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The State of Tamil Nadu Vs. Eastern Acquatic Traders - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberTax Case No. 735 of 1983 (Revision No. 235 of 1983)
Judge
Reported in[1985]58STC151(Mad)
ActsCentral Sales Tax Act - Sections 5(3) and 8(3); Central Sales Tax Rules - Rule 13
AppellantThe State of Tamil Nadu
RespondentEastern Acquatic Traders
Advocates:K.S. Bakthavatsalam, Additional Government Pleader
Cases ReferredMadras v. Ceyvere Southern Inc.
Excerpt:
sales tax - export - sections 5 (3) and 8 (3) of central sales tax act, 1956 and rule 13 of central sales tax rules - assessee purchased frog legs and processed them for purpose of export - assessee claimed exemption under section 5 (3) - department denied exemption on ground that commodity purchased and exported were not same - process of cutting cleaning and freezing frog legs did not result into different commodity - commodity continued to be frog legs - assessee entitled for exemption under section 5 (3). - - we have to, therefore, hold that the process of cutting, cleaning and freezing and the like did not result in the frog legs being treated as a commercially different product and that even after the process of cutting, cleaning of freezing, they continued to be frog legs......last purchases are not liable to be exempted. 2. the assessees in this case effected purchases of frog legs for rs. 2,56,509.00 and they claimed exemption under section 5(3) of the central sales tax act. the assessing authority found that the goods were not actually exported to foreign country by the assessees and that therefore they were not entitled to claim the exemption. on appeal, the appellate assistant commissioner also held that the goods were not actually exported, but had been moved from this state to another state and the assessees being the last purchasers of the goods in question, the assessing authority had rightly assessed the purchase turnover of the assessees at 5 per cent. the assessees took the matter in appeal to the sales tax appellate tribunal contending that the.....
Judgment:

Ramanujam, J.

1. The question that has been canvassed in this tax case is whether the goods purchased by the assessees and the goods exported by them are two commercially different articles so that the Revenue can say that since the same goods have not been exported, the last purchases are not liable to be exempted.

2. The assessees in this case effected purchases of frog legs for Rs. 2,56,509.00 and they claimed exemption under section 5(3) of the Central Sales Tax Act. The assessing authority found that the goods were not actually exported to foreign country by the assessees and that therefore they were not entitled to claim the exemption. On appeal, the Appellate Assistant Commissioner also held that the goods were not actually exported, but had been moved from this State to another State and the assessees being the last purchasers of the goods in question, the assessing authority had rightly assessed the purchase turnover of the assessees at 5 per cent. The assessees took the matter in appeal to the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal contending that the frog legs purchased by them had been exported through their exporting agents, Messrs. Associated Food Packers, and that therefore they should be taken to have exported the goods. The Tribunal, after going through the facts put forward by the assessees and the Revenue, held that since the assessees had moved the goods to Cochin and thereafter exported, they should be taken to be the last purchasers in the State of Tamil Nadu.

3. Before the Tribunal, the Revenue filed and enhancement petition contending that the frog legs purchased by the assessees and those which were ultimately exported were differed goods and that therefore the assessees could not claim that their purchase turnover was exempt under section 5(3) of the Central Sales Tax Act. The Tribunal rejected the claim of the Revenue that the frog legs purchased by the assessees and those which were exported by them were different commodities. In that view the Tribunal rejected the enhancement petition filed by the Revenue.

4. Before us, the learned Government Pleader reiterates the same contentions as were urged before the Tribunal. According to him, the frog legs purchased by the assessees have not been sold in the condition in which they were purchased, that subsequent to the purchase, the frog legs have been cut, cleaned and freezed, thus undergoing a process, and that this process should be taken to have brought about a change. In support of the said submission, the learned Government Pleader refers to the following passage in Chowgule & Co. P. Ltd. v. Union of India : 1985ECR263(SC) :

'It still remains to consider whether the ore blended in the course of loading through the mechanical ore handling plant can be said to undergo processing when it is blended. The answer to this question depends upon what is the true meaning and connotation of the word 'processing' in section 8(3)(b) and rule 13. This word has not been defined in the Act and it must therefore be interpreted according to its plain natural meaning. Webster's Dictionary gives the following meaning of the word 'process' : 'to subject to some special process or treatment, to subject (especially raw material) to a process of manufacture, development or preparation for the market, etc., to convert into marketable form as livestock by slaughtering, grain by milling, cotton by spinning, milk by pasteurising, fruits and vegetable by sorting and repacking'. Where therefore any commodity is subjected to a process or treatment with a view to its 'development or preparation for the market', as, for example, by sorting and repacking fruits and vegetables, it would amount to processing of the commodity within the meaning of section 8(3)(b) and rule 13. The nature and extent of processing may vary from case to case; in one case the processing may be slight and in another it may be extensive; but with each process suffered, the commodity would experience a change. Wherever a commodity undergoes a change as a result of some operation performed on it or in regard to it, such operation would amount to processing of the commodity. The nature and extent of the change is not material. It may be that camphor powder may just be compressed into camphor cubes by application of mechanical force or pressure without addition or admixture of any other material and yet the operation would amount to processing of camphor powder as held by the Calcutta High Court in Sri Om Prakas Gupta v. Commissioner of Commercial Taxes [1965] 16 STC 935. What is necessary in order to characterise an operation as 'processing' is that the commodity must, as a result of the operation, experience some change.'

