarily.
7. The real question which falls for determination in the circumstances of the case is whether the museum can be called a place of entertainment and as such the provisions of the Act are applicable to it or not.
8. In order to decide this controversy we shall have to refer to certain definitions which the law makers have given to certain expressions used in the Act.
9. Section 3 of the Act deals with definitions. Section 3 (2) defines 'admission to an entertainment' in the following manner:
'Admission to an entertainment' includes admission to any place in which an entertainment is held.'
The expression 'entertainment' has been defined in Clause (5) as such:
' 'entertainment' includes any exhibition show performance, amusement. Same or sport to which persons are admitted for payment.'
'Payment for admission' has also been defined in Clause (7) in the section' and reads:
'Payment for admission' includes:-- (a) any payment made by a person who, having been admitted to one part of a place of entertainment is subsequently admitted to another part thereof, for admission to which a payment involving a tax or a higher rate of tax is required.
(b) any payment for seats or other accommodation in a place of entertainment.
(c) any payment for a programme or synopsis of an entertainment, and
(d) any payment for any purpose whatsoever connected with an entertainment which a person is required to make as a condition of his attending or continuing to attend the entertainment in addition to the payment, if any, for admission to the entertainment.'
10 Mr. Gupta appearing on behalf of the petitioner urged that the expression 'entertainment' used in the Act when read in the background of the other terms which have been defined in this very Act must be understood in the sense that if the articles of interest are exhibited, then that exhibition must give some sort of gratification, diversion or amusement to the visitors who go to see them. He also submitted that the natural import of the expression 'entertainment' is 'amusement' and it connotes something in the nature of the organised entertainment which means that there must be some organised show for the visitors who are admitted to the place of entertainment. Mr. Gupta further urged that the expression 'entertainment' which includes exhibition, show, performance, amusement, game or sport must be in the nature of exhibition, show etc. Simply because a student of history gets amusement out of the exhibits put in the museum because he is interested in events of the past through those articles, it is difficult to see that those articles do provide entertainment to the visitors.
In support of this argument, Mr. Gupta placed reliance on the following decided cases of the various High Courts:
(1) Cantonment Board v. W. I. Theatres Ltd., AIR 1954 Bom 261;
(2) S. S. Enterprises v. State, AIR 1956 Punj 203;
(3) State of Bombay v. Chamarbaugwalia, AIE 1956 Bom 1 and
(4) Calico Mills Ltd. v. State of M. P., AIR 1961 Madh Pra 257, and also an unreported decision of the bench of this Court in His Highness Maharaja Shri Gajsinghji of Jodhpur v. State of Rajasthan, decided on 4-9-1967.
11. Mr. M. M. Vyas appearing for the respondents on the other hand contended that when any term has been defined by the Act itself, then the Court need not see its ordinary dictionary meaning and give the true meaning according to the definition given in the Act. It is also urged that the articles of interest have been exhibited in the museum, which definitely give amusement to the people who go to see them, and, therefore, if the expression 'entertainment' shall cover the case of the museum also, a museum cannot escape from being taxed under the Act. In support of his argument, he placed reliance on the judgment of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Aswathanarayana v. State of Andhra, AIR 1959 Andh Pra 461, and also of the Supreme Court in Western India Theatres v. Cantonment Board, AIR 1959 SC 583.
12. I have carefully gone through the decided cases relied on by learned counsel for both the parties and I feel that they do not throw much light on the real controversy that has been raised in the instant case. Where the Act itself provides a definition for the word used therein, the Court should look into the meaning assigned to the term by the Act itself for interpreting that word used in the statute. The Courts are not concerned with the presumed intention of the Legislature. The task of the Court is to get the intention of the Legislature as expressed in the statute itself. I, therefore, propose first to examine the language of the definition and see if the ordinary accepted notion of entertainment fits in squarely and fairly with the language used by the Legislature that defined the expression 'entertainment.'
13. In the present case, the definitions of 'entertainment,' 'payment for admission' and 'admission to an entertainment' are not precise and they are inclusive definitions which undoubtedly enlarge the scope of the expressions used in the statutes. I have, therefore, now to see whether the exhibition of articles put in the museum does fall within the definition of the expression 'entertainment' or not.
