South India Viscose Ltd. Vs. State of
Tamil Nadu  INSC 118 (22 July 1981)
VENKATARAMIAH, E.S. (J) VENKATARAMIAH, E.S.
(J) PATHAK, R.S.
CITATION: 1981 AIR 1604 1982 SCR (1) 44 1981
SCC (3) 457 1981 SCALE (3)1049
Central Sales Tax Act, 1956-Section 3
(a)-Scope of- Goods manufactured in Tamil Nadu sold to buyers in other
neighbouring States through an agent in Bombay-Firm contract, under the system
of distribution. completed after the supply of goods to buyers-Situs of
sale-Sale if attracts Central Sales Tax under section 3 (a).
To regulate the allotment of indigenous art
silk yarn, the Government of India constituted the Art Silk Yarn Distribution
Committee which issued allotment cards to individual weavers. Under the terms
of the card without waiting for the allottee to approach the manufacturer the
manufacturer had to offer the allottee art silk yarn within seven days of the
date of allocation of the card and within a period of 21 days from the date of
allocation of the card, a firm contract for the supply of yarn was to be
The appellant, a manufacturer of art silk
yarn with its factory in the State of Tamil Nadu, supplied yarn to cardholders
in the States of Maharshtra and Gujarat by delivering the goods at Bombay through its selling agent at that place.
On the question of exigibility of the goods
to Central Sales tax the appellant claimed that since the goods were despatched
to Bombay at the request of the agent and not as a result of any sale in favour
of the purchaser the sale had taken place at Bombay, and secondly since the
movement of goods from the State of Tamil Nadu to Bombay was not connected with
the sales the sales were not inter-State sales within the meaning of section 3
(a) of the Central Sales Tax Act.
This claim was rejected by the Joint
Commercial Tax Officer and his order was upheld at the different stages of
appeal. The High Court dismissed the appellant's revision petitions.
On the question whether the sales were
inter-State sales, the Court
HELD: The goods having been dispatched from
one State to another pursuant to a contract of sale that came into existence
directly between the buyer and seller within a few days after the date of the
allocation card, the sale was an inter-State sale.
To constitute an inter-State sale within the
meaning of section 3(a) of the Central Sales Tax Act there must co- exist a
sale of the goods and movement of 45 goods from one State to another under the
contract of sale.
Where there is a link between a contract of
sale and movement of goods from one State to another pursuant to the contract
of sale, interposition of an agent ought not to alter the inter-State character
of the sale. [49-F] In the instant case the card contemplated a contract of
sale to be completed within 21 days of the date of its issue. The agent
requested the appellant to despatch certain number of cases to a purchaser and
that was done. These facts cumulatively suggest that the goods had been
'transported from the factory in Tamil Nadu to Bombay for being delivered to
the purchaser as a result of contract of sale established in accordance with
the terms of the allocation card.
[49-G-50-B;E] The fact that actual sale
pursuant to the said contract had taken place subsequently does not militate
against the transaction being treated as an inter-State sale under section 3(a)
because the movement of goods delivered to the buyer was occasioned by the
contract of sale brought into existence under the terms of the allocation card.
[51-E] The authorities below have found, on the basis of the terms of the
allocation card and other material on record, that there was a contract of sale
within the stipulated time between the parties. [51-G] English Electric Company
of India Ltd. v. The Deputy Commercial Tax Officer & Ors., (1976) 38 S.T.C.
Tata Engineering and Locomotive Co. Ltd. v.
Assistant Commissioner of Commercial Taxes. Jamshedpur & Anr. (1970) 26
S.T.C. 354 and Kelvinator of India Ltd. v. State of Haryana (1973) 32 S.T.C.
629, held inapplicable.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
Nos. 1192-94 of 1971.
From the judgment and order dated the 20th
October, 1976 of the High Court of Madras in Tax Cases Nos. 205 to 207 of 1971.
S.T. Desai, A.K. Verma and J.B. Dadachanji
for the Appellant.
