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The Court Press Job Branch, Salem Vs. the State of Tamil Nadu - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberT.C.P. No. 1569 of 1977 (Revision No. 350 of 1977)
Judge
Reported in[1983]54STC382(Mad)
AppellantThe Court Press Job Branch, Salem
RespondentThe State of Tamil Nadu
Appellant AdvocateP.R. Ranganathan, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateK.S. Bakthavatsalam, Additional Government Pleader
Cases ReferredIn State of Tamil Nadu v. Anandam Viswanathan
Excerpt:
- - the order of the assessing authority was challenged in appeal before the appellate assistant commissioner, but without success. then the assessee filed on appeal before the sales tax appellate tribunal where also it failed. joshi [1971] 27 stc 100, held that the contract was to supply paper as well as doing printing work and the same was indivisible and that therefore the assessee was liable to pay sales tax on the entire sum. different tests may be applied in answering such a question as the stage of passing of property, risk and the like. 8. the tax case is therefore allowed and the orders of the tribunal as well as the authorities below are set aside......tax on the finished articles supplied by it to the customers, if the assessee itself had supplied paper for printing. 2. it is seen that the assessee has got two sets of transactions, namely, (1) transactions where the customers themselves supply paper and the printing work is done by the assessee on the paper supplied, and (2) transactions where the assessee itself supplies paper and does the printing work thereon. in the former case, the assessee merely charges for its printing work and in the letter, it charges separately for paper and for printing work. in so far as the first set of transactions is concerned, even the assessing authority has given relief holding that the turnover covered by such transactions represents only the charges for printing. we are not now concerned with.....
Judgment:

Ramanujam, J.

1. The assessee in this case is a press and it returned a taxable turnover of Rs. 28,320,59 for the assessment year 1973-74. The assessing authority however, determined the taxable turnover at Rs. 71,886 after rejecting the claim of the assessee that certain portions of its turnover represented amounts covered by works contract. The order of the assessing authority was challenged in appeal before the Appellate Assistant Commissioner, but without success. Then the assessee filed on appeal before the Sales tax Appellate Tribunal where also it failed. Thereafter the assessee has come before us questioning the order the Tribunal holding that assessee is liable to pay tax on the finished articles supplied by it to the customers, if the assessee itself had supplied paper for printing.

2. It is seen that the assessee has got two sets of transactions, namely, (1) transactions where the customers themselves supply paper and the printing work is done by the assessee on the paper supplied, and (2) transactions where the assessee itself supplies paper and does the printing work thereon. In the former case, the assessee merely charges for its printing work and in the letter, it charges separately for paper and for printing work. In so far as the first set of transactions is concerned, even the assessing authority has given relief holding that the turnover covered by such transactions represents only the charges for printing. We are not now concerned with those transactions. So far as the second set of transactions is concerned, the assessing authority, the appellate authority and the Tribunal have all taken the view that the turnover covered thereby will have to be taken as representing sales of finished products and therefore the assessee is liable to be taxed on that part of the turnover.

3. The learned counsel for the assessee contends before us that the Tribunal is in error in treating the disputed turnover as representing sales of finished products merely on the ground that the assessee itself has supplied paper and that in such cases then work of printing undertaken by the assessee was in pursuance of a works contract and the supply of paper by the assessee by itself cannot be taken to indicate that there was an agreement of a sale of a finished product. It is also the contention of the assessee's learned counsel that in all these cases the intention of the parties is the prime factor and if the intention is to get finished product of commercial value which is normally saleable in market, then the contract can be taken to the one for sale of finished product of commercial value. If, on the other hand, the intention of the parties is to get the printing work done by the assessee either utilising the paper supplied by the customer or the paper procured by the assessee itself at the customer's cost, then the bargain between the parties is only in relation to the work of printing and not in relation to the ultimate finished product. Thus the intention of the parties and the substance of the contract must be taken to be the relevant factors.

4. In the present case the disputed turnover represents substantially the turnover relating to printing of judgments, question papers, wedding cards, letter heads and bills, ledgers and binding works for certain customers. The Tribunal has, relying on the decision of the Orissa High Court in State of Orissa v. Sri D. N. Joshi [1971] 27 STC 100, held that the contract was to supply paper as well as doing printing work and the same was indivisible and that therefore the assessee was liable to pay sales tax on the entire sum. Before the Tribunal, the assessee contended that the contract should be treated as divisible, one relating to sale of paper and the other relating to supply of labour. The Tribunal, however, held that the contract is one and indivisible and therefore it should be taken to be one for sale of finished product. The Tribunal also relied on a decision of this Court in P. M. Venkatachalam Pillai v. State of Madras [1969] 23 STC 72.

5. We have gone through the decision of the Orissa High Court in State of Orissa v. Sri D. N. Joshi [1971] 27 STC 100 and also the decision of this Court in P. M. Venkatachalam Pillai v. State of Madras [1969] 23 STC 72 and we find that the decisions rendered in those cases were in relation to the peculiar facts of those cases and no general principle of law of universal application could be culled out therefrom. Therefore those decisions cannot straightaway be applied to the facts of this case. The learned Government Pleader relies on a recent decision of a Division Bench of this Court in T.C. (Revision) No. 1287 of 1977 (A. S. Hameed Bharath Press, Erode v. State of Tamil Nadu, represented by the Deputy Commercial Tax Officer, Erode North, judgment dated 21st April, 1982) [1983] 54 STC 379 : After a perusal of that judgment, we find that the decision in that case also turned on the peculiar facts of that case. As pointed by a Division Bench in P. M. Venkatachalam Pillai v. State of Madras [1969] 23 STC 72 :

'The primary point to bear in mind in such cases is what is the intention of the parties viewing the transactions as a whole; do they intend an apportionment or view the transaction on compartmental basis as that which represents labour and that which represents sale of the materials. Different tests may be applied in answering such a question as the stage of passing of property, risk and the like. But all these tests converge towards finding out what the intention of the parties is.'

6. If the intention of the bargain between the parties is taken as conclusive factor, then the assessee in this case cannot be taken to have sold the wedding cards, bill books, question papers, account books, etc, which have been printed specially for particular persons. As a matter of fact, the finished product supplied by the assessee to a particular customer cannot be sold in the marker to any other person and it has not much commercial value. Under similar circumstances, a Division Bench of this Court has held in Deputy Commissioner (C.T.), Coimbatore Division v. Karkhikeya Press [1982] 51 STC 28 following the decision of the Kerala High Court in Sales Tax Officer, Special Circle II, Palghat v. I. V. Somasundaram [1974] 33 STC 68 that transactions of this nature can only be taken, if at all, as constituting two contracts, (1) for then sake of paper and (2) for the supply of labour; and that even if the assessee is taken to have sold paper to the customer, that sale being a second sale will not be taxable in the hands of the printer. This decision directly applies to the facts of this case. The Kerala High Court in the decision referred to above has taken the view that printing of letter heads, judgments of courts and ration cards using the assessee's paper is only in the nature of works contract.

7. In State of Tamil Nadu v. Anandam Viswanathan [1977] 39 STC 226, a Division Bench of this Court has taken the view that printing to question papers for educational institutions cannot be taken to be a contract of sale of a finished product and in the nature of things, such a contract can only be a contract for labour. Having regard to the preponderance of judicial opinion, we hold that the disputed turnover in this case has to be treated not as one of finished product, but as one relating to works contract.

8. The tax case is therefore allowed and the orders of the Tribunal as well as the authorities below are set aside. There will be no order as to costs.


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