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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (for short ‘the MMDR Act’),- Chapter VII of the Rajasthan Finance Act, - Rajasthan Environment and Health Cess Rules, 2008 - levy of cess on mineral right - the High Court has declared the notification dated 23.1.2009 amending the earlier notification dated 25.2.2008 w.e.f. 1.4.2008 with regard to imposition of cess on Rock Phosphate at the rate of Rs.500/- per tonne is ultra vires because the notification issued by the Government could only be prospectively effective and cannot have retrospective operation. - the High court on this score is absolutely flawless - Apex court concur with the same. - the appeals, being devoid of merit, stand dismissed. = State of Rajasthan and others ... Appellants Versus M/s. Basant Agrotech (India) Ltd. ...Respondent = published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=41049

    Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act,  1957  (for  short  ‘the  MMDR  Act’),- Chapter  VII  of   the Rajasthan Finance Act, -  Rajasthan Environment and Health Cess Rules,  2008 - levy of cess on mineral right - the  High Court has declared  the  notification  dated  23.1.2009  amending  the earlier notification dated 25.2.2008 w.e.f. 1.4.2008  with  regard  to imposition of cess on Rock Phosphate at the rate of Rs.500/- per tonne is ultra vires because  the  notification  issued  by  the  Government could only be prospectively effective and cannot  have  retrospective operation. - the High  court  on  this score is absolutely flawless - Apex court concur  with  the  same. -  the appeals, being  devoid  of  merit,  stand  dismissed. =

The respondent preferred DB Civil  Writ  Petition  No.  4357  of  2009
      before  the  High  Court  of  Judicature  for  Rajasthan  at   Jodhpur
      challenging  the  constitutional  validity  of  Chapter  VII  of   the Rajasthan Finance Act, 2008 (for brevity ‘the Act’) which provides for levy of cess on mineral rights.  
The respondent was granted  a  mining
      lease for extraction on major minerals.  
As per the amendment  brought
      in the year 2008 it was required to pay  the  environment  and  health
      cess imposed under Section 16 of the Act.  
The  State  Government,  in
      exercise of the powers conferred by Section 19 of the  Act,  framed  a
      set of rules called Rajasthan Environment and Health Cess Rules,  2008
      (for short “the Rules”).  Rule 13 of the Rules provides for  the  head
      under which the cess collected under Section 16 of the Act  is  to  be
      credited.
 Rule 14 of the Rules provides for  the  allocation  of  the
      funds for implementation of environment and health projects in  mining
      areas in various parts of the State.  
Questioning  the  constitutional
  validity of the impost under the Act it was contended before the  High Court  that  the  State  Legislature  had  no  competence  to   impose environment and health cess on major minerals as the field is occupied by the provisions contained in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act,  1957  (for  short  ‘the  MMDR  Act’),  which  is  an enactment by the Parliament. =

 In
      the present batch of cases, the controversy is different as  the  High
      Court has declared  the  notification  dated  23.1.2009  amending  the
      earlier notification dated 25.2.2008 w.e.f. 1.4.2008  with  regard  to
      imposition of cess on Rock Phosphate at the rate of Rs.500/- per tonne
      is ultra vires because  the  notification  issued  by  the  Government
      ccould only be prospectively effective and cannot  have  retrospective
      operation.  The said opinion has been expressed on the foundation that
      legislature has not conferred the power on the Executive to issue such
      a notification.   Regard  being  had  to  the  said  controversy,  our
      advertence in this batch of appeals shall be a restricted one, namely,
      to scrutinize whether the view expressed by the High  Court  declaring
      the notification to the  effect  that  it  cannot  have  retrospective
      effect is valid and justified or warrants any interference. =


Therefore, the notification as far as it covers the  period
  prior to the date of publication of the notification in  the  official Gazette is really a transgression of the  statutory  postulate.   
Thus analysed, we find that the view expressed by the High  court  on  this score is absolutely flawless and we concur  with  the  same.   
We  may
      reiterate for the sake of clarity that we have  not  adverted  to  the
      defensibility of the analysis from other spectrums which  are  founded
      on the principles set forth in Kesoram’s case as the matter  has  been
      referred to a larger Bench and the lis in these appeals  fundamentally
      pertain to the retrospective applicability of the notification  issued
      by the State Government as regards the  rate  of  cess  on  the  major
      mineral, i.e. Rock Phosphate.

