Decided on August 22,1967



- (1.) PETITIONER Shri Nathulal Fatehpuria has moved this writ application under Article 226 of the Constitution questioning the legality of seizure of his account books and goods from his shop on 19-9-66 and has prayed for an appropriate writ, direction or order against the respondents. The case set up by the petitioner in his writ petition is briefly this.
(2.) PETITIONER is carrying on the business of selling and supplying cloth, saris, both plain and embroidered garments with 'salma', 'sitara' or 'gota' work done on them and other ready-made garments. The petitioner is registered as a dealer under the rajasthan Sales Tax Act, 1954, hereinafter to be referred as the ''act". He proceeds to say that he maintains regular books of accounts and has been paying the sales-tax regularly. On 19-9-66, a party of officers numbering about 30, consisting of respondent No. 3, Shri Surendra Sharma, Special Officer, Anti-Evasion, Commercial Taxes Department, Jaipur and others came to his shop at about 4. 00 p. m. According to the petitioner, this party had a pre-planned policy of collecting Government revenue by fair or foul means, and in pursuance thereof first of all these officers enquired from him whether he was paying sales-tax on saris embroidered with 'gota'. 'salma' and 'sitara', but when the petitioner replied that these goods were exempt from sales tax by virtue of Government Notification no. F (99) F and T/60 dt. 26-3-62 the respondents refused to accept this reply and demanded from him Rs 2,000 as composition money for the offence of evasion of Tax. The petitioner, however, did not accede to this demand and, therefore, the party of the Government Officers asked the customers at the shop to go away and they put a guard around the shop and the entire record of the petitioner consisting of account books and other papers was ordered to be seized. Accordingly, the party of officers seized the record of the petitioner. Thereafter, certain lists were prepared by the respondent No. 3, and the petitioner was furnished with the list regarding seizure of the account books. After serving him with a notice Ex. P/5, the officers are further alleged to have seized the goods lying at the petitioner's shop such as. Saris, ready-made garments, both ordinary and those on which there was embroidery work of 'salma' 'sitara and Gota'. It is the petitioner's case that thereafter he was served with notices Ex. P/6 and Ex. P/7, and was told that as the clothes found at his shop were not entered in his account books he should pay four-times the tax recoverable from him, failing which the goods would be confiscated in accordance with Section 22 (6) of the Act. The petitioner felt aggrieved of this action of respondent No. 3 and his party and, therefore, he proceeds to say that he gave a telegraphic notice to respondent No. 3 to return the books and other papers seized from him as also the goods that were confiscated. As the respondents failed to give any relief to the petitioner he has come to this court. He has contended that the action of the officers was illegal for two reasons: (1) that the provisions of Section 22 (3), (4) and (6) were violative of Articles 14, 19 (1) (f) and (g) of the Constitution and therefore the officers could not have taken any action under the aforesaid provisions and (2)that there was non-compliance of the provisions of Section 22 (3) of the Act inasmuch as in the notice Ex. P/5, respondent No. 3 had not mentioned any reason for his suspicion that the petitioner was attempting to evade sales tax under the Act and secondly no reasons have been recorded in writing for the seizure of the account books or the stock of garments and Saries lying at the petitioner's shop.
(3.) THE writ petition has been opposed by the State of Rajasthan and other respondents. It is denied by them that the seizure of the account books or the goods was illegal on any of the grounds mentioned by the petitioner. It is submitted on their behalf that in the opening words of Ex P/5 it had been mentioned that it was on the basis of verbal written information that had come in the possession of respondent No. 3 that he thought that the petitioner was attempting to evade sales tax under the Act. This, according to the respondents, complied with the provisions of Section 22 (3) of the Act. As regards the not mentioning of reasons in writing, it is submitted by the respondents that whatever was mentioned in the earlier part of the notice should be taken to be the statement of reasons for the seizure as well. In the alternative it was contended that not recording of reasons in writing will not invalidate the seizure as according to the respondent, the statement of the petitioner was recorded before the seizure. A copy of that statement has been produced as Ex A/1 on the record and on its basis it is submitted that this statement furnished a sufficient basis for respondent. No. 3 to take action against the petitioner under Section 22 (3) of the act by seizing the account books, as well as the goods. Besides this it is submitted by the respondents that the petitioner has suppressed three material facts in his writ petition. In the first instance, the petitioner made no mention of the fact that his statement had been recorded by respondent No. 3, and secondly, he had omitted to say that a notice of enquiry in accordance with rule 51-A of the Rajasthan Sales Tax Rules had been given to him. As regards the use of the word "confiscation" in Ex. P/6 it was pointed out by the respondents that this word was used by mistake for the word "seizure" and this mistake was rectified by issuing a notice to the petitioner on 26-9-66. A copy of the notice has been placed on the record and marked as Ex. A/2. About this notice also it is submitted by the respondents that the petitioner has not made any mention of it in his writ petition. It was also urged by the respondents that the petitioner had an alternative remedy of going in revision against the order of respondent No. 3 to the Board of Revenue under Section 14 of the Act and, therefore, we should not hear the petitioner in exercise of our extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution.;

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