SRIKRISHNA STORES Vs. SUPERINTENDENT OF TAXES
HIGH COURT OF GAUHATI
SUPERINTENDENT OF TAXES
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(1.) THIS batch of 14 writ petitions under article 226 of the Constitution by various merchants of Gauhati can be dealt with in this common judgment as the facts disclosed by them are almost parallel and the points of law involved are identical.
(2.) WE may reproduce the facts of Civil Rule No. 124 of 1970 as a sample. The petitioner Srikrishna Stores, Gauhati, is a registered dealer for the purpose of the Assam Sales Tax Act, 1947, hereinafter called the Act. That petitioner submitted his return for the period ending 30th September, 1967, to respondent No. 1, the Superintendent of Taxes, Gauhati, and in course of time produced its books of account and relevant documents before that officer at the latter's behest. Respondent No. 1 assessed the petitioner to a total tax of Rs. 1,350. 33 on including in the turnover the amount charged by the petitioner for the tailored garments supplied to various customers. It appears that respondent No. 1 assessed such garments as "ready-made garments", an item entered at No. 2 in Schedule II appended to the Act. The petitioner having felt aggrieved against the assessment of those articles as "ready-made garments" filed an appeal before the Assistant Commissioner, but before that appeal could be decided he filed the instant writ petition challenging the finding of the Superintendent of Taxes that the garments of which the sale price was included in the turnover appropriately fall within the description of "ready-made garments".
The respondents have joined issue with the petitioner on the point that the articles in question do not answer the description of "ready-made garments". In addition, it is pleaded that the petitioner having not exhausted his departmental remedies he had no right in law to file the present writ petition.
(3.) THE learned Advocate-General, Assam, has invited our attention to the Supreme Court decisions in Champalal Binani v. Commissioner of Income-tax, West Bengal ( 76 I. T. R. 692 (S. C.); (1971) 3 S. C. C. 20), and V. V. Iyer v. Jasjit Singh ( (1973) 1 S. C. C. 148), to reinforce his submission that the present writ petitions are misconceived. Beyond doubt it was held in the first-mentioned authority that the Income-tax Act provides a complete and self-contained machinery for obtaining relief against improper action taken by the departmental authorities, and normally the party feeling himself aggrieved by such action cannot be permitted to refuse to have recourse to that machinery and to approach the High Court directly against the action. It was held in that case that the assessee having an adequate remedy under the Income-tax Act, which he could have availed of, but had failed to utilise the same, there was no adequate grounds made out for entertaining the writ petition. Where the aggrieved party has an alternative remedy, the Supreme Court held further, the High Court "would be slow to entertain a petition challenging an order of a taxing authority which is ex facie with jurisdiction", and that a petition for writ of certiorari may lie to the High Court where the order is on the face of it erroneous or raises the question of jurisdiction or of infringement of fundamental rights of the petitioner.;
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