  46. Resultantly, the appeals, being  devoid  of  merit,  stand  dismissed.

      Ordinarily, we would have imposed costs regard being had to the change
      of stance by the appellant from  time  to  time  but  recognizing  the
      anxiety on behalf of the State, we restrain from doing so.

         IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.       OF 2013
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 8283 of 2012)


State of Rajasthan and others                ... Appellants

                                   Versus

M/s. Basant Agrotech (India) Ltd.      ...Respondent


                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.       OF 2013
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 8288 of 2012)

State of Rajasthan and others                ... Appellants

                                   Versus

M/s. Solaris Chemtech Industries Ltd.   ...Respondent


                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.       OF 2013
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 8291 of 2012)

State of Rajasthan and others                ... Appellants

                                   Versus

M/s. Madhyabharat Phosphate P. Ltd.     ...Respondent


                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.       OF 2013
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 10815 of 2012)

State of Rajasthan and others                ... Appellants

                                   Versus

M/s. Liberty Phosphate Ltd.                    ...Respondent


                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.       OF 2013
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 10816 of 2012)

State of Rajasthan and others                ... Appellants

                                   Versus

M/s. Asian Fertilizer Ltd.                          ...Respondent


                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.       OF 2013
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 14654 of 2012)

State of Rajasthan and others                ... Appellants

                                   Versus

M/s. Poly Chemical Industries & Anr.    ...Respondents


                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.       OF 2013
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 14655 of 2012)

State of Rajasthan and others                ... Appellants

                                   Versus

M/s. Madhya Bharat Agro Products Ltd.   ...Respondent

                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.       OF 2013
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 14656 of 2012)

State of Rajasthan and others                ... Appellants

                                   Versus

M/s. Khaitan Chemicals & Fertilisers Ltd.    ...Respondent

                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.       OF 2013
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 14657 of 2012)

State of Rajasthan and others                ... Appellants

                                   Versus

M/s. Bhilai Eng. Corp. Ltd.               ...Respondent

                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.       OF 2013
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 14658 of 2012)

State of Rajasthan and others                ... Appellants

                                   Versus

M/s. Indian Potash Ltd.                      ...Respondent

                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.       OF 2013
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 14659 of 2012)

State of Rajasthan and others                ... Appellants

                                   Versus

M/s. Nirma Ltd.                         ...Respondent


                                    WITH
                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.       OF 2013
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 14660 of 2012)

State of Rajasthan and others                ... Appellants

                                   Versus

M/s. Arawali Phosphate Ltd.             ...Respondent


                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.       OF 2013
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 14662 of 2012)

State of Rajasthan and others                ... Appellants

                                   Versus

M/s. T.J. Agro Fertilisers P. Ltd.           ...Respondent


                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.       OF 2013
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 14663 of 2012)

State of Rajasthan and others                ... Appellants

                                   Versus

M/s. Indra Organic Ltd.                      ...Respondent


                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.       OF 2013
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 14664 of 2012)

State of Rajasthan and others                ... Appellants

                                   Versus

M/s. Shiva Fertilisers Ltd.                  ...Respondent
                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.       OF 2013
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 14665 of 2012)

State of Rajasthan and others                ... Appellants

                                   Versus

M/s. R.C. Fertilisers P. Ltd.                ...Respondent

                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.       OF 2013
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 14667 of 2012)

State of Rajasthan and others                ... Appellants

                                   Versus

M/s. Indian Phosphate Ltd.              ...Respondent


                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.       OF 2013
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 14666 of 2012)

State of Rajasthan and others                ... Appellants

                                   Versus

M/s. Gajraj Fertilisers P. Ltd.              ...Respondent

                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.       OF 2013
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 14668 of 2012)

State of Rajasthan and others                ... Appellants

                                   Versus

M/s. Manglam Phosphates Ltd.            ...Respondent
                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.       OF 2013
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 16252 of 2012)

State of Rajasthan and others                ... Appellants

                                   Versus

Dharamsi Morarji Chemical Co. Ltd.                 ...Respondent





                               J U D G M E N T


Dipak Misra, J.



