BHARATKHAND TEXTILE MFG CO Vs. STATE OF GUJARAT
HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
BHARATKHAND TEXTILE MFG.CO.
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P.N.BHAGWATI, J.M.SHELAT -
(1.) The dispute in this Reference relates to certain sales effected by the assessee during the assessment period 1st April 1953 to 31 March 1954. The assessee at the material time carried on business of manufacture and sale of cloth. The mode of business adopted by the assessee in respect of the sales of cloth effected by it was as follows. The assessee entered into contracts of sale of cloth with local buyers. The contracts were entered into by the buyers irrespective of the fact whether they had received any indents from upcountry merchants. The contracts were sometimes oral and sometimes in writing. It was a condition of the contracts that the delivery of cloth would be given at the godown of the buyer or if the buyer instructed the assessee to despatch the cloth by rail to any destination the assessee would despatch the cloth to such destination and give constructive delivery of the cloth by handing over to the buyer the relative Railway Receipt duly endorsed in favour of the buyer. We may point out at this stage that this condition of the contracts was according to the assessee not an express condition but an implied condition and it was implied from the accepted practice of the assessee. It is difficult to see how any condition of the contracts could be implied from some practice followed by the assessee but we shall deal with that a little later when we examine the arguments advanced on behalf of the assessee. The buyers thereafter either took delivery of cloth at their godowns or gave instructions to the assessee to despatch cloth to such destinations as they required in which case the assessee despatched cloth to such destinations by rail according to the instructions of the buyers. The assessee made all arrangements for despatch of cloth to such destinations and also made the necessary applications to the Textile Commissioner for permission to despatch the same. The assessee took out the railway receipts in its own name as consignor as well as consignee and endorsed the railway receipts in favour of the buyers and delivered the same to the buyers in performance of the contracts. It was after the railway receipts duly endorsed were handed over by the assessee to the buyers that the buyers made payment of the price to the assessee. This was the modus operandi of the assessee in respect of sales of cloth effected by it as appearing from the statements made by the assessee before the Additional Collector of Sales Tax and the Deputy Commissioner of Sales Tax on 22nd December 1959 and 16 February 1960 respectively being Annexure F and G to the statement of the case. In the course of assessment for the assessment period 1st April 1953 to 31st March 1954 the assessee contended that the sales in which cloth had been despatched by the assessee to destinations outside the State of Bombay were liable to be excluded from the taxable turnover of the assessee. There were two grounds on which the claim for deduction was formulated. The first ground was based on Rule 5(1)(xi)(i)(A) of the Rules under the Bombay Sales Tax Act 1953 which was the relevant Act in force during the material period. The second ground on which the claim was sought to be sustained was that the sales were in the course of inter-State trade or commerce and were therefore exempt from tax by reason of Article 286(2) of the Constitution. It is not necessary to set out exactly what happened before the Sales Tax Officer the Assistant Collector of Sales Tax and the Deputy Commissioner of Sales Tax beyond stating that both the grounds on which the claim for deduction was made by the assessee were rejected by them. The matter was carried in appeal before the Tribunal. Now so far as the first ground is concerned it appears that before the Tribunal some confusion arose in regard to the true basis on which the claim for deduction was made on behalf of the assessee. The claim of the assessee for deduction was presumably based on sub-clause (a) of Rule 5(1)(xi)(1)(A) but it was sought to be negatived by reference to sub-clause (c) of Rule 5(1)(xi)(1)(A) and the argument advanced on behalf of the State was that the claim for deduction could if at all fall only with sub-clause (c) and since the assessee had not produced certificates from the purchasing dealers in Form Aid as required under that sub-clause the assessee was not entitled to deduction of the sales from its taxable turnover. The entire argument before the Tribunal therefore centered round the question whether sub clause (c) applied to the facts of the case. The assessee contended that sub-clause (c) had no application because it applied only where goods were consigned outside India and that it could not possibly apply to sales in which goods were despatched by rail to destinations within India. The Tribunal on a construction of sub-clause(c) came to the conclusion that that sub-clause was not confined in its application to sales where goods were consigned outside India but also applied where goods were despatched by rail to destinations within India and that in the latter case it was necessary for the dealer claiming deduction to produce a certificate from the purchasing dealer in Form Aid. The Tribunal held that since the assessee had not produced certificates in Form Aid from the purchasing dealers in respect of the sales sought to be deducted from the turnover the assessee was not entitled to deduction in respect of such sales. The second ground on which the claim for deduction was based was that the sales were in the course of inter-State trade or commerce and were therefore exempt from tax under Article 286(2) of the Constitution. This ground was also rejected by the Tribunal. The Tribunal took the view on a consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case that the sales could not be said to be inter-State sales and were therefore not within the inhibition of Article 286(2) of the Constitution. The Tribunal accordingly dismissed the Revision Application of the assessee. The assessee thereupon applied for a-reference and on the application of the assessee the Tribunal referred the following two questions namely:- (a) Whether the Tribunal was justified in interpreting that sub-clause (c) of sub-clause (1) of Clause (xi) of Rule 5(1) of the Bombay Sales Tax Rules is applicable even to the sales where the goods were despatched outside the Bombay State by rails ? (b). Whether on the facts and circumstances of the case the finding of the Tribunal that the sales worth Rs. 6 25 278 were not in the course of inter-State trade or commerce is legally tenable ? for the opinion of this Court under the relevant provisions of the Bombay Sales Tax Act 1953