5. Thus the attempt of the learned Government Pleader is to establish that when the goods undergo the process of cutting, cleaning and freezing, they undergo some change, and that therefore the goods purchased should be taken to have undergone change before they were actually sold for export. It is no doubt true that in the present case the evidence is that the frog legs had been cut, cleaned and freezed before they were actually sold for export. Even if the treatment given to the frog legs purchased, which is more in the nature of a minimum preservative process, can be taken to be 'processing', the question still to be considered is, whether the goods purchased have undergone such a change as to result in the conversion of the goods purchased into a commercially different commodity. The question before us is not as to whether any change is brought about in the nature and character of the goods by the operation of cutting, cleaning and freezing but whether in the above process the goods have been converted into a commercially different article. We are not in a position to say that the frog legs which have been cut, cleaned and freezed have ceased to be frog legs after the above process. Unless the goods which have undergone a process become commercially a different commodity the Revenue cannot say that the assessees have purchased one article, but exported a different article and therefore they cannot claim exemption on the ground that their sales are in the course of export. As a matter of fact in Chowgule & Co. P. Ltd. v. Union of India : 1985ECR263(SC) referred to already, the Supreme Court has referred to its earlier decision in Deputy Commissioner of Sales Tax v. Pio Food Packers : 1980(6)ELT343(SC) in which the Court has pointed out as follows :

'Commonly, manufacture is the end result of one or more processes through which the original commodity is made to pass. The nature and extent of processing may vary from one case to another, and indeed there may be several stages of processing and perhaps a different kind of processing at each stage. With each process suffered, the original commodity experiences a change. But it is only when the change, or a series of changes, take the commodity to the point where commercially it can no longer be regarded as the original commodity but instead is recognised as a new and distinct article that a manufacture can be said to take place.'

6. After referring to the said decision, the Supreme Court in Chowgule & Co. P. Ltd. v. Union of India : 1985ECR263(SC) proceeds to say as follows :

'The test that is required to be applied is : does the processing of the original commodity bring into existence a commercially different and distinct commodity On an application of this test, it is clear that the blending of different qualities of ore possessing differing chemical and physical composition so as to produce ore of the contractual specifications cannot be said to involve the process of manufacture, since the ore that is produced cannot be regarded as a commercially new and distinct commodity from the ore of different specifications blended together. What is produced as a result of blending is commercially the same article, namely, ore, though with different specifications than the ore which is blended and hence it cannot be said that any process of manufacture is involved in blending of ore.'

7. The test that is required to be applied in the present case is to see whether the processing of frog legs has brought into existence a commercially different and distinct commodity. Even if the from legs have undergone some process, can they be regarded as commercially new and distinct commodity Here the decision of the Supreme Court in Chowgule & Co. P. Ltd. v. Union of India : 1985ECR263(SC) does not support the stand taken by the Revenue. On the other hand it supports the view taken by the Tribunal that the frog legs, even after the process, have not been converted into a commercially different commodity. As a matter of fact, following the decision of the Supreme Court in Deputy Commissioner of Sales Tax v. Pio Food Packers : 1980(6)ELT343(SC) this Court in T.C. No. 1049 of 1980, State of Tamil Nadu represented by Additional Deputy Commissioner (CT), Madras Division, Madras v. Ceyvere Southern Inc., Kilpauk, Madras-10 [1983] 52 STC 328, held that merely because that lobsters purchased by the assessees in that case were subjected to some process before sale, they could not be said to have become a commercially different commodity and that those lobsters, even after the process, retained their original character, as the same commercial commodity. We have to, therefore, hold that the process of cutting, cleaning and freezing and the like did not result in the frog legs being treated as a commercially different product and that even after the process of cutting, cleaning of freezing, they continued to be frog legs.

8. In this view of the matter, the view taken by the Tribunal appears to be right, and we feel that no interference is called for. The tax case is accordingly dismissed.


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