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L.M.S. Sadak Thamby and Co. Vs. the Appellate Assistant Commissioner of Commercial Taxes I - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax;Constitution
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberW.P. Nos. 1602 of 1966, 653, 722, 723, 789 to 792, 927, 1079 to 1087, 1939, 1940, 1952 to 1955, 2984
Judge
Reported in[1969]24STC468(Mad)
AppellantL.M.S. Sadak Thamby and Co.
RespondentThe Appellate Assistant Commissioner of Commercial Taxes I
Appellant AdvocateR. Kesava Iyengar, Adv. for ;K. Yamunan and ;C. Samhandamurthy, Advs., ;K.K. Venugopal, ;I. Subramaniam, ;K. Srinivasan, Advs. for ;John Thomas and ;K.D. John, Advs. ;I. Subramaniam, ;K. Srinivasan, A
Respondent AdvocateS. Mohan, Assistant Government Pleader
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredState of Madras v. NarayanaswmiNaidu
Excerpt:
- - 7. the state has in its supplementary counter-affidavit placed before us enough material, which according to it, throws abundant light on the fact that the legislature applied its mind to the imposition of the varying rates on raw hides and dressed hides and being satisfied about the need and justification, prescribed the same. 11. an effort has been made to contend, and in our view unsuccessfully, that raw hides and skins and dressed hides and skins are one and the same commodity. there is no good reason why the legislature be not attributed the same intention when it enacted the 1939 act especially when there are other reasons also to point to the same conclusion. even independently scrutinising section 14 of the central sales tax act, section 4 of the madras act and item 7 of.....ramaprasada rao, j.1. in this batch of writ petitions the substantial question raised is about the validity of serial no. 7(b) in the second schedule to the madras general sales tax act, 1959, and in particular it is stated that the parenthesis included in the brackets therein, in juxtaposition to the relevant constitutional provisions, is void, ultra vires and illegal. it is sufficient if the facts in one writ petition are noticed and the contentions of the counsel dealt with so as to answer the query posed. we shall therefore proceed to state the facts in w.p. no. 927 of 1967 which are illustrative of the dealings of all the petitioners in this batch of writ petitions.2. the petitioner is a firm carrying on business in hides and skins. the firm also sells tanned hides and skins.....
Judgment:

Ramaprasada Rao, J.

1. In this batch of writ petitions the substantial question raised is about the validity of serial No. 7(b) in the Second Schedule to the Madras General Sales Tax Act, 1959, and in particular it is stated that the parenthesis included in the brackets therein, in juxtaposition to the relevant constitutional provisions, is void, ultra vires and illegal. It is sufficient if the facts in one writ petition are noticed and the contentions of the counsel dealt with so as to answer the query posed. We shall therefore proceed to state the facts in W.P. No. 927 of 1967 which are illustrative of the dealings of all the petitioners in this batch of writ petitions.

2. The petitioner is a firm carrying on business in hides and skins. The firm also sells tanned hides and skins processed from raw skins purchased by them locally and outside the State. Hides and skins, whether in raw or in tanned state, have been declared to be goods of special importance under Section 14 of the Central Sales Tax Act. Article 286(3) of the Constitution of India envisages that any law of a State in so far as it imposes or authorises the imposition of tax on the sale or purchase of declared goods shall be subject to such restrictions and conditions in regard to the system of levy, rates and other incidents of the tax as Parliament may by law specify. Section 15, while enumerating such condition or restriction referred to in Article 286(3) of the Constitution, authorises the State to levy such tax provided it shall not exceed two per cent. of the sale or purchase price thereof, and such tax shall not be levied at more than one stage. In the present situation, however, it is three per cent. Following up the embargo imposed both under the Constitution and by the specific provisions referred to above under the Central Sales Tax Act, 1956, the Madras General Sales Tax Act, 1959, in Section 4 thereto, provides:

Notwithstanding anything contained in Section 3, the tax under this Act shall be payable by a dealer on the sale or purchase inside the State of declared goods at the rate and only at the point specified against each in the Second Schedule on the turnover in such goods in each year, whatever be the quantum of turnover in that year.

