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Biri Trading Co. Vs. Member, Board of Revenue - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Case Number Matter No. 354 of 1963
Judge
Reported in[1968]21STC169(Cal)
AppellantBiri Trading Co.
RespondentMember, Board of Revenue
Appellant Advocate B.L. Pal and ;N.L. Pal, Advs.
Respondent Advocate K.C. Mukharji, Adv.
Cases ReferredFirm Gulam Hussain Haji Yakub and Sons v. State of Rajasthan
Excerpt:
- .....from his gross turnover under section 5(2)(a)(v) of the act, as being sales to places outside west bengal. this claim was disallowed by the commercial tax officer, who exempted only an amount of rs. 6,298 out of the aforesaid amount as representing the sales made to registered dealers in cooch behar after the 28th february, 1951. the assessee's appeal before the assistant commissioner of commercial taxes against the aforesaid disallowance by the commercial tax officer failed.4. in his application for revision against the order of the assistant commissioner to the commissioner of commercial taxes, the assessee urged that as the act had not been extended to the territory of cooch behar at the material time the sales to dealers in cooch behar should be treated as sales to places.....
Judgment:

K.L. Roy, J.

1. This is a reference under Section 21(3) of the Bengal Finance (Sales Tax) Act, 1941, hereinafter referred to as the Act.

2. The assessee Messrs Biri Trading Company is a firm having its office at 20/3, Armenian Street, Calcutta, and is a dealer registered under the Act. For the four quarters ended 1st day of Chaitra, 1357 B.S. (14th April, 1950 to 14th April, 1951) the assessee sold goods (biri) worth Rs. 86,280 to purchasers in Cooch Behar. The sales took place subsequent to the 1st January, 1950, but before the 1st January, 1951. There is no dispute that the above goods were despatched to Cooch Behar by the assessee.

3. In the course of its assessment to sales tax for the above period, the assessee claimed deduction of the above sales worth Rs. 86,280 made to dealers in Cooch Behar from his gross turnover under Section 5(2)(a)(v) of the Act, as being sales to places outside West Bengal. This claim was disallowed by the Commercial Tax Officer, who exempted only an amount of Rs. 6,298 out of the aforesaid amount as representing the sales made to registered dealers in Cooch Behar after the 28th February, 1951. The assessee's appeal before the Assistant Commissioner of Commercial Taxes against the aforesaid disallowance by the Commercial Tax Officer failed.

4. In his application for revision against the order of the Assistant Commissioner to the Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, the assessee urged that as the Act had not been extended to the territory of Cooch Behar at the material time the sales to dealers in Cooch Behar should be treated as sales to places outside West Bengal and as such the aforesaid sales should be excluded from the taxable turnover under Section 5(2)(a)(v) of the Act. This contention was rejected by the Commissioner and a further revision against the order of the Commissioner to the Board of Revenue, West Bengal, by the assessee also met with the same fate. The assessee's application to the Board of Revenue for a reference of certain questions to this Court was refused. At the direction of this Court under Section 21(3) of the Act the Board has referred the following two questions of law:-

1. Whether on the facts and in the circumstances of the case the sales worth Rs. 81,480 made by the applicant from the 14th April, 1950 to 28th February, 1951, of goods which were despatched to places in the former State of Cooch Behar were exempt under Section 5 (2)(a)(v) of the Bengal Finance (Sales Tax) Act, 1941.

2. Whether a substantive right to exemption of the above sales made to the former State of Cooch Behar during the said period has been bestowed on the applicant under Rule 3(19) of the Bengal Sales Tax Rules, 1941, which was inserted by Notification No. 1869-F.T., dated 28th August, 1951.

