1. This is a revision petn. against the conviction of the petnrs. under Section 15(a), General Sales-tax Act.
1a. The petnrs. are dealers in salt which is exempted from sales tax. The salt was soldpacked in gunnies. Though the turnover of the business was over Rs. 10,000 the petnrs. did not submit a return as salt was exempted from tax & as they bona fide believed that they were not dealing in gunnies. The petnrs. no doubt charged the purchasers for gunnies also. The present prosecution is for failure to submit the return.
2. The petnrs. paid the tax and filed a suit for the refund of the same on the ground that they were not liable to pay the tax on gunnies. The lower Ct. dismissed the suit & an appeal was filed & it was dismissed by this Ct. vide Varasuki & Co. v. The Province of Madras, : AIR1951Mad254 . It appears from the judgment of the H. 0. that the Govt. have, subsequent to this prosecution, exempted gunnies in which salt was packed, from payment of sales tax.
3. The only point taken in revision is that under Section 15 (a) the words 'fails to submit a return' must be read as 'fails without reasonable cause.' It is conceded by the petnra.' advocate that giving the words the natural meaning, the section does not admit of such an interpretation. But it is contended that considering the scheme & the purpose of the Act, this is the view that must be taken of the section. In support of his argument, Mr. M. Subbaraya Aiyar relies on Astoo v. Perry, 1935 A. C. 398 : 104 L. J. k. B. 423. In the above decision Lord MacMillan observes as follows :
'I think,' said Lord Herschell, 'that giving to the language of the enactment its natural meaning the facts stated do apparently bring this case within it. But he went on to point out that where, as here again, the words of a statute according to their natural meaning lead to 'strangely anomalous' results, it is legitimate to examine their statutory context in order to see whether they ought to be construed as they would be if read alone. 'Courts of Law,' says Lord Loreburn L. C. 'have cut down or even contradicted the language of the Legislature when on a full view of the Act, considering its scheme & its machinery & the manifest purpose of it, they have thought that a particular case or class of cases was not intended to fall within the taxing clause relied upon by the Crown. A notable instance in the ease of Colquhoun v. Brookes, (1889) 14 A. C. 493: 59 L. J. Q. B. 53 decided nearly thirty years ago & always follows.'
I entirely agree that if the natural meaning would lead to 'strangely anomalous' results, then the Ct. could out down or even contradict the language. But in this case, I am not satisfied how giving the natural meaning to the words would lead to strangely anomalous results. I am not prepared, therefore, to read the section with the words 'without reasonable cause.'
4. No other point is raised in this case & the petn. is dismissed.