A.K. Sen and A.V. Rangam for the Respondent.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
VENKATARAMIAH J. The appellant in these three appeals by special leave is a
company engaged in the business of manufacture and sale of art silk yarn. It
has its factory at Sirumughai in the District of Coimbatore in the State of
Tamil Nadu. The appellant is registered as a dealer carrying on business at
Coimbatore. In the course of its business, it sold during the relevant period
large quanti- 46 ties of art silk yarn to various purchasers some of whom were
weavers residing in the States of Maharashtra and Gujarat who had been issued
cards under a scheme called 'Export Promotion Scheme' entitling them to buy
specified quantities of art silk yarn from specified manufacturers.
The question involved in these appeals
relates to the exigibility of the sales effected in favour of Export Promotion
Scheme card holders belonging to the States of Maharashtra and Gujarat to tax
under the Central Sales Tax Act, 1956 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act').
The assessment years are 1962-63, 1963-64 and
The details of the Export Promotion Scheme
for distribution of art silk yarn referred to above were these:
There were certain weavers in India who were
entitled to an incentive in the form of import licences to import art silk yarn
from abroad. The said import entitlement was cut to a certain extent and
indigenous art silk yarn at concessional price was allotted to them. To
regulate the scheme of allotment, a committee called the 'Art Silk Yarn
Distribution Committee' was constituted by the Government of India. The
Committee made allotments to different weavers by issuing allotment cards.
These allotment cards contained details of the quantity of allotment and the
rayon yarn manufacturer from whom the allotted quantity of yarn could be drawn.
As per the terms of the card, the yarn manufacturer should offer to the
allottee rayon yarn within seven days of the date of the card without waiting
for the allottee to approach him. A firm contract for the supply of yarn should
be completed within a period of twenty-one days from the date of allocation of
the card. If a firm commitment was not entered into by the allottee with the
yarn manufacturer within twenty-one days from the date of allocation of the
card, the yarn manufacturer should return the allocation card to the
Distribution Committee with suitable remarks on the card and a covering letter
explaining the reasons for the return of the card. Even in the case of actual
fulfilment of the quota covered by the allocation card, the said card should be
returned to the Distribution Committee after the delivery of the yarn was
completed. This in brief was the Scheme.
In the instant case, the appellant had
supplied art silk yarn to certain card holders who were residing, as stated
earlier, outside the State of Tamil Nadu. It is stated that the appellant had a
selling agent and distributor by the name M/s. Rayonyarns Import Company Ltd.
at Bombay and the case of the appellant was
that it had 47 supplied art silk yarn to the card holders in the States of
Maharashtra and Gujarat through the said agent and the delivery of the goods
was effected at Bombay. In the assessment proceedings before the Joint
Commercial Tax Officer, Coimbatore for the year 1964-65, the appellant claimed
that the sales of art silk yarn through its agent at Bombay were not
inter-State sales as defined by section 3(a) of the Act as the movement of the
goods in question from the State of Tamil Nadu to the State of Maharashtra or
the State of Gujarat was not occasioned by the sales in question and that they
were in fact sales which had taken place outside the State of Tamil Nadu. The
Joint Commercial Tax Officer rejected the contention of the appellant and
treated the sales effected in favour of the Export Promotion Scheme card
holders through the appellant's agent at Bombay as inter- State sales and
levied tax under the Act accordingly. He also revised the orders of assessment
for the years 1962-63 and 1963-64 bringing to tax the turnover relating to
transactions of similar nature during those years. In the appeals filed by the
appellant against the order of assessment for the year 1964-65 and of revised
assessment for the years 1962-63 and 1963-64 before the Appellate Assistant
Commissioner, (Commercial Taxes), Coimbatore, the orders passed by the Joint
Commercial Tax Officer were affirmed. The appellant then filed three appeals
before the Tamil Nadu Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal (Additional Bench),
Coimbatore against the orders passed in appeal by the Appellate Assistant
Commissioner. The Tribunal also held that the sales in favour of the Export
Promotion Scheme card holders outside the State of Tamil Nadu were inter-State
sales and were liable to be taxed under the Act. Aggrieved by the orders of the
Tribunal, the appellant preferred three revision petitions before the High
Court of Madras. These petitions were dismissed. Thereafter the appellant has
come up in appeal to this Court by special leave.