3. The Second Schedule to the local Act, dealing with declared goods, specifies the point at which sales tax is leviable on declared goods and the rate of levy. Dealing with hides and skins, it provides, under item 7(a) thereto, that raw hides and skins are taxable at the point of last purchase in the State at two per cent., and under item 7(b), dressed hides and skins (which were not subjected to tax under this Act as raw hides and skins) at the point of first sale in the State at one per cent. The rate has however been changed progressively to 3 per cent. and 1 per cent. respectively.

4. In the light of the above provisions enabling the State to levy sales tax on declared goods, the petitioner's case is that in following up the restrictions and conditions high-lighted by Article 286(3) of the Constitution, the Madras General Sales Tax Act, while imposing the levy on hides and skins in the manner stated above, has purported to ignore the intendment of such restrictions. The petitioner's case is that raw and tanned hides and skins ought to be treated as one single commodity and is liable to only a single point levy of tax. According to them, item 7 of the Second Schedule to the State Act has not concentrated on the policy of levying tax at a single point, but on the contrary fixed two points one by item 7(a) read with the proviso to item 7(b) on the said commodity which is subjected to tax in the raw state, that is, tanned from raw skins purchased within the State, and another item 7(b) of the said tanned commodity which is not subjected to tax in the raw state, that is, tanned from raw skins purchased from outside the State. The petitioner's case is, as it is imperative that hides and skins can be taxed only at a common uniform single point and as both tanned skins and dressed skins retain their indivisible character, the differential treatment prima facie meted out by the text of items 7(a) and 7(b) leads to an unhealthy classification without any basis whatsoever. According to them, one single commodity is liable to one single mode of taxation only and the same class of goods should be subjected to the same mode of taxation. The differential based on the raw state of the declared goods and the dressed state of such goods is by itself a classification without substance and savours of arbitrariness. It is also urged that the difference between the value of the raw commodity and the tanned commodity is only about 30 per cent. and hence the rate of taxation is disproportionate and hence discriminatory and void. Expatiating this contention it is stated that a higher amount of tax is imposed in the case of raw hides at 2 per cent. or 3 per cent., as the case may be, as compared to the lesser amount of tax imposed in the dressed state at 1 per cent, or 1 per cent., as the case may be. This is said to be violative of Article 301 of the Constitution.

5. Article 14 of the Constitution is also invoked to sustain the contention that dealers in raw hides and skins and dressed hides and skins being alike, any imposition resulting in an unequal burden is violative of the said article. The petitioner submits that such unjustified and discriminatory taxation offends the right of the petitioner to purchase and sell tanned skins processed by him from raw skins purchased within the State and carry on his trade in the said commodity within the State on his paying tax which is not imposed on similar tanned commodity processed from raw skins purchased outside the State, thereby giving an unfair and unjust advantage to the dealers in the latter and is therefore an unreasonable restriction. In conclusion the petitioner seeks the relief of declaration that the proviso in the brackets in item 7(b) read with item 7(a) of the Second Schedule to the Madras General Sales Tax Act, 1959, is ultra vires of the Constitution and of no effect and prays for incidental and consequential reliefs. In essence he wishes that this court, in exercise of its extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226, should quash the order of the second respondent who has imposed the levy in the manner suggested above and has brought to tax such taxable turnovers under the head of raw hides and skins and dressed hides and skins and levied the rates as prescribed under the Second Schedule to the Act.

