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Jaipur Hosiery Mills Private Ltd. and ors. Vs. State of Rajasthan and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax;Constitution
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Case NumberD.B. Civil Writ Petition Nos. 81 and 590 of 1965 and 9, 201, 217, 511, 512, 513 and 646 of 1966
Judge
Reported in[1967]19STC416(Raj)
AppellantJaipur Hosiery Mills Private Ltd. and ors.
RespondentState of Rajasthan and ors.
Appellant Advocate J.P. Jain,; Sagar Mal Mehta and; Arjun Lal Mehta, Ad
Respondent Advocate M.M. Vyas, Adv.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredIn Khandige Sham Bhat v. Agricultural Income
Excerpt:
.....not include 'banians' and 'chaddies',and (3) the notification was in excess of the powers of the state government under section 4(2) of the act. where there is more than one method of assessing tax and the legislature selects one out of them, the court will not be justified to strike down the law on the ground that the legislature should have adopted another method which, in the opinion of the court, is more reasonable, unless it is convinced that the method adopted is capricious, fanciful, arbitrary or clearly unjust. '-(1) no tax shall be payable under this act on the sale or purchase of any of the exempted goods if the conditions specified in column 3 of the schedule are satisfied. 16. the notification appears to us to be in conformity with the plain language of section 4(2) and we..........sub-section (2) of section 4 of the rajasthan sales tax act, 1954 (rajasthan act 29 of 1954), the state government, being of the opinion that it is necessary in the public interest so to do, does hereby exempt the sale of any garments whether prepared within or imported from outside rajasthan the value of which does not exceed rs. 4 in single piece, from payment of any tax under the said act.by order of the governor,(sd.) g.s. purohit, secretary to the government.the petitioners sell 'banians' and 'chaddies'. they claimed that 'banians' and 'chaddies' were garments within the meaning of this notification, and, therefore, they were exempt from the sales tax when the value of a single piece did not exceed rs. 4. the department, however, did not accept the contention. one of the dealers in.....
Judgment:

Kan Singh, J.

1. We have before us 9 writ petitions of identical nature by which the petitioners, who are dealers registered under the Rajasthan Sales Tax Act, 1954, hereinafter to be referred as the 'Act', challenge the validity of the Government Notification No. F. 5 (99) E. & T./60 dated 26th March, 1962, issued under Section 4(2) of the Act in supersession of a previous Notification No. F. 5(3) E. & T./58 dated 31st January, 1958, which while exempting the sale of garments the value of which did not exceed Rs. 4 in single piece, excluded hosiery products from the ambit of the exemption. They also seek appropriate writ, order or directions for quashing the assessment orders made by the respondent No. 4, the Commercial Taxes Officer, Special Circle, Jaipur. All these writ petitions can conveniently be disposed of by one judgment. We may give a short history of the matter for appreciating the controversy properly.

2. The notification that was superseded by the impugned notification was in the following terms :-

EXCISE AND TAXATION DEPARTMENT

NOTIFICATION

Jaipur, January 31, 1958.

No. F. 5(3) E. & T./58.-In exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-section (2) of Section 4 of the Rajasthan Sales Tax Act, 1954 (Rajasthan Act 29 of 1954), the State Government, being of the opinion that it is necessary in the public interest so to do, does hereby exempt the sale of any garments whether prepared within or imported from outside Rajasthan the value of which does not exceed Rs. 4 in single piece, from payment of any tax under the said Act.

By Order of the Governor,

(Sd.) G.S. PUROHIT,

Secretary to the Government.

