Commr. (Ct) Ltu and ANR Vs. Amara Raja Batteries Ltd.  INSC 1281 (27 July
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. OF 2009
[Arising out of SLP (Civil) No. 18795 of 2006] Assistant Commr. (CT) LTU and
Anr. ...Appellants Versus Amara Raja Batteries Ltd. ...Respondent WITH CIVIL
APPEAL NOs. _________________________________________________________________________________OF
2008 [Arising out of SLP (Civil) No. 19104, 21482 of 2006, 489, 12440, 12151,
14640 and 17903 of 2007]
SINHA, J :
Interpretation of GOMs No. 108 dated 20.05.1996 falls for our
consideration in this batch of appeals which are being disposed of by this
Respondents are owners of various industries. Indisputably, the
Government of Andhra Pradesh in order to encourage industrialization in the
entire State had been evolving various schemes in terms whereof incentives were
to be provided to the entrepreneurs not only for the establishment of new units
but also expansion thereof. Such incentives were being granted in various forms
such as subsidy, deferment/ tax holiday, rebate in electricity charges,
interest subsidy, etc.
aforementioned purpose, government orders were being issued from time to time
since 1989. By reason of GOMs No. 498 dated 16.10.1989, the government provided
investment subsidy at various rates depending upon the backwardness of
different districts of the State apart from granting deferment/ tax holiday on
The said GOMs No. 498 dated 16.10.1989 was followed by the GOMs
No. 117 dated 17.03.1993 which was operative from 3.10.1992 to 31.03.1997.
Another GOMs No. 386 dated 26.09.1994 was issued by way of
amendment to GOMs No. 117 dated 17.03.1993 on representations made by various
entrepreneurs in terms whereof benefits were sought to be conferred 3 on
expansion/modernization. In the said GOMs various terms were defined including
the term "base turnover" which is to the following effect:
Turnover : the best production achieved during three years preceding the year
of expansion or the maximum capacity expected to be achieved by the Industry as
per the appraisal made by the Financial Institution before funding the project,
whichever is higher."
Thereafter, GOMs No. 75 dated 14.03.1996 was issued by way of a
clarification; the relevant portion whereof reads as under:
careful examination of the matter, Government hereby clarify that "tax
deferral would be only on the amount of tax payable on additional local sales
over and above the previous level of local sales before expansion. In case the
local sales after expansion is less than or equal to the previous level, the
actual tax liability."
The Government of Andhra Pradesh came up with a new industrial
policy called `Target 2000' by way of GOMs No. 108 dated 20.05.1996. In this
GOMs issued for enforcing the said policy, all other GOMs were mentioned except
GOMs No. 75 dated 14.03.1996. Apart from the grant of subsidy upto 20% of the
fixed capital not exceeding Rs. 20,00,000/-, tax holiday was declared for a
period of seven years and deferment of tax for a period of fourteen years,
apart from other benefits specified therein.
We may notice some provisions of GOMs No. 108 dated 20.05.1996
which are as under:
After careful review and examination of the package of incentives and all the
other connected factors, in modification of all the earlier orders, Government
have decided to introduce a New Industrial Policy called
"TARGET-2000" in order to accelerate Industrial Development of the
State and issued it *** *** *** 7.00 Expansion projects:- Existing industrial
units, in eligible areas, setting up expansion project in products other than
those listed in Annexure, involving enhancement of fixed capital investment by
at least 25% as well as enhancement of capacity by 25% for the products of the
same product-line, will be eligible for sales tax deferral or sales tax
exemption for the enhanced turnover above the base turnover as defined for a
period of 14 years or 7 years respectively, subject to a ceiling of 135% of
additional fixed capital investment made, from the date of commencement of
commercial production by the expansion project. Base turnover for this purpose
shall be the best production achieved during three years preceding the year of
expansion or the maximum capacity expected to be achieved by the industry as
per the appraisal made by the financial institution before funding the project,
whichever is earlier. The same limits and conditions as specified in para 6.03
and 6.05 above will apply.
