The Indore Iron and Steel Registered Stock-Holders'
Associate Vs. The State of Madhya Pradesh & Ors  INSC 229 (26 July
CITATION: 1962 AIR 191 1962 SCR (2) 924
CITATOR INFO :
R 1968 SC 331 (14)
Sales Tax-Commodity declared essential for
the life of community-Imposition of tax by State Government under prior
enactment-Constitutional validity-Constitution of India, Art. 286 (3)-Essential
Goods (Declaration and Regulation of Tax on Sale or Purchase) Act, 1952, ss. 2,
3 Madhya Bharat Sales Tax Act, Samvat 2007, s. 5(2).
The constituent members of the appellant
Association, who carried on business in iron and steel articles were assessed
to sales tax for the years 1953-54 and 1954-55 under a notification dated
October 24, 1953, issued by the State of Madhya Bharat under s. 5(2) of the
Madhya Bharat Sales Tax Act, Samvat 2007, (Act No. 30 of 1950). The appellant
moved the High Court under Art. 226 of the Constitution challenging the
validity of the assessment on the ground that the said articles were covered by
the declaration made by Parliament by s. 2 of the Essential Goods (Declaration
and Regulation of Tax on Sale or Purchase) Act, 1952, that iron and steel were
essential commodities within the meaning of Art. 286(3) of the Constitution
which was operative from August 9, 1952. The High Court found against the
Held, that even assuming that the words
"iron and steel" in Entry 14 of the Schedule to the Act were
comprehensive enough to include articles made of iron and steel, that would not
necessarily render the notification invalid under Art. 286(3) of the
Article 286(3), as it stood before the Constitution
(Sixth Amendment) Act, 1956, could be successfully invoked only if three
conditions were satisfied, (1) that the impugned legisla. tion was one by the
Legislature of a State, constituted under the Constitution, (2) that it was
subsequent to the declaration made by the Parliament as to the essential
character of the commodity and (3) that it could be, but was not, reserved for
the President's consideration and assent.
It was obvious, therefore, that a subsequent
Parliamentary 925 declaration could not affect the validity of an enactment
Sardar Soma Singh v. The State of Pepsu and
Union of India, (1954) S. C. R. 955 and Firm of A. 'Gowrishankar v. Sales Tax
Officer, Secunderabad, A. I. R. 1958 S. C. 883, referred to.
Although the Art, tinder which the impugned
notification was made, satisfied the first condition, it did not satisfy the
second or the third and, consequently, its validity could not be questioned
under Art. 286(3) of the Constitution.
Held, further, that it was apparent from s. 3
of the Essential Goods (Declaration and Regulation of Tax on Sale or Purchase)
Act, 1952, that if a law had been passed prior to the commencement of the Act
authorising the imposition of a taxits validity could not be challenged on the
ground that the said commodity was subsequently declared by the Act to be
essential for the life of the community. The impugned notification and the
State Act under which it was made were, therefore, outside the purview of s. 3
of the Act.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeals
Nos. 509 and 510 of 1960.
Appeals by special leave from the judgment
and order dated October 26, 1956, of the former Madhya Bharat High Court
Indore. in Civil Misc. Cases Nos. 26 of 54 and 48 of 55.
A. V. Viswanatha Sastri, C. B. Agarwala and
A. G. Ratna parkhi, for the appellants.
R.J. Bhave and 1. N. Shroff, for the respon.
1961. July 26. The Judgment of the Court was
delivered by GAJENDRAGADKAR, J.,The appellant, the Indore Iron and Steel
Registered Stock-holders' Association (Private) Ltd., is a 'registered
Association whose constituent members carry on business generally in fabricated
iron and steel material and more particularly in iron sheets, plain or
corrugated, bars, rods, light and heavy structurals, nails, joints, wire nails
and all kinds and varieties of wirer, and 926 pipes. This business is carried
on by the constituent members of the appellant at Indore and Ratlam at which
places they have their registered offices. The State of Madhya Bharat, by its
Act No. 30 of 1950, imposed sales tax in the territory of Madhya Bharat on the
sales of goods therein specified with effect from May 1, 1950, and under the
provisions of the said Act the Commissioner of Sales Tax, Madhya Bharat, and
the, Sales Tax Officer, Indore, who are respondents 2 and 3, were appointed
authorities for the assessment of tax leviable under the Act and for its
recovery in their respective areas.