14. In AIR 1961 Madh Pra 257 (supra), the question was posed for the determination of the Court whether the exhibition of the products of the Calico Mills Limited, Ahmedabad in a well decorated 'Calicloth dome' for the purpose of attracting the customers did come within the word 'exhibition' as is used while defining the expression 'entertainment' in the C. P. and Berar Entertainments Duty Act. In that case, the dome was covered from three sides but it was kept open from one side to enable the passers-by to have a glimpse or to have a clear perspective of the goods displayed for sale inside.
The admission to the Dome was free and unrestricted during the morning hours between 9 A.M. and 12 Noon, but the entry was restricted in the evening hours from 4 P. M. to 9 P. M. to bona fide purchasers who were required to obtain a token of the value of Rs. 2/-which amount later on was to be adjusted towards the price of cloth purchased by the person visiting the Dome. In order to attract a large number of visitors, the calico fabrics were displayed artistically in the Dome by mannequins who used to wear and show off Saris, costumes etc., manufactured by the Mills. The department wanted to tax the earnings of the Mills under the provisions of the C. P. and Berar Entertainments Duty Act, 1936, and an argument was advanced before their Lordships of the Madhya Pradesh High Court that the exhibition of the fabrics produced by the Mills in the well decorated Dome did attract the application of the expression 'entertainment' which was defined exactly in the same manner in which it has been defined in the Act.
Their Lordships who were dealing with the expression 'entertainment' as defined in that Act expressed that 'exhibition' is included in the expression 'entertainment' but they further went on to observe that--
'The word 'exhibition' occurring in the definition of 'entertainment' in Section 2 (b) must take its colour from the natural import of the term 'entertainment'. If certain goods are exposed to view for the purpose of sale, there is no doubt an exhibition of goods in the sense of 'showing'. But that is not any entertainment. The exhibition for sale of the fabrics themselves in elegant surroundings under a canopy put up by the petitioners did not afford any gratification, diversion or amusement.'
Their Lordships further examined the expression 'entertainment' and observed:
'The natural import of the term 'entertainment' is amusement and gratification of some sort. The term connotes something in the nature of an organised entertainment. This is evident from the fact that the Act was enacted to provide for the levy of a duty in respect of admission to theatres, cinemas and other places of public entertainment. Therefore an entertainment to come within the definition of Section 2 (b) and of the provisions of the Act must be some exhibition, performance, amusement, game or sport for the purpose of entertainment that is, for affording some sort of amusement and gratification to those who see or hear it.'
It is true that in the case of Calico Mills Limited the products of the Mills were exhibited mainly for the purpose of sale but that exhibition did attract many people to the Dome where it was arranged. It is difficult to find out from the judgment reproduced whether those entrants who did not like to purchase any goods inside the Dome were (entitled?) to refund (of?) their entrance fee or not. But if such a refund was not provided by the organisers of that exhibition, then it is difficult to say that those persons entered the Dome after the payment of an entrance fee of Rs. 2/- with a view to make purchases of the fabric produced by the Mills. Their object could be to see the fabric displayed and to get amusement out of the show of mannequins wearing them.
Their Lordships discussed this aspect of the question also when they observed:
'It is also well known that many drapers and milliners of repute and standing display their goods on dummy models. It seems to us that a place where fabrics are displayed and shown off by mannequins wearing them is no more a place of entertainment than a shop establishment where wearing apparels are displayed on dummy models. Nothing turns on the fact that the display by mannequins was on a stage or on the fact that there was a seating arrangement inside the Dome for having a good view of the display, or again on the fact that 'many fashionable ladies and gentlemen of the town were attracted more towards the show than towards the purchase of cloth.'
'Many of them might have gone to the place merely for the purpose of watching the display and seeing something which they had not seen before. But the fact that these people went out of curiosity and novelty did not make the exhibition of cloth or the display by mannequins inside the Dome an entertainment, which otherwise was not an entertainment.'
It is clear from these observations that the plea that weighed with learned Judges while deciding that case was that the main object for having such a display of the fabrics produced by the Mills was not to provide any amusement or gratification (to those?) who went to see that exhibition but it was done mainly to attract people to augment the sale of the products of the Mills displayed in that Dome, and, therefore, in such circumstances their Lordships were not prepared to accept the display or exhibition of articles as providing amusement or gratification to those who were admitted to that place after payment of entrance fee. This is a salient distinguishing feature between the display of the calico fabrics in the Dome and the display of articles in the museum organised by the petitioner, and, therefore, the judgment of the Madhya Pradesh High Court can hardly lend any support to the contention raised by the petitioner. The exhibition of the articles can come within the definition of 'entertainment' only when they are displayed with a view to provide amusement or gratification of any kind to the visitors who go to see that display and they do provide amusement to them.