5 *** ***
*** 16.00 The decisions of the State Level Committee shall be final in
scrutinizing and deciding the eligible investment and sanctioning the
incentives for eligible industries.
*** 18.00 These orders shall take effect from 15.11.1995 and will be in force
up to 31.03.2000."
Indisputably, in terms of the said GOMs No. 108 dated 20.05.1996,
the respondents herein applied for and was granted eligibility certificate on
their project for expansion of their factory as a result whereof the benefit of
deferment on sales tax to the extent of 13.5% of the capital investment made by
them was conferred. It is also not in dispute that the respondents thereafter
claimed the benefit of deferment on sales tax payable by them on their
production in their expanded units which were, however, either rejected or
restricted to a lesser amount while passing the orders of assessment by the
assessing officers under the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act.
Some matters were taken to the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal. By
reason of a judgment and order dated 27.09.2003, the Tribunal held:
the all the above reason, we hold that for availing the benefit of deferment of
tax under the 6 Eligibility Certificate granted to the appellant by the
industries department, the appellant has to satisfy not only the achievement of
base production as per G.O. Ms. No.108 but has to achieve the previous level of
local sales under APGST Act. In this case, there is no dispute that the
appellant achieved base production by the cut off date 11.2.98 and also the
level of previous local sales of the base year under APGST Act in as much as
previous level as stated by the Dy.
is Rs.8,79,98,708/- whereas according to Dy. Commissioner himself the APGST Act
paid the appellant upto out off date during the assessment year 1997-98 is
Rs.9,02,10,115/- which is more than the tax paid under APGDT Act during he base
year and therefore the appellant is entitled to avail deferment from 12.2.98
onwards which is rightly granted by the assessing authority and the Dy.
erred in holding that the appellant should also achieve the previous level of
sales under CST Act for the purpose of availing deferment benefit and therefore
we come to the conclusion that the revision made by the Dy.
is not justified in the facts and circumstances and the same is not valid and
legal and therefore not sustainable and liable to be set aside by allowing the
Several writ applications were filed thereagainst. Some of the
writ applications were filed questioning the orders of assessment, without
availing the remedies available to the assessee under the Andhra Pradesh
General Sales Tax Act.
By reason of the impugned judgment, the High Court opined that the
definition of the term "base turnover" referred only to the quantum
of production and not the turnover thereof and hence the Tribunal's judgment to
that effect was held to be erroneous.
Mr. I. Venkatanarayanan, learned senior counsel appearing on
behalf of the State, would urge:
High Court committed a serious error insofar as it failed to take into
consideration that GOMs No. 108 was to be read with other GOMs preceding
High Court should not have entertained petitions directly against the orders of
assessment as the question as to whether the entrepreneurs had fulfilled the
conditions laid down in the said GOMs or not were required to be considered by
the respective assessing authorities.
Mr. T.L.V. Iyer, Mr. S. Ganesh, learned senior counsel, Mr. K.V. Vishwanathan
and Mrs. Shally Bhasin Maheshwari, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
respondents, on the other hand, urged:
exemption notification having been valid for a period of five years, the
conditions laid down therefor must be read literally keeping in view the
terminologies used in paragraph 7 only. The principle of interpretation adopted
by the High Court should be accepted as the GOMs refers to the quantity and/ or
capacity and not the turnover.
No. 108 should be read literally and not along with other GOMs as the former
was issued in modification of the earlier ones as even in some cases the State
had issued the eligibility certificates in quantitative terms which would
clearly go to show that even the authorities of the State had read the GOMs in
that way. A different stand taken by them in that regard at a later stage has
rightly been rejected by the High Court.
word "modification" would amount to an express repeal and/ or must be
held to be issued in departure from the earlier GOMs.
of the GOMs No. 108 as exemption from payment of tax had been granted on the
condition that the respondents would not collect the same from the consumers
and the said condition having been complied with, even in equity, this Court
should not 9 interfere with the impugned order in exercise of its jurisdiction
under Article 136 of the Constitution of India.