(2.) So far as the first question is concerned it raises a point as to the construction of sub-clause (c) of Rule 5(1)(xi)(1)(A). But it is difficult to see how this question can at all arise on the contention of the assessee. The claim of the assessee for deduction could obviously not be granted under sub-clause (c) of Rule 5(1)(xi)(1)(A) since that sub-clause requires production of a certificate from the purchasing dealer in Form Ald before any deduction can be permitted and the assessee admittedly did not possess any certificates in Form Ald from the purchasing dealers in respect of the sales. The assessee in fact did not rely on sub-clause (c) and it was therefore entirely unnecessary for the Tribunal to consider whether that sub-clause applied in case of sales where goods were despatched by rail to destinations within India. The only part of Rule 5 on which the assessee could rely and on which we are told by Mr. M. M. Thakore learned advocate appearing on behalf of the assessee that the assessee did rely was sub-clause (a) which provides for deduction of sales where it is shown to the satisfaction of the Collector that the goods sold have been within a period of three months from the date of the sale despatched by the selling dealer according to the instructions of the purchasing dealer to a place outside the State of Bombay or delivered by the selling dealer at a sea port on F. O. B. or F.A.S. basis or at an airport beyond the customs frontier. Though there is no specific reference to sub-clause (a) in the order of the Tribunal it does appear from the facts stated in paragraph 2 of the statement of the case that the assessee must have relied on sub-clause (a) but the Tribunal it seems countered this argument of the assessee by pointing out that it was sub-clause (c) which applied and since the assessee had not satisfied the requirements of that sub-clause by producing certificates in Form Aid from the purchasing dealers the assessee was not entitled to claim deduction in respect of the sales. The assessee contended that sub-clause (c) applied only to sales in which the goods were consigned outside India and had no application where goods were despatched by rail to destinations within India as in the present case but this contention was negatived by the Tribunal and the Tribunal relying on sub clause (c) rejected the claim of the assessee. The real question namely whether the assessee was entitled to claim deduction under sub-clause (a) was thus side-tracked and the discussion before the Tribunal centered round the question whether sub-clause (c) applied. Now as we have pointed out above it was entirely immaterial to consider whether sub clause (c) applied. In the first place the assessee did not base its claim for deduction on sub-clause (c). Secondly the assessee did not possess certificates in Form Aid from the purchasing dealers and the assessee could not therefore possibly make a claim for deduction under sub clause (c) whatever be the true scope and ambit of that sub-clause. The only question, which should therefore have been considered, was whether the assessee was entitled to claim deduction under sub-clause (a) but the Tribunal presumably on the erroneous view that the assessee could succeed in its claim for deduction only if the conditions of sub-clause(c) were satisfied failed to consider this question. If this question was argued before the Tribunal as perhaps it was the assessee could have applied to the Tribunal to raise and refer this question to the Court but the assessee did not do so and instead applied for a reference of the first question which raised a point as to construction of sub-clause (c). The result therefore is that there is no question before us raising the point whether the assessee was entitled to claim deduction under sub clause (a) and consequently we cannot permit Mr. M. M. Thakore to make an argument based on that sub-clause. The first question as submitted to us raising as it does a point as to the construction of sub clause (c) is entirely unnecessary and we do not so any reason to answer the same.
(3.) The point for determination which arises in the second question is whether the sales effected by the assessee were sales in the course of inter-State trade or commerce. The assessee contended that the sales were sales in the course of inter-State trade or commerce and were therefore exempt from tax under Article 286(2) of the Constitution as it existed at the material time. Now when can a sale be said to be a sale in the course of inter-State trade or commerce ? This question is fortunately now no longer open to controversy and there are several pronouncements of the highest Court of the land upon it Venkatarama Aiyar J.said in Bengal Immunity Company Limited v The State of Bihar (1955) 2 S.C.R 603 at 784:-- A sale could be said to be in the course of inter-State trade only if two conditions concur:- (1) A sale of goods and (2) a transport of those goods from one State to another under the contract of sale. Unless both these conditions are satisfied there can be no are in the course of inter-State trade. The judgment of Venkatarama Aiyar J. in this case was of course a minority judgment so far as the main question of construction of clauses (1) and (2) of Article 286 was concerned but on the question as to what is the true meaning of an inter-State sale this statement was not contrary to anything stated in the majority judgments and was as a matter of fact accepted as a correct exposition of the true meaning of an interstate sale in the subsequent decision of the Supreme Court in Endupuri Narasimham & Son v. State of Orissa (1961) 12 S.T.C 282. In this subsequent decision the same learned Judge speaking on behalf of the Court said that in order that a sale might be inter-State it is essential that there must be transport of goods from one State to another under the contract of sale and cited in support the aforesaid passage from his judgment in Bengal Immunity Company's case. This theme was again elaborated by the Supreme Court in State of Assam v. Ramesh Chandra Dey (1961) 12 S.T.C. 441 where Hidayatullah J observed that only sales which affect inter-State trade or commerce directly and were an integral part thereof were saved under Article 286(2). It is therefore clear that a sale cannot be said to be an inter-State sale unless there is movement of goods from one State to another under the contract of sale. It must be an integral part of the contract of sale that the goods shall cross the border from one State into another It is not enough as pointed out by the Supreme Court in Endupuri Narasimhams Case and Ramesh Chandra Deys Case that the buyer takes delivery of the goods from the seller for the purpose of despatching them to another State nor is it enough that seller pursuant to the instructions of the buyer despatches the goods across the border to another State. The contract of sale must itself provide as an integral part of it that the goods shall be transported from one State to another. If the contract of sale provides for movement of the goods from one State to another as a necessary incident of its performance the sale would be a sale in the course of inter-State trade or commerce. In such a case it would not be relevant to inquire where the property passes. The property may pass within the State, which seeks to tax the sale, but the sale would nevertheless be an inter-State sale and therefore beyond the taxing power of the State.;
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