ANDHRA PRADESH STATE ELECTRICITY BOARD Vs. NAGARI GRAM PANCHAYAT
HIGH COURT OF ANDHRA PRADESH
ANDHRA PRADESH STATE ELECTRICITY BOARD
NAGARI GRAM PANCHAYAT
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(1.)The petitioner is the Andhra Pradesh State Electricity Board, a body corporate
constituted under the provisions of the Electricity Supply Act, 1948. By
its constitution it is endowed with "perpetual" succession and a comman seal
in connection with it's duty of generation, supply and distribution of electricity.
It has established several stations, sub-stations, offices and sub-offices,
within the State of Andhra Pradesh. Several Gram Panchayats in the State
of Andhra Pradesh have called upon the petitioner to pay profession tax under
the Gram Panchayats Act. The respondents are two such Gram Panchayats.
The Board claims that it is not liable to pay profession tax as it is neither a
company nor a person with in the meaning of the expressions as used in section 72
of the Gram Panchayats Act. In any case, it is claimed that it is not liable to
pay profession tax because it does not carry on any of it's operations with a
profit motive and therefore cannot be said to transact any business so as to become
liable to the levy of profession tax. The petitioner therefore seeks a writ
of mandamus or other appopriate writ directing the respondents to refrain from
demanding profession tax from the petitioner and it's Officers.
Section 69 (1) (b) of the Gram Panchayats Act empowers a Gram Panchayat
to levy a tax on professions trades or callings to be called 'profession
tax. Section 72 enacts that profession tax may be levied on
(i) every company which transacts business in such village for not
less than sixty days in the aggregate in that year ; and
(ii) every person who, in that year
(a) exercises a profession, art or calling or transacts business or
holds any appointment, public or private
(i) within such village for not less than sixty days in the aggregate, or
(ii) without such village,but who resides in it for not less than sixty
days in the aggregate, or
(b) resides in such village for not lets than sixty days in the aggregate
and is in recepit of any pension or income from investments."
There is an explanation to Section 72 which is in the following terms:
"Explanation :- For the purpose of this Section, the expression Person
shall include a firm, association or joint Hindu family"
While company is defined in section 2 (6) of the Act as meaning a company
as defined in the comapanics Act of 1956, the Act docs not contain any
definition of person. The Andhra Pradesh General clauses Act however defines
person as follows:-
Person shall include any company or association of individuals
whether incorporated or not"
Ordinarily words or expressions defined by the General Clauses Act shall have
the meaning given to therein in every Andhra Pradesh Act unless there is
something repugnant in the subject or context of the particular enactment
The word "person" as defined by the General Glauses Act is wide enough to
include a body corporate such as the Andhra Pradesh State Electricity Board.
The question is whether there is any thing in, the subject or context of the
Andhra Pradesh Gram Panchayats Act which requires that a different mean
ing should be given to the word Person than that given in the General Clauses
Act and whether such a meaning will exclude bodies such as the Andhra Pradesh
State Electricity Board. It is not disputed that the Andhra Pradesh State
Electricity Board is not a Company as defined in the Companies Act.
I may at this juncture refer to the observations of Lord Blackburn in
Pharmaceutical Society v. London and Provincial Supply Association regarding the meaning
to the attributed to the word Person. He said
"The word person may very well include both a natural person a
human being and an artificial person, a corporation. I think that in an
act of parliament, unless there be something to the contrary, probably
(but that I should not like to pledge myself to) it ought to be held
to include both. I have equally no doubt that in common talk, the
language of men not speaking techinically, a person does not include
an artifical person, that is to say, a Corporation. Nobody in common
talk, if he were asked, who is the richest person would mean a
natural person.........in techinical language it may mean that the
artificial person; in which way it is used in any particular Act must depend
upon the context and the subject-matter. I do not think that the
presumption that it does include an artificial person, a corporation if
that is the presumption, is it all a strong one, circumstances, and
indeed circumstances of a slight nature in the context, might show in
which way the word is to be construed in an Act of parliament, whether
it is to have the one meaning or the other. I am quite clear
about this that the object of the Act requires that the word person
shall have the more extended or the less extendend sense, than, which
ever seme it requires you should apply the word in that sense and construe
the Act accordingly."
(2.)Adopting the approach suggested by Lord Blackburn I will proceed to
consider the question whether person in section 72 of the Gram Panchayats
Act means natural person only or whether it includes an artificial person such
as a corporation also. Notwithstanding the wide definition of person in the
General Clauses Act whieh includes a'Company' the legislature when it enacted
the Gram Panchayats Act chose to mention a company and a person separately
as liable to the levy of profession tax. Thereby the ligislature in my
opinion, clearly signified it's intention to abandon the definition of person
in the Genaral Clauses Act for the purpose of the Gram Panchayats Act. The
position is further clarified by the exaplantion to Section 72. While the
exaplanation states that person shall include a firm, association or joint Hindu
family it does not refer to corporate bodies. The express exclusion of incorporated
bodies from the explanation notwithstanding their inclusion in the
definition of person in the General clauses Act eoupled with the separate
mention of company in Section 72 of the Gram Panchayats Act indicates.that
person in Sec. 72 of the Gram Panchayats Act means a natural person or a
combination of natural persons but does not include an artificial person.
(3.)The Andhra Pradesh State Electricity Board is therefore neither a Company nor a
person within the meaning of the expressions as used in Section 72 of the Gram
Panchayats Act and cannot therefore be subjected to the levy of Profession tax
under that provision. The writ petition is therefore allowed but in the circumstances
without costs. In the view that I have taken it is unnecessary to go into
the further question whether the Andhra Pradesh State Electricity Board can be
said to transact any business.
M. S. K. --------- Writ petition allowed.
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