Section 3(a) of the Act provides that a sale
or purchase of goods shall be deemed to take place in the course of inter-State
trade or commerce if the sale or purchase occasions the movement of goods from
one State to the other. In order to substantiate its case, the appellant has placed
before us the documents relating to one transaction stating that the decision
on the true nature of the said transaction would govern all other transactions
of sale in dispute as they were all of a similar kind. Those documents relate
to the supply of art silk yarn to a firm known as M/s. Ramesh Silk Fabrics at
Surat in the State of Gujarat made in June, 1964. The purchaser was issued an
allocation card on November 7, 1963 bearing No. 48 3124. Under the card, M/s.
Ramesh Silk Fabrics was entitled to purchase 273 Kgs. of indigenous art silk
yarn from the appellant. The following were the relevant terms of the card:
"1. The rayon manufacturers and/or our
approved dealers shall ensure that the quantity sold is not more than the
quantity allocated as indicated in column No. 4(b) on the reverse of the card.
2. The rayon manufacturer shall offer yarn to
the allottee within seven days from the date of allocation card without waiting
for the allottee to approach him. Contract for the supply of yarn shall be concluded
within 21 days from the date of the allocation card.
3. Particulars of the quantity of yarn sold
by the rayon yarn manufacturer his approved dealer with the date of or sale
shall be entered and signed by the seller in column (5) on the card.
4. No supply shall be made on allotment card
on which corrections have not been attested by the Secretary or the Manager.
5. If firm commitment is not entered into by
the allottee with the yarn manufacturer, the yarn manufacturer shall return the
allocation card to the Distribution Committee, with suitable remarks on the
card and a covering letter explaining the reasons for returning the card.
6. Allocation cards shall be returned to the
Distribution Committee after the delivery of yarn has been completed." At
the back of his allocation card, in column 4(a) the appellant is shown as the
manufacturer and in column 4(b) the quantity allotted is shown as 273 Kgs.
Column (5) of the allocation card shows that quantity of 268 Kgs. had been
supplied as per Invoice No. BC/132. Then we have the Invoice No. BC/132
prepared in the name of the appellant by its agent, Rayon-yarn Import Co. Pvt.
Ltd. and signed by the agent for and on behalf of the appellant. The cases
containing goods sold had been marked as 5829, 8479 and 8505. The Invoice
contains a note which reads as follows:
49 "We have charged you 2% Central Sales
Tax for which purpose you are required to send us immediately your regular 'C'
form correct in all respects as required by the law in force for the time being
in the absence of which you are required to remit us balance sum of Rs .. being
the difference between the rate charged and the revised rate at 10% applicable
in such case." But actually 2% tax was added and it was shown in the
invoice as local sales tax of Maharashtra at 2% of the price. A delivery order
dated June 3, 1964 prepared by the agent at Bombay on behalf of the appellant
also refers to the numbers of the cases containing goods as 5829, 8479 and
8505. What is of significance is a letter dated May 23, 1964 written by the
agent at Bombay to the appellant. By that letter, the agent requested the
appellant to send from the factory 69 cases of yarn bearing specific numbers
including case No. 5829, 8479 and 8505. The said letter further stated that the
invoices of sale would be sent after the goods were sold by the agent. What is
attempted to be made out by the appellant is that the appellant was informing
its agent at Bombay from time to time as and when goods were manufactured the
number of the cases in which the goods had been packed and at the request of
its agent it had dispatched the goods to Bombay but not as a result of any sale
of the said goods in favour of a purchaser. According to the appellant, the
sale had taken place at Bombay and the movement of goods to Bombay from the
State of Tamil Nadu was not connected with the sale in question.
In order to constitute an inter-State sale as
defined in section 3(a) of the Act, two factors should co-exist (i) a sale of
goods and (ii) movement of goods from one State to another under the contract
of sale. If there is a conceivable link between a contract of sale and the
movement of goods from one State to the other in order to discharge the
obligation under the contract of sale, the inter position of an agent of the
seller who may temporarily intercept the movement ought not to alter the
inter-State character of the sale. The facts which are glaring in this case
(1) the allotment of a certain quantity of
art silk yarn produced by the appellant in favour of the allocation card
(2) the requirement that the appellant should
offer to sell the quantity of goods allotted to the card holder within seven
50 (3) the requirement that contract of sale
should be completed within twenty-one days of the date of the allocation card;
(4) the requirement that the card should be
returned to the Committee if no contract of sale was concluded as stated above;
and (5) the fact that the goods have been supplied expressly against the quota
allotted under the allocation card.