The petitioners sell 'banians' and 'chaddies'. They claimed that 'banians' and 'chaddies' were garments within the meaning of this notification, and, therefore, they were exempt from the sales tax when the value of a single piece did not exceed Rs. 4. The department, however, did not accept the contention. One of the dealers in these goods, M/s. Pareek Hosiery Products filed a writ petition in this Court which was D. B. Civil Writ Petition No. 376 of 1960. It was decided by this Court on 14th February, 1962 Since reported as Pareek Hosiery Products v. Deputy Commissioner of Sales Tax (Appeals), Jaipur and Ors. [1962] 13 S.T.C. 722. Accepting the contention of the dealer that the term 'garments' was wide enough to include 'banians' and 'chaddies' it was held by this Court that in its primary meaning, 'garment' means any article of clothing and it was the use of covering the human body which gave content to the word. In the result it was held that 'banians' and 'chaddies' were exempt from the payment of sales tax where the value of a single piece was less than Rs. 4. After the judgment of this Court the Government issued the impugned notification which was as follows :-

'NOTIFICATION

Jaipur, March 26, 1962.

No. F. 5(99) E. & T./60.-In exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-section (2) of Section 4 of the Rajasthan Sales Tax Act, 1954 (Rajasthan Act 29 of 1954), and in supersession of this Department Notification No. F. 5(3) E. & T./58 dated the 31st January, 1958, the State Government being of the opinion that it is necessary in public interest to do so, hereby exempts the sale of garments whether prepared within or imported from outside Rajasthan the value of which does not exceed Rs. 4 in single piece excluding hosiery products and hats of all kinds, from payment of any tax under the said Act:

Provided that a dealer obtains an exemption certificate on payment of an annual fee of Rs. 10.

By Order of the Governor,

S.P. SINGH BHANDARI,

Secretary to the Government.

3. In the light of this notification the Commercial Taxes Officer included the sale of 'banians' and 'chaddies' in the taxable turnover of the dealers. It was contended on behalf of the dealers that 'banians'' and 'chaddies' were not hosiery products but were garments. The Commercial Taxes Officer, however, dismissed the contention holding that 'banians' and 'chaddies' were hosiery products and were therefore outside the ambit of the notification in question.

4. Against the assessment the dealers went up in appeal. They also prayed for the stay of recovery proceedings, but were not successful in obtaining any stay order from the appellate authority. Before the appeals were disposed of, the dealers filed these writ petitions urging that as the second notification was null and void the taxation authorities have no jurisdiction to tax the sales of 'banians' and 'chaddies'. They urge that the first notification still stands good and according to the judgment of this Court the petitioners are entitled to an exemption from sales tax in respect of the sale of 'banians' and 'chaddies' which have already been held to be garments within the meaning of the first notification. In attacking the validity of the second notification learned counsel for the petitioners have advanced a three pronged argument. It is urged that: (1) the notification was violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. It is further argued that there was no rational basis of classification between garments as such and knitted garments like 'banians' and 'chaddies'. No reason was shown as to why particular kinds of garments were exempted from tax and why others were placed outside the category of exempted garments ; (2) the term hosiery did not include 'banians' and 'chaddies', and (3) the notification was in excess of the powers of the State Government under Section 4(2) of the Act. It is argued that by partially withdrawing the exemption granted under the previous notification the State Government was seeking to tax certain kinds of garments which it was entitled to do. It is consequently urged that this could not have been done by the State Government in exercise of its powers under Section 4(2) of the Act. It is then urged that the Commercial Taxes Officer was in error in imposing penalty on the dealers under Section 16(1)(b) or (c) of the Act for non-payment of the tax. It is also pointed out that the appellate authority was not justified in declining to stay the recovery of the tax pending disposal of the appeals filed by the dealers.

5. The writ petitions have been opposed by the respondents and it is urged by them that 'banians' and 'chaddies' were included in the expression 'hosiery products' and, therefore, they were not exempt from sales tax. It is denied that the notification was violative of Article 14 of the Constitution in any manner. According to the respondents the notification was issued in accordance with Section 4(2) of the Act and did not suffer from any vice. Lastly, it is urged that the petitioners have an alternative remedy of an appeal under the Act and, as they have already filed appeals, they should not be heard by us in exercise of our extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution.

