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Textool Co. Ltd. Vs. the Ganapathi Town Panchayat - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCommercial
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1971)1MLJ42
AppellantTextool Co. Ltd.
RespondentThe Ganapathi Town Panchayat
Cases ReferredCorporation of Calcutta v. Cossipore Municipality
Excerpt:
- - they are engaged in shaping, drilling, polishing, grinding, planing, boring, welding, rolling, punching, threading, gear cutting, etc. c) 1693. after referring to the above observations of the privy council at page 1696 their lordships of the supreme court also pointed out that in respect of a diesel engine which was clearly a machinery it was not a plant or part of plant at that stage because it had not been installed in any vehicle. it is an elementary proposition of law that a taxing statute must be construed strictly and unless the wording of the statute clearly justifies it a wider interpretation should not be placed upon it than that justified by the language of the statute itself......machines and the total horse power of the said machines is 3951. all the machines are worked with electric power only. under section 111 of the panchayats act a licence should be taken out for the purpose of running this machinery and licence fee is payable as specified against each item in the schedule to a notification published by the panchayat board. item 21(14) in the schedule under the heading 'electric power' is as follows : 'using machinery exceeding 500 h.p. - rs. 350 for 500 h.p. and 25 np. for every additional h.p. subject to a maximum of rs. 450'. item 23(12) in the same schedule under the heading 'power other than electricity' states as follows:using any machinery or manufacturing plant for industrial purpose either by electric power or steam power such as gin,.....
Judgment:
ORDER

A. Alagiriswami, J.

1. The petitioner company has a factory for the manufacture of textile machinery within the limits of Ganapathy Town Panchayat in Coimbatore District. That factory contains 710 machines and the total horse power of the said machines is 3951. All the machines are worked with electric power only. Under Section 111 of the Panchayats Act a licence should be taken out for the purpose of running this machinery and licence fee is payable as specified against each item in the schedule to a notification published by the Panchayat Board. Item 21(14) in the Schedule under the heading 'Electric Power' is as follows : 'Using Machinery exceeding 500 H.P. - Rs. 350 for 500 H.P. and 25 nP. for every additional H.P. subject to a maximum of Rs. 450'. Item 23(12) in the same schedule under the heading 'Power other than Electricity' states as follows:

Using any machinery or manufacturing plant for industrial purpose either by electric power or steam power such as gin, docorticator, power press, lathe' expellers, boilers, rice huller, flour grinder, coffee grinder (for each machinery) Rs. 15 annual.

The petitioner has paid the licence fee under item 21(14) of maximum of Rs. 450. What the Panchayat Board has purported to do is to charge in addition to the Rs. 450 already paid by the petitioner Rs. 15 for each one of the 710 machines found in the petitioner's factory. It is this part of the Panchayat's demand that is questioned in this writ petition.

2. The total horse-power of all the machinery as I already mentioned, is 3951 and all the machines are run by electric power. They are all found in one place and they are all engaged in producing the same textile machinery. Each of the machine is engaged in different processes necessary for the production of the final product which is the complete textile machinery. Thus, they are all engaged in an integrated activity of producing machinery. They are engaged in shaping, drilling, polishing, grinding, planing, boring, welding, rolling, punching, threading, gear cutting, etc. All these processes are necessary to produce the final product. Therefore, all this machinery, it appears to me, should be treated as one single unit and they cannot be treated, each individually. Though not directly in point, I may refer to the decision (of the Privy Council) in Corporation of Calcutta v. Cossipore Municipality (1922) L.R. 48 I.A. 435 : A.I.R. 1922 P.C. 27, where at page 32 their Lordships said that the word 'machinery' when used in ordinary language means prima facie some mechanical contrivances which by themselves or in combination with one or more other mechanical contrivances, by the combined movement and inter-dependant operation of their respective parts generate power or evoke, modify, apply or direct natural force with the object in each of effecting so definite and specific a result. This decision has been followed by the Supreme Court in Commissioner of Income-tax v. Mir Mohamed Ali (1964) 2 M.L.J. (S.C.) 66 : (1964) 2 An. W.R. (S.C.) 66 : (1964) 2 I.T.J. 163 : (1964) 2 S.C.J. 354 : A.I.R. 1964 (S.C) 1693. After referring to the above observations of the Privy Council at page 1696 their Lordships of the Supreme Court also pointed out that in respect of a diesel engine which was clearly a machinery it was not a plant or part of plant at that stage because it had not been installed in any vehicle. If it had been installed in any vehicle or as part of a plant it is obvious therefore that it cannot be treated separately as an individual item. Taking the simplest case of what one finds in most homes of a water pump driven by an electric motor, it is obvious that the water pump and the electric motor cannot be treated as separate items and licence fees levied on each of them separately. It is an elementary proposition of law that a taxing statute must be construed strictly and unless the wording of the statute clearly justifies it a wider interpretation should not be placed upon it than that justified by the language of the statute itself. Therefore when item 21(14) mentions using machinery exceeding 500 H.Ps. and item 23(12) also speaks of using of machinery or manufacturing plant they are not referring to two separate things but to the same thing. The levy of licence fee cannot be under both headings but can only be under one of them.

3. I may also refer to the statement of law in corpus juris secundum and the American Jurisprudence for the purpose of showing that in such cases it is not open to the taxing authority to split a single integrated activity into its component parts and tax or charge licence fee in respect of each portion. In 53 C.J.S.S. 10 (p. 483) it is observed that a municipality which has simply been given the power to impose licence tax on a business or occupation may not divide the business or occupation into its constituent elements, parts, or incidents and levy separate tax on each or any element.

4. In American Jurisprudence, Volume 38, page 34 it is said where a municipality (was) simply given the power to impose a licence tax on a business, it cannot divide such business into the constituent elements, parts or incidents and levy a separate tax on each or any element, part or incident thereof. The principle would apply to the case of machinery also. I am of the opinion therefore that what the Panchayat Board purported to do in this case really amounts to a double levy of licence fee in respect of the same machinery and that is not permissible under the rules.

5. The writ petition is therefore allowed and the order of the Panchayat Board demanding an excess sum of Rs. 10,650 is quashed. The petitioner will have its costs from the respondent. Advocate's fee Rs. 100.


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