DAVE, J. -
(1.)THESE six writ petitions are disposed of by this single order as a common question of law is involved in them, namely, whether the sales tax can be imposed on sale or purchase of declared goods at more than one stage and whether that stage is the first point of sale or last point thereof and such a sale is in respect of steel tubes ? In S. B. Civil Writ Petition No. 280 of 1984, the petitioner Bharat Steel Tubes Ltd. is a public limited company which manufactures steel tubes/pipes in Haryana but has its sale depot in various States including the State of Rajasthan at Dher-ka-balaji, Jaipur, and is a registered dealer under the provisions of the Rajasthan Sales Tax Act, 1954 (hereinafter referred to as "the Act of 1954") as well as the Central Sales Tax Act, 1956 (hereinafter referred to as "the Act of 1956") and is being assessed by the Commercial Taxation Officer, E-Circle, Jaipur. The assessing authority for the assessment years 1978 and and 1979 issued prescribed notice under section 54 of the Act of 1954 asking the petitioner to show cause inter alia why the sale of the steel pipes effected by the petitioner to the registered dealers for resale against prescribed sales tax declaration form No. S. T. 17 amounting to Rs. 41,89,693. 33 be not assessed to tax at the rate of 4 per cent. and why the interest thereon be not levied in view of the decision reported in Associated Cement Co. Ltd. v. Commercial Tax Officer, Kota  48 STC 466 (SC ). The petitioner filed reply and submitted that the tax on the sale of steel tubes is to be levied on the last point in series of sales to successive dealers and that the tax on declared goods can be levied only at one point as contemplated under section 15 (a) of the Act of 1956. The assessing authority levied tax in respect of sale on steel tubes amounting to Rs. 41,89,693. 33 sold by the petitioner against declaration form No. S. T. 17 and created a tax liability at 4 per cent. amounting to Rs. 1,27,587. 75 and further created liability of interest under section 11b of the Act of 1954 amounting to Rs. 1,22,496. 00 and served a demand notice. It is against this assessment order dated January 30, 1984 and the demand notice of the even date, that the present writ petition is filed.
(2.)IN S. B. Civil Writ Petition No. 285 of 1984, the petitioner M/s. Jotindra Steel & Tubes Ltd. is also manufacturer of steel tubes manufacturing of which is being carried on in Haryana, but sales office in Rajasthan is at E-98, Shastri Nagar, Jaipur. A similar position in Bharat Steel Tubes case arose and the assessing authority imposed the tax on steel tubes worth Rs. 6,48,663. 72 sold by the petitioner to the registered dealers in Rajasthan against declaration form No. S. T. 17 which created a tax liability of 4 per cent. amounting to Rs. 25,997. 00 and interest amounting to Rs. 24,960. 00.
In S. B. Civil Writ Petition No. 286 of 1984, which is also filed by M/s. Jotindra Steel & Tubes Ltd. , party above, the tax imposed is on sale of steel pipes against declaration form No. S. T. 17 to the tune of Rs. 1,85,292. 12 and the tax liability at 4 per cent. came to Rs. 7,411. 68 and an interest to the tune of Rs. 7,228. 00.
In S. B. Civil Writ Petition No. 282 of 1984, Vijai Hari Agencies the petitioner is a partnership firm which deals in steel pipes and tubes at Jaipur. The petitioner purchased steel tubes from M/s. Bharat Steel Tubes Ltd. worth Rs. 28,94,725. 74 against declaration form No. S. T. 17 for resale in Rajasthan. The petitioner was served with a notice by respondent No. 2 as to why tax should not be imposed on him on the sale of the items of steel tubes/pipes which was replied to but the assessing authority imposed tax amounting to the extent mentioned in para 13 of the writ petition and also imposed interest as mentioned therein. S. B. Civil Writ Petition No. 281 of 1984 is also filed by the same firm which is in respect of steel tubes goods purchased from Bharat Steel Tubes, Jaipur, worth Rs. 30,23,906. 45 and tax and interest liability was created after notice as mentioned in para 12 of the writ petition. In S. B. Civil Writ Petition No. 279 of 1984, M/s. Bharat Steel Tubes Ltd. the tax is levied on the first sale of steel pipes amounting to Rs. 28,93,605. 25 and created the liability after notice as mentioned in para 15.
The facts mentioned above indicate that the writ petitions filed by M/s. Bharat Steel Tubes Ltd. and Jotindra Steel & Tubes Ltd. are in respect of sale on the first point where the parties are manufacturers and they sold goods to teh subsequent dealers and yet have been assessed and demand made. While the writ petitions filed by Vijai Hari Agencies who are the purchasers of Bharat Steel Tubes have been taxed at a subsequent point and hence the question as mentioned above is common to all the six writ petitions whether on the same goods, i. e. , steel tubes, sales tax could be imposed on Bharat Steel and Jotindra Steel & Tubes or on the subsequent purchasers Vijai Hari Agencies and other traders in case of Jotindra Steel & Tubes Ltd. The petitioners' contentions are that the entire dispute arose in all theses cases for the assessment years 1977-78 and 1978-79 only till then there was no dispute and the earlier assessing authority completed the assessment of the petitioners for the years 1973-74, 1974-75, 1975-76 and 1976-77 on the sale of steel tubes and pipes as taxable at the last point of sale in State of Rajasthan and accepting the claim of the petitioner in respect of sales made to the registered dealers against declaration form No. S. T. 17 without charging any sales tax thereon and thus the petitioners' assessment for the years 1977-78 and 1978-79 ought to have been considered in the same light.