GOMs No. 108 dated 20.05.1996 referred to the earlier GOMs, which
are 18 in number, except GOMs No. 75, only for the purpose of tracing the
history thereof. Indisputably, the said Government Orders had been issued by
the Government having regard to the liberalized state incentive schemes for
setting up of new industries and/or expansion thereof.
A new industrial policy statement was issued in the year 1992.
to or in furtherance of the said industrial policy statement, various
government orders were issued from 31.03.1993 to 21.11.1995.
It is in the aforementioned backdrop of events, the Government
adopted a new industrial policy called `Target 2000'. The said policy was
adopted in order to accelerate industrial development in the State.
The scheme for grant of the said incentive and/ or deferment or
exemption from payment of sales tax was granted not only to the new 10
industries but also to those entrepreneurs who had got expansion projects
Indisputably, the respondents had expanded their projects pursuant
to or in furtherance of the said policy decision. The period for which the said
policy was to remain operative was between 15.11.1995 and 31.03.2000. It was,
therefore, valid for a fixed period.
period in question has a direct nexus with the scheme, in our opinion, it would
not be correct to contend as has been done by Mr. Venkatanarayanan that the
said policy decision should be read with earlier policy decisions. Reference to
the earlier policy decision has nothing to do with the new scheme introduced by
the Government. They have been referred to only for the purpose of tracing the
history and to lay emphasis on the fact that the Government of Andhra Pradesh
had from time to time issued appropriate notifications with a view to implement
its liberalized State Incentive Schemes as also the industrial policy statement
issued in the year 1992. Each of the Schemes, as noticed hereinbefore, operated
in different fields. Had the intention of the Government of Andhra Pradesh been
to continue with the old schemes, only the period therefor could have been
extended from time to time. It was not necessary for it to issue 11
notification introducing the new scheme. The said notification indisputably was
issued in modification of all the earlier orders. What is meant by modification
has been noticed by the High Court in its judgment in the following terms:
word `modification' means - `an alteration that does not change the general
purpose and effect of that which is modified (as per West's Legal
Thesaurus/Dictionary); and, `a change and alteration or amendment, which
introduces new element into the details or cancel some of them but leave the
general purpose and effect of the subject matter intact' (as per the Judicial
Dictionary - by L.P. Singh & P.K. Majmudar..."
The State advisedly used the word `modification'. When the said
GOMs No. 108 was issued, some of the earlier notifications might be in force.
There cannot, however, be any doubt whatsoever that the said GOMs is totally an
independent one and a complete code by itself and in that view of the matter, it
is not necessary at all to refer to the earlier GOMs for the purpose of either
its construction or implementation.
Paragraph 7 of the said GOMs refers to projects for expansion.
up of such expansion projects in products other than those listed in the
Annexure attached thereto refers to enhancement of capacity by 25% thereof for
which purpose only the base turnover was to be the best 12 `production
achieved' during three years preceding the years of expansion or the `maximum
capacity expected to be achieved' by the industry. The notification used the
words `production achieved' and `maximum capacity expected to be achieved'. It
did not use the word `turnover'. It did not provide that the amount of sales
tax paid in the earlier years will have any relevance for the purpose of
enforcement of the scheme. The said GOMs does not refer to maintenance of local
sales. The term `base turnover' would, therefore, in our opinion refers to the
turnover of the quantity in goods and not its monetary value.
`Base turnover' was defined differently from that of the earlier
definitions given in various earlier orders which clearly discloses the
intention on the part of the government. If what was provided in the earlier
government orders were to be followed, nothing prevented the State to adopt the
same. We have noticed hereinbefore that even on earlier occasions the State had
been issuing clarificatory notifications as has been done in the case of GOMs
No. 75. It has rightly been pointed out that even in GOMs No. 386, the State
level Committee was given liberty to adopt in the place of production the
turnover in value but such liberty had not been granted to the 13 State Level
Committee or to any other authority under the GOMs in question.
