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Smt. Putul Rani Deb Vs. Commissioner of Commercial Taxes - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Case NumberMatter No. 390 of 1976
Judge
Reported in[1980]45STC72(Cal)
AppellantSmt. Putul Rani Deb
RespondentCommissioner of Commercial Taxes
Appellant AdvocateAbhijit Banerjee ;and Sanjay Bhattacharya, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateA.B. Chatterjee, Adv.
Cases ReferredState of Orissa v. Dinabandhu Sahu and Sons A.I.R.
Excerpt:
- .....poppy-seed, black-jira, etc., which were oil-seeds within the meaning of section 14 of the central sales tax act, 1956. the sales tax officer did not accept the contentions of the assessee and levied taxes at the rate of 5 per cent.2. being aggrieved, the assessee filed an appeal before the assistant commissioner, commercialtaxes, burrabazar circle. the dealer produced before the assistant commissioner at the hearing of the appeal a letter no. 4(8)st/57 dated 31st january, 1958, of the ministry of finance, department of economic affairs, government of india, which recommended that goods involved should be treated as oil-seeds under section 14 of the central sales tax act. the assistant commissioner held that oil-seeds should be interpreted to include only those seeds from which.....
Judgment:

Dipak Kumar Sen, J.

1. Putul Rani Deb, the dealer, carries on business under the name and style of M/s. Shankar Bhandar at No. 167, Netaji Subhas Road, Calcutta, and is registered under the Bengal Finance (Sales Tax) Act, 1941. She was assessed to sales tax for the four quarters ending on the last day of Chaitra, 1370 B.S. In her assessment, she claimed that the taxable balance of Rs. 1,10,290.28 should be taxed at the rate of 2 per cent as the transactions involved resulting in the said taxable balance related to goods such as methi, mouri, jira, cardamom, poppy-seed, black-jira, etc., which were oil-seeds within the meaning of Section 14 of the Central Sales Tax Act, 1956. The Sales Tax Officer did not accept the contentions of the assessee and levied taxes at the rate of 5 per cent.

2. Being aggrieved, the assessee filed an appeal before the Assistant Commissioner, CommercialTaxes, Burrabazar Circle. The dealer produced before the Assistant Commissioner at the hearing of the appeal a letter No. 4(8)ST/57 dated 31st January, 1958, of the Ministry of Finance, Department of Economic Affairs, Government of India, which recommended that goods involved should be treated as oil-seeds under Section 14 of the Central Sales Tax Act. The Assistant Commissioner held that oil-seeds should be interpreted to include only those seeds from which oil is normally extracted and that the term should not be deemed to include seeds which are not known as oil-seeds in common parlance though oil may possibly be extracted from them through, some scientific process. Accordingly, the order of the Commercial Tax Officer was upheld by the Assistant Commissioner. From this order, the dealer initiated proceedings in revision before the Additional Commissioner, Commercial Taxes, West Bengal. The Additional Commissioner after considering several reported decisions of the High Court as also of the Supreme Court held that the goods involved should be treated as spices having regard to the popular meaning. He held that the test was not whether oil could be extracted from these seeds but whether in common parlance the articles were used principally for extraction of oil. He held that the items in question were not included in the term 'oil-seeds'.

3. A further revision was preferred by the dealer before the Board of Revenue, West Bengal. The Additional Member, Board of Revenue, held that though in common parlance the items concerned would not be treated as oil-seeds, but by reason of the definition given in the statute the meaning of the term could be stretched to include the items in question. The Additional Member did not interfere with the order from which the revision was preferred on the ground that the issues involved were intricate and observed that he would abide by the decision of a competent court on the question.

4. On an application of the dealer under Section 21(1) of the Bengal Finance (Sales Tax) Act, 1941, the West Bengal Commercial Taxes Tribunal has drawn up a statement and has referred the following question as a question of law arising from the order of the Additional Member, Board of Revenue:

Whether, in the facts and circumstances of the case, the articles, viz., joan, mouri, dhaniu, chhote elachi, postadana, jira and methi, are oil-seeds within the meaning of Section 14(vi) of the Central Sales Tax Act, 1956, prior to its amendment on 1st April, 1972?