5. For a proper appreciation of the questions referred and the contentions raised before this Court, it would be necessary to state certain facts. The erstwhile Indian State of Cooch Behar acceded to and became merged in the State of West Bengal on and from the 1st of January, 1950. On the 7th December, 1950, the Cooch Behar (Assimilation of State Laws) Act, 1950 (West Bengal Act LXIII of 1950) was passed. Section 3 of the aforesaid Act extented to Cooch Behar all laws which were in force in the State of West Bengal before the appointed day on and from such appointed day. Section 2(a) denned 'appointed day' as the day on which the Act was to come into force under Section 1(2). By a Notification No. 7497J published in the Calcutta Gazette of 28th December, 1950, the said Act was brought into force on the 1st of January, 1951. Accordingly, all the West Bengal Acts, including the West Bengal Finance (Sales Tax) Act, became extended to Cooch'Behar on and from the 1st of January, 1951. It would also be necessary to set out the relevant provisions of the Act as on the 1st of January, 1950. Section 1(2) extends the Act to the whole of West Bengal. Section 1(3) provides that the Act shall come into force on such date as the State Government may by notification in the Official Gazette appoint. Section 2(c) defines a 'dealer' as any person who carries on the business of selling goods in West Bengal. Section 4(2) makes every dealer whose gross turnover exceeds the taxable quantum to be liable to pay tax under the Act. Section 5(2) provides for the computation of 'taxable turnover'. Such turnover means that part of a dealer's gross turnover during any period which remains after deduction therefrom-

(a) his turnover during that period on- * * * *(v) sales of goods which are shown to the satisfaction of the Commissioner to have been despatched by, or on behalf of, a dealer to an address outside West Bengal.

6. Section 7(1) provides that no dealer shall while being liable to pay tax under this Act carry on business as a dealer unless he has been registered and possesses a registration certificate. Section 26 gives the State Government power to make rules for carrying out the purposes of the Act. By a notification dated the 12th of January, 1951, purported to be made under Section 1(3) of the Act, the Act was made applicable to the territory of Cooch Behar. Unfortunately, the text of the order could not be produced before this Court. By another notification dated the 28th August, 1951, Rule 3(19) was added to the Bengal Sales Tax Rules, 1941, to the following effect:-

3. In calculating his taxable turnover a registered dealer may deduct from his gross turnover his turnover on the following, namely :(19) Sales in Cooch Behar of goods proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioner to have been purchased from any place in West Bengal outside Cooch Behar on or before the 28th February, 1951, by dealers in Cooch Behar who are liable to pay tax under the Act on sales effected after the 28th February, 1951.

7. It was because of the introduction of this sub-rule that the Commercial Tax Officer had allowed deduction of the sales made to registered dealers in Cooch Behar after the 28th February, 1951, in computing the taxable turnover of the assessee. The taxing authorities, including the Board of Revenue, rejected the assessee's claim on the basis of their decision in the assessee's assessment for the earlier period. A copy of the order of the Board of Revenue for the earlier period, which was not included in the paper book, has been supplied to us by Mr. Pal, learned counsel for the assessee. The reason for the rejection was that as from the 1st of January, 1950, Cooch Behar became a part and parcel of West Bengal, any goods despatched to an address in Cooch Behar after that date would not be a case of goods despatched outside the State of West Bengal and, therefore, the exemption contained in Section 5(2)(a)(v) was not applicable to the case of the assessee.

8. Mr. B. L. Pal, the learned counsel for the assessee, submitted that Section 1(2) of the Act extends the operation of the Act to the whole of West Bengal but under Section 1(3) the date of the application of the Act would be the date on which the Act was brought into force in Cooch Behar and such extension was made only on the 12th January, 1951. It was from that date that Cooch Behar became a part of West Bengal. The assessee's sales of goods to Cooch Behar up to that date would be sales of goods outside the State of West Bengal and as such the assessee would be entitled to the exemption under Section 5(2)(a)(v) of the Act. Mr. Pal submitted that the word 'West Bengal' must be given the same meaning in the different sections in which it has been used in the Act, namely, Sections 1, 2(g), 4, 5 and 5(2), in order to give a harmonious interpretation of the several provisions of the Act. It was submitted that until the existing laws of West Bengal were extended to Cooch Behar, the existing laws of that territory would apply to the people of that territory and as such the Act could not be said to be operative in the territory of Cooch Behar until the Act was extended to that territory. He relied on the decision of the Supreme Court in Firm Gulam Hussain Haji Yakub and Sons v. State of Rajasthan [1963] 2 S.C.R. 255. In that case it was observed by the Supreme Court as follows :

It is thus clear that until the 25th January, 1950, Sirohi was not a part of Rajasthan and was not amenable to the application of the Ordinance in question. The respondent attempted to suggest that as soon as Sirohi became a part of Rajasthan the Ordinance in question applied to it. This argument is obviously fallacious. When Sirohi became a part of Rajasthan, the laws applicable to Rajasthan prior to the merger of Sirohi could be made applicable to Sirohi only after an appropriate legislation had been passed in that behalf.