6. The State while stating that the petitioners cannot seek the remedy under the Constitution, as they have not exhausted the other alternative and effective remedies available under the Madras General Sales Tax Act, 1959, hereinafter called the Madras Act, however answered the contentions as follows : The case of the revenue is that providing alternative points in respect of raw hides and tanned hides under the Madras Act is valid, and in fixing such alternative points for such goods neither the provisions of the Central Sales Tax Act, 1956, nor any of the provisions of the Constitution has been violated. Raw hides and skins and dressed hides and skins are different commodities and in order to ensure that the tax should be equal in the case of hides and skins in raw or tanned state and in order to subserve the intendment and ratio of the Supreme Court decisions, this specific point as prescribed in the Second Schedule in relation to hides and skins has been fixed alternatively and even the rate of tax has been fixed with a view to maintain equality in taxation. In fact, the details which the petitioners submitted in order to substantiate their case of discrimination, were met by the revenue by stating that the value of the tanned hides and skins and the value of the dressed hides and skins were considered at a very high level, and in particular by an expert committee headed by Dr. Loganathan, and it was found and indeed accepted by the merchant community that the turnover involved in the case of sale of dressed hides and skins is double that involved in the case of raw hides and skins. Answering the contention that the levy and the rates imposed violate either Article 301 or Article 304, the revenue's case is that Article 304 has no reference to sales tax legislation and no question of violation of Article 301 arises in the instant cases. Tanned hides and skins, once they are tanned and visibly available in the taxing State, there would be no limitation on the powers of the State to tax a sale of such goods found within its jurisdiction. The tax imposed not being a tax on the movement of goods and not even reflective of any intention to impose a restriction on freedom of trade in the territory of India, no question of violation of Article 304 or Article 301 would arise. The State Legislature derives the power to levy tax on the sale of goods of whatever kind under Article 246 of the Constitution of India read with entry 54, List II, of the State List to the Seventh Schedule, and not by virtue of either Section 14 or Section 15 of the Central Sales Tax Act which obviously lay down only certain restrictions and conditions in the exercise of that power. Lastly it is stated that the points fixed relatively to raw hides and skins and dressed hides and skins are not with respect to the origin of the goods, but with respect to a single point available to the State in the circumstances of the case and that point so fixed in item 7 of the Second Schedule to the Madras Act would apply irrespective of the place of origin of the goods. Regarding the rate it is stated that the Legislature having accepted the recommendations of the expert committee and being an echo of the voice of the Chambers of Commerce which were also consulted, it is not open to the petitioners to lightly contend that the rates themselves are indicative of unequal burden.

7. The State has in its supplementary counter-affidavit placed before us enough material, which according to it, throws abundant light on the fact that the Legislature applied its mind to the imposition of the varying rates on raw hides and dressed hides and being satisfied about the need and justification, prescribed the same. The State repudiates a few self-serving instances quoted by the petitioners in this batch of writ petitions to sustain their averment that the proportion of 1 is to 2 fixed under item 7 of the Second Schedule to the Madras Act between raw hides and dressed hides is disproportionate. In any event as raw hides and skins are different from tanned hides and skins, the submissions about discrimination are absolutely meritless as the fundamental essence of discrimination is that similar goods have been dissimilarly dealt with by the fiscal laws.

8. To appreciate the contentions of the parties it is necessary to have a resume, but briefly, about the history of taxation of these declared goods, in particular hides and skins ever since 1939. Under the Madras General Sales Tax Act, 1939, and under Rule 16 of the Madras General Sales Tax (Turnover and Assessment) Rules, 1939, a formula was laid by which hides and skins were to be taxed. The said rule was struck down as invalid for reasons which we need not advert to. Later, in 1955, a new rule was substituted, the legality and constitutionality of which came up for consideration before the Supreme Court in A.T.B. Mehtab Majid and Co. v. State ofMadras [1963] 14 S.T.C. 355. Under the said rule, in one of the clauses thereto, a dealer in hides and skins which have been tanned outside the State, has to pay a tax on the amount for which such hides and skins are sold by him. In another clause under the same rule and dealing with the sale of tanned hides and skins which have been tanned within the State, the tax was levied from the person who is the first dealer in such hides and skins and was levied on the amount for which they are sold. The proviso to the rule, however, was to the effect that if the dealer of hides and skins which had been tanned within the State proves that tax had already been levied on those hides and skins in their raw condition, he will not be liable to tax under one or the other of the clauses referred to above. In those circumstances, the Supreme Court, while upholding the contention of the petitioner that the rule offended Article 304(a) of the Constitution, observed :

If the dealer has purchased the raw hide or skin in the State, he does not pay on the sale price of the tanned hides or skins; he pays on the purchase price only. If the dealer purchases raw hides or skins from outside the State and tans them within the State, he will be liable to pay sales tax on the sale price of the tanned hides or skins. He too will have to pay more for tax even though the hides and skins are tanned within the State, merely on account of his having imported the hides and skins from outside, and having not therefore paid any tax under Sub-rule (1) ...We are therefore of opinion that the provisions of Rule 16(2) discriminate against the imported hides or skins which had been purchased or tanned outside the State and that therefore they contravene the provisions of Article 304(a) of the Constitution.