6. We may make it clear at the outset that the fate of the case depends on the determination of the constitutionality of the impugned notification. If it falls through, then the proceeding before the taxation authorities will have to be quashed, but, on the other hand, if the notification is not shown to be invalid, then it will be for the petitioners to pursue their appeals before the appellate authority.

7. Learned counsel have invited our attention to Kunnathat Thathunni Moopil Nair v. State of Kerala and Anr. A.I.R. 1961 S.C. 552 K. Kunhikoman v. State of Kerala A.I.R. 1962 S.C. 723 East India Tobacco Company v. State of Andhra Pradesh and Anr. A.I.R. 1962 S.C. 1733 and Khandige Sham Bhat v. Agricultural Income-tax Officer, Kasaragod and Anr. A.I.R. 1963 S.C. 591.

8. In Kunnathat Thathunni Moopil Nair v. State of Kerala and Anr. A.I.R. 1961 S.C. 552 the constitutionality of the Travancore-Cochin Land Tax Act was impugned. Tax was imposed on the lands at the rate of Rs. 2 per acre. The petitioner had some 25 thousand acres of forest land in his possession. According to the Madras Preservation of Private Forests Act, the petitioner was not entitled to exploit the forest according to his wishes, and he could cut trees only from an area of 450 acres in 5 years at the rate of 90 acres a year. The income that the petitioner was receiving was Rs. 3,100 per year, but the impugned Act imposed a burden of Rs. 50,000 per year. It was in this context that their Lordships held that inequality was writ large on the Act and was inherent in the very provisions of the taxing section. However, their Lordships laid down the following principles regarding the powers of the Legislature to classify persons or properties into different categories and to subject them to different rates of taxation with reference to income or property. Their Lordships observed as follows :-

A taxing statute is not wholly immune from attack on the ground that it infringes the equality clause in Article 14, though the Courts are not concerned with the policy underlying a taxing statute or whether a particular tax could not have been imposed in a different way or in a way that the Court might think more just and equitable.

9. If the Legislature has classified persons or properties into different categories which are subjected to different rates of taxation with reference to income or property, such a classification would not be open to the attack of inequality on the ground that the total burden resulting from such a classification is unequal. Similarly, different kinds of property may be subjected to different rates of taxation, but so long as there is a rational basis for the classification, Article 14 will not be in the way of such a classification resulting in unequal burdens on different classes of properties. But if the same class of property similarly situated is subjected to an incidence of taxation, which results in inequality, the law may be struck down as creating an inequality amongst holders of the same kind of property.

10. It will be observed that the facts of this case do not afford any guidance, though the general principles will be of help in dealing with the present matter.

11. In K. Kunhikoman v. State of Kerala A.I.R. 1962 S.C. 723 the provisions of the Kerala Agrarian Relations Act were considered and their Lordships examined the provisions regarding exemption of certain plantations from the operation of the provisions relating to fixation of ceiling. Their Lordships observed that there was no appreciable difference between the economics of tea, coffee and rubber plantations on the one hand, and areca and pepper plantations on the other, and accordingly their Lordships held that the provisions relating to plantations were violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.

12. The position came to be considered at great length, regarding exemption of taxes, in East India Tobacco Company v. State of Andhra Pradesh A.I.R. 1962 S.C. 1733. Though their Lordships of the Supreme Court held that a taxation law must also pass the test of Article 14, yet it was laid down that in deciding whether a taxation law is discriminatory or not, it was necessary to bear in mind that the State has a wide discretion in selecting the persons or objects it will tax, and that a statute is not open to attack on the ground that it taxes some persons or objects and not others. It is only when within the range of its selection, the law operates unequally and that cannot be justified on the basis of any valid classification, that it will be violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. Their Lordships also pointed out that in such matters it is for the person who assails the assessment as discriminatory to establish that it is not based on a valid classification and this burden is all the heavier when the legislation under attack is a taxing statute. The case of Kunnathat Thathunni Moopil Nair v. State of Kerala and Anr. A.I.R. 1961 S.C. 552 was relied on in this case. Their Lordships also reviewed a number of American decisions and also extensively quoted from standard books on Constitutional Law, such as, Rottschaefer's Constitutional Law and Willis' Constitutional Law. Their Lordships referred with approval to an important passage from Madden v. Kentucky (1940) 309 U.S. 83:

In taxation even more than in other fields Legislatures possess the greatest freedom in classification. The burden is on the one attacking the legislative arrangement to negative every conceivable basis which might support it.

