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C.H.S. Sabherwal and Surinder Singh Sabherwal Vs. the Joint Commercial Tax Officer - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petition No. 1616 of 1968
Judge
Reported in[1971]28STC316(Mad)
AppellantC.H.S. Sabherwal and Surinder Singh Sabherwal
RespondentThe Joint Commercial Tax Officer
Appellant AdvocateC.S. Chandrasekhara Sastry and ;D. Srinivasan, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateK. Venkataswami, First Assistant Government Pleader
Cases ReferredKumarapalayam v. The Deputy Commercial Tax Officer
Excerpt:
.....was 'wilfully not disclosed' by the assessee and that such wilful non-disclosure attracted his jurisdiction under section 16(2) to levy the..........per the stock book kept by the firm and disclosed to the authority was much in variance with the stock disclosed in the exercise note-books recovered. he therefore estimated the value of the closing stock of the firm as on 31st march, 1963, at rs. 7,43,414.71. after considering such large variations and after the partner of the firm was confronted with such a fact, the joint commercial tax officer, central intelligence section, forwarded the papers to the assessing authority to revise the assessment for 1963-64 on the basis of the discovery made by him and pursuant to the material furnished by him in his report dated 30th march, 1968. the assessing authority who is the respondent in this, case took up the matter and by himself once again verified whether the stock value as disclosed in.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Ramaprasada Rao, J.

1. The petitioner is a dealer in automobile parts. For the year 1963-64 he was assessed finally to tax on 31st December, 1964. The premises of the petitioner was inspected on 9th March, 1967, and 18th March, 1967. Ten exercise note-books were recovered in the course of the inspection by the Joint Commercial Tax Officer, Central Intelligence. He made his own notes on the exercise books so recovered. He held the view that the stock as per the stock book kept by the firm and disclosed to the authority was much in variance with the stock disclosed in the exercise note-books recovered. He therefore estimated the value of the closing stock of the firm as on 31st March, 1963, at Rs. 7,43,414.71. After considering such large variations and after the partner of the firm was confronted with such a fact, the Joint Commercial Tax Officer, Central Intelligence Section, forwarded the papers to the assessing authority to revise the assessment for 1963-64 on the basis of the discovery made by him and pursuant to the material furnished by him in his report dated 30th March, 1968. The assessing authority who is the respondent in this, case took up the matter and by himself once again verified whether the stock value as disclosed in the exercise note-books recovered during the inspection did tally with the stock book disclosed by the assessee and which was scrutinised by the revenue when the first order of assessment was made. During this review of the material he found that the actual stock which was not disclosed by the assessee even on the basis of the exercise books can only come to Rs. 4,90,500.01 and not Rs. 7,43,414.71. He made further deductions which was the result of a diligent scrutiny on his part and ultimately arrived at the finding that the stock which the assessee should be deemed to have not declared during the year in question should be reckoned at Rs. 1,90,929.03. Thus it transpires that the value of the stocks which the referring officer estimated considerably dwindled down on re-scrutiny by the assessing authority. There is therefore considerable force in the contention of the writ petitioner that the materials scrutinised cannot be taken as something which he wilfully failed to disclose during the assessment year at or before the first order of assessment was made. On such discovery by the assessing authority that stock of the value of Rs. 1,90,929.03 was not declared, he took it for granted that this stock plus a profit of 16 per cent. added thereon should normally represent the sale value of such stock which ought to have been dealt with by the assessee as a dealer during the assessment year. On this basis he apportioned the ultimate figure under two compartments, one for the purpose of assessing the same as if they related to first sales and the balance to second sales. The proportion adopted by him had relation to the actual business done by the assessee during the year in question and more particularly with reference to the goods sold and the turnover of which was disclosed by him when the first assessment was undertaken. After having thus apportioned the first and the second sales in the m inner stated above, the assessing authority observed as follows: 'The tax due on the suppressed sales works out to Rs. 8,120.87. At 1 times the tax due, penalty will be levied to the extent of Rs. 12,180 under Section 12(3) of the Act, 1959' [which in fact ought to be Section 16(2)]. It is as against this order the present writ petition has been filed.

2. The order of assessment was challenged on the legal ground that no such assessment could be made on a dissolved firm. This contention however is not pressed in view of the amendment of the law.

3. The second ground of attack is that two officers of the revenue could not agree as to what possibly could be the quantum of escapement of turnover. Whereas the estimate made by one amounted to about seven lakhs, the assessing authority, on the other hand, after due and proper scrutiny arrived at the figure of Rs. 1,90,000 and odd as the estimated undeclared stock. Such a vast variance between two authorities certainly raises a doubt and on the basis of this it is contended that the penalty imposed in such circumstances, without even a finding that there was wilful non-disclosure of assessable turnover, in any event, is not sustainable. No doubt, arguments were addressed on the merits and it was sought to be made out that the estimate made by the assessing authority relating to undeclared stock is rather arbitrary.

4. On the last contention I am unable to agree. The assessing authority had a second look into the matter and meticulously compiled the details of stock as disclosed in the ten exercise note-books discovered during the inspection and by a reasonable calculation of the stock therein and after deducting the stocks declared to the department ultimately came to the conclusion that the undeclared stock should be valued at Rs. 1,90,929.03. The process adopted by the assessing authority to arrive at the stock cannot be said to be an arbitrary one and was the product of fancy. It is only in cases where the material on record cannot prompt a reasonable and an instructed person to come to the conclusion as arrived at by the assessing authority, there is scope for interference under Article 226 of the Constitution. Writs of certiorari are issued only if the finding of fact arrived at by quasi-judicial functionaries is perverse or so unreasonable that no reasonable person can sustain or support it. That is not the case here. I am unable therefore to agree with Mr. Sastry that the valuation arrived at by the assessing authority as regards undeclared stocks is an unreasonable reckoning in the eye of law.

5. The second contention however has some basis. Section 16(2) of the Madras General Sales Tax Act which authorises the assessing authority to levy a penalty is conditioned by the assessing authority himself being satisfied that the escape from the assessment is due to wilful non-disclosure of assessable turnover by the dealer. Such a satisfaction, though popularly has to be understood as subjective satisfaction, but yet it has to be found as such, on record, by the appropriate authority. In the absence of an objective finding as a result of such subjective satisfaction of the assessing authority as to wilful non-disclosure of assessable turnover, the main fact of the jurisdiction to levy penalty would be absent. A Division Bench of this Court to which I was a party in W.P. Nos. 1285, 1322 of 1966 etc. (Messrs Oveekee Textiles, Kumarapalayam v. The Deputy Commercial Tax Officer, Tiruchengode [1971] 27 S.T.C. 439) laid down the law that the imposition of penalty under Section 16(2) by the revenue without giving a finding as specified under Section 16(2) is not proper. Yet again in the peculiar circumstances of this case where two officers of the revenue would not agree as to the quantum of the escaped turnover it was all the more necessary for the assessing authority to state clearly that the undisclosed stock which he normally presumed should have been channelised by sales was 'wilfully not disclosed' by the assessee and that such wilful non-disclosure attracted his jurisdiction under Section 16(2) to levy the penalty. In the absence of such a specific finding and in view of the law as laid down by the Division Bench of this Court, the order in so far as the imposition of penalty is concerned is quashed and the rest of the order will survive and is sustained. The writ petition is allowed in part and there will be no order as to costs.


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