9. By a later enactment, namely, the Madras General Sales Tax (Special Provisions) Act, 1963, this state of affairs was attempted to be remedied. This Section was again the subject-matter of attack and ultimately in Hajee Abdul Shukoor & Co. v. State ofMadras [1964] 15 S.T.C. 719 the Supreme Court held that Sub-section (1) of Section 2 of the Madras General Sales Tax (Special Provisions) Act, 1963, was invalid as violating Article 304(a) of the Constitution, this time on the ground that the rate of tax on the sale of tanned hides and skins was higher than that on the sale of untanned hides and skins. Again, therefore, the Legislature had to intervene and enact the Madras General Sales Tax (Special Provisions) Act, 1964. The validity of the charging Section, Section 2 of the 1964 Act as above was assailed in this court in W.P. Nos. 3536 and 3537 of1965 (Since reported as A. Hajee Abdul Shukoor and Ors. v. The special deputy commercial tax officer (hides and Skins) II, Vellore, and Ors. [1969] 23 S.T.C. 455 etc., where we held :

It seems to us that if the object was only rectification and to bring about equality in the burden on inter-State transactions in hides and skins the legislation should perhaps have taken the form of a tax on the turnover of the first sale of dressed hides and skins and an allowance of rebate of tax proportionate to the difference in rates to equalise the inter and intra-State burden of tax. Section 2(1) of the 1964 Act as it stands ostensibly applies the rate to sale turnover but factually and in substance brings to charge the turnover of outside or inter-State purchase. To our minds, it is impossible to deny such an impost directly impinges on the outside or inter-State sale which the State is inhibited from taxing...We hold, therefore, that Section 2(1) of the Madras General Sales Tax (Special Provisions) Act, 1964, offends Article 286 of the Constitution and is void and unenforceable in so far as it directs the assessment of rate for the first sale on the amount for which the corresponding untanned goods were last purchased outside the State or in the course of inter-State trade, commerce and intercourse.

10. It is in the background of this course of litigation that the present writ petitions have been filed. We may at once dispose of the contentions of the petitioners that the scheme as envisaged in the Second Schedule to the Madras Act in so far as it relates to item 7 thereto offends either Article 301 or Article 304 of the Constitution. In our view, Article 304 cannot be invoked. There is no inhibition in the matter of inter-State movement of the goods which are the subject-matter of sales tax under the relevant items as above. Article 301 guarantees in general freedom of trade and commerce throughout the territory of India. A fair reading of the provisions of the Madras Act with particular reference to item 7 of the Second Schedule cannot lead to the inference that trade, commerce and intercourse which ought to be free throughout the territory of India is in any way impeded by working the taxing provisions as above and in relation to hides and skins. We are not impressed with the argument that the scheme of taxation as above and contained in item 7 of the Second Schedule to the Madras Act is violative of Article 304 either. It is undeniable that the State has plenary powers under Article 246(3) read with List II of the State List to the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution to levy a tax on sale of goods. In the instant cases what is sought to be taxed is a sale of raw hides and skins and a sale of dressed hides and skins. Both the commodities are inside the territorial limits of the State when they were brought to tax or made exigible to tax by the taxing authorities. When once the goods, whether declared or otherwise, become the goods in the taxing State, one cannot visualise any limitation on the powers of the State Legislature under Article 246(3) to impose such sales tax. What is prohibited under Article 304 is a restriction on the movement of goods from one State to the other. No doubt, the Legislature is authorised to impose reasonable restrictions so as to regulate inter-State trade and commerce. But this is made subject to Central control. Obviously the intention is to avoid local enthusiasm and provincialism. Such considerations do not enter into the discussion at all in the instant cases, because it is not in dispute that what is taxed is goods, whether in the raw state or in the dressed state, inside the State and such situs of the goods having been located, it does not lie in the mouth of the petitioners to contend that a tax on such cited goods is beyond the powers of the State Legislature, No question of tax on the movement or restriction of inter-State trade arises for consideration in the instant cases. Therefore we are unable to accede to the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioners that the imposition in question offends in any manner Article 304 or any limbs thereto.

