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S.K. Kuppanna Chettiar and Sons Vs. the State of Madras - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case Number Writ Petition No. 4548 of 1968
Judge
Reported in[1973]30STC5(Mad)
AppellantS.K. Kuppanna Chettiar and Sons
RespondentThe State of Madras
Appellant Advocate K. Srinivasan and ; K.C. Rajappa, Advs.
Respondent Advocate K. Venkataswami, First Assistant Government Pleader
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredC. P. Officer v. K.P. Abdulla
Excerpt:
.....lead to the conclusion that the delinquent is an offender, but in a case like this, where goods are stored in the residential premises of a partner of a concern which is a registered dealer, that by itself does not give the impression or necessarily raise a presumption that a, contravention of the provisions of the act or the rules made thereunder has arisen for the revenue to invoke section 45(2)(d) of the act. therefore, if any provision, either under the main enactment or in the shape of a rule which is intricately connected with one of the provisions of the main enactment, is made for the ancillary or incidental purpose of checking evasion or avoidance of tax, then it is perfectly within the sphere of legislative competence and such a provision cannot be assailed. as an..........is said to have given a statement admitting that the said stock in the pial represented the stock-in-trade of the firm. on the strength of the said confession and as the goods were not stored at the various places as per the certificate of registration, action was initiated under section 45(2)(d) read with section 21(a) of the tamil nadu general sales tax act and read along with rule 24 of the rules framed thereunder. an option was given to the petitioner to compound the offence as indeed the place at which the stock-in-trade was stored was not the authorised godown or place of storage. the petitioner was aggrieved by the order of the deputy commercial tax officer who expressed to treat it as an offence, but gave the option to the petitioner to compound it on payment of a sum of.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Ramaprasada Rao, J.

1. The petitioner is one of the partners of the firm of M/s. S. K. Kuppanna Chettiar and Sons, carrying on business in the district of Coimbatore. It is not denied that the petitioner obtained a registration certificate under the Tamil Nadu General Sales Tax Rules indicating therein the names of places or godowus in which he was keeping his goods. On 7th September, 1967, the petitioner's residential premises was searched and inspected by the Deputy Commercial Tax Officer and the Assistant Commercial Tax Officer, Darapuram. In the course of such inspection certain stocks of goods were found in the pial of the residential premises of Sri S. K. Kuppanna Chettiar, one of the partners in the firm. When confronted with such a situation, Sri Kuppanna Chettiar for arid on behalf of the petitioner-firm is said to have given a statement admitting that the said stock in the pial represented the stock-in-trade of the firm. On the strength of the said confession and as the goods were not stored at the various places as per the certificate of registration, action was initiated under Section 45(2)(d) read with Section 21(a) of the Tamil Nadu General Sales Tax Act and read along with Rule 24 of the Rules framed thereunder. An option was given to the petitioner to compound the offence as indeed the place at which the stock-in-trade was stored was not the authorised godown or place of storage. The petitioner was aggrieved by the order of the Deputy Commercial Tax Officer who expressed to treat it as an offence, but gave the option to the petitioner to compound it on payment of a sum of Rs. 1,000. The petitioner filed a revision petition to the Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, Coimbatore. In the revision petition, the petitioner gave a volte face to the explanation he gave to the inspecting officers at the time of the search. It is stated that the petitioner represented to the Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, as revisional authority, that the goods stored in the pial belonged to agriculturists in the village and that he gave a list of such persons to the inspecting officers as well. The records produced on the issue of rule nisi do not disclose any such statement made by the petitioner or a list of persons which is said to have been appended to his representation to the inspecting officers. The only record available and which clinches the issue is that the petitioner admitted that the stock discovered during the inspection of the assessing officers related to his stock-in-trade. In the circumstances of this case, therefore, the Deputy Commissioner did not interfere in revision either. The petitioner's further representation to the Board of Revenue was unsuccessful and the petitioner has come up to this court with a. writ petition for issue of a writ of certiorari to quash the order of the Board of Revenue which confirmed the imposition of a compounding fee as also the action initiated by the revenue.