It has been contended on behalf of the petitioner that M/s. Vijai Hari Agencies, Jaipur, and M/s. Ever Green Corporation, Jaipur, or the last dealers selling steel pipes and tubes in Rajasthan, had been paying the tax in respect of the last point. At the same time M/s. Bharat Steel Tubes Ltd. and M/s. Jotindra Steel & Tubes Ltd. have been charged tax in respect of the same goods, which is clearly illegal at the first point. It is contended that the same goods could not be taxed twice and it has to be charged only one at point in the series of sales to the successive dealers. The commodities in question, viz. , steel pipes and tubes, are covered by the definition of "goods of special importance", as defined in section 14 of the Act of 1956 and by virtue of section 15 (a), the tax can be levied only on one point. It is also contended that the imposition of the tax on sale of iron steel tubes in the hands of the first dealer is violative of articles 265 and 300a of the Constitution of India, being the levy of tax without any authority of law and also amounting to deprivation of property without any authority of law. It has also been contended that various notifications have been issued from time to time by the state Government where, according to which the point of tax on sale of iron and steel tubes is on the last point in the series of sales by the successive dealers as is clear from the notification dated April 11, 1958 which is as under : " In exercise of the powers conferred by second proviso to section 5 of the Rajasthan Sales Tax Act, 1954 (Rajasthan Act XXIX of 1954), the Government of Rajasthan being of the opinion that it is necessary in the public interest so to do does hereby provide that with immediate effect the rate of tax payable by a dealer in respect of the goods included in the list appended hereto shall be shown against each and in pursuance of sub-rule (2) of rule 15 of the Rajasthan Sales Tax Rules, 1955, further directs the tax in respect of the aforesaid goods shall be payable at the LAST POINT in the series of sales by successive dealers. LISt (i ). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (ii ). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (iii ). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (iv ). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (v) Iron and steel, that is to say :- 2 per cent. (a) pig iron and iron scrap; (b) iron plates sold in the same form in which they are directly produced by the rolling mill; (c) steel scrap, steel ingots, steel billets, steel bars and rods; (d) (i) steel plates | sold in the same form in which (ii) steel sheets | they are directly produced by (iii) sheet bars and tin bars | the rolling mill. " (iv) rolled steel sections | (v) tool alloy steel | It is submitted that in the aforesaid notification it is clearly mentioned that the tax shall be payable at the last point in the series of sales by successive dealers. Thereafter notifications were issued revising the rates on May 29, 1967, March 8, 1969, March 31, 1973 and July 1, 1975 however without altering the position of 1958 notification and again when the notification was issued on February 27, 1980 it clearly mentioned that the tax is leviable at the last point. It was, therefore, contended that on a perusal of the aforesaid notifications it is abundantly clear that the notification dated April 11, 1958 where the tax was payable on iron and steel at the last point continued and no change was ever made and this is why the assessing authorities used to levy tax at the last point in the assessment years 1973-74, 1974-75, 1975-76 and 1976-77 and again and again it has resorted to the same subsequently but for the years in dispute the assessing authority in constravention of the aforesaid notifications and section 15 of the Act of 1956 levied tax at two stages which ex facie is without jurisdiction quoting section 15 of the Act of 1956 which reads as under : " Section 15. Restrictions and conditions in regard to tax on sale or purchase of declared goods within a State.- Every sales tax law of State shall, in so far as it imposes or authorises the imposition of a tax on the sale or purchase of declared goods, be subject to the following restrictions and conditions, namely :- (a) the tax payable under that law in respect of any sale or purchase of such goods inside the State shall not exceed (four per cent.) of the sale or purchase price thereof, and such tax shall not be levied at more than one stage. "
(3.)IT is further submitted that the aforesaid position has further been made clear by notification annexure 1 where it has been categorically stated that it cannot be levied at more than one stage. IT has been further contended on behalf of Vijai Hari Agencies that the tax can be levied only on the registered dealer, to whom the sales have been made successively and again because the sale was made under section 5cc and section 5c and the purchases have been made from M/s. Bharat Steel Tubes Ltd. in whose assessment, full tax has already been levied; no tax could be imposed on this firm. In substance, the contention of the petitioner is that the assessing authority has acted illegally and in gross violation of the provisions of the Act and the notifications in levying the tax from both the seller and the purchaser and at both the points, and that this Court must interpret the provisions of law so that the legal position may be clarified so that the assessing authority may not tax the parties illegally. Reliance has been placed on the circular (annexure 1) dated February 17, 1983 issued by the Government of Rajasthan, Commercial Taxes Department, where the scope of he definition of "iron and steel" was clarified.