13. It will be thus seen that it is the duty of the petitioners to negative all conceivable bases which might be urged in support of the notification before they can be successful in showing that the same was discriminatory.

14. In Khandige Sham Bhat v. Agricultural Income-tax Officer, Kasaragod and Anr. [1963] 48 I.T.R. (S.C.) 21 their Lordships observed as follows :

It is true, taxation law cannot claim immunity from the equality clause of the Constitution. The taxation statute shall not also be arbitrary and oppressive, but at the same time the Court cannot, for obvious reasons, meticulously scrutinize the impact of its burden on different persons or interests. Where there is more than one method of assessing tax and the Legislature selects one out of them, the Court will not be justified to strike down the law on the ground that the Legislature should have adopted another method which, in the opinion of the Court, is more reasonable, unless it is convinced that the method adopted is capricious, fanciful, arbitrary or clearly unjust.

15. It is noteworthy that in the present case the petitioners have not challenged the vires of Section 4(2) of the Act, but they have limited their challenge to the notification issued thereunder. Section 4 is as follows:

Section 4. Act not to apply to certain sales.'-(1) No tax shall be payable under this Act on the sale or purchase of any of the exempted goods if the conditions specified in column 3 of the Schedule are satisfied.

(2) Where the State Government is of opinion that it is necessary or expedient in the public interest so to do, the State Government may by notification in the Official Gazette exempt from tax the sale or purchase of any goods or class of goods or any person or class of persons on such conditions and on payment of such fee as may be specified in the notification.

16. The notification appears to us to be in conformity with the plain language of Section 4(2) and we fail to see how it can be challenged as violative of Article 14 of the Constitution, if the parent provision is not alleged to be violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. Under Sub-section (1) of Section 4 the Legislature itself had exempted certain goods and under Sub-section (2) thereof the State Government has been given the power to exempt from sales tax any goods or class of goods or any person or class of persons on such conditions and on payment of such fee as may be specified in the notification, provided the State Government is of opinion that it is necessary or expedient in the public interest so to do. In other words, it is the opinion of the State Government about the necessity of public interest that will guide the discretion of the State Government in granting the exemption to particular goods. Now if we read the impugned notification, we find that the State Government was clearly of opinion that it was necessary in public interest to exempt sale of garments from sales tax, but in doing so it has imposed certain conditions which it was entitled to put in terms of Section 4(2) of the Act. Condition No. 1 was that the value of such article should not exceed Rs. 4 in single piece and the other condition was to exclude hosiery products and hats of all kinds. The expression 'all kinds' occurring in the words of 'excluding hosiery products and hats of all kinds' shows that if any garment is also a hosiery product of any kind, then it is not within the category of exempted garments. The classification adopted in the notification is 'garments in general' and 'hosiery products including garments which are hosiery products'. The State Government could have very well thought that hosiery products are used by people who are comparatively better off than those who do not use them or it may be that the distinction was based on the process of manufacture. Hosiery products are knitted articles. This will be clear when we refer to some standard dictionaries in the course of the discussion that follows. We do not find any warrant for holding that there cannot be a classification within the major classification of goods as garments. Garments may be costly garments and they may be ordinary garments. Some may be manufactured by one process and others may be manufactured by a different process. Therefore, the Government could very well have classified garments and garments, which are also hosiery products, in two different categories of goods; exempting one class, while not exempting the other. The notification, as it stands, does not refer to 'banians' or 'chaddies' as such and, therefore, while examining the validity of the notification we have only to look to the plain language of the notification. The question whether 'banians' or 'chaddies' fall in the general category of the garments, or in the special category of hosiery products, will be one relating to the application of the notification and will not be germane in judging its validity on the ground of the alleged violation of Article 14 of the Constitution. In our view, the Government could have classified garments generally and hosiery products; preferring one for exemption and leaving out the other. As laid down by their Lordships it is for the Legislature to decide as to what goods it will tax and what it will not tax. Here we are concerned, as already observed, only with the notification which is in accord with the language of the parent provision and, therefore, we are unable to hold that the notification is lacking in a proper classification so as to be hit by Article 14 of the Constitution.