      Leave granted in all the Special Leave Petitions.

   2. Regard being  had  to  the  commonality  of  issue  involved  and  the
      similitude of controversy pyramided in all these appeals, preferred by
      special leave, they were heard together  and  are  disposed  of  by  a
      singular order.  For the sake  of  convenience,  the  facts  in  Civil
      Appeal arising from Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.  8283  of  2012
      are adumbrated herein.

   3. The respondent preferred DB Civil  Writ  Petition  No.  4357  of  2009
      before  the  High  Court  of  Judicature  for  Rajasthan  at   Jodhpur
      challenging  the  constitutional  validity  of  Chapter  VII  of   the Rajasthan Finance Act, 2008 (for brevity ‘the Act’) which provides for levy of cess on mineral rights.  
The respondent was granted  a  mining
      lease for extraction on major minerals.  
As per the amendment  brought
      in the year 2008 it was required to pay  the  environment  and  health
      cess imposed under Section 16 of the Act.  
The  State  Government,  in
      exercise of the powers conferred by Section 19 of the  Act,  framed  a
      set of rules called Rajasthan Environment and Health Cess Rules,  2008
      (for short “the Rules”).  Rule 13 of the Rules provides for  the  head
      under which the cess collected under Section 16 of the Act  is  to  be
      credited.
 Rule 14 of the Rules provides for  the  allocation  of  the
      funds for implementation of environment and health projects in  mining
      areas in various parts of the State.  
Questioning  the  constitutional
  validity of the impost under the Act it was contended before the  High Court  that  the  State  Legislature  had  no  competence  to   impose environment and health cess on major minerals as the field is occupied by the provisions contained in the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act,  1957  (for  short  ‘the  MMDR  Act’),  which  is  an enactment by the Parliament. 
 It was urged that the imposition of such
      cess is not a fee  but  a  tax  which  is  covered  by  the  MMDR  Act
      whereunder the power to levy tax on the mineral rights in  respect  of
      major minerals is vested in the Parliament. 
It was further put  forth
      that the Parliament, in exercise of the  powers  conferred  on  it  by
      Entries  54  and  55  of  List-I  of  the  Seventh  Schedule  to   the
      Constitution of India, has enacted the MMDR Act and the  Rules  framed
      thereunder and under the said Act, the power vests from all  spectrums
      in the Central Government in respect of major minerals and, therefore,
      the State Legislature could not have enacted  such  law  for  imposing
      such cess on major minerals.
It  was  contended  that  the  cess  in
      question is a nature of fee and the levy of fee on major  minerals  is
      governed by the provisions contained in the MMDR  Act  and  the  Rules
      framed thereunder and hence,  the  State  Legislature  does  not  have
      competence to impose such cess.

   4. Apart from the aforesaid contentions, certain other  submissions  were
      advanced and reliance was placed on India Cement Ltd.  and  others  v.
      State of Tamil Nadu and others[1] wherein it has been  held  that  the
      royalty was a tax.
Be it noted, keeping in view the principle  stated
      in India Cement Ltd.’s case, (a seven-Judge Bench decision)  a  three-
      Judge Bench in Orissa Cement Ltd. v. State of Orissa[2], held that the
      decision of levy of cess impugned therein was unconstitutional.