11. An effort has been made to contend, and in our view unsuccessfully, that raw hides and skins and dressed hides and skins are one and the same commodity. In Hajee Abdul Shukoor & Co. v. State of Madras, [1964]15 S.T.C. 719 the Supreme Court negatived this contention. In fact, in that case the attention of the Supreme Court was drawn to the decision of a Division Bench of this court in Abdul Subhan and Co. v. State of Madras, [1960] 11 S.T.C. 173 where the learned Judges of this court observed :

Section 14(3) of the Central Sales Tax Act, 1956 (Act 74 of 1956) also treats hides and skins, whether dressed or raw, as a single commodity.... Since skins, tanned or untanned, constitute only one class of goods, and the sale of that class of goods can be taxed only at a single point, obviously there can be no tax on a sale of tanned goods, if tax has already been paid on an earlier transaction when those skins were untanned.

12. Said the Supreme Court while considering the above observation of this court:

No reason is given why the two kinds of hides and skins are treated as a single commodity.

13. The Supreme Court proceeded to observe as follows :

The fact that certain articles are mentioned under the same heading in a statute or the Constitution does not mean that they all constitute one commodity. The inclusion of several articles under the same heading may be for a reason other than that the articles constitute one and the same thing.

In this connection we may refer to the Madras General Sales Tax Act, 1959. Section 4 of this Act provides that the sales tax on the sale or purchase of declared goods will be payable at the rate and only at the point specified against each article in the Second Schedule.

The Second Schedule refers to raw hides and skins separately from dressed hides and skins against serial No. 7. The rate of tax is different and so is the point at which the tax is to be levied. This will indicate that in 1959 the Legislature in Madras considered raw hides and skins a different commodity from dressed hides and skins. There is no good reason why the Legislature be not attributed the same intention when it enacted the 1939 Act especially when there are other reasons also to point to the same conclusion.

We therefore hold that raw hides and skins and dressed hides and skins constitute different commodities or merchandise and they could therefore be treated as different goods for the purposes of the Act.

14. The excerpt as above indeed throws considerable light on the point at issue whether raw hides and skins and dressed hides and skins are two different commodities, The Supreme Court in the above case did not only consider the provisions of the Constitution and the provisions of the Central Sales Tax Act, but also the provisions of the Madras Act with particular reference to serial No. 7 and expressed the view candidly that the Madras Legislature considered raw hides and skins a different commodity from dressed hides and skins. They have also incidentally noticed how the rate of tax though on different commodities may result in discrimination, under peculiar circumstances. This case, therefore, is an authority to hold that the point at which the tax has been levied by the Legislature onthe goods in question, namely, raw hides and skins and tanned hides and skins, is different and so is the rate, and such a scheme in fact had the approval of the Supreme Court when it. made the observations as above. Such an unhesitating inference by the Supreme Court, after noticing the provisions of the Central Sales Tax Act. and that of the Madras Act, which effectually dichotomise raw hides and skins from dressed hides and skins, having been made, it is not open to the petitioners to contend otherwise. We are also unable to analyse subjectively the raison d'etre behind the conclusion of the Supreme Court. Even independently scrutinising Section 14 of the Central Sales Tax Act, Section 4 of the Madras Act and item 7 of the Second Schedule to the Madras Act, we are not persuaded to accept the contention of the petitioners that the scheme of the Central as well as the local Legislatures is to treat both the commodities as one and similar. Our conclusion is that raw hides and skins and dressed hides and skins are distinct and dissimilar commodities.

15. If therefore raw hides and skins are different from dressed hides and skins, and in consequence they are distinct commodities, then ordinarily no question of discrimination can arise, while such goods are meted out with differential treatment by a fiscal law. It would therefore normally follow that the patent distinction so maintained by the Madras Act in item 7 of the Second Schedule thereto, is quite justified. The argument however is that because of the differential rate of levy of sales tax on those commodities, though distinct, results in discrimination. Discrimination in the abstract is unknown and it always rests on proved facts and accepted details. Such details were called for in the course of the hearing, and statements were filed by both sides in support of their respective pleas. Whereas the petitioners would urge that the imbalance in rate is not commensurate with the proportion of the sale price of the two commodities, the revenue's case is that the differential rate is well founded. Strong reliance is placed by the petitioners on the ratio of the Supreme Court in Hajee Abdul Shukoor & Co. v. State of Madras, [1964] 15 S.T.C. 719 where the court noticed discrimination on account of the fact that

the rate of tax on the sale of tanned hides and skins is 2 per cent, on the purchase price of those hides and skins in the untanned condition while the rate of tax on the sale of raw hides and skins in the State during 1955 to 1957 is 3 paise per rupee. The difference in tax works out to 7/1600th of a rupee, i.e., a little less than 1/2 naya paisa per rupee. Such a discrimination would affect thetaxation....

