ANDHRA PRADESH STATE ELECTRICITY BOARD Vs. NAGARI GRAM PANCHAYAT
LAWS(APH)-1969-1-11
HIGH COURT OF ANDHRA PRADESH
Decided on January 27,1969

ANDHRA PRADESH STATE ELECTRICITY BOARD Appellant
VERSUS
NAGARI GRAM PANCHAYAT Respondents

JUDGEMENT

- (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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