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Vijaya Cycle And Rickshaw Co. vs Commissioner Of Sales Tax

High Court Of Judicature at Allahabad|21 September, 1970


JUDGMENT R.S. Pathak, J.
1. In this reference under Section 11(1) of the U. P. Sales Tax Act the Additional Revising Authority, Sales Tax, Varanasi, has submitted the following questions of law for the opinion of this court:--
(1) Whether in the above circumstance the stay was effective for the year 1959-60 or for all the years ?
(2) Whether the assessment for 1960-61 was passed within the period of limitation ?
(3) Whether assembled cycles can be taxed at the rate of 2 per cent. as an unclassified item or as manufactured cycles taxable at 3 per cent. ?
(4) Whether the estimate of sales was justified ignoring the figure of purchase through Form 'C' with the Sales Tax Officer ?
2. The assessee deals in cycles, cycle parts, tyres and tubes. It also assembles cycles from, cycle parts and sells them.
3. On 17th September, 1964, the Commissioner of Sales Tax issued a direction to the Sales Tax Officers that sales tax should be assessed on the turnover of assembled cycles. Proceedings under Rule 41(5) of the U.P. Sales Tax Rules were taken against the assessee for the assessment year 1960-61. The assessee objected to the proceedings on the ground that they were barred by time, but the plea was rejected by the Sales Tax Officer, who made an assessment order on 10th June, 1965, determining the taxable turnover of imported and assembled cycles at Rs. 2,00,000 and of tyres and tubes imported from outside the State at Rs. 5,000. An appeal by the assessee was dismissed and a revision application filed thereafter was also dismissed. At the instance of the assessee the present reference has now been made.
4. The first two questions referred by the Additional Revising Authority are interlinked, and arise upon the following facts. When the Commissioner of Sales Tax issued the letter dated 17th September, 1964, directing the Sales Tax Officers to assess sales tax on the turnover of assembled cycles a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution was filed in December, 1964, by the assessee in this court praying for the quashing of that direction and for an order prohibiting the Sales Tax Officer from taking any proceeding pursuant to that direction agaist the petitioner. An application for interim relief was made in the writ petition with the following prayer:
It is prayed that an interim order be issued, staying further proceeding before respondent. No. 2 on the basis of the letter of the Commissioner dated 17th September, 1964, during the pendency of this writ petition.
5. On that application an ex parte order was made by this court:
Issue notice. Further proceedings before the second respondent as against the applicant shall remain stayed meanwhile.
6. The writ petition was dismissed on 19th May, 1965. Thus, the stay order remained in operation for four months and eight days. The case of the assessee before the sales tax authorities was that the period of limitation for completing the assessment proceeding for the assessment year 1960-61 expired on 31st March, 1965, and, therefore, the assessment order was barred by limitation. Reliance was placed on Section 21(2) of the U. P. Sales Tax Act which provides that no assessment order shall be made for any assessment year after the expiry of four years from the end of such year. The sales tax department, in reply, referred to the explanation to Section 21(2), which provides that where the assessment proceeding remained stayed under the orders of any civil or any other competent court the period during which the proceeding remained stayed must, be excluded in computing the period of limitation provided under that sub-section. And accordingly, it says, if account be taken of the four months and eight days during which the stay order remained in operation it will be found that the assessment order for the year 1960-61 is within time.
7. Now, the contention of the assessee is that the writ petition was concerned with the proceeding for the assessment year 1959-60 only and, therefore, the stay order must be construed to refer to those proceedings only and cannot be extended to the proceedings for the assessment year 1960-61. As to this, the Additional Revising Authority has found that at the time when the application was made and the ex parte stay order passed thereon not only the assessment proceeding for the year 1959-60 but also the proceedings for the year 1960-61 and other subsequent years were pending before the Sales Tax Officer. The Additional Revising Authority has referred to the contents of the writ petition, and in particular to the averments in paragraph 21 thereof, and has come to the conclusion that upon a proper appreciation of the assessee's case in the writ petition it is clear that the petition concerned the proceedings for all the years 1959-60 onwards. Upon these findings it seems clear to us that in computing the period of limitation for making the assessment order for the year 1960-61 the Sales Tax Officer was entitled to the exclusion of the period during which the stay order of this court enured and that, therefore, the assessment order for the year 1960-61 must be held to be within time.
8. The first and the second questions are answered accordingly.
9. We may note a submission made on behalf of the assessee at this stage in respect of the second question. It is pointed out that the direction issued by the Commissioner of Sales Tax was made in respect of the turnover of assembled cycles only, and while it may be that the sales tax department was entitled to the benefit of the period during which the stay order remained in force so far as the turnover of assembled cycles was concerned, that benefit was not available to it in the matter of assessing the turnover of imported cycles, tubes and tyres. This point was never raised by the assessee during the hearing of the revision application and, if we confine ourselves to the record of this case before us there is nothing to show whether the writ petition included a challenge to that turnover also. The facts in respect of this contention are, therefore, not before us. In the circumstances, we cannot permit the assessee to raise that question.
10. The third question is whether assembled cycles should be treated as manufactured cycles and, therefore, taxable at 3 per cent., or as an unclassified item liable to a rate of 2 per cent. It is the case of the assessee that the assembled cycles are prepared by putting together the different components in the possession of the assessee and when such cycles are sold, it is submitted, what is sold are the component parts so put together. It is urged that the process of manufacture does not take place at all.
