Aggarbatti, Ludhiana Vs. State of Punjab & Ors
 INSC 795 (23 October 1997)
S.P. BHARUCHA, S.C. SEN
C.A. Nos. 1176/92, 1177/92, 1178/92,
O R D
E R C.A.NO. 1175 of 1992 The judgment and order under appeal by special leave
was delivered by a Division Bench of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana. it
reversed the judgment and order of a learned Single Judge allowing the writ,
petition filed by the appellant.
appellant is a registered dealer in 'dhoop' and 'aggarbatti' and we are
concerned with its assessment to sales tax thereon under the provisions of the
Punjab General Sales Tax Act, 1948, for the period 1973-74.
No.16 of Schedule A to the said Act. at the relevant time read thus;
perfumery and toilet goods, excluding tooth-paste, tooth-power, kum-kum and
soap," The said Entry No.16 was broken up into Entries 16 and 16A by a
notification dated 28th
September, 1979. The
new Entries read thus:
Cosmetics, and toilet goods excluding tooth-paste, tooth- powder, kum kum and
perfumery including dhoop and Aggarbati." The appellant was sought to be
made liable to pay sales tax at the rate of 10 paisa in a rupee, as was leviable
upon items falling under the said Entry No.16, on the basis that 'dhoop' and 'aggarbatti'
were covered by the word "perfumery" therein. The writ petition filed
by the appellant there against was allowed by the learned Single Judge, who
placed reliance upon the context in which the word "perfumery" was
used in the said Entry No. 16. The Division Bench, in appeal, reversed the
learned Single Judge, principally relying upon the judgment of this Court in
Commissioner of Sales Tax, U.P. v. India Herbs Research and Supply Cp., 25 STC
case of Indian Herbs Research and Supply Co., strongly relied upon by learned
counsel for the respondents, the relevant Entry read: "Scents and
perfumes" in English and "Ttra tatha sugandhian" in Hindi. The
question was whether "dhoop" or "dhoopbatti" fell within
the description of "perfume" there under. This Court look the view
that their was no warrant for restricting the meaning of the expression
"perfume" to substances which emitted a fragrance in their natural
state and not extending it to those which produced a fragrance as a result of
the application of heat or some foreign matter to induce a chemical reaction
which resulted in the odour being released. The word perfumes" in that
entry, it was held, should he construed in its ordinary sense and "dhoop"
and "dhoopatti", therefore, fell within that word.
counsel or the appellant commended for our acceptance the reasoning of a
Division Bench of the High Court at Bombay in the judgment in Commissioner of
Sales Tax, Maharashtra State, Bombay, v. Gordhandas Tokersey, 52 STC 381. The
question here was whether sandalwood and sandalwood oil were perfumes that fell
within the entry "perfumes, depilatories and cosmetics". The Bombay
High Court noted that it was a well-known rule of construction that words in
such entries had to be construed with reference to the words found in immediate
connection with them. When two or more words which were capable of being
understood in an analogous manner were coupled together, they had to be
understood in the common analogous sense and not in the general sense. Applying
this rule of noseilur a sociis, the words "perfumes" in the entry was
to be understood in conjunction with 'cosmetics' and 'depilatories'. In other
words, the word "perfumes" referred only to such preparations as were
commonly known in the market for use on the human body as perfumes. The Bombay
High Court drew support from the judgment of the Madras High Court in Board
Roberts adn Co. (India) Ltd. v. Board of Revenue (C.T.), Madras, 1942 STC 370,.
here a Similar view had been taken. The Bombay High Court also drew support
from the case of Assessing Authority v. Amir Chand Om Parkash, 33 STC 120, in
which the Punjab & Haryana High Court had earlier construed the very same
Entry No.16 which is now before us and held that 'dhoop' and 'aggarbatti' could
not be held to be 'perfumery' within the meaning of that entry. The Bombay High
Court distinguished the judgment of this Court in Indian Herbs Research &
Supply Company by noting that this Court was not there required to consider the
terms 'scent' and 'perfumes' in conjunction with articles of toilet or
cosmetics; the words stood by themselves and there was no reason to limit them
in any manner.
Assessing Authority, Amritsar, and Another v. Amir Chand Om Prakash,
33 S.T.C. 121, a Division Bench of the Punjab & Haryana High Court,
considered whether 'dhoop' and 'aggarbatti' fell within the ambit of the said
held that they did not for two reasons. The first of the two reasons is no
longer valid by reason of a subsequent amendment, but the second reason is till
valid. The Punjab & Haryana High Court said:
far as dhoop and aggarbatti are concerned, there is another way of looking at
the matter. The entry (i.e. entry No.16) is "cosmetics, perfumery and
toilet goods...." The context in which the word "perfumery"
occurs shows that what is meant by all the three general items "cosmetics,
pefumery and toilet goods" are articles which are used for personal
hygiene or pleasure. The items which are excepted from this entry are
"tooth-paste, tooth-powder, soap and kum-kum." This viz., that only
those articles of luxury, which are used for personal hygiene and pleasure were
intended to be included in this entry. So the word "perfumery" in
this context would not include dhoop and aggarbatti, which are never used for
personal hygiene or pleasure, but are primarily used for religious
ceremonies." The Punjab & Haryana High Court's attention was drawn to
this Court's judgment in the Indian Herbs Research and Supply Co.'s case and it
came to the conclusion, having analysed it, that it was of no assistance
because, as it has already held, the context in which the word 'perfumery'
occurred in the said Entry No.16 indicated that it was used only in respect of
items used for personal hygiene.
judgment in Amir Chand Om Parkash was cited before the Division Bench that
delivered the judgment under appeal.
noted, rightly, that the first ground upon which it had been held that 'dhoop'
and 'aggarbatti' fell outside the word 'perfumery' in the said Entry No.16 no
longer survived, but it was in error in distinguishing the judgment entirely on
the ground that "Entry No.16A specifically mentions 'perfumery' as
including Dhoop and aggarbatties". The second ground in the judgment,
namely, that the context in which the word 'perfumery' was used in the said
Entry No. 16 showed that it referred only to perfumes used for personal hygiene
or pleasure, remained binding on the Division Bench that decided the present
matter as also the finding that this Court's decision in the Indian Herbs
Research and Supply Co. was distinguishable.
in the Schedules of Sales tax and Excise statutes list some article separately
and some articles are grouped together. When they are grouped together, each
word in the Entry draws colour from the other words therein.
is the principle of noscitur a sociis.
in no doubt whatever that the word "perfumery" in the said Entry
No.16 draws colour from the words 'cosmetics' and 'toilet goods' therein and
that, so read, the word 'perfumery' in the said Entry No.16 can only refer to
such articles of perfumery as are used, as cosmetics and toilet goods are, upon
the person. The word "perfumery" in the context in which it, is used
has, therefore, no application to 'dhoop' and 'aggarbatti'. The distinction
between the present case and the case o Indian Herbs Research and Supply
Company is evident for the word 'perfumes' in the entry under consideration in
the latter case was not limited by the words before and after, as in the entry
before us; both the words 'scent' and 'perfumes' related to articles that
we are of the view that the judgment under appeal is erroneous and must be set
appeal is allowed. The judgment under appeal is set aside and the judgment of
the learned Single Judge allowing the appellant's writ petition is restored. No
order as to costs.
1176/92, 1177/92, 1178/92, 1179/92.
the judgment just delivered in Civil Appeal No.1175/92, these appeals are
allowed and the judgment under appeal is set aside.