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K. Venkataraman and Company and ors. Vs. Deputy Commercial Tax Officer and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberW.A. Nos. 45 and 46 of 1966 and 116 of 1965 and T.C. No. 10 of 1964 (Revision No. 2) and T.C. No. 26
Judge
Reported in[1973]30STC57(Mad)
AppellantK. Venkataraman and Company and ors.
RespondentDeputy Commercial Tax Officer and ors.
Appellant Advocate T.S. Viswanatha Rao, ;R.S. Venkatachari and ; S.V. Subramaniam, Advs.
Respondent Advocate K. Venkataswami, First Assistant Government Pleader
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Cases ReferredCommissioner of Sales Tax v. Jaswant Singh Charan Singh
Excerpt:
.....construe articles like coal as including coal dust. it was observed in that decision that the expression 'combustible materials' used in clause (q) should be confined only to things that burn spontaneously or with great readiness like explosives. it is significant to note that cinder was not held to be included under clause (n) which referred to articles like coal, charcoal, etc. 317 it is clearly pointed out that the supreme court decision in state of gujarat v. 17. the learned advocates for the appellants urged that even if cinders are not considered as coal in accordance with the dictionary meaning, they would at least come within the term 'coke in all its forms'.different forms of cokes are well-known and it could hardly be contended that cinder constitutes a form of coke......to several uses to which the coal could be used and it cannot be-treated as mere ashes to which coal, coke and cinder may be reduced by complete combustion.7. in ramavatar budhaiprasad v. assistant sales tax officer [1961] 12 s.t.c. 286 the imposition of sales tax on betel leaves as not falling within the exempted articles in item 6 of schedule ii of the c. p. and berar sales tax amendment act was challenged and reliance was placed on the dictionary meaning of the word 'vegetable' as given in the shorter oxford english dictionary, namely, 'of or pertaining to, composed or consisting of, or derived or obtained from plants or their parts'. but the supreme court held that the word must be construed not in its technical sense, nor from the botanical point of view, but as understood in.....
Judgment:

Sadasivam, J.

1. Writ Appeal No. 116 of 1965 has been preferred by one M. Varadarajulu Naidu, a dealer in cinder, against the decision of Veeraswami, J., as he then was, in Writ Petition No. 1774 of 1964 (M. Varadarajulu Naidu v. State of Madras and Anr. [1965] 16 S.T.C. 684), negativing his contention that cinder is coal, or is a form of coke, falling within entry 1 of Schedule II of the Madras General Sales Tax Act, 1959 (hereinafter referred to as the Act). Tax Case No. 267 of 1966 has been filed by the same Varadarajulu Naidu to revise the order of the Board of Revenue holding the same view for the subsequent period. Writ Appeals Nos. 45 and 46 of 1966 have been filed by K. Venkataraman and Company against the judgment of Veeraswami, J., as he then was, in Writ Petitions Nos. 320 and 321 of 1966, dismissing the petitions on the ground that they are covered by his decision in Varadarajulu Naidu v. State of Madras [1965] 16 S.T.C. 684. In Tax Case No. 10 of 1964, petitioners Karpagam and Company, dealers in lime and cinder, seek to revise the order of the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal negativing their claim that cinders come under the first item of Schedule II of the Act. The Tribunal relied on the decision in Mahabir Singh Ram Babu v. Assistant Sales Tax Officer [1962] 13 S.T.C. 248.

