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Williams Tacks and Co. Ltd., Madras Vs. the State of Madras, Represented by the Deputy Commercial Tax Officer, Harbour Division, Madras - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberTax Revn. Case No. 367 of 1953
Judge
Reported inAIR1955Mad656; (1955)2MLJ254
ActsMadras General Sales Tax Act, 1939 - Sections 3(2); Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908
AppellantWilliams Tacks and Co. Ltd., Madras
RespondentThe State of Madras, Represented by the Deputy Commercial Tax Officer, Harbour Division, Madras
Appellant AdvocateV. Ramakrishna Sastri, Adv. for ;King and Patridge
Respondent AdvocateS. Ramanujam, Adv. for ;Asst. Govt. Pleader
Excerpt:
madras general sales tax act (ix of 1939), section 3(2)(viii)--what are 'electrical goods' within the scope of the section--tests--definition whether illustrative or exhaustive--administrative instructions issued by government as to nature of goods-whether conclusive ; the madras general sales tax act (ix of 1939) does not define what 'electrical goods' are. neither the act nor the rules framed thereunder prescribes any test which should be satisfied before any given article is brought within the scope of section 3(2)(viii) of the said act. administrative instructions issued by the government to the departmental authorities would not conclude the judicial determination of the question as to the nature of the goods. it is neither possible nor desirable for a court to embark on the..........sets enumerated in list 1 (b) and all the items in list 1 (c) other than item 2 were electrical goods. item 2 in list 1 (c) should really have been included in list 1 (a); item 4 of list 1 (a) was 26 inches circular saw benches, and item 2 of list 1 (c) was a machine of the same type but of 20 inches variety. with reference to items other than item 9 of list 1 (a) and item 2 of list 1 (c) the learned chairman of the tribunal was of the view that they were not electrical goods. the view of the majority of the tribunal which prevailed was that the component electrical motors of these items were electrical goods, and that on the turnover computed on the sale price of these electrical motors the assessee was liable to pay the additional tax of three pies for which section 3 (2) (viii) of.....
Judgment:
1. The question for determination in these proceedings in revision is whether the articles specified in lists 1(a), 1(b) and 1 (c) were electrical goods within the meaning of Section 3 (2) (viii), General Sales-tax Act. On the goods specified in Section 3 (2) (viii) an additional tax of three pies in the rupee can be imposed. The Tribunal was unanimous in its findings that item 9 of list 1 (a), the electrical pump sets enumerated in list 1 (b) and all the items in list 1 (c) other than item 2 were electrical goods. Item 2 in list 1 (c) should really have been included in list 1 (a); item 4 of list 1 (a) was 26 inches circular saw benches, and item 2 of list 1 (c) was a machine of the same type but of 20 inches variety. With reference to items other than item 9 of list 1 (a) and item 2 of list 1 (c) the learned Chairman of the Tribunal was of the view that they were not electrical goods. The view of the majority of the Tribunal which prevailed was that the component electrical motors of these items were electrical goods, and that on the turnover computed on the sale price of these electrical motors the assessee was liable to pay the additional tax of three pies for which Section 3 (2) (viii) of the Act provided.

2. Section 3 (2) (viii} which before the amendment of the Act was Section 3 (2) (v) runs :

"All electrical goods, instruments, apparatus and appliances, including fans and lighting bulbs, electrical earthenware and procelain and all other accessories."

The Act did not define what "electrical goods" were. Neither the. Act nor the rules framed thereunder prescribed any test which should be satisfied before any given article was brought within the scope of Section 3 (2) (viii). Administrative instructions were issued by the Government to the Departmental Authorities in G. O. No. 56 dated 5-1-1952 which ran :

"A machinery should be treated as an indivisible unit, where the electrical component forms an integral part of it and the entire machinery would be subject to the additional tax under Section 3 (2) (v) of the Madras General Sales-tax Act. Where the electrical component is not an integral part and can be detached from the machinery the value of the electrical component would alone be subjected to the additional tax."

As the learned Chairman rightly pointed out that did not conclude a judicial determination of the question at issue even before the Tribunal.

3. It is neither possible nor desirable for this Court to embark on a preparation of an exhaustive list of what constitute "electrical goods" within the meaning of Section 3 (2) (viii) ot the Act nor even is it possible to devise a formula ,of universal application. With reference to the items which the Tribunal had to consider in this case the test formulated by the learned Chairman was in our opinion the correct one the only practicable test. He recorded,

"I hold that only such articles the use of which cannot be had except with the application of electric energy, can be termed electrical goods or appliances."

The learned Chairman stated further :

"I am accordingly of the view that barring a case where a machine cannot be used except with the application of electrical energy, the machine has to be regarded as non-electrical. Both in the section and the description of the goods the expression used I is 'turnover relating to such goods'. The goods sold have to be taken as a whole in determining if they come within the description and cannot be split up in the manner indicated in the Government order."

We entirely approve of this test.

4. The learned counsel for the assessee reiterated the plea rejected, and in our opinion, rightly rejected by the Tribunal that it was only whatever was needed for generating storing distributing electricity that could fall within the scope of "electrical goods" in Section 3 (2)(viii) of the Act. That would be to place an unduly narrow interpretation of the expression "electrical goods". The argument of the learned counsel was based virtually on the words "including fans and bulbs" as it ocurred in Section 3 (2) (viii). The learned counsel contended that fans and bulbs would not have been taxable as electrical goods but for their inclusion. We are unable to accept this contention. The words that follow the expression, "electrical goods" in Section 3 (2) (viii) appear to be illustrative and not exhaustive in their scope.

5. Judged by the practicable commonsense test mentioned above, item 9 was rightly held to fall within the scope of Section 3 (2) (viii). As the learned Chairman pointed out.

"Item 9 in the list is a double ended grinding machine. This is nothing more than an electrical motor, at either end of the shaft of which grinding wheels are fitted for sharpening tools. The machine is nothing more than an electric motor and the grinding wheels form part of the shaft of the motor; it cannot be worked except with the use of electricity. This machine must be regarded as electrical goods,"

So did the items in list 1 (c) other than item 2 fall within the scope of Section 3 (2) (viii).

6. With reference to the pump sets mentioned in list 1 (b) the learned Chairman, who set out the unanimous view of the Tribunal on the question, found that the pump section was attached to an electric motor. The further finding was that in the case of these pumps there was no provision to drive them by any alternative power supply. On these, findings we are of opinion that the pump sets were rightly classed as electrical goods.

7. The only question that remains is whether the majority view of the Tribunal was correct, that the turnover of the computed value of the component electrical motors of item 2 of list 1 (c) and of the items other than item 9 of list 1 (a) was liable to be taxed under Section 3 (2) (viii). These motors were not in fact sold or even valued separately when the goods were sold by the assessee. In our opinion, the view taken by the learned Chairman was the correct one, that for purposes of taxation the unity of the goods sold should not be impaired and that if the machine taken as a whole did not fall within the category of "electrical goods", a component part thereof, which Was not sold as an independent item of goods could not be treated as the goods sold. Such a fictional sale could not furnish any basis for a computation of a taxable turnover.

8. The order of the Tribunal will therefore be varied to this extent. The turnover of the sales of item 2 of list 1 (c) and of all items other than item 9 of list 1 (a) inclusive of the value of the component electrical motors is liable to be taxed only under Section 3 (1) (b) of the Act on the basis that they are not electrical goods. There will be no order as to costs.


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