Section 3 of the Act is the charging section
and it provides for the incidence of taxation, Section 4, which deals with the
application of the Act exemption and exclusion, provides by Sub-s. (2) that no
tax shall be payable under the Act on the sale of goods specified in the second
column of Sch. 1 on conditions mentioned in column 3 of the Schedule. "'Iron
and steel" appears in, Sch. 1 as item 39. Section 5 prescribes the rate of
tax and it provides that the tax will be recoverable as notified from time to
time by the Government by publication in the official gazette subject to the
condition that it shall not be less than Rs. 1-9-0 per cent or more than 61 per
cent. Section 4(3) authorises the Government by notification to modify Sch. 1
from time to time. Similarly s. 5(2) authorises the Government while notifying
the tax payable by a dealer to notify the goods and the point of their sale at
which the tax is payable. It is by virtue of this delegated power that the
State 'Of Madhya Bharat, respondent 1 purported to issue notifications to which
we will presently refer.
On May 22, 1950. a notification was issued
under s. 5(2) specifying serially the articles taxed, 'the stage of sale by
traders in Madhya Bharat on which the tax is levied and the rate of sales tax
per cent.. Item 27 in the list dealt with goods manufactured from things
(wastu) except gold and silver or goods manufactured from more than one metal
(except circles and sheets of copper, brass and aluminium). The notifications
provided that the tax had to be paid by the producer or importer at that rate
of Rs. 3-2-0 per cent.
Meanwhile Art. 286(3) of the Constitution had
come into force. This Article as it then stood provided that no law made by the
Legislature of a State imposing, or authorising the imposition of, a tax on the
sale or purchase of any such goods as have been declared by Parliament by law
to be essential for the life of the community, shall have effect unless it has
been reserved for the consideration of the President and has received his
Thereafter Parliament by law proceeded to
make the declaration as contemplated by this Article by s. 2 of Act 52 of 1952
[Essential Goods (Declaration and Regulation of Tax on sale or purchase) Act]
(hereafter called the Act) which was passed on August 9, 1952. Section 2 of the
Act provides that the goods specified in the Schedule are hereby declared to be
essential for the life of the community.
Item 14 in the Schedule refers to iron and
steel'. Thus, as a result of these provisions in on and steel came to be
declared as essential for the life of the community within the meaning of Art.
286(3) as from August 9, 1952.
Respondent 1 thereupon purported to give
effect to the provisions of Art. 286(3) and s. 2 of the Act by issuing two
notifications on October 24, 1953. By the first notification it was provided
that no tax shall be payable enter alia on the sale of iron and steel. 'Iron
and steel' was placed at item 39 in the said Schedule. The other notification
issued on the same day by item 9 in the list provided for the sale of the
articles specified in the said item. This item reads thus:
928 Every kind of metal including copper
brass, manganese, zinc, lead, mercury, bronze, nickel, aluminium, tin and their
ore form (excluding iron, steel, gold and silver) and goods prepared any metal
other than gold and silver, utensils and wires, goods prepared from one ore
more than one metal, utensils and wires which also includes mangars, metal
pieces and scraps, cutting and lantern, gas, stove and type letters (excluding
circles and sheets of copper, bra,% and aluminium)." It is common-ground that
under this notification the articles in which the constituents of the appellant
deal would be liable to pay the sales. tax in question.
After this notification was issued the
appellant wrote to respondent 3 claiming exemption from payment of sales tax
for the goods and articles in which its constituent members are dealing but
this plea was rejected by the said respondent, and the constituent members of
the appellant were called upon to pay sales tax each in respect of their
individual turnover. It was under these circumstances that the appellant filed
two writ petitions under Art. 226 of the Constitution in the High Court of
Madhva Bharat at Indore in which it challenged the validity of the assessment
orders passed for the two years 1953-54 and 1954-55 respectively (Petitions
Nos. 26 of 1954 and 48 of 1955).