11. The word "manufacture" has the broad dictionary meaning "to work up material into forms suitable for use". In the absence of a statutory definition it is a word the meaning of which must be derived from its popular use. As long ago as R. v. Wheeler (1819) 2 B. & Aid. 345, Abbott, C. J., pointed out:
No mere philosophical or abstract principle can answer to the word 'manufactures'. Something of a corporeal and substantial nature, something that can be made by man from the matters subject to his art and skill, or at the least some new mode of employing practically his art and skill is required to satisfy the word.
12. So Bray, J., in McNicol v. Pinch [1906] 2 K.B. 352, said that to manufacture a thing is to "bring it into being". And proceeding further, Darling, J., in the same case observed:
The essence of making or of manufacturing is that what is made shall be a different thing from that out of which it is made.
13. Ruling case law covers a wide variety of cases where different illustrations have been discussed. Upon a review of those cases they appear to turn largely on the question whether the article said to be manufactured is of a different description from the original components both commercially and from the point of view of the consumer. This test was applied by Dixon, J., in Federal Commissioner of Taxation v. Jack Zinader Pty. Ltd (1949) 78 C.L.R. 336 where the submission that old garments upon remodelling could not be said to have been manufactured into new wearing apparel because taking a thing to pieces and putting it together again in a different shape was not manufacture met the pithy reply:
The argument is answered by the consideration that, according to the conclusion already stated, the process produces a different article. When that consideration is added to the fact that the actual work done and the procedure employed in producing the new, that is the distinct, articles is characteristically a manufacturing process, it must follow that the 'goods' are 'manufactured' within the ordinary meaning of that term.
14. In our courts a similar test has found favour. In North Bengal Stores Ltd. v. Board of Revenue, Bengal [1946] 1 S.T.C. 157, Das, J., pointed out that the term "manufacture" was used in common parlance in a wider sense than its etymological significance of "making by hand", and having regard to the circumstance that he was construing a provision of a sales tax law, he commented:
'To manufacture goods' in common parlance means 'to bring goods into being'. To manufacture or produce goods for sale means to bring into being or to produce something in a form in which it will be capable of being sold or supplied in course of business. The essence of manufacturing, I apprehend, is that something is produced or brought into existence which is different from that out of which it is made, in the sense that the thing produced is by itself commercial commodity which is capable as such of being sold or supplied. It does not mean that the materials with which the thing is manufactured must necessarily lose their identity or become transformed in their basic or essential properties.
15. He added that it was not necessary that "manufacture" should connote production on a large scale. The same view was taken in State of Bihar v. Chrestien Mica Industries Ltd. [1956] 7 S.T.C. 626, where the Patna High Court, considering a provision of the Bihar Sales Tax Act, emphasised:
The essential point to remember is that something is brought into existence which is different from that originally existing, in the sense that the thing produced is by itself a commercial commodity and is capable as such of being sold or supplied. It is not necessary that the stuff or material of the original article must lose its character or identity or it should become transformed in its basic or essential properties.
16. These considerations prevailed with this court in Badri Prasad-Prabha Shanker v. Sales Tax Commissioner, U.P. [1963] 14 S.T.C. 208, where, upon the question whether tobacco leaves could be said to have been put through a manufacturing process in producing crushed and sieved tobacco it referred to a large number of cases all of which pointed to the conclusion that "in order that the process to which an article is subjected should be a manufacturing process it is not essential that the article must change its nature ; it is enough if it becomes a different commercial article." The court held that crushed and sieved tobacco resulted from a manufacturing process even though the change was confined to an alteration of the physical appearance of the tobacco leaves.
17. Reverting to the present case, it seems to us that a manufacturing process is involved when the component parts of a cycle are taken and put together. What emerges is an article known popularly as a cycle and commercially sold as such. It is a new article, different from that out of which it is made. The components by themselves considered individually or collectively do not constitute a cycle. It is when they are assembled that a cycle comes into being. The unassembled components cannot be put to the use to which a cycle can. The process of assembly produces, to use the felicitous language of Dixon, J., in Jack Zinader Pty. Ltd. (1949) 78 C.L.R. 336, a different entity having a new identity. That is so, although the original parts are still identifiable and have not lost their basic or essential properties. The process of assembly is as much a part of the manufacturing process as the production of the components. It may be the end process, but nevertheless essential to the completion of the commercial commodity.
18. In our opinion, assembled cycles are liable to be treated as "manufactured" cycles and are, therefore, taxable at 3 per cent.
19. The third question is answered accordingly.
20. The fourth question is whether the estimate of the sales was justified when the purchases effected on Form 'C' were ignored. We have carefully perused the order of the Additional Revising Authority disposing of the revision application and we do not see how this question arises out of that order. Accordingly we return no answer to the fourth question.
21. The Commissioner of Sales Tax is entitled to his costs which we assess at Rs. 100. Counsel's fee is assessed at the same figure.
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Vijaya Cycle And Rickshaw Co. vs Commissioner Of Sales Tax


High Court Of Judicature at Allahabad

21 September, 1970
  • R Pathak
  • R Gulati