2. In Varadarajulu Naidu v. State of Madras [1965] 16 S.T.C. 684 Veeraswami, J., as he then was, referred to the above decision in Mahabir Singh Ram Babu v. Assistant Sales Tax Officer [1962] 13 S.T.C. 248 and expressed his agreement with the said decision. A Bench of this court has in K. Venkataraman and Co. v. The State of Tamil Nadu and Ors. T.C. Nos. 412 to 417 of 1970 and W.A. No. 68 of 1967; [1971] 28 S.T.C. 426 observed that the point raised in those cases, namely, whether cinder is coal and, if it is not, its sale will be subject to multi-point tax, is covered by the decision in Varadarajulu Naidu v. State of Madras, and pointed out that the same view has been taken by the Allahabad High Court in Mahabir Singh Ram Babu v. Assistant Sales Tax Officer and by a Division Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Chitta Reddi v. State of Andhra Pradesh [1969] 24 S.T.C. 317. The only point argued in these cases is covered by the above decision of the Bench of this court in K. Venkataraman and Co. v. The State of Tamil Nadu and Ors. T.C. Nos. 412 to 417 of 1970 and W.A. No. 68 of 1967 : [1971] 28 S.T.C. 426. But the learned Advocates appearing for the dealers in cinder in these cases urged that in view of certain additional arguments advanced by them, the above decision of a Bench of this court require reconsideration by a fuller Bench.

3. In Varadarajulu Naidu v. State of Madras [1965] 16 S.T.C. 684 the learned Judge expressed that he did not find it quite easy to find a solution for the question whether cinder is included within the meaning of the expression 'coal, including coke in all its forms' in item 1 of the Second Schedule of the Act, but eventually came to the conclusion that the expression did not include cinder. In fact, in G. O. No. 3300 Revenue, dated 24th August, 1962, the Government held the view that sales of cinder were within the relevant entry and would be subject only to a single point tax. But in view of the subsequent order of the Madras Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal, which followed the decision in Mahabir Singh Ram Babu v. Assistant Sales Tax Officer [1962] 13 S.T.C. 248 the Government changed its view with effect from 1st April, 1963. Coke is described in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1947 Edition, Volume 5, at page 982, as the product obtained by strongly heating coal out of contact with the air until the volatile constituents are driven off. It is also mentioned therein that coke imported into London was known as cinder in the early days of its use. This circumstance was relied on before the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal in T. A. No. 538 of 1962 to contend that coke included cinders. But, this contention was not accepted and hence, T. C. No. 10 of 1964 has been filed in this court.

4. The learned Advocates for the appellants relied strongly on the meanings given for the words, 'coal', 'coke' and 'cinder' in several dictionaries as lending support to their contention that cinder is coal or one of the forms of coke. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary gives the meaning of cinder as the residue of a combustible substance especially coal, after it has ceased to flame and so also, after it has ceased to burn. Various meanings are given to the word 'coal' in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, namely, (1) a piece of carbon glowing without a flame, (2) a piece of burnt wood, etc., that is still capable of combustion without flame, (3) charcoal, (4) a mineral solid, hard, opaque, black or blackish, found in seams in the earth and largely used as fuel. Coke is defined in the same dictionary as mineral coal deprived by dry distillation of its volatile constituents. In Webster's New International Dictionary, 'coke' is defined as the solid left when a caking coal is deprived of its volatile constituents by heating in a retort or oven. In the latest volumes of Encyclopaedia Britannica, under the heading 'coal and coal mining' in Volume 5, page 961, and. under the heading 'coke' in Volume 6, page 36, there is reference to different kinds of coal and coke and the particular type of coal which is suitable for preparing coke. In the Encyclopaedia Americana, Volume 7, at page 213, coke is referred to as the solid residue, consisting chiefly of carbon, that is left behind when bituminous coal or petroleum or other liquid hydrocarbons are distilled in the absence of air. Coke made from coal and used as a fuel is by far the most important type of coke commercially. It is unnecessary to refer to the varieties of coke, namely, pitch coke, petroleum coke and calcined coke, referred to therein.

5. In dealing with the contention that in dictionaries cinder is sometimes described as coal, Brijlal Gupta, J., has in Mahabir Singh Ram Babu v. Assistant Sales Tax Officer [1962] 13 S.T.C. 248 observed as follows :

It is inevitable that in dictionaries, the meaning of one word must be elucidated by reference to other words, but authorities competent to speak on the subject are of the view that strictly speaking there are no synonyms in the English language. Accordingly, the mere fact that in dictionaries words arc explained and elucidated by reference to other words is not the final test of the exact shade of meaning of a particular word.