The appellant's case was that the articles in
which the constituent members of the appellant dealt were covered by the
parliamentary declaration contained in s. 2 of the Act and as such were no longer
liable to pay sales tax. This plea was resisted by the respondents. It was
urged on their behalf that the notification issued by respondent 1 on October
24, 1953 was valid, and item 27 in the list notified brought the articles in
question within the mischief of the Sales Tax Act and so the petitioners were
not entitled to any writ as claimed by them. The High Court has upheld the plea
929 raised by the respondents, rejected the contentions urged by the appellant
and has dismissed the' writ petitions filed by it. It is against these orders
of dismissal passed by the High Court in the two writ petitions filed by the
appellant that the present appeals, No. 509 and 510 of 1960, have been brought
to this Court by special leave granted by this Court.
Two points have been urged before us by Mr.
Viswanatha Sastri, on behalf of the appellant, in support of these appeals. It
is urged that s. 2 of the Act which contains the parliamentary declaration as
contemplated by Art. 286(3) covers iron and steel as understood in their
commercial sense. The words "iron and steel" should not be
interpreted in their narrow dictionary meaning. They do not mean iron and steel
as they come out after smelting but they mean articles exclusively made from
iron and steel in which the identity of iron and steel has not been lost. In
other words, iron and steel in the context mean all articles made exclusively
of iron and steel in which steel merchants normally and generally trade. It is
further argued that in construing the words "'iron and steel" we must
bear in mind the fact that the object, of Art. 286(3) is to safeguard the
'interest of the consumer in regard to the articles which Parliament may
declare to be essential for the life of the community, and it is suggested that
if the narrow dictionary meaning of the words is adopted it would not serve the
said object and purpose of the constitutional provision.
Mr. Sastri has also relied on what he has
described as the legislative history which indicates that the said words should
receive a broad and wide construction in the context.
In that connection he has invited our
attention to the provisions of' s. 2(d), s. 3. and the categories specified in
the Second Schedule to the Iron and Steel 930 (Control of Production and
Distribution) Order, 1941., These categories, according to Mr. Sastri
unmistakably support his argument that the expression ",iron and
steel" as used in the order was obviously used in a very wide and broad
sense. Similarly, he has referred to the provisions of s. 2(a)(vii) of Act XXIV
of 1946 [The Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act, 1946] and s. 2(a)(vi)
of Act 10 of 1955 (The Essential Commodities Act, 1955). His contention is that
it would be legitimate for the Court to consider the legislative history in the
matter of the use of these words and their denotation, and that the legislative
history to which he has referred supports his argument that the words ',iron
and steel" should receive a very liberal interpretation in determining the
effect of the provisions of s. 2 of the Act. The High Court Was not impressed
by this argument. It has held that the words "iron and steel" as used
in Entry 14 to Sch. 1 of the Act do not include within their ambit articles
made of iron and steel such as those with which we are concerned in the present
proceedings. Mr. Sastri seriously questions the correctness of this conclusion.
It is clear that even if we were to accept
Mr. Sastri's contention in regard to the denotation of the words ",iron
and steel" as used by the relevant provisions of the Act it would still
have to be shown by the appellant that the impugned notification is invalid
because it contravenes the provisions of Art. 286(3). In other words, in order
to succeed in the present appeals the appellant has to prove two facts, (1)
that the words ""iron and steel" in respect of which the
requisite parliamentary declaration has been made by s. 2 of the Act include
commodities like those with which we are concerned, and (2) that the impugned
notification contravenes Art. 286(3). It would thus be seen that unless the
appellant succeeds in both these contentions the appeals are bound to fail.
Since 931 we have reached the conclusion that even on the assumption that the
parliamentary declaration made by the relevant provision of the Act includes
commodities with which we are concerned is correct it does not follow that the
impugned notification contravened Art. 286(3) we do not propose to deal with
the first point raised by Mr. Sastri. In dealing with these appeals we would
assume in hip, favour that the words "iron and steel" should receive
the broad and wide interpretation for which he contends.
Assuming then that the articles in which the
constituents of the appellant deal are covered by the parliamentary declaration
made by the Act does it follow that the impugned notification contravenes Art.