9. In view of the aforesaid observation we agree with Mr. Pal that until the Act was extended to the territory of Cooch Behar by Act LXIII of 1950, the Act could not be said to have become operative in that territory.

10. Mr. Mukharji, learned counsel for the Board of Revenue, submitted that in this case there was no dispute that the assessee was a dealer within the meaning of Section 2(c) of the Act as it carried on business in Calcutta. There is also no dispute that the goods were despatched to Cooch Behar before the 1st January, 1951. The only question is whether such despatch of goods amounts to despatch of goods outside West Bengal within Section 5(2)(a)(v) of the Act. Mr. Mukharji submitted that once the territory of Cooch Behar became merged in the State of West Bengal on the 1st January, 1950, it formed part of the State of West Bengal and whether the Act was extended to that part of the State or not, any goods despatched to Cooch Behar would be goods despatched to a place inside West Bengal and not to a place outside West Bengal.

11. We are unable to accept Mr. Pal's contention that unless the Act was extended to Cooch Behar, Cooch Behar could not be considered a part of the State of West Bengal for any purposes of the Act. When Section 5(2)(a)(v) speaks of goods being despatched to an address outside West Bengal, it obviously means to a place outside the geographical area of the State of West Bengal. Undoubtedly on and from the 1st January, 1950, the erstwhile State of Cooch Behar formed part of the geographical entity of the State of West Bengal and it could not be said that any goods despatched to Cooch Behar after the 1st January, 1950, would be goods despatched outside the State of West Bengal. It must, therefore, be held that the sales by the assessee under which goods were despatched to dealers in Cooch Behar after the 1st January, 1950, could not be exempted under Section 5(2)(a)(v) in computing the assessee's taxable turnover.

12. Mr. Pal further submitted that when Clause 19 was introduced in Rule 3 of the Bengal Sales Tax Rules, 1941, it gave relief to the Cooch Behar dealers in respect of sales of goods purchased by the said dealers outside Cooch Behar but from the rest of the territory of West Bengal up to the 28th February, 1951. As the dealers in Cooch Behar were exempted from the tax in respect of such purchases, the assessee who had sold goods to the dealers in Cooch Behar during this period should also be granted corresponding relief, as otherwise the assessee would not get the benefit of Section 5(2)(a)(ii). As pointed out by Mr. Mukharji, Rule 3(19) was made to protect the Cooch Behar dealers from double taxation as such dealers had paid tax when purchasing goods from West Bengal before the Act was made applicable to Cooch Behar and if they had again to pay tax on the sales of such goods, the dealers would have to pay the tax twice. In order to avoid this contingency, the dealers in Cooch Behar were given exemption from sales tax in respect of the sales of such goods effected after the 28th February, 1951. We agree with the contention of Mr. Mukharji. Rule 3(19) was enacted for the benefit of the dealers in Cooch Behar. It granted no rights, fundamental or otherwise, to the dealers in other parts of West Bengal who had already charged the sales tax from its purchasers on sales made to its customers in West Bengal.

13. Whether in view of the fact that the Act had been extended to Cooch Behar on and from the 1st of January, 1951, the assessee would be entitled to any relief in respect of its sales to Cooch Behar after that date under any other provision of the Act, is not before us for determination and we express no opinion thereon.

14. In the premises, question No. 1 is answered in the negative and against the assessee. Question No. 2 is also answered in the negative and against the assessee.

15. The assessee is to pay the costs of this reference.

Banerjee, J.

16. I agree.


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