6. The learned Judge pointed out that the basic difference between coal and cinder is that coal is a mineral as it is dug out of the bowels of the earth without anything more being done to it and that cinder, on the other hand, is not coal because cinder is got only after something has been done to coal, namely, after coal has been burnt. It is true cinder is still capable of combustion, though it cannot emit flame and can be put to several uses to which the coal could be used and it cannot be-treated as mere ashes to which coal, coke and cinder may be reduced by complete combustion.

7. In Ramavatar Budhaiprasad v. Assistant Sales Tax Officer [1961] 12 S.T.C. 286 the imposition of sales tax on betel leaves as not falling within the exempted articles in item 6 of Schedule II of the C. P. and Berar Sales Tax Amendment Act was challenged and reliance was placed on the dictionary meaning of the word 'vegetable' as given in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, namely, 'of or pertaining to, composed or consisting of, or derived or obtained from plants or their parts'. But the Supreme Court held that the word must be construed not in its technical sense, nor from the botanical point of view, but as understood in common parlance. It was observed in the decision that vegetable being one in every day use, it must be construed in its popular sense meaning, that sense which people conversant with the subject-matter with which the statute is dealing would attribute to it. In Kishinchand Chdlamm v. Joint Commercial Tax Officer [1968] 21 S.T.C. 367 a Bench of this court considered the question whether terylene, terene, dacron, nylon, nylex, etc., would come within the expression 'artificial silk' occurring as item 4 in the Third Schedule to the Madras General Sales Tax Act, 1959, and therefore, exempted from sales tax and while answering it in the affirmative observed thus :

Courts are bound to have recourse to the meaning attributable to such words by persons who are dealing in such goods and utilising such goods. In other words, the extreme, peculiar and scientific meaning of the words which might sometimes deviate from the popular meaning cannot prevail. Ordinarily, courts when called upon to interpret the meaning of such words, mainly rely upon their popular or ordinary meaning. The meaning which the trade, Government officials and statutes attribute to the words artificial silk must be taken to be the ordinary and popular meaning of the same.

8. In Mahabir Singh Ram Babu v. Assistant Sales Tax Officer [1962] 13 S.T.C. 248 it was observed that the word 'coal' in the notification was used in the sense in which it was strictly speaking used and understood in the English language and that it did not include cinder. In Chitta Reddi v. State of Andhra Pradesh [1969] 24 S.T.C. 317 it has been pointed out that cinders cannot be said to be coal in the popular sense of the term, though they may be the end-products of coal after a greater part of the energy therefrom has been spent. In the decision of the Supreme Court in Commissioner of Sales Tax v. Jaswant Singh Charan Singh : [1967]2SCR720 which affirmed the decision of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh in Commissioner of Sales Tax v. Jaswant Singh Charan Singh [1966] 17 S.T.C. 527 reference was made to the dictionary meaning of coal as including charcoal. It has been held in the decision that charcoal is included in the word 'coal' specified in entry 1 of Part III of Schedule II to the Madhya Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1958, and is taxable only at the rate of 2 per cent. It is clear from the decision that while construing the word 'coal' in the said entry, the test that would be applicable is, what is the meaning which persons dealing with coal and consumers purchasing it as fuel would give to that word. It has been pointed out in this decision that a sales tax statute, being one levying a tax on goods, must, in the absence of a technical term, or a term of science or art, be presumed to have used an ordinary term as 'coal' according to the meaning ascribed to it in common parlance and that viewed from that angle, both the merchant dealing in coal and a consumer wanting to purchase it would regard coal not in its geological sense, but in the sense as ordinarily understood and would include charcoal in the term coal. It appears from page 474 of the decision that the State of Gujarat (sic) had made a separate entry with regard to firewood, namely, entry 8 in Part III of Schedule II of the Madhya Pradesh General Sales Tax Act and thus provided 2 per cent, tax on it. It is pointed out in that decision that it could not have been the intention of the Legislature to exclude charcoal from coal in entry 1 so as to make it liable for being taxed at 4 per cent, while taxing firewood at 2 per cent. Even if charcoal could be said to be included in the word 'coal' on the basis of this decision, it could not be said that cinders are included in the word coal.