Admittedly the allocation card bearing No.
3124 was issued on November 7, 1963 and it required the appellant to offer to
sell the quantity of art silk yarn mentioned in it to the purchaser within
seven days without even waiting for the purchaser approaching the appellant
with a request to supply the goods in question. The card contemplated a
contract of sale to be completed within twenty-one days of the date of its
issue. The invoice in question contained the number of the allocation card. In
the letter dated May 23, 1964 the agent requested the appellant to send the
cases bearing Nos. 5829, 8479 and 8505 by lorry from Sirumughai and the said
boxes were later on admittedly delivered to the purchaser on June 3, 1964.
These facts cumulatively suggest that the goods in question had been
transported from the factory site of the appellant to Bombay for delivery to
the purchaser as a result of the contract of sale established in accordance
with the terms of the allocation card.
It is, however, argued on behalf of the
appellant relying upon the decision of this Court in Tata Engineering and
Locomotive Co. Ltd. v. Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, Jamshedpur and Anr.
that the sale effected by the appellant's agent at Bombay could not be treated as
the immediate case of movement of goods from the State of Tamil Nadu to the
State of Maharashtra or the State of Gujarat, as the case be may. The facts in
the aforesaid case are distinguishable from the facts in the present case since
it was held in that case that the procedure followed by the manufacturer, the
appellant in that case together with the absence of any firm orders placed by
the purchasers indicated that there were no transactions of sale within the
meaning of section 2(g) of the Act and assuming that any firm orders had been
received by the appellant therein, they could not be regarded as anything but
mere offers. This Court further held in that case that the appropriation of
goods was done 51 at the appellant's stockyard situated in the State where the
vehicles were delivered to purchasers and it was open to the appellant till
then to allot any vehicle to any purchaser or to transfer a vehicle from one
stockyard to another. One strong circumstance which existed in that case was
the absence of the firm orders which occasioned the movement of goods from the
State of Bihar to other States as can be seen from the following passage in
"As regards the so called firm orders it
has already been pointed out that none have been shown to have existed in
respect of the relevant periods of assessment. Even on the assumption that any
such orders had been received by the appellant they could not be regarded as
anything but mere offers in view of the specific terms in Exhibit 1 (the
dealership agreement) according to which it was open to the appellant to supply
or not to supply the dealer with any vehicle in response to such order."
In the instant case there is clear evidence of the existence of a prior
contract of sale as per terms of the allocation card. The fact that actual sale
pursuant to the said contract of sale had taken place subsequently does not
militate against the transaction being treated an inter- State sale under
Section 3 (a) of the Act, since the movement of the goods delivered to the
buyer was occasioned by the contract of sale brought into existence under the
terms of the allocation card. It was, however, faintly suggested that the
evidence of what took place between the appellant and the allottee within
twenty-one days of the issue of the allocation card was lacking in this case.
Evidence about these facts was within the
knowledge of the appellant and the appellant had not placed it before the
assessing authority. It is likely that if such evidence had been produced it
would have gone against the appellant. Even apart from that the finding
recorded by the assessing authority the appellate authority, the Tribunal and
the High Court on the basis of the terms of the allocation card and other
material on record that there was a contract of sale within the stipulated time
between the appellant and the allottee of art silk yarn is unassailable. In the
circumstances no assistance can be derived by the appellant from the case of
Tata Engineering and Locomotive Co. Ltd.
The decision of this Court in Kelvinator of
India Ltd. v. The 52 State of Haryana relied on by the appellant has also no
bearing on this case. The assessee in that case had its factory where it
manufactured refrigerators at Faridabad in the State of Haryana and it moved
the goods manufactured by it to its godown at Delhi. The excise pass utilised
for such movement was always in favour of self. During the transport of goods,
the assessee paid octroi payable for bringing goods into Delhi. At Delhi, the
assessee sold the goods to its distributors. The Court on a consideration of
the material before it held that even though there were prior distribution
agreements entered into between the assessee and its distributors, the goods in
question had not been moved pursuant to the said agreements from Faridabad to
Delhi, and hence there was no inter-state sale.