An exemption notification should be given a literary meaning.
to other principles or canons of interpretation of statute should be resorted
to only in the event the same give rise to anomaly or absurdity. The exemption
notification must be construed having regard to the purpose and object it seeks
to achieve. The Government sought for increase in industrial development in the
State. Such a benevolent act on the part of the State, unless there exists any
statutory interdict, should be given full effect. [See Vadilal Chemicals Ltd.
v. State of A.P. and Others (2005) 6 SCC 292]
We may notice that this Court in Innamuri Gopalan and Others v. State
of Andhra Pradesh and Anr. [(1964) 2 SCR 888] held:
do not feel persuaded to accept this argument. No doubt, statutes have to be
construed as a whole so as to avoid any inconsistency or repugnancy among its
several provisions, but if there is nothing to modify, nothing to alter, or
nothing to qualify the language of a statute, the words and sentences have to
be construed in their ordinary and natural meaning [vide 36 Hals (3rd Edn.) s.
said dicta was followed by this Court in Hansraj Gordhandas v. H.H. Dave,
Assistant Collector of Central Excise and Customs, Surat and Others [AIR 1970
SC 755], in the following terms:
is well established that in a taxing statute there is no room for any
intendment but regard must be had to the clear meaning of the words.
entire matter is governed wholly by the language of the notification. If the
tax-payer is within the plain terms of the exemption it cannot be denied its
benefit by calling in aid any supposed intention of the exempting
in turn has been followed in Parle Biscuits (P) Ltd. v. State of Bihar and
Others [(2005) 9 SCC 669], stating:
It is well established that in a taxing statute there is no room for any
intendment and regard must be had to the clear meaning of the words. The entire
matter is governed wholly by the language of the notification. If the taxpayer
is within the plain terms of the exemption, it cannot be denied its benefit by
calling in aid any supposed intention of the exempting authority. If such
intention can be gathered from the construction of the words of the
notification or by necessary implication therefrom, the matter is different,
but that is not the case here.
connection we may refer to the observations of Lord Watson in Salomon v.
Salomon & Co.5 (AC at p. 38): (All ER p. 41 C-D) " `Intention of the
legislature' is a common, but very slippery phrase, which, popularly 15
understood, may signify anything from intention embodied in positive enactment
to speculative opinion as to what the legislature probably would have meant,
although there has been an omission to enact it. In a court of law or equity,
what the legislature intended to be done or not to be done can only be
legitimately ascertained from that which it has chosen to enact, either in
express words or by reasonable and necessary implication."
The exemption notification furthermore as is well known should be
construed liberally once it is found that the entrepreneur fulfills all the
eligibility criteria. In reading an exemption notification, no condition should
be read into it when there is none. If an entrepreneur is entitled to the
benefit thereof, the same should not be denied. [See Commissioner of Sales Tax
v. Industrial Coal Enterprises [(1999) 2 SCC 607]
In Commissioner, Trade Tax, U.P. v. DSM Group of Industries
[(2005) 1 SCC 657], this Court opined that when an application for exemption is
filed for an expansion or diversification, Explanation 5 appended to Section
4-A(6) specifying the word `unit' must receive a liberal construction to
include not only a new unit but also a unit which is sought to be expanded,
modernized or diversified, stating :
"25...As seen above, the term "unit" has the meaning as defined
in Section 4-A. As we have already seen, Section 4-A defines the term
"unit" to mean an industrial undertaking, which has undertaken
expansion, modernisation and diversification. Even under the General Clauses
Act, where the context so requires the singular can include the plural. A plain
reading of the notification shows that for "expansion, modernisation and
diversification" it is the industrial undertaking which is considered to
be the "unit". This is also clear from the fact that in the
notification wherever the words "expansion, modernisation or
diversification" are used, there are no qualifying words to the effect
"in any one unit". In none of the clauses is there any requirement of
the investment being in one unit of the industrial undertaking. Words to the
effect "in a particular unit" or "in one unit" are missing.