2. Mr. Srinivasan, learned counsel for the petitioner, states that Section 45(2)(d) which characterises an action of a person who wilfully acts in contravention of any of the provisions of the Tamil Nadu General Sales Tax Act as an offence punishable by a Presidency Magistrate or as one in which proceedings for compounding can be undertaken is beyond the legislative competence of the State Legislature. His contention is that there might be some provisions, a contravention of which might reasonably lead to the conclusion that the delinquent is an offender, but in a case like this, where goods are stored in the residential premises of a partner of a concern which is a registered dealer, that by itself does not give the impression or necessarily raise a presumption that a, contravention of the provisions of the Act or the Rules made thereunder has arisen for the revenue to invoke Section 45(2)(d) of the Act. Reliance was placed upon the decision of the Supreme Court in C. P. Officer v. K.P. Abdulla & Bros. : [1971]2SCR817 . The further argument is this: It is no doubt true that there was a statutory obligation on the part of the petitioner to keep the goods connected with its business in the place or godown mentioned in the registration certificate. But a mere violation of this rule by itself does not create an offence as is ordinarily understood and, therefore, the proceedings alternatively undertaken by the revenue to compound the so-called offence is without authority.

3. I am unable to agree that the State Legislature in creating an offence of the kind under consideration went beyond its competence. Though the Tamil Nadu General Sales Tax Act is essentially an Act which imposes a tax on the sale or purchase of goods at any prescribed point of time yet, as is usual in all fiscal enactments the primordial object of the Legislature and the State as the executive head which implements the provisions of that Act is to check evasion and book offenders attempting at such evasion. Therefore, if any provision, either under the main enactment or in the shape of a rule which is intricately connected with one of the provisions of the main enactment, is made for the ancillary or incidental purpose of checking evasion or avoidance of tax, then it is perfectly within the sphere of legislative competence and such a provision cannot be assailed. The decision cited by Mr. Srinivasan, learned counsel for the petitioner, and reported in C. P. Officer v. K.P. Abdulla & Bros. : [1971]2SCR817 virtually does not help him. The Supreme Court there observed that a taxing entry confers power upon the Legislature to legislate for matters ancillary or incidental, including provision for preventing evasion of tax. In that case, while considering the scope of the power to confiscate goods carried in a vehicle but not in a manner as prescribed by the Act, the Supreme Court said :

A provision so enacted on the assumption that goods carried in a vehicle from one State to another must be presumed to be transported after sale within the State is unwarranted. In any event, power conferred by Sub-section (3) to seize and confiscate and to levy penalty in respect of all goods which are carried in a vehicle whether the goods are sold or not, is not incidental or ancillary to the power to levy sales tax.

4. But, in the instant case, the storage was unauthorised and admittedly was at a place or godown not included in the certificate of registration. Therefore, the petitioner as ' a dealer did not comply with the provisions of the Act and the Rules made thereunder. The rule which enjoins the petitioner to keep his stock-in-trade at the named places or godowns mentioned in the certificate is a salutary provision which is intended to prevent evasion of tax and a fortiori a provision which is ancillary or incidental to the power to legislate for levy of sales tax. In this view of the matter the first contention fails.

5. The second contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner is that the mere fact that the stock-in-trade was found in the residence of one of the partners of the registered dealer does not raise an automatic presumption that the purpose is to evade tax. As an abstract proposition this is well-founded. But, in the instant case, when there is a statutory obligation on the part of the petitioner to stock his stock-in-trade at notified places mentioned in the certificate of registration and, if he fails to store his business assets in such notified places then a presumption, which is very reasonable, can be drawn that such storing of stock in a place other than the authorised places or godowns is for the purpose of secreting the same. The position in the instant case becomes more conspicuous because the petitioner wanted to go back from the statement which he originally gave to the revenue wherein he confessed that the goods were his stock-in-trade. But at the time of the revision he made it appear that the goods belonged to third parties and he had nothing to do with them and they were so stocked for purpose of convenience by the villagers who came for the shandy the previous day and that, therefore, the presumption of evasion of tax would not arise. This variation in the statements made by the petitioner by itself raises a doubt about the bona fides of the petitioner in the matter of stocking of such goods in his residence. It, therefore, follows that when the petitioner admitted that the goods were his stock-in-trade and if they were found at an unauthorised place then there is a contravention on the part of the dealer of some provisions of the Act with which he is strictly bound. In this sense he has committed an offence within the meaning of Section 45(2)(d) of the Act. An option was given to the petitioner to compound instead of the petitioner being prosecuted before a Presidency Magistrate or a Magistrate of the first class. It was this option on the part of the revenue that has been challenged. The Board of Revenue while disposing of the revision petition correctly observed that the levy of compounding fee of Rs. 1,000 is right and proper in the circumstances of the case. There is no error of law apparent on the record or error of jurisdiction. The rule nisi is discharged. The writ petition is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.


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