The facts of this case are, however, close to
the facts in English Electric Company of India Ltd. v. The Deputy Commercial
Tax officer & Ors. Here also the assessee had its factory in the State of
Tamil Nadu. Its registered office was at Calcutta but it had branch offices at
Madras, Bombay and other places. A Bombay buyer wrote to the Bombay branch of
the appellant in that case asking for lowest quotation in respect of the goods
which were being manufactured in the factory in Tamil Nadu. After some
correspondence between the Bombay branch and the Madras branch, the Bombay
branch, wrote to the Bombay buyer giving all the required particulars. The
Bombay buyer thereafter placed an order with the Bombay branch for certain
goods. The Bombay branch informed the Madras branch about the order placed by
the Bombay buyer. On receipt of the invoice from the Madras branch the Bombay
branch wrote to the Bombay buyer that some of the goods indented by him were
ready for dispatch and asked for dispatch instructions. On receipt of such
instructions, the Bombay branch asked the Madras Branch to send goods to
Bombay. The railway receipts were sent through the Bombay branch. The goods were
delivered to the Bombay buyer through clearing agents and the insurance charges
were collected from the Bombay buyer. The assessee claimed in the assessment
proceedings that the sale was not an inter-State sale but one which had taken
place at Bombay between the Bombay branch and the Bombay buyer, The said
contention was rejected by this Court with the following observations:-
"The appellant in the present case sent the goods direct from the Madras
branch factory to the Bombay buyer 53 at Bhandup, Bombay. The railway receipt
was in the name of the Bombay branch to secure payment against delivery. There
was no question of diverting the goods which were sent to the Bombay buyer.
When the movement of goods from one State to another is an incident of the contract
it is a sale in the course of inter-State sale. It does not matter in which
State the property in the goods passes. What is decisive is whether the sale is
one which occasions the movement of goods from one State to another. The
inter-State movement must be the result of a covenant, express or implied, in
the contract of sale or an incident of the contract. It is not necessary that
the sale must precede the inter- State movement in order that the sale may be
deemed to have occasioned such movement. It is also not necessary for a sale to
be deemed to have taken place in the course of inter-State trade or commerce,
that the covenant regarding inter-State movement must be specified in the
contract itself. It will be enough if the movement is in pursuance of and
incidental to the contract of sale.
When a branch of a company forwards a buyer's
order to the principal factory of the company and instructs them to dispatch
the goods direct to the buyer and the goods are sent to the buyer under those
instructions it would not be a sale between the factory and its branch. If
there is a conceivable link between the movement of the goods and the buyer's
contract, and if in the course of inter-state movement the goods move only to
reach the buyer in satisfaction of his contract of purchase and such a nexus is
otherwise inexplicable, then the sale or purchase of the specific or
ascertained goods ought to be deemed to have taken place in the course of
inter-State or commerce as such a sale or purchase occasioned the movement of
the goods from one State to another, The presence of all intermediary such as
the seller's own representative or branch office, who initiated the contract
may not make the matter different. Such an interception by a known person on
behalf of the seller in the Delivery State and such person's activities prior
to or after the implementation of the contract may not alter the
position." In the instant case, the allocation card was first sent in
November, 1963 asking the appellant directly to make an offer of the 54 goods
to the allottee. The allottee was expected to communicate his desire to
purchase the goods within twenty- one days of the date of the allocation card.
Such communication brought into existence a contract sale directly between the
appellant and the buyer. The goods were admittedly sent pursuant to the said
contract of sale. The interposition at a later stage of the selling agent who
acted on behalf of the appellant in the preparation of the invoice and the
delivery of the goods would not alter the true character of the sale as the
selling agent was just a conduit pipe. The goods having been dispatched from
one State to another State pursuant to a contract of sale which came into
existence directly between the appellant and the buyer within a few days after
the date of the allocation card, the sale was an inter-State sale. The Tribunal
and the High Court were, therefore, right in upholding the orders of the
assessing authority levying tax under the Act on all sales which had taken
place in favour of the Export Promotion Scheme card holders in Gujarat and
Maharashtra even though the selling agent of the appellant at Bombay had on
behalf of the appellant also dealt with such card holders at Bombay, as the
transactions in question satisfied the tests laid down in the case of English
Electric Company of India Ltd. (supra).
In the result the appeals fail and are
dismissed with costs.
P.B.R. Appeals dismissed.