Decided on May 14,1957

PUNJAB STATE Respondents


- (1.) THIS is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution by five business concerns carrying on business in Ambala and Chandigarh and has arisen in the following circumstances.
(2.) THE petitioners are registered dealers under the East Punjab General Sales Tax Act, 1948. Section 4 of this Act is a charging section while section 5 gives the rate of tax. The tax on sales is paid by dealers. In 1952 section 5(1) was amended so as to limit the maximum tax to two pice in a rupee on the annual taxable turnover. In 1956 a proviso was introduced to this sub-section (1) of section 5 which reads :- "Provided that a tax at double the rate of tax so notified may be levied on the sale of luxury goods as specified in Schedule 'A' appended to this Act from such date as the State Government may by notification direct. The State Government, after giving by notification not less than three months' notice of its intention so to do, may by like notification add to or delete from this Schedule, and thereupon this Schedule shall be deemed to have been amended accordingly." The Government published a notification on the 28th of November, 1956, levying double the rate of tax with effect from the 1st of December, 1956. The validity of this notification is challenged by this petition on the ground that the notification was not published in accordance with law and that in any case it violates Article 14 and Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. I shall deal with these two grounds separately.
(3.) THE learned counsel for the petitioners has urged that under the proviso a notification levying a tax at double the rate has to be notified three months before the tax become enforceable and for this purpose has relied on the words "of its intention so to do" and on the expression "by like notification" in support of this contention. There is no substance in this argument. The first sentence of the proviso deals with the levying of double the rate of tax. The second sentence which is an independent sentence deals with the notification relating to amendment of the Schedule. As I read this proviso the Government has to issue a notification giving at least three months' notice to amend the Schedule, but no time is prescribed for issuing a notice doubling the rate of tax. The word "so to do" obviously refer to the amendment of the Schedule and the expression "like notification" merely means a notification of the type mentioned above. It is not possible to hold that the first sentence in this proviso lays down that at least three months' notice should be given for doubling the rate.;

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