   5. On behalf of the State reliance was placed on the  Constitution  Bench
      decision in State of W.B. v. Kesoram Industries  Ltd.  and  Others[3].
      In the said case the  State  of  West  Bengal  was  aggrieved  by  the
      judgment rendered by the High Court of Calcutta wherein  it  was  held
      that the levy of cess on coal bearing land  was  similar  to  the  one
      which had been struck down in India Cement  Ltd.  (supra)  and  Orissa
      Cement Ltd. (supra) and on that foundation it was ruled that the State
      Legislature had no competence to levy such cess.
The majority in  the
      Constitution Bench referred to the Entries 52, 54, 96 and  97  of  the
      Union List (List-I) and Entries 23, 49, 50 and 56 of  the  State  List
      (List-II) of the Seventh Schedule, adverted to  issues  pertaining  to
      tax legislation and dwelled upon how  the  nature  of  tax  levied  is
      different from the measure of tax and culled out number of  principles
      two of which are reproduced below:

      “(6) “Land”, the term as occurring in Entry 49 of List II, has a  wide
      connotation.   Land  remains  land  though  it  may  be  subjected  to
      different user.  The nature of user of the land  would  not  enable  a
      piece of  land  being  taken  out  of  the  meaning  of  land  itself.
      Different uses to which the land is subjected or is capable  of  being
      subjected provide  the  basis  for  classifying  land  into  different
      identifiable groups for the purpose of taxation.  The nature  of  user
      of one piece of land would enable that piece of land being  classified
      separately from another piece of land  which  is  being  subjected  to
      another kind of user, though the two pieces of  land  are  identically
      situated except for the difference in nature of user.  The  tax  would
      remain a tax on land and would not become a tax on the nature  of  its
      user.

      (7)   To be a tax on land, the levy must have some direct and definite
      relationship with the land.  So long as the tax is a tax  on  land  by
      bearing  such  relationship  with  the  land,  it  is  open  for   the
      legislature for the purpose of levying tax to adopt  any  one  of  the
      well known modes of determining the value of the land such  as  annual
      or capital value of the land or  its  productivity.   The  methodology
      adopted, having an indirect relationship  with  the  land,  would  not
      alter the nature of the tax as being one on land.”

   6. Elaborating on the said principles, the Constitution Bench adverted to
      the concept of  regulation  and,  in  that  context,  culled  out  the
      principle to the effect that the  primary  object  and  the  essential
      purpose of legislation must be  distinguished  from  its  ultimate  or
      incidental results or consequences for determining  the  character  of
      the levy.  A levy essentially in the nature of a tax  and  within  the
      power of the State Legislature cannot be annulled as  unconstitutional
      merely because it may have an effect on the price of the commodity.  A
      State legislation, which makes provisions for levying a cess,  whether
      by way of tax to augment the revenue resources of the State or by  way
      of fee to render services as quid pro quo but without any intention of
      regulating and controlling the subject of the levy, cannot be said  to
      have encroached upon the field of “regulation and  control”  belonging
      to the Central Government by reason of the  incidence  of  levy  being
      permissible to be passed on to the  buyer  or  consumer,  and  thereby
      affecting the  price  of  the  commodity  or  goods.   Thereafter,  it
      observed as follows: -

      “A tax or fee levied by the State with the object  or  augmenting  its
      finances and in reasonable limits does  not  ipso  facto  trench  upon
      regulation, development or control of the subject.  It is different if
      the tax or fee sought to be levied by the State can itself  be  called
      regulatory, the primary purpose whereof is to regulate or control  and
      augmentation of revenue or rendering  service  is  only  secondary  or
      incidental.”

   7. After so stating the Constitution Bench ruled that taxes on lands  and
      buildings in Entry 49 of List II cannot be levied by the Union.  Taxes
      on mineral rights, a subject in Entry 50 of List II, can also  not  be
      levied by the Union though as stated in Entry 50 itself the Union  may
      impose limitations on the power of the State and such limitations,  if
      any, imposed by Parliament by law relating to mineral  development  to
      that extent shall circumscribe the States’ power to legislate.   Power
      to tax mineral rights is with  the  States;  the  power  to  lay  down
      limitations on exercise of such power, in the interest of  regulation,
      development or control, as the case may be, is with the Union and that
      is the result achieved by homogeneous reading of Entry 50 of  List  II
      and Entries 52 and 54 in List I.  So long as a tax or fee  on  mineral
      rights remains in pith and substance a tax for augmenting the  revenue
      resources of the State or a fee for rendering services  by  the  State
      and  it  does  not  impinge  upon  regulation  of  mines  and  mineral
      development or upon control of industry by the Central Government,  it
      is not unconstitutional.