9. Following the above Supreme Court decision in Commissioner of Sales Tax v. Jaswant Singh Charan Singh : [1967]2SCR720 this court has held in Deputy Commissioner (Sales Tax), Pondicherry v. Akbar Alikhan and Abdul Ruheem & Co. [1971] 27 S.T.C. 167 that leco, which is produced from lignite by a process of briquetting and carbonisation after certain substances are extracted from it, has been understood only as a domestic fuel, and that ordinarily understood it is charcoal and, therefore, it is exempt from sales tax under item 18 of Schedule III of the Pondicherry General Sales Tax Act, 1967. The principle that in a taxing statute the popular meaning or the commercial understanding of a word should prevail in spite of the meaning that the word might secure by the application of the principles of geology, physics or chemistry is reiterated in this decision.

10. It is true that where the words used in an entry are comprehensive or wide enough to include all kinds or types of particular goods, falling within the description, their scope should not be restricted. In Commissioner of Sales Tax v. Balwant Singh Jag Roshan Lal [1970] 26 S.T.C. 129 it was held that black salt of the kind manufactured by the assessee in that case was salt as understood in common parlance and hence would be exempt from tax in view of Section 4(1)(a) of the U.P. Sales Tax Act, 1948. It was pointed out in the decision that merely because black salt might be used for preparing medicine, it would not by itself mean that it was not salt as generally understood.

11. In Simpson and Co. Ltd. v. State of Madras [1969] 23 S.T.C. 379 it has been held that the phrase 'furniture of all types' in entry 44 of Schedule I of the Act is wide enough to cover all kinds of furniture and is not confined to furniture used in homes and offices and, therefore, 'garage stools' used by workers are within that entry. In B. Dar Laboratories v. State of Gujarat [1968] 22 S.T.C. 160 it was held that the article sold by the assessee completely retained, its essential character as snuff and only certain flavouring agents, preservative and water were added to it to change its physical condition in order to make it more acceptable to the customers who used the same for application to the gums and that it was tobacco exempt from sales tax by virtue of entry 49 in Schedule A to the Bombay Sales Tax Act, 1959. But it could be hardly contended by way of analogy in this case that cinder is coal or that it retained its essential characteristics.

12. In D.C. Development Federation Ltd. v. Commissioner, Sales Tax [1970] 26 S.T.C. 464 it has been held that 'coal dust' is included within the word 'coal' as used in entry 33 of the notification issued under the U. P. Sales Tax Act. It is pointed out in the decision that coal is not a word of art and is not a scientific term, but it is a popularly known commodity. It is observed that coal dust is also the mineral known as coal, but in a different shape. Even in the absence of specific words such as 'in all its forms', it is possible to construe articles like coal as including coal dust. In Iyanar Coffee and Tea Co. v. State of Madras [1962] 13 S.T.C. 290 it has been held that coffee powder is included in the term coffee in Section 5(v) of the Madras General Sales Tax Act, 1939. It is observed in this decision that it is not necessary to refer to the definition of coffee in other enactments and that it is open to the Legislature to define any expression as it likes in order to suit the object and purpose of the particular enactment. It is pointed out in the decision that there is no indication, express or implied, in the Madras General Sales Tax Act, of the Legislature intending to confine the expression coffee only to coffee seeds and not to apply it to coffee powder. But in Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes v. Iyanar Coffee and Tea Co. [1962] 13 S.T.C. 457 it has been held that-the expression 'coffee' as found in Section 5(v) of the Madras General Sales Tax Act, 1939, would not include French coffee, which is made by an admixture of coffee powder and chicory powder.