15. In AIR 1954 Bom 261 (supra) the question which arose for decision was whether the Provincial Legislature was competent by virtue of Entry No. 50 in List 2 of Seventh Schedule of the Government of India Act, 1935, to enact laws in relation to cinema shows etc., and the tax realised on such a show is a tax on entertainment or not. The word that was used in Entry No. 50 was 'entertainments.' Since the expression was used in plural, their Lordships inferred that the use of the expression in plural necessarily indicates that the word is used as a common noun and not in the abstract sense. The entertainment as a common noun must necessarily mean in the case of a cinema a show, in the case of a drama a performance and in the case of cricket a match.
16. On the strength of these observations of their Lordships of the Bombay High Court, It was urged by Mr. Gupta that there must be some physical performance out of the exhibition of the articles put in the museum and a simple exhibition thereof cannot be taken to (sic) providing amusement or gratification to the persons who visit the museum. In the definition of the expression 'entertainment' as given in Section 3 (5) of the Act the Legislature has definitely included any exhibit. The word 'exhibit' cannot necessarily mean that the exhibit should not be of permanent character. Exhibit of permanent as well as of temporary nature are covered by this expression. Moreover, the expression 'entertainment' has been denned in the Act hi singular and not in plural as was the case considered by the Bombay High Court, and, therefore, the argument that there must either be a show or a match or a performance is not available to the petitioner in the present case.
17. In AIR 1956 Bom 1 (supra), the matter before the Court was whether the crossword puzzle does provide any entertainment in the terms of the expression used in the Act. Their Lordships while examining that question observed that the entertainment or amusement contemplated is something objective outside the person amused or entertained, and, therefore, the entertainment tax can be levied on a spectator who witnesses some amusement or entertainment.
18. On the basis of these observations Mr. Gupta urged that in the present case there is neither amusement nor entertainment in the exhibits put in the museum and it is only the visitors who may either be amused or may return without any such amusement after visiting the place, and, therefore, this test that the amusement or entertainment should contemplate something objective outside the person amused is not satisfied in the present case.
19. While considering that argument, the learned Judges did observethat the entertainment and amusementcontemplated by Entry No. 33 of List IIwith regard to legislation and Entry 62of List II with regard to taxes is not thesubjective entertainment or amusementwhich a person may receive by solving acrossword puzzle or by indulging in anyother mental or intellectual pleasure. Butthis observation of the learned Judgescannot mean to suggest that if certainpersons get amusement out of certainarticles or objectives which are exhibitedin the museum and others do not deriveany amusement or entertainment fromthem, then the exhibitions of thoseobjects cannot be subjected to any entertainment tax. |
It is not denied that those articles put in the museum provide entertainment to the people who are interested in them. But there may be some people who might not derive any amusement or entertainment out of those exhibits because of their ignorance about their importance. In such circumstances it is difficult for me to accept the argument of learned counsel for the petitioner that the element of gratification entertainment or amusement provided to the people is totally absent in the exhibits. The very nature of articles that have been exhibited in the museum is to arouse a curiosity in the minds of spectators who go to see those articles, and, therefore, it is difficult to say that the entertainment or amusement is not in those articles but wholly resides within the person amused or entertained and not outside the person.
20. The question that was stressed in AIR 1956 Punj 203 (supra) was entirely different and has no bearing on the question that has been posed for determination before this Court, and, therefore, that judgment of the Punjab High Court cannot lend any support to the argument advanced by learned counsel.
21. Strong reliance has been placed by Mr. Gupta on a bench decision of this Court in His Highness Maharaja Shri Gajsinghji of Jodhpur v. State of Rajasthan (supra), where their Lordships have held that admission to see the palace of the Maharaja does not attract the provisions of the Act and no entertainment tax can be levied for such admission to the Palace which is allowed after charging the entrance fee. In that case the department wanted to assess the Maharaja on the income derived by him by charging fees from those who visited his Palace.
The Maharaja raised an objection that the provisions of the Act are not attracted to this type of entry in the Palace. The main argument of the petitioner was that admission to an entertainment includes an admission to any palace in which an entertainment is held. After taking into consideration the various definitions of the terms used in the Act, their Lordships came to the conclusion that admission to the Palace which is the private building of the Maharaja and where things have not been exhibited for entertainment cannot attract the application of the Act, and, therefore, the department could not levy an entertainment tax on such entry.