16. Hajee Abdul Shukoor & Co. v. State of Madras [1964] 15 S.T.C. 719 closely followed A.T.B. Mehtab Majid & Co. v. State ofMadras [1963] 14 S.T.C. 355. In the latter case the petitioner's specific case was :

(a) The tax on tanned hides and skins imported from outside the State is levied at twice or almost 75 per cent. more than the tax on tanned hides and skins tanned within the State, by reason of the fact that the latter tanned hides and skins are liable to pay in effect the sales tax only on the purchase value of the untanned hides and skins which necessarily is far lower than the value of the hides and skins there from.

17. Upon this their Lordships of the Supreme Court observed as follows:

If the quantum of tax had been the same, there might have been no case for grievance by the dealer of the tanned hides and skins which had been tanned outside the State. The grievance arises on account of the amount of tax levied being different on account of the existence of a substantial disparity in the price of the raw hides or skins and of those hides or skins after they had been tanned, though the rate is the same under Section 3(1)(b) of the Act.

18. This leads us to the factual determination of this aspect of the case, whether the quantum of tax, in the ultimate analysis, secured by sales of these two different commodities are the same. A reference to the particulars furnished by the petitioners in this behalf is not useful, as the percentage therein is hoplessly varying from tanner to tanner and as they are obviously self-serving. Even the statements given by the revenue cannot be solely relied upon to arrive at a conclusion. In such a fascicule the report of the expert committee and that of the Chambers of Commerce who were consulted before the rate of tax was fixed under the Madras Act, become relevant and are instructive.

19. Dr. P.S. Loganathan, the then Director-General, National Council of Applied Economics Research, New Delhi, was requested to submit a report on the simplification and improvement of the sales tax system in Madras. In his report, and dealing with declared goods, he recommended a rate of 2 per cent, on raw skins and a rate of 1 per cent. on the last sale of dressed skins. These recommendations were considered by the Select Committee which took up for consideration the Madras Sales Tax Bill, 1958, the forerunner to the present Act. Before the Select Committee, the Tamil Chamber of Commerce and the Southern India Chamber of Commerce made representations. The substance of the memorandum so submitted by the Chambers of Commerce was that a maximum levy of 1 per cent, on the purchase of raw hides and skins and per cent. in respect of sales of dressed hides and skins was apparently felt to be justified, adequate and satisfactory to the trade. It is after taking into consideration the expert report and the representations of the trade, that the Legislature after duly applying its mind and after prompt discussion on the floor of the House, prescribed the rate of 2 per cent. for purchases of raw hides and skins and 1 per cent. on the sale of dressed hides and skins. No doubt, the present rate is 3 per cent. and 1 per cent. The proportion however remains the same. It is noteworthy to find that the Legislature has in fact adopted the percentage which the trade itself wanted to fix over the two different commodities in question, one at the point of purchase and the other at the point of sale. A perusal of the particulars furnished by the petitioners does not bear out the vehement contention of the learned counsel for the petitioners that the differentia] levy is unjustified and throws an unequal burden upon persons similarly placed. In fact, there are cases in the statement of particulars given by the petitioners themselves wherein the percentage appears to be 100 to 213.

20. It may be a solitary instance, but yet it belies the factual contention of the petitioners that the differential levy has no bearing to reality. The Supreme Court has already given the lead in A.T.B. Mehtab Majid & Co. v. State of Madras [1963] 14 S.T.C. 355. that if the quantum of tax had been the same there might have been no grievance. That is the state of affairs here. As the question of discrimination is essentially one to be decided on the merits of each case, we are not satisfied that the differential levy at the two different and distinct points prescribed in item 7 of the Second Schedule to the Madras Act relating to raw hides and skins and dressed hides and skins can factually be said to be discriminatory from any point of view. It is not open to the petitioners to by-pass the express representations made by their Chambers of Commerce which is a representative body. Even the report of the expert committee cannot lightly be brushed aside. The particulars furnished by them do not outweigh the normal inference that has to be drawn in this case that the differential rate imposes no unequal burden on persons in the trade under consideration. We have already said that the discussion whether there is any discrimination at all is purely academic as the goods in question have to be treated as different goods, and if they are different, the Legislature has the right to impose different rates of tax. The simple formula now adopted by the Legislature is that raw hides are to be taxed at the purchase stage and dressed hides and skins are to be taxed at the sale level. But in the latter case, if such goods have suffered tax in the State as raw hides and skins, then a relief is given in the matter of rate commensurate with the material placed before the Legislature and made available by the Chambers of Commerce and such other details.

