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M.K. Annamalai Chettiar and Co. Vs. the Deputy Commercial Tax Officer and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petition Nos. 1217 and 1218 of 1965
Judge
Reported in[1965]16STC687(Mad)
AppellantM.K. Annamalai Chettiar and Co.
RespondentThe Deputy Commercial Tax Officer and anr.
Advocates:K. Srinivasan and ;K.C. Rajappa, Advs.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredReg v. Leatham
Excerpt:
- .....the assessment orders is that, inasmuch as they were based on documents or accounts which had been seized illegally, they are invalid. the contention is that, since this court has held sub-sections (2) to (4) of section 41 of the madras general sales tax act to be unconstitutional or not competent, search and seizure of the documents were illegal and that documents and account books so obtained cannot legally be used in support of the assessments.2. it seems to me that this contention has no force. it is one thing to say that search and seizure of documents and account books is illegal and it is quite another that, because of that, the documents so seized cannot legally be used as evidence. the second result does not follow from the first. i think that whatever means by which the.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Veeraswami, J.

1. The only point raised in these petitions to quash the assessment orders is that, inasmuch as they were based on documents or accounts which had been seized illegally, they are invalid. The contention is that, since this Court has held Sub-sections (2) to (4) of Section 41 of the Madras General Sales Tax Act to be unconstitutional or not competent, search and seizure of the documents were illegal and that documents and account books so obtained cannot legally be used in support of the assessments.

2. It seems to me that this contention has no force. It is one thing to say that search and seizure of documents and account books is illegal and it is quite another that, because of that, the documents so seized cannot legally be used as evidence. The second result does not follow from the first. I think that whatever means by which the documents have been obtained, their admissibility will depend only on their relevancy and not on the means by which they have been procured. At trial, of course, the Court may have discretion whether in given circumstances evidence secured by improper or illegal means could be allowed as evidence. But beyond that, I can find no objection, legal or otherwise, to the user made of the documents or account books as evidence, because they have been searched for and seized under provisions of law which do not confer the power to do so or which the Court has declared to be in excess of legislative power or ultra vires.

3. The proposition seems to receive support from Kuruma v. The Queen [1955] A.C. 197, the ratio of which is that irrespective of the means or the manner by which evidence is secured, its admissibility is dependent on the question of relevancy and such evidence cannot be ruled out, on the ground that it had been procured by improper means or illegally. In fact, in that case, the Judicial Committee quoted with approval the following observation of Crompton, J., in Reg v. Leatham (1861) 8 Cox C.C. 498:

It matters not how you get it (evidence); if you steal it even, it would be admissible.

4. The Privy Council itself, in the Appeal Cases, expressed its opinion that, if the evidence is relevant, it is admissible and the Court is not concerned with how it is obtained. But Mr. Srinivasan for the petitioners argues on the basis of some observations in the Appeal Cases that, if the documents or account books have been seized which is unconstitutional, it may make a difference to their admissibility.The observation relied on is this:

Suffice it to say that there appears to be considerable difference of opinion among the Judges both in the State and Federal Courts as to whether or not the rejection of evidence obtained by illegal means depends on certain articles in the American Constitution.

5. Suffice it to say that we have no provision in the Indian Constitution corresponding to the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In fact, learned counsel for the petitioner has not been able to invite the attention of this Court to any particular article in the Indian Constitution which the admission of such evidence has violated. In my view, therefore, the assessment orders are not vitiated, merely because the account books or other records seized were relied on in support of them.

6. The petitions are dismissed.


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