22. An argument was advanced by the department in that case that certain articles of interest just as paintings, furniture or stuffed heads of wild animals etc., have been exhibited in the room which were shown to the visitors, and, therefore, such an exhibition of articles of interest attracted the application of the Act. It was argued on behalf of the Maharaja that they were the pieces of furniture of that room and they were not put there for show. This argument prevailed with the learned Judges and they held that in the circumstances of the case entry allowed in a private building by the proprietor thereof on charging certain fees would not attract the provisions of the Act.
23. In my opinion, the circumstances of that case were entirely different from those of the present case, where a permanent museum has been established by the petitioner, which attracts many visitors to see exhibits put therein after paying the fees charged by the petitioner for entering that place which is more or less a public place.
24. It was next urged bv Mr. Gupta that the Legislature cannot levy any entertainment tax on museums by virtue of having a power under item No. 62 of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution wherein the word 'entertainments' has been used in a limited sense. According to Mr, Gupta, the expression 'entertainments' as occurring in item No. 62 must be interpreted ejusdem generis and must be understood in the sense of amusement, betting or gambling. The word 'entertainments' occurring in Entry 62, in my opinion, is of wide significance and embraces within its fold every kind of entertainment and there is no warrant for confining it to entertainments derived out of amusement, betting, gambling etc. It is a well settled rule of interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution that the entries in the respective lists are to be treated as topics or categories of Legislation and they are used in a most comprehensive sense.
25. In AIR 1959 Andh Pra 461 (supra), the learned Judges observed that the various entries in the respective lists are to be treated as topics or categories of legislation. The learned Judges further observed:
'Words are used in a most comprehensive sense. All aspects comprised in the subject of legislative power must be taken to have been comprehended in the particular entry. We must assume that legislative power is granted in regard to any given subject to cover every conceivable aspect of it. In construing the words in a Constitutional enactment vesting legislative power, a very liberal construction should be put upon them so that they may have effect in their widest amplitude. A constitution should not be construed in a narrow or a pedantic sense.'
I do not find any warrant in the Entry 62 for giving a restrictive meaning to the expression 'entertainments'. The State legislature enjoyed plenary powers to enact laws within their own spheres as laid down by the Constitution and they can by denning a term give a wider meaning to it. In the present case the expression 'entertainment' has been defined to include exhibition of certain articles of interest, and, therefore, if such articles which provide entertainment to the persons who come to see them, then the exhibition of those articles can be conveniently covered by the expression 'entertainment.'
26. It is not disputed that the entry to the museum is not restricted only to the students of history or archaeology etc., but any person whether he is a farmer, pilgrim or a child can visit it after paying the entrance fee levied by the petitioner. The exhibits displayed in the museum, are valuable pictures, paintings, portraits, works on art, caskets, silver ware, ivory ware, china ware, glass ware, cut glass, books of arts, ornaments pieces, priceless rugs, armoury antics, curious manuscripts and others. It may be possible that every item exhibited may not provide entertainment to the visitor; but one or the other may provide entertainment even to those who are ignorant about the historical or other educational values of those articles. In such circumstances, I cannot accept the argument of learned counsel lor the petitioner that the museum which is primarily used for education of the people cannot be subjected to entertainment tax.
27. The Commercial taxes officer while assessing any person under the provisions of the Act performs his statutory duty under the provisions of the law and while doing so he is competent to interpret the provisions of the law according to his own understanding. He is not bound to obey any departmental instructions issued by his superior officers while discharging his quasi-judicial functions as assessing authority under the Act. If the Commissioner in the past expressed any opinion about the scope of the expression 'entertainment' as defined in the Act in his administrative capacity, that opinion cannot bind the statutory authority viz., the Commercial Taxes Officer who has got to perform his duties under the Act as a quasi-judicial authority. The letter of the Commissioner relied upon by the petitioner to divest the Commercial Taxes Officer of his authority under the law cannot help him, I do not think that the petitioner can take any advantage out of the letter issued by the Commissioner in his administrative capacity to explain the term 'entertainment' as used in the Act.
28. For the reasons mentioned above, the writ petition fails and it is hereby dismissed. No order as to costs.