of Maharashtra Vs. M/S. Bradma of India Ltd 
Insc 103 (16 February
Pal,Arijit Pasayat & C.K. Thakker Ruma Pal, J.
respondent manufactures electronic cash registers. In addition to the usual
functions of a cash register, the respondent's models perform various other
functions including: i) Billing and cash memo printing with alpha numeric print
out ii) Cashier-wise cash collection summary and analysis. Iii) Daily and
periodical item-wise analysis iv) Stock analysis v) Re-order level analysis
vii) Salesman-wise sales analysis; etc.
question is whether such cash registers are classifiable under Entry 90 or
under Entry 97(b) of Part II, Schedule (c) of the Bombay Sales Tax Act, 1959.
two competing entries read as follows:- Entry 90. "Tabulating calculating
cash registering, indexing, card punching franking, addressing, cheque writing,
statistical paper threading and data processing (other than computers) machines
and components, parts and accessories of such machines.
97(a) " Computer and components parts and accessories thereof and tapes
spools and tapes spools and discussed therewith and
Electronic systems, instruments apparatus and appliances other than those
specified elsewhere and components parts and accessories of any of them."
Departmental Authorities contend that the goods are classifiable under tariff
Entry 90. The respondent assessee submits that the relevant entry is 97(b). The
Maharashtra Sales Tax Tribunal accepted the department's submission on the
grounds that the very name of the machine namely "Bradma Cash Track
Electronic Cash Registers" would prima facie support the conclusion that
it was covered by Entry 90, that admittedly the machine was primarily
performing the functions which are normally carried out by a cash registering
machine and that the additional functions performed by the respondent's models
were merely subsidiary to such primary function. It was held that Entry 90
being the specific Entry dealing with Cash Registering Machines, would apply
rather than Entry 97(b) which was the general entry.
instance of the Department, the following questions were referred to the High
Court by the Tribunal for its decision under Section 61(1) of the Bombay Sales
Tax Act, 1959:-
Whether on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the tribunal was
right in holding that "electronic cash register " sold by the
applicant was covered by entry No.90 of Schedule C part II and not by entry
No.97(b) of Schedule C Part II appended to the Bombay Sales Tax Act, 1959?
Whether in the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the tribunal was
right in holding that the various functions carried on by the machine were only
subsidiary functions and that, therefore, the cash register was essentially
only a cash register and could not be considered as an electronic system,
appliance or instrument?"
High Court answered the questions framed in favour of the assessee. Contrary to
the opinion expressed by the Tribunal, the High Court was of the view that
Entry 90 was the general entry and Entry 97(b) the special entry. Since there
was no controversy that the electronic registers sold by the assessee were
operated electronically, the High Court thought that it would more
appropriately fall under Entry 97(b) and not under Entry 90. In arriving at
this conclusion, the High Court relied upon a Bench decision of the Andhra
Pradesh High Court in 44.
of the opinion that the High Court was wrong. Both the Tribunal and the High
Court commonly enunciated the principle that a specific entry would override a
general entry. In Craft Products Limited 1995 (3) SCC 454, 462, resort has to
be had to the residuary heading only when a liberal construction by the
specific heading cannot cover the goods in question. The language of Entry 97
(b) clearly shows, by use of the phrase "other than those specified
elsewhere" that it is not only a residuary entry but also that electronic
systems, instruments etc. may be classified under other entries. Entry 90 on
the other hand does not contain any words of limitation. The items mentioned
therein would cover every species thereof irrespective of the mode of their
operation. Cash registering machines are specifically mentioned. In the absence
of any limitation or qualification as to the different kinds of cash
registering machines, there is no reason to read in any such qualification and
limit the entry to particular kinds of cash registering machines. It is
significant that by contrast, data processing machines have expressly excluded
computers. Were it not so excluded, computers would have also fallen within
Entry 90. In fact computers are separately dealt with Entry 97(a). But the
exclusion of computers from data processing machines would indicate that the
items mentioned in Entry 90 are generic covering all species of such items.
Given the language of the two entries we fail to understand how the High Court
could have come to the conclusion that Entry 97(b) was the specific entry and
that Entry 90 was the general entry. Such an interpretation goes against the
express language of the two entries.
is an additional telling factor. The assessee had, on this understanding of the
Entries, collected tax in respect of the cash registering machine sold by it at
rates which are applicable to Entry 90 and not Entry 97(b). It was only after a
Government Notification was issued under Section 42 of the Bombay Sales Tax Act
reducing the rate of tax in respect of the items falling under Entry 97(b) from
20% to 4%, that the respondent claimed classification under that Entry.
decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Apex Agencies referred to by the
High Court does not assist the respondent. The two competing entries in the
Andhra Pradesh Sales Tax Act, 1957, made a clear demarcation between inter alia
calculating machines (Entry 12) and all kinds of electronic goods including
electronic system [Entry 38(V)] . Entry 38 (V) was therefore not a residuary
entry nor was there any overlapping. There was a sharp line of demarcation between
the two entries, a situation which is wholly absent in the two entries we are
required to interpret.
was also placed by the respondent on a decision of the Tribunal in the assessee's
own case (M/s. Bradma of judgment dated 6.11.1993). The goods, the
classification of which was in dispute, were electronic weighing scales. The
department did not seek to classify it under the specific heading namely Entry
69(A) which deals inter alia with all kinds of weighing machines. On the other
hand it contended that it should be classified under Entry 90 which does not
explicitly refer to weighing machines as it does to cash registers. The assessee
contended that the machine was classifiable under Entry 97(b). In this context,
the Tribunal was of the view that there was reasonable doubt whether the
machine fell under Entry 90 or under Entry 97(b) and giving the benefit of
doubt to the assessee, the machine was held to be classifiable under Entry
97(b). The case has no relevance to the facts before us.
last decision relied upon by the respondent in support State of Andhra Pradesh (2001) 2 SCC 139. That case
pertained to Entries of the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1957 which we
have noted are for the purposes of the entries in question, materially
different. Besides this Court was only called upon to construe an exemption
notification which granted concessional rates of tax on electronic goods. In
this context it was held that electronic washing machines were electronic goods
and that the assessee was entitled to the benefit of the exemption
circumstances, the decision of High Court is set aside. The appeal is allowed
and the decision of the Tribunal confirmed without any order as to costs.