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L.N. Plantation Company Vs. the State of Tamil Nadu - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberT.C. Nos. 744 and 745 of 1980
Judge
Reported in[1981]47STC210(Mad)
AppellantL.N. Plantation Company
RespondentThe State of Tamil Nadu
Advocates:R. Gangadharan, Adv.
Cases ReferredKuttirayin and Co. v. State of Kerala
Excerpt:
- - though the ultimate object of the assessee was to grow coffee, tea or cardamom, the motive to do business in logs and firewood is clearly discernible. all these factors would clearly show that unless there was business motive and motive to increase the value of the goods by sawing them into logs and planks, they would not have taken the trouble of carrying the felled trees to the saw mills, sizing them and then selling the sized logs and planks inside the state and outside the state. consequently, these appeals fail and are dismissed......assessing officer and had used them for the purpose of transport. it is observed that they have sold timber to even buyers in bombay. it is also observed that some quantity of firewood had been converted into charcoal and sold. they have also incurred an expenditure of rs. 17,000 for sawing the timber. all these factors would clearly show that unless there was business motive and motive to increase the value of the goods by sawing them into logs and planks, they would not have taken the trouble of carrying the felled trees to the saw mills, sizing them and then selling the sized logs and planks inside the state and outside the state. if the intention was merely to dispose of the treegrowth, the felled trees should have been sold after being cut into convenient sizes as such. the very.....
Judgment:

Ismail, C.J.

1. These are appeals against the order of the Board of Revenue (Commercial Taxes) dated 17th December, 1979, suo motu revising the orders of the Appellate Assistant Commissioner, Pollachi, concerning two assessment years 1972-73 and 1973-74. The appellant claimed exemption in respect of the turnover of the timber produce on the ground that they were agricultural produce and not commercial produce and they were essentially planters and in order to develop the plantation they cut the standing trees and sold them. The finding recorded by the Board of Revenue is this :

'The facts are not denied. It is true that after clearing the area of the forest growth the assessee had intended to raise plantation crops in the area. However, it is observed that they have registered themselves as dealers. Though the ultimate object of the assessee was to grow coffee, tea or cardamom, the motive to do business in logs and firewood is clearly discernible. After cutting the trees which had grown spontaneously on the land they had transported them to a saw mill, had them sawn into suitable sizes of logs and sold the sized logs locally and in inter-State trade. For this purpose they have obtained declarations in form XX from the assessing officer and had used them for the purpose of transport. It is observed that they have sold timber to even buyers in Bombay. It is also observed that some quantity of firewood had been converted into charcoal and sold. They have also incurred an expenditure of Rs. 17,000 for sawing the timber. All these factors would clearly show that unless there was business motive and motive to increase the value of the goods by sawing them into logs and planks, they would not have taken the trouble of carrying the felled trees to the saw mills, sizing them and then selling the sized logs and planks inside the State and outside the State. If the intention was merely to dispose of the treegrowth, the felled trees should have been sold after being cut into convenient sizes as such. The very fact that the trees were transformed into distinct commercial products and the firewood was also converted into charcoal, the intention of doing business, i.e., business activity, is quite clear. The decisions of the High Court relied on by them are distinguishable in this respect. In those cases, in order to facilitate removal of the felled trees, the parties therein cut them into small sizes and sold them. The finding was that there was no intention of doing business in timber and firewood. On the other hand, in the instant case, the intention of doing business in timber and firewood and charcoal is very apparent.'

2. The learned counsel for the appellant very strenuously contends that the appellant-company is only planters and they cleared the forest only for the purpose of raising plantation and they have simply disposed of those timber which they have cut and that the decision of this Court in Deputy Commissioner (C.T.), Coimbatore Division, Coimbatore v. Sree Shanmuga Estate 1979 43 S.T.C.226 directly covered the point in their favour. We are of the opinion that this argument is not sound. The decision referred to above dealt with an entirely different situation. In that case also the assessee purchased a reserve forest for the purpose of coffee plantation and cleared a portion of the said land and sold the timber and firewood obtained by felling and cutting the trees which were natural growths and they had also converted some firewood into charcoal. The question that arose for consideration was whether the turnover was liable to assessment. The court observed :

'The question for consideration is whether by the mere fact of sizing the timber cut from the trees in order to facilitate stacking and transport of the said timber, would it be a commercial article different from the logs of trees that were cut in order to make the assessees dealers in such articles. An identical question came up for consideration in the Kerala High Court in the decision reported in Kuttirayin and Co. v. State of Kerala [1976] 38 S.T.C. 282, to which one of us was a party. In that case, after considering the decisions of other High Courts, it was held that if timber logs are cut into sizes to facilitate transport, stacking, etc., it cannot be said that commercial articles different from timber logs emerge and that only if the logs sized were then converted into sleepers, different commercial articles would emerge. In this case, we have no evidence to show that the timber cut from trees after sizing was again cut into sleepers of different sizes and sold as such commercial articles. In the absence of such evidence, merely from the fact of sizing of the timber cut from the trees in order to facilitate easy transport (sic) would not make it a commercial article so as to make the assessee a dealer in that commercial article.'

3. As is seen from the above observations, that decision was rendered on the facts of that case and, in the present case, as we pointed out already, the facts are different. In the first place, the appellant had registered itself as a dealer in timber. In the second place, the timber was sawn and cut into suitable sizes and they were carried after obtaining declarations in form XX from the assessing officer and those forms had been used for the purpose of transport. Thirdly, the timber so cut had been sold to buyers in Bombay even. Under these circumstances, we are of the opinion that the decision relied on by the learned counsel is not of any assistance to support the contention of the appellant in the present cases. Consequently, these appeals fail and are dismissed.

4. Appeals dismissed.


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