13. The mere change in form or colour of the goods by reason of any processing cannot be held to be a sufficient ground for depriving it of its original classification. Thus, in State of Madhya Bharat v. Hirala [1966] 17 S.T.C. 313 the Supreme Court held that the scrap iron purchased by the respondent in that case was only re-rolled into bars, flats and plates to give them attractive and acceptable forms and that they did not in the process lose their character as iron and steel and the dealer in the said goods was, therefore, entitled to claim exemption by virtue of the notification issued under the Madhya Bharat Sales Tax Act. In Tungabhadra Industries Ltd., Kurnool v. Commercial Tax Office : [1961]2SCR14 ) it has been held that hydrogenated groundnut oil, commonly called vanaspati, is groundnut oil within the meaning of Rule 18(2) of the Madras General Sales Tax (Turnover and Assessment) Rules, 1939. The fact that in the course of hydrogenation the oil absorbed two atoms of hydrogen and that there was an intermolecular change in the content of the substance, was held to be not decisive on the question whether it continued to be groundnut oil.

14. In Fletcher v. Fields [1891] 1 Q.B. 790 it has been held that coke is not coal within the meaning of Section 15 of the Metropolitan Streets Act, 1867, which prohibits the loading or unloading of coal on or across the footway between certain hours, and imposes a penalty for so doing. A. L. Smith, J., has observed in that decision that coke is no more coal than cinders are. But it is clear from the decision that there was an admission that cinders are not within the prohibition as to coal.

15. In S.A. No. 423 of 1955, this court had to consider the question whether cinder comes within the scope of Clause (n) or Clause (q) of Schedule V of the District Municipalities Act necessitating the payment of a licence fee for storing such articles. Clause (n) related to selling or storing timber, firewood, thatching materials, hay, grass, straw, fibre, coal or charcoal. Clause (q) related to storing of any explosive or combustible materials. It was held in the decision that cinder did not fall under either of the clauses and that no licence was required for storing the same. It was observed in that decision that the expression 'combustible materials' used in Clause (q) should be confined only to things that burn spontaneously or with great readiness like explosives. It is significant to note that cinder was not held to be included under Clause (n) which referred to articles like coal, charcoal, etc.

16. The learned Advocates for the appellants relied on the decision of the Supreme Court in State of Gujarat v. Raipur . : [1967]1SCR618 as supporting the claim that cinders are coal. At page 9 of the decision there is reference to the finding of the High Court of Gujarat that kolsi (cinders) are small pieces of coal which are not fully burnt. The company in that case used coal in its industry and it used to collect kolsi (cinders) obtained from coal and sell it to intending purchasers in bulk. It is observed in the decision that kolsi would be appropriately regarded as a subsidiary product in the course of manufacture. It has been held that when such subsidiary product is turned out in the factory regularly and continuously and is being sold from time to time, an intention to carry on business in kolsi may be reasonably attributed to the company and that the company will be liable to sales tax for such sale of kolsi. In Chitta Reddi v. State of Andhra Pradesh [1969] 24 S.T.C. 317 it is clearly pointed out that the Supreme Court decision in State of Gujarat v. Raipur Manufacturing Co. : [1967]1SCR618 does not really support the contention that cinders are coal. In fact, if cinders are included in coal, there could not be a further liability for taxation on the sale of cinder, once the tax has been levied on coal.

17. The learned Advocates for the appellants urged that even if cinders are not considered as coal in accordance with the dictionary meaning, they would at least come within the term 'coke in all its forms'. Different forms of cokes are well-known and it could hardly be contended that cinder constitutes a form of coke. The term 'in all its forms' has been used in several entries in the Sales Tax Act and it has been the subject matter of several decisions. Item 1 of Schedule III of the Assam Sales Tax Act, 1947, exempts from taxation 'all cereals and pulses including all forms of rice'. In Kapildeoram Baijnath Prosad v. J. K. Das [1954] 5 S.T.C. 365 it has been held that as long as a thing continues to be cereal and retains its form as such, although it may have undergone some simple processes of boiling or parching, it cannot be held that it will not be covered by the exemption provided by item 1 of Schedule III. In this view, it has been held that chira and muri do not cease to be cereals merely because rice or paddy has undergone the process of being flattened or fried in assuming the form of chira and muri and that to all intents and purposes chira and muri are cereals and have not lost their character of cereals by any process of transformation so as to make them being called by any other name and they are therefore exempt from sales tax.

