RAMACHANDRA RAO,J. -
(1.)IN this batch of writ petitions the petitioners who are all dealers in hides and skins and are registered both under the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1957 (hereinafter called the State Act) and the Central Sales Tax Act of 1956 (hereinafter called the Central Act), challenge the assessments made or proposed to be made on the petitioners under the State Act and also seek directions for considering their applications for refund of the sales tax levied under the State Act. As the facts and questions of law raised are common in all the writ petitions, it is sufficient to refer to the facts in one of the writ petitions. We shall refer to the facts in W. P. No. 30 of 1968.
(2.)BRIEFLY , the facts which are not in dispute in the said writ petition are as follows : The petitioners purchase raw hides and skins in the State of Andhra Pradesh and sell the same to the dealers in Madras in the course of inter-State trade or commerce. They are being assessed to tax as last purchasers in the State under the State Act and also as sellers under the Central Act. But under rule 27-A of the Rules framed under the State Act, they are entitled to claim a refund of the tax levied under the State Act subject to certain conditions. On 14th July, 1964, the State Government in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (5) of section 8 of the Central Act, issued G. O. Ms. No. 1094, Revenue, which provides that the sales of all "declared goods" in the course of inter-State trade or commerce, be exempted from the tax payable by any dealer under the Central Act where tax has been levied and collected in respect of the sale or purchase of such declared goods under the State Act subject to certain conditions. The sales tax authorities were assessing the petitioners under the State Act without any liability to refund and waiving taxation under the Central Act. The petitioners were suffering assessments under the State Act and duly paying the tax so assessed without objection thereto as they were under the bona fide impression that such a procedure was legal Such assessments were made and the tax paid for the years 1964-65, 1965-66 and 1966-67 and the authorities are also proposing to make such assessment for the year 1967-68.
On the aforesaid facts, Sri Anantha Babu, the learned counsel for the petitioner raises the following contentions :-
(1) That entry 9 of Schedule III read with section 6 of the State Act contravenes the provisions of section 15 (a) of the Central Act inasmuch as the said entry makes a classification of the hides and skins into untanned and tanned hides and skins whereas under section 14 of the Central Act, the "hides and skins, whether in a raw or dressed state" are treated as one category, that the entry does not also fix a definite point with precision, that the words "a tanner" and "a manufacturer" are vague and it leads to multiple taxation at several points, that such a classification and fixation of several points is ultra vires the powers of the State Legislature as it offends the provisions of section 15 of the Central Act. (2) The classification of dealers into "tanners", "manufacturers" and "last dealers" is discriminatory and is not based on any reasonable classification and has no reasonable relation to the statutory purpose; as such it offends the provisions of Article 14 and also Article 304 of the Constitution of India; and (3) That the G. O. Ms. No. 1094, Revenue Department, dated 14th July, 1964, made by the State Government is ultra vires its powers under section 8 (5) of the Central Act and the said G. O. and rule 27-A framed under the State Act offend the provisions of section 15, sub-section (b), of the Central Act and are void.
(3.)SRI Ramachandra Reddi, the learned Principal Government Pleader contends that none of the objections raised by the learned counsel for the petitioners is tenable. He submits that there is no ambiguity in the fixation of the point under entry 9 (a) and (b) of the State Act, that the point is fixed with utmost precision, that the procedure prescribed by the rules also do not leave any doubt with regard to the point of taxation, that the classification into tanned and untanned hides and skins under entry 9 (a) and (b) of the Third Schedule is rational and reasonable and that it does not contravene the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. It is stated that the point raised by the learned counsel for the petitioners on the basis of Article 304 does not arise in these writ petitions, as none of the cases of the petitioners herein falls under entry 9 (b ). 7 Lastly, he submits that rule 27-A of the said Rules and the G. O. Ms. No. 1094 dated 14th July, 1964, issued by the State Government do not in any manner contravene the provisions of section 15 (b) of the Central Act.