In reply the counsel for the respondents has contended that the writ petition should be dismissed on the short ground that the petitioner has alternative remedy by way of appeals which in fact had been filed after vacating the stay order by this Court and the same are pending before the appellate authority. Thus, there being availability of alternative remedy, the writ petition should be dismissed. Reliance in this connection has been placed on Titaghur Paper Mills Co. Ltd. v. State of Orissa  53 STC 315 (SC); AIR 1983 SC 603 and Premier Automobiles Ltd. v. Kamlakar Shantaram Wadke AIR 1975 SC 2238. Replying to the contentions raised on behalf of the petitioner, learned counsel for the respondents submitted that the notification referred to by the petitioners were not applicable to the facts of these writ petitions as the notification dated April 11, 1958 was a composite notification issued under section 5 of the Rajasthan Sales Tax Act relating to tax as well as under rule 15 of the Rajasthan Sales Tax Rules relating to the point of tax. It was contended that the items mentioned in this notification did not cover the steel tubes imported by the petitioner as the list was exhaustive. As such, by virtue of rule 15 the tax on steel tubes/pipes was leviable at the first point. Regarding the subsequent notifications dated May 29, 1967, March 8, 1969 and July 1, 1975 it is submitted that they were issued under section 5 of the Rajasthan Sales Tax Act relating to the rate of tax only and were not concerned with the point of tax. It has, however, been conceded that subsequent to the issuance of the notification dated February 27, 1980 under rule 15 of the Rajasthan Sales Tax Rules, it can be said that the tax on steel tubes and pipes is leviable on the last point but as the present case relates to the assessment year prior to this, the same would not apply. Reliance in this connection was placed on State of Tamil Nadu v. Pyare Lal Malhotra  37 STC 319 (SC); AIR 1976 SC 800 and Commissioner of Income-tax v. Shahzada Nand and Sons AIR 1966 SC 1342. Regarding the case of Jotindra Steels, it has been contended that the tax on declared commodity sold by them is leviable at the single point, and the correct point is the first point by virtue of rule 15 of the Rajasthan Sales Tax Rules. Thus, the tax has rightly been levied on them and they cannot question merely on the subsequent dealers. Thus, such grievance could be made by the subsequent dealers only. Regarding the circular (annexure 1) it is contended that the same is not at all helpful in determining the point in issue, as it lays down only that the rate of tax is 4 per cent. and that it cannot be levied at more one stage, but this notification does not mention as to which is that stage and is silent on the point that it has to be levied at the last point. It has also been contended that the levying tax at the last point in the earlier years, does not attract the doctrine of res judicata, as in taxation matters, each year's assessment gives separate cause of action. Reliance has been placed on M. M. Ipoh v. Commissioner of Income-tax, Madras AIR 1968 SC 317 and Income-tax Law by Chaturvedi and Pithisaria, Third Edition, Volume I, page 190. Regarding the argument of equity in favour of the petitioner, it is contended that there is no equity in taxation matters, both of them are strangers. In this respect reliance has been placed on interpretation of Taxing Statutes by Kajju, page 7, Commissioner of Income-tax v. Shahzada Nand and Sons AIR 1966 SC 1342 and Commissioner of Income-tax v. Firm Muar AIR 1965 SC 1216.
While giving rejoinder to the contentions of the respondents Mr. Mehta, counsel for the petitioner, contended that looking to the legislative history and post-practice duly clarified by the circular dated April 11, 1958 the only inference which can be drawn is that the tax is leviable at the last point. In the alternative, it is contended that in case the notification is not relied upon, then there is no notification fixing the stage and in the absence of notification the levy is per se illegal. Regarding the preliminary objections raised on behalf of the respondents Mr. Mehta submitted that the assessment order can be directly challenged by the writ petition and there is absolutely no illegality about it. Reliance has been placed on Bhawani Cotton Mills Ltd. v. State of Punjab  20 STC 290 (SC), A. V. Fernandez v. State Kerala  8 STC 561 (SC), Calcutta Discount Co. Ltd. v. Income-tax Officer AIR 1961 SC 372, Rohtas Industries Ltd. v. Rohtas Industries Staff Union AIR 1976 SC 425, Karam Chand Thapper and Bros. (Coal Sales) Ltd. , Jaipur v. Sales Tax Officer, City Circle A, Jaipur  16 STC 412 at 413; AIR 1963 Raj 51, Kailash Nath v. State of U. P.  8 STC 358 (SC); AIR 1957 SC 790, Rajasthan Spinning & Weaving Mills Ltd. v. State of Rajasthan  46 STC 141; 1980 RLW 180; and K. S. Shivji & Co. v. Joint Commercial Tax Officer  16 STC 769; AIR 1967 Mad 135.