(1) The State is the appellant. The appeals are against the judgment of Veeraswami J., by which he directed writs of mandamus to issue against the Commercial Tax Officer and the Deputy Commissioner for Commercial taxes in the following circumstances. The two petitioners before he learned Judge, the respondents here, are manufacturers of Vanaspati. The writ petitioner, the Mettur Chemical and Industrial Corporation, also manufacturers soap. For the manufacture of either articles groundnut oil is essential. In the case of certain commodities, sales of which are taxable under the Madras General Sales Tax Act at a single point, the Act provides that where any one of such articles is used as a component part in the manufacture of any other article liable to single point levy of tax, the sale of the first mentioned article shall be taxed at the concessional rate of one per cent only, instead of the rate specified in the First Schedule to the Act, which lists out articles liable to single point levy. Section 3(3) of the Act, which provides for the lower rate of tax indicated, contains a proviso which is in these terms:
'Provided that the provisions of the sub-section shall not apply to any sale unless the dealer selling the goods furnishes to the assessing authority in the prescribed manner a declaration duly filled in and signed by the dealer to whom the goods are sold and containing the prescribed particulars in a prescribed form obtained from the prescribed authority'.
Both vegetable oil (Serial No. 20) and vegetable products (Serial No. 45) and soaps (Serial No. 37) find place in the First Schedule. The requirement of the section and the proviso referred to call upon the dealer who sells either he uses groundnut oil, to furnish a declaration in the prescribed form. In such an event, the sale of vegetable oil, which is normally subject to a 3 per cent rate of tax at a single point is taxed in these circumstances only at one per cent. The petitioners in the two cases applied to the appropriate authority for being supplied with the requisite blank forms. The relevant rule is Rule 22 of the Madras General Sales Tax Rules. Broadly stated this rule requires that the declaration shall be furnished in a particular form, and a blank declaration form should be obtained only from the assessing authority on application. The relevant declaration has to be filled in by the selling dealer and this has to be attached to the return of turnover of the assessee. The form itself is merely a declaration by the purchasing dealer (of groundnut oil in the present case) certifying that the goods purchases by him are for use by him as a component part of other goods specified in Sch. I. As stated already, the petitioners applied to the appropriate authority for the prescribed blank declaration forms. The Commercial Tax Officer refused to supply the forms, expressing his view that the raw materials used in the manufacture of the goods mentioned by the petitioner go in 'as ingredients in the manufacture and do not form separable component parts of such goods. The concession under sub-section (3) of S. 3 is not, therefore, applicable in such cases', and this order of the Commercial Tax Officer was concurred in by the Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes. It was the refusal of supply the forms that led to the filing of the writ petitions.
(2) Veeraswami J., examined the matter on merits and took the view that the concession would be available to the petitioners, who manufactured either vanaspati or soap with the use of groundnut oil as a component part thereof, and in that view directed the issue of writs.
(3) In appeal learned counsel for the appellant State sought to canvass the correctness of the interpretation of S. 3(3) of the Act. It seems to us, however, that in the light of the limited relief that was interpretation of the proviso to S. 3(3) of the Act. The short question which the learned Judge had to decide was whether in the light of the rules as they stand the department is entitled to refuse the supply of blank declaration forms to an assessee, and whether at this stage when an application for the supply of declaration forms is made, the assessing authority has the jurisdiction to determine whether the goods proposed to be manufactured by the appellant-assessee are goods in which the other goods would form component parts or not.
(4) It seems to us that the Departmental Officials have wholly misconceived the extent of their jurisdiction at the stage at which they were called upon to deal with the matter. Section 3(3) is in very wide terms. There are over 60 items listed in the first Schedule which are subject to the single point levy of tax. One or more of the goods may be capable of being used in the manufacture of other goods mentioned in the same schedule. Before the goods are manufactured goods. It is at this stage that the assessee has to furnish a certificate in Form XVII to the dealer from whom he purchases such raw material and it is to enable him to make the purchase that he certificate has to be prepared and handed over to the selling dealer. Whether or not the confessional rate of tax would be available in respect of the sale of that raw material would be a matter to be considered at the time of the assessment of the turnover of the selling dealer. The mere issue of a blank declaration form to be used by the assessee, which blank form is supplied by the department, does not for the mere reason that the department supplies the form, determine the question that the transaction for the concessional rate of tax. Reading R. 22, it is abundantly clear that a dealer when he obtains the blank declaration form is only expressing an intention that he proposes to manufacture the goods such as would come within the scope of S. 3(3). The form itself does not specify that he should at that stage certify to the nature of the particular goods that he proposes to manufacture. The certificate is merely a broad statement that he goods which he purchases are for use in the manufacture of other goods contained in the first schedule. The dealer is not expected to give any more particulars specifying the goods which he intends top manufacture out of the goods that he purchases. The form being so worded, it is difficulty to see how the assessing authority can be deemed to have been conferred with jurisdiction to decide even at that stage that the manufacture of goods A with the use of goods B would not bring the case within the scope of S. 3(3). As we said, the determination of the quantum of tax that has to be imposed, whether under S. 3(1), 3(2) or 3(3), is a matter which is essentially a part of the assessment proceeding, and cannot be exercised at any earlier stage, unless the rules specially require that to be done. It seems to us accordingly that he departmental officials were in error in pronouncing upon the validity of possible future claims which might be made by the assessee at the stage when he was merely asking for a form of declaration and nothing more.
(5) While we agree with the conclusion reached by Veeraswami J., that Writs of Mandamus should issue in these cases, we reach that conclusion on a different line of reasoning. In our opinion, it was not necessary for the learned Judge to have determined in the course of these writ proceedings whether the sale of vegetable oil, which went into the manufacture of vanaspati or soap would be eligible for the concessional rate of tax. Subject to these observations, we dismiss the writ appeals with costs. Counsel's fee one set Rs. 100.
(6) Appeal dismissed.