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Aloke Chand Mitra Vs. the State of West Bengal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Case NumberC.R. No. 6785(W) of 1968
Judge
Reported in[1973]31STC474(Cal)
AppellantAloke Chand Mitra
RespondentThe State of West Bengal and ors.
Appellant AdvocateHarasit Chakravorty, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateSamarendra Nath Dutt, Adv.
DispositionPetition allowed
Cases ReferredRamavatar Budhaiprasad v. The Assistant Sales Tax Officer
Excerpt:
- .....bombay state v. gaurimal mahajan and sons [1959] 10 s.t.c.452 in support of his contention. the bombay high court held in the said case that 'dressed poultry' is included in the connotation of the expression 'meat' as used in entry no. 4 of the second schedule of the bombay sales tax act, 1946. the bombay high court held at page 455, as follows :the argument of the sales tax department is that meat, which is understood as such in common parlance, would undoubtedly be excluded from the operation of the taxing provisions of the act but dressed poultry will not be deemed to be so excluded because it is not meat in ordinary parlance. the expression 'meat' has not been defined in the sales tax act. webster's new international dictionary gives the equivalent of meat as 'flesh of animals.....
Judgment:

P.K. Banerjee, J.

1. The short point which is called for decision is whether the dressed chicken is meat within the meaning of item No. 4 of Schedule I read with Section 6 of the Bengal Finance (Sales Tax) Act, 1941.

2. Mr. Chakravorty contended that the chicken is meat. Mr. Chakravorty relied upon the case reported in The Collector of Sales Tax, Bombay State v. Gaurimal Mahajan and Sons [1959] 10 S.T.C.452 in support of his contention. The Bombay High Court held in the said case that 'dressed poultry' is included in the connotation of the expression 'meat' as used in entry No. 4 of the Second Schedule of the Bombay Sales Tax Act, 1946. The Bombay High Court held at page 455, as follows :

The argument of the sales tax department is that meat, which is understood as such in common parlance, would undoubtedly be excluded from the operation of the taxing provisions of the Act but dressed poultry will not be deemed to be so excluded because it is not meat in ordinary parlance. The expression 'meat' has not been defined in the Sales Tax Act. Webster's New International Dictionary gives the equivalent of meat as 'flesh of animals used as food, as distinguished from fish or fowl'. Undoubtedly in common parlance and even commercially, meat means flesh of cattle, swine, sheep, goats, etc. and may not include dressed poultry, but the expression 'meat' in its wider connotation does include dressed poultry. When the legislature has sought to exclude from liability to pay sales tax practically all materials which are normally used as food-stuffs or condiments for seasoning food-stuffs, we must require very strong indication to the contrary to fortify us in holding that poultry, which is a recognised food, is not included in the expression 'meat'. Fish is exempt from payment of sales tax ; similarly fresh eggs are exempt from payment of tax; and if the expression 'meat' in its wider connotation includes dressed poultry, we see no reason, looking to the context in which the word is used, for holding that it is not used in its wider connotation in entry No. 4 of the Second Schedule to the Bombay Sales Tax Act, 1946.

3. I respectfully agree with the Judgment of the Bombay High Court, but I further add that the chicken is also said to be white meat. The dictionary meaning of the word 'meat' is the flesh of animal used as food, sometime pork, veal, etc.

4. Mr. Dutt on behalf of the respondents, however, contended that the Bombay High Court held that the poultry or dressed chicken is not meat in its common parlance but the meaning in its wider connotation does include dressed poultry. The Bombay High Court is wrong in holding that dressed poultry includes in the wider connotation of the expression 'meat'. Moreover, the Bombay High Court was wrong to hold that the dressed chicken is excluded from liability to pay sales tax because they are normally used as food-stuffs or condiments. I have already said that the chicken is sometime called 'white meat'. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word 'white meat' is poultry. I agree with the Bombay High Court's decision that 'meat' in its wider connotation includes dressed poultry. Mr Dutt referred to the case reported in Ram Bux Chaturbhuj and Anr. v. State of Rajasthan and Ors. [1961] 12 S.T.C. 330 (S.C.) and contended that 'betel leaves' are not vegetables and the Supreme Court indicated that vegetables must be construed in its popular sense and taking that into consideration it cannot be said that 'betel leaves' are vegetables within the meaning of the Act. Similarly also, in Ramavatar Budhaiprasad v. The Assistant Sales Tax Officer [1961] 12 S.T.C. 286 (S.C.), the Supreme Court held that vegetables must be construed not in any technical sense nor from the botanical point of view. In my opinion even in common parlance, the dressed chicken is nothing but white meat and as such it is 'meat' in the wider connotation of the word.

5. In the circumstances as aforesaid, the petitioner is entitled to the exemption for the dressed chicken as the same, in my opinion, comes within the mischief of item No. 4 of Schedule I read with Section 6 of the Bengal Finance (Sales Tax) Act, 1941.

6. In the circumstances, therefore, the impugned assessment in so far as the 'dressed chicken' is concerned, must be quashed and the matter should go back to the Commercial Tax Officer for the modification of the assessment order accordingly.


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