21. Such an analysis as above on the contentions raised leads on to a practical aspect. Dealers in hides and skins have, like others, the option to file monthly returns and such a method of self-assessment though acted upon is obviously an interim measure. The revenue ultimately is obliged and has indeed the right at. the end of the accounting year to finally bring to tax the transactions of a particular dealer concerned in a manner known to law. If at that particular point of time the dealer establishes that the raw hides and skins purchased by him during the accounting year were dressed and sold by him before the end of the accounting year, then the officer has no option except to tax the dressed skins on the sale point. Undue reliance cannot be placed upon the monthly returns, though they are operative as self-assessments in which the dealer might have disclosed the assessable turnover relating to the purchases of raw hides, but might also establish that some of such raw hides purchased were sold during the year as tanned hides and skins. If the dealer is able to prove the above fact with reference to his account books, then the assessing officer is obliged to revise the assessment and bring to tax 'such of those raw hides and skins as are still in stock as such with the dealer under item 7(a) and treat the rest of the stock converted into dressed skins and sold during the year under item 7(b). This is of course subject to the limitation that no purchase tax was paid in the State on raw hides and skins over sales of such goods after conversion into dressed goods. A similar principle was recognised by the Supreme Court in State of Madras v. NarayanaswmiNaidu [1968] 21 S.T.C. 1. The following observations therein are apposite :

Under Section 4 of the Act read with the Second Schedule thereto a dealer was not liable to pay tax on purchases of cotton until the purchases acquired the quality of being the last purchases inside the State. In other words, when he filed a return and declared the stock in hand, the stock in hand could not be said to have been acquired by last purchase, because he might still during the next assessment year sell it or he might himself consume it or the goods might be destroyed etc. He would be entitled to claim before the assessing authorities that the character of acquisition of the stock in hand was undetermined ; in the light of subsequent events it might or might not become the last purchase inside the State.

22. Thus, therefore, if the subsequent events which follow the monthly returns do establish that the monthly returns do not disclose the correct state of affairs, then the assessing officer is bound to take note of such true state of affairs and assess dealers.

23. In the result W. Ps. Nos. 653, 722, 723, 789 to 792, 1079 to 1087, 1939, 1940, 2984 to 2988, 3367 to 3371, 3871, 3874 and 3877 of 1967, 432, 726 to 730, 812, 825, 875, 899, 901, 902, 924, 948, 949, 981, 1297, 1544 to 1547, 1601, 1602, 1653 to 1656, 1714 to 1717, 1719, 1733, 1734, 1737, 1789 to 1792, 1855 to 1860, 1925 to 1934, 1974 to 1983, 2007, 2015 to 2018, 2037, 2045,2084,2244 to 2249, 2280, 2327, 2328, 2368 to 2371, 2675 to 2678, 2773 to 2776, 2880, 2881, 3843 and 4210 of 1968 praying for the issue of writs of prohibition are dismissed. The assessing authority will however bear in mind the principles in this judgment while disposing of the proceedings before it. There will be no order as to costs.

24. W.Ps. Nos. 1602 of 1966, 927 and 3875 of 1967, 874, 900, 1600, 1724, 2069 and 2080 of 1968 praying for the issue of writs of certiorari are dismissed. If it becomes necessary, the assessing authority will reassess at the instance of the assessee in the light of the observations made above. There will be no order as to costs.

25. W.Ps. Nos. 3872, 3873, 3876 and 3878 of 1967 praying for the issue of a writ of mandamus are also dismissed. The assessing authority, however, shall, at the instance of the assessee, revise the orders of assessment already passed in the light of this judgment. The question of refund of any tax, however, may be considered independently and on proper applications made in that behalf and subject to the entitlement of the assessee to such refund in accordance with law. There will be no order as to costs.


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