5. In our view, the matter appears to be covered by a decision of the Supreme Court in State of Orissa v. Dinabandhu Sahu and Sons A.I.R. 1976 S.C. 1561. The facts in that case were that the Assistant Sales Tax Officer, Cuttack, had included in the turnover of the dealer concerned the sale price of jeera, dhania, panmohuri, methi, postak and pipali and levied 5 per cent sales tax under the Orissa Sales Tax Act. After various proceedings, the matter finally came up before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court considered a dictionary known as the Condensed Chemical Dictionary (7th Edition), edited by Arthur and Elizabeth Rose and applied the following meaning as given in the said dictionary:

Dhania -- (coriander seed); botanical name coriandrum sativum. Coriander oil is distilled from the coriander sativum -- a colourless or slightly yellowish liquid having aromatic odour.

Jeera -- (cumin seed); cumin oil is distilled from the cumin seed and is used for medicine, flavouring and perfumery. It is a colourless or yellowish limpid liquid having characteristic odour of cumin.

Postak -- (poppy-seed); botanical name papaver somniferum. Poppy oil is a very pale golden yellow liquid with pleasant taste and odour extracted from the seeds and it is used as food oil, artist's colours, varnishes and lubrication.

Methi -- (fenugreek); botanical name trigonella foenum-graecum (vide p. 164, Vol. 9, of the Encyclopaedia Britannica). It is stated, inter alia, therein that it bears a sickle-shaped pod, containing from 10 to 20 seeds, from which 6 per cent of a foetid, fatty, and bitter oil can be extracted by ether.

6. The Supreme Court also considered the notification of the Ministry of Finance, Department of Economic Affairs, Government of India, dated 31st January, 1958, which, inter alia, stated that the following items should be included in the term 'oil-seeds' under item (vi) of Section 14 of the Central Sales Tax Act:

(18) Poppy-seed (Posta-dana, khaskhas);

(37) Aniseed (Saunf);

(42) Coriander seed (Dhania);

(44) Cuminseed (Jeera, safed jeera);

(49) Fenugreek-seeds (Methi).

On the basis of the aforesaid, the Supreme Court observed as follows:

It cannot, however, be denied that the Ministry of Finance, Department of Economic Affairs, is intimately conversant not only with the policy of legislation for the purpose of implementation of the provisions of the Central Act but is also familiar with the nature and quality of the commodities as also their use from time to time. If, therefore, such an authority issued a notification including certain commodities under the head of 'oil-seeds', as defined under the Central Act, it cannot be said that the Tribunal and the High Court were not right in preferring such an opinion of the Government as good evidence for its conclusion, to the opinions relied upon by the Andhra Pradesh High Court on which great reliance has been placed by the appellant. A perusal of the contents of the letters referred to in the judgment of the Anddhra Pradesh High Court would indicate that the opinions cannot be said to be very firm or even final. Apart from this, it is not known whether all the uses which are mentioned in the definition of 'oil-seeds' were brought to the notice of the National Chemical Laboratory, Poona, and of the Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, in rendering their opinions. If, therefore, the Tribunal in the facts and circumstances of the case held that the particular commodities came within the definition of Clause (vi) of Section 14 of the Central Act, it is not possible to hold that it was not right. The answer to the first question by the High Court is, therefore, rightly in the affirmative.

7. In the instant case, all the items are not identical as the items which were considered by the Supreme Court, but a similar notification of the Ministry of Finance, Department of Economic Affairs, Government of India, has been relied on. The special items in the instant case are joan, chhote elachi, i. e., cardamom. It is common knowledge that aromatic substances are extracted from the item joan and oil is extracted from cardamom. Such extracts are normally available in the market. Therefore, this question, so far as the items mouri, dhania, postadana, jira and methi are concerned, has to be answered in the affirmative and in favour of the dealer concerned. On the same reasoning, the items joan and chhote elachi must also be held to be oil-seeds. Therefore, the question in its entirety is answered in the affirmative and in favour of the dealer. There will be no order as to costs.

C.K. Banerji, J.

I agree.


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