To accept Mr Sunil Gupta's submission would require adding words to a
notification which the Government purposely omitted to add."
G.P. Ceramics Pvt. Ltd. v. Commissioner, Trade Tax, UP.
SCC 90], this Court held:
It is now a well established principle of law that whereas eligibility criteria
laid down in an exemption notification are required to be construed strictly,
once it is found that the applicant satisfies the same, the exemption
notification should be construed liberally."
A.P. Steel Re-Rolling Mill Ltd. v. State of Kerala and Others (2007) 2 SCC
State of Orissa v. Tata Sponge Iron Ltd. [(2007) 8 SCC 189], this Court held:
It is furthermore a well-settled principle of law that an exemption
notification must be liberally construed."
We may furthermore notice that construction of the words `base
production' came up for consideration before this Court in Commissioner of
Trade Tax, U.P. v. Modipan Fibres Co. [(2006) 6 SCC 577] wherein it was opined:
Purpose of granting exemption under the notification dated 27-7-1999 was to
promote the development of certain industries in the State. By the said
notification, exemption from payment of tax or reduction in rate of tax was
granted to new units as also to the units which had undertaken expansion,
diversification or modernisation. The units of dealers in all the revisions are
units, which had undertaken expansion/modernisation. The units of the dealers
(the respondents) are covered by clause (1-B)(a) of the notification. Exemption
granted is on the turnover of sales of quantity of goods manufactured in excess
of base production.
clause (6)(a) of the said notification, turnover of sale of goods in any
assessment year to the extent of quantity covered by the base production of
that year and balance stock of base production of previous years, shall be
deemed to be turnover of the base production. Under clause (6)(b) of the
notification, the facility of exemption 18 can be availed on the turnover of
goods in "any assessment year" in excess of the quantity referred to
in sub-clause (a) of clause (6). A conjoint reading of clause (1-B)(a), clauses
(6)(a) and (b) makes it clear that the dealer is entitled to claim exemption in
respect of the turnover of sale of goods of an assessment year in excess of the
base production. "Assessment year" has been defined in Section 3(j)
to mean the twelve months ending on March 31. If that be the case then the
extent of entitlement to exemption will depend on the sale of goods in the
assessment year minus the base production determined under the Act (sic
notification). Simply because the dealer has to file returns from month to
month and deposit the admitted tax at the time of filing of the return does not
mean that the question of exemption on the turnover of the production in excess
of the base production can be considered only after the base production is
achieved. Returns filed every month and the tax paid would be subject to
adjustment at the time of the finalisation of the assessment.
of the legislature is clear and unambiguous. Exemption is to be given on the
turnover of sale of goods in an assessment year in excess of the base
production. We do not find any substance in the submission advanced on behalf
of the appellants."
Although the word `modification' may not be held to be expressly
repealing the earlier notifications, indisputably, the State intended to depart
from the conditions laid down in the earlier GOMs. If the condition of local
sale, thus, had not been incorporated in the GOMs, we are of the opinion that
19 no case has been made out for incorporating the same by reference or
Furthermore, even in equity, the State cannot be permitted to
alter its stand as pursuant to or in furtherance of the representation made by
it the entrepreneurs had not collected tax from its consumers to which they
were otherwise entitled to.
Mr. Venkatanarayanan also is not correct in contending that in a
situation of this nature, the High Court should not have entertained the writ
applications directly from the orders of assessment.
As the Tribunal had already expressed its views in the matter, it
has rightly been contended that appeal to the appellate authority as also the
Tribunal would have been an idle formality.
Civil Appeals arising out of SLP (C) Nos. 18795, 19104, 21482 of
2006, 489, 12440 and 12151 of 2007 are dismissed and other appeals being Civil
Appeals arising out of SLP (C) Nos. 14640 and 17903 of 2007 filed by 20
Suryachandra Paper Mills Limited are allowed with costs. Counsel's fee assessed
at Rs.50,000/- in each case.
...............................J. [S.B. Sinha]
................................J. [Cyriac Joseph]