286(3) ? That takes us to the provisions of Art. 286(3) which we have already
cited. This provision can be successfully invoked only if three conditions are
satisfied. The first condition is that the impugned law must be one which is
made by the Legislature of a State which obviously means a State which came
into existence under and after the Constitution ; and that shows that the
impugned law must be a law made by the Legislature of a State subsequent to the
Constitution. This condition is satisfied in the present case because the
impugned notification has been issued by virtue of the authority delegated to
respondent 1 by Act 30 of 1950 and this Act was passed after the Constitution
Let us then consider the second condition
which is also in the nature of a condition precedent. This condition requires
that the impugned law must impose or authorise the imposition of a tax on the
sale or purchase of any such goods as have been declared by Parliament by law
to be essential for the life of the community. There can be little doubt that
this condition postulates that at the time when the impugned law is passed
there is a  preexisting declaration made by Parliament in regard to the
essential character of a commodity. The material words in respect of this
condition are that the sale or purchase of any such goods as have been declared
by Parliament by law to be essential for the life of the community. Therefore,
if the parliamentary declaration follows the impugned enactment it cannot
retrospectively affect the validity of the said enactment. Article 286(3)
contemplates that if in the face of an existing parliamentary declaration about
the essential character of a commodity the Legislature of a State purports to
impose or authorise the imposition of a tax on such commodity the enactment
would be invalid unless the law made by the Legislature has been reserved for
the consideration of the President and has received his assent.
The third condition emphasises that the
impugned law must have been passed subsequent to the Constitution, because
unless the relevant provision of the Constitution for the reservation of the
law for the consideration of the President has come into force this condition
This requirement obviously means that the
office of the President must have come into existence and so this condition can
become operative only after the Constitution has come into force. Therefore,
the third condition supports the conclusion which arises from the words used in
the first condition itself.
Thus the position is that Act 30 of 1950
satisfies the first condition but not the second. It is conceded that the relevant
provisions of the M. B. Act of 1950 authorise the, imposition of tax on the
commodities in question and that the impugned notification is otherwise
consistent with, and justified by, the said provision of the Act. Now, if the
said M. B. Act authorises the imposition of tax on the goods in question and
the said goods were not declared by Parliament by law to be 933 essential for
the life of the community before the date of the said: Act its validity cannot
be challenged on the ground that it was not reserved for the consideration of
the President and ha not received his assent. It is only when all the
conditions prescribed by Art. 286(3) are present that the validity of the
impugned law can be successfully challenged.
The question about the construction of Art.
286(3) has been considered by this Court on two occasions. In Sardar Soma Singh
v. The State of Pepsu and Union of India(,), S. R.
Das, J., as he then was, who spoke for the
Court has observed that it is quite clear that s. 3 of Act 52 of 1952 does not
affect the Ordinance there challenged for the said Ordinance was not made after
the commencement of the Act, and that Art. 286(3) contemplates a law which can
be but has not been reserved for the consideration of the' President and has
not received his assent. This position clearly points to post-constitutional
law for there can be no question of an existing law continued by Art. 372 being
reserved for the consideration of the President for receiving his assent. This
decision supports the conclusion that the law contemplated by the first
condition specified in Art. 286(3) must be post constitutional law. To the same
effect are the observations made in the majority judgment of this Court in Firm
of A. Gowrishankar v. Sales Tax Officer, Secunderabad (2).
In this connection it would be relevant to
refer to s. 3 of the Act itself. It provides that no law made after the
commencement of this Act by Legislature of a State imposing or authorising the
imposition of t tax on the sale or purchase of any goods declared by this Act
to be essential for the life of the community shall have effect unless it has
been reserved for the consideration of the President and has received his (1)
(1954) S.C.R. 955.
(2) A.I.R. 1958 S.C. 883.
934 assent. This provision also shows that
the declaration made by the Act was intended to be prospective in operation and
it would affect laws made after the commencement of the Act, and that clearly
must mean that if a law had been passed prior to the commencement of the Act
and it authorised the imposition of a tax on the sale or purchase of certain
commodities its validity cannot be challenged on the ground that the said
commodities have been subsequently declared by the Act to be essential for the
life of the community. The impugned notification with which we are concerned
and the Act under which it has been issued are thus outside the purview of s. 3
of the Act. That in substance is the finding made by the High Court on the
second contention raised before it by the appellant. In our opinion, the
conclusion of the High Court on t is point is right.
In the result the appeals fail and are
dismissed with costs.