18. In construing a similar term 'rice' in item 1 of Schedule I of the Hyderabad General Sales Tax Act, 1950, exempting rice in all forms, it has been held in Kayani & Co. v. Commissioner of Sales Tax [1953] 4 S.T.C. 387 that rice in all forms would mean all kinds or varieties of rice or species of rice, such as broken rice, kichidi rice or rice flour, etc., but should not be interpreted as meaning cooked rice or biriyani or polao. Coke in all its forms cannot be so interpreted as to include cinders.

19. The fact that cinders are obtained from partially burnt coal or coke and should therefore form part of it, is no argument for holding that cinders are included in the term coke in all its forms. In State of Punjab v. Chandu Lal Kishori Lal [1970] 25 S.T.C. 52 it was held that though cotton in its unginned state contained cotton seeds, once the cotton and the seeds were separated by the manufacturing process of ginning, the seeds so separated could not be said to be cotton itself, or part of the cotton and, therefore, the dealer was not entitled to deduct the sale price of cotton seeds from the purchase turnover under the Punjab General Sales Tax Act.

20. The learned Assistant Government Pleader relied on the history of the legislation in support of his contention that cinders do not fall within the entry relating to 'coal, including coke in all its forms'. Under the Essential Goods (Declaration and Regulation of Tax on Sale or Purchase) Act, 1952, the goods specified in the Schedule are declared to be essential for the life of the community and no law made after the commencement of that Act by the Legislature of a State could have effect unless it has been reserved for the consideration of the President and has received his assent. Item 13 of the Schedule to that Act is relevant for this case and it is as follows :

Coal including coke and other derivatives, petroleum and petroleum products, including kerosene and motor spirit.

21. Chapter IV of the Central Sales Tax Act deals with goods of special importance in inter-State trade or commerce and it contains three Sections 14, 15 and 16. Section 16 repeals the Essential Goods (Declaration and Regulation of Tax on Sale or Purchase) Act, 1952. Section 14 declares goods of special importance in inter-State trade or commerce and item (i) in that section refers to coal including coke in all its forms. Thus, item (i) of Section 14 of the Central Sales Tax Act is identical with entry 1 of Schedule II of the Madras General Sales Tax Act, 1959. Section 15(a) of the Central Sales Tax Act provides:

Every sales tax law of a State shall, in so far as it imposes or authorises the imposition of a tax on the sale or purchase of declared goods, be subject to the following restrictions and conditions, namely :-(a) the tax payable under that law in respect of any sale or purchase of such goods inside the State 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.

22. These conditions that no State shall have a system of levy other than single point levy on specified goods and that the maximum rate of tax on such declared goods could not exceed two per cent., are intended to regulate the tax burden on goods of importance in inter-State trade or commerce. It could hardly be contended that cinders are goods of special importance entitled to protection as declared goods. It is clear from the Supreme Court decision in Commissioner of Sales Tax v. Jaswant Singh Charan Singh : [1967]2SCR720 that the State of Gujarat (sic) had made a separate entry with regard to firewood, namely, entry 8 in Part III of Schedule II of the Madhya Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, in order to provide two per cent, tax on it as in the case of entry 1 of Part III of Schedule II relating to declared goods, namely, coal including coke in all its forms in entry 1 of Part VI. There is considerable force in the contention of the learned Assistant Government Pleader that cinders were not considered to be goods of special importance so as to be called declared goods and that it could not therefore come within entry 1 of Schedule II of the Act.

23. For the foregoing reasons, we find that cinders do not fall under entry 1 of Schedule II of the Madras General Sales Tax Act, 1959.

24. The writ appeals and the tax cases are, therefore, dismissed with costs. Counsel's fee Rs. 100 in each case.


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