17. We may now turn to the second ground that 'banians' and 'chaddies' are not hosiery products. Learned counsel points out that 'hose' means a flexible pipe for conveying water, and it is only such knitted goods like stockings and socks which are in the shape of a hose or tube that can be said to be hosiery goods and according to him, 'banians' and 'chaddies' not being such goods, will be coming under the general category of garments which, according to the previous judgment of this Court, come within the ambit of the first notification.

18. In the Oxford English Dictionary the word 'hosier' means 'one who makes or deals in hose (stockings and socks) and frame-knitted or woven under-clothing generally' (vide page 405, Vol. V). The word 'hosiery' has been defined with reference to a hosier. It means : 'hose collectively; extended to other frame-knitted articles of apparel, and hence to the whole class of goods in which a hosier deals.' According to the Webster's Third New International Dictionary the word 'hosiery' means knitwear (vide page 1093 of Vol. 1).

19. In Encyclopaedia Britannica the history of the word 'hosiery' has been traced at, length and it is pointed out that 'hosiery' is covering for the feet and legs designed to be worn inside the shoes arid other outer foot coverings. Then it is pointed out that the term is so understood in most countries particularly United States of America, but in Great Britain it is taken to include machine-knitted garments of all types (vide page 740, Vol. II).

20. In India for historical reasons it is the meaning current in England that has to be taken to be the correct meaning of the term 'hosiery'. Further the use of the words 'of all kinds' in the expression 'excluding hosiery products and hats of all kinds' makes it abundantly clear that the intention was to cover wider range of hosiery products than socks or stockings. We are, therefore, satisfied that 'banians' and 'chaddies', which have knitted fabrics, are hosiery products within the meaning of the impugned notification. We may observe that in the previous judgment the question did not arise for consideration whether 'banians' and 'chaddies' were hosiery products. The limited question there was whether they were garments. We are thus satisfied that 'banians' and 'chaddies' are included in the term 'hosiery products' and are, therefore, excluded from the operation of the notification dated 26th March, 1962.

21. We may now turn to the third submission of the learned counsel for the petitioners. As we have already observed, the notification accords with the language of Section 4(2) and we fail to see how it can be said to be in excess of the powers granted by that section to the State Government. It is for the State Government to see as to what goods should be exempted from the operation of the Act in the public interest and what should be the extent of the exemption. We fail to see how the State Government was prevented from making categories of goods. Of course, there should be no discrimination within the category that it fixes and, as we have pointed out, garments in genera] may be distinguished and marked out from such garments as are also hosiery products. Thus, it cannot be said that the State Government has exceeded its powers in excluding hosiery products from the ambit of garments by the notification dated 26th March, 1962. By no stretch of imagination can it be said that, by withdrawing the exemption or modifying any notification regarding exemption, the State Government was legislating in the matter of taxes. It was exercising powers already granted by the law. Thus, we do not find any force in the contention of the learned counsel.

22. In view of what we have said above, we do not find any flaw in the impugned notification and the same cannot, therefore, be held to be invalid. As regards the other points raised by the learned counsel, it is sufficient to say that the petitioners have already filed their appeals against the orders of assessment and it will be for them to pursue their remedies under the statute and consequently we are not inclined to exercise our extraordinary powers under Article 226 of the Constitution at this stage.

23. In the result we hereby dismiss all the writ petitions with costs.


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