   8. Thereafter, the Court  adverted  to  individual  cases,  namely,  coal
      matters, tea matters, brick earth matters, mining and mineral  matters
      and then addressed itself to the purpose  behind  the  MMRD  Act  and,
      eventually, came to hold as follows:-
      “147. Royalty is not a  tax.  The  impugned  cess  by  no  stretch  of
      imagination can be called a tax on tax. The impugned  levy  also  does
      not have the effect of increasing  the  royalty.  Simply  because  the
      royalty is levied  by  reference  to  the  quantity  of  the  minerals
      produced and the impugned  cess  too  is  quantified  by  taking  into
      consideration the same quantity of the mineral  produced,  the  latter
      does not become royalty. The former is the rent of the land  on  which
      the mine is situated or the price of  the  privilege  of  winning  the
      minerals from the land parted with by the Government in favour of  the
      mining lessee. The cess is a levy on mineral rights with impact on the
      land and quantified by reference to the quantum of minerals  produced.
      The distinction, though fine, yet exists and is perceptible.”

   9. At this juncture, it is apt to  note  that  the  decision  in  Kesoram
      Industries Ltd. (supra) has  been  referred  for  consideration  by  a
      larger Bench in Mineral Area Development Authority and others v. Steel
      Authority of India and others[4].  It may be profitably stated that  a
      three-Judge Bench has referred the matter to a Bench of nine Judges by
      framing eleven questions of law.  A direct reference to  a  nine-Judge
      Bench has been explained in the following terms:-
      “...we may clarify that normally the Bench of five learned  Judges  in
      case of doubt has to invite the attention of  the  Chief  Justice  and
      request for the matter being placed for  hearing  before  a  Bench  of
      larger  coram  than  the  Bench  whose  decision  has  come   up   for
      consideration (see Central Board of Dawoodi Bohra Community  v.  State
      of Maharashtra[5]). However, in the present case,  since  prima  facie
      there appears to be some conflict between the decision of  this  Court
      in State of W.B. v. Kesoram Industries Ltd (supra) which decision  has
      been delivered by a Bench  of  five  Judges  of  this  Court  and  the
      decision delivered by a seven-Judge  Bench  of  this  Court  in  India
      Cement Ltd. v. State of T.N. (supra), reference to the Bench  of  nine
      Judges is requested.”


  10. It is the admitted position that certain matters arising  out  of  the
      said decision are awaiting for answer of  reference  in  the  case  of
      Mineral Area Development Authority (supra) by the  larger  Bench.
 In
      the present batch of cases, the controversy is different as  the  High
      Court has declared  the  notification  dated  23.1.2009  amending  the
      earlier notification dated 25.2.2008 w.e.f. 1.4.2008  with  regard  to
      imposition of cess on Rock Phosphate at the rate of Rs.500/- per tonne
      is ultra vires because  the  notification  issued  by  the  Government
      ccould only be prospectively effective and cannot  have  retrospective
      operation.  The said opinion has been expressed on the foundation that
      legislature has not conferred the power on the Executive to issue such
      a notification.   Regard  being  had  to  the  said  controversy,  our
      advertence in this batch of appeals shall be a restricted one, namely,
      to scrutinize whether the view expressed by the High  Court  declaring
      the notification to the  effect  that  it  cannot  have  retrospective
      effect is valid and justified or warrants any interference.

  11. We have heard Dr. Manish Singhvi, learned counsel for  the  appellants
      and Ms. Shweta Garg, learned counsel for the respondents.

  12. Before we appreciate the controversy that has travelled to this Court,
      we think it necessary to state the fundamental principles  that  serve
      as guidance to understand the fiscal legislations and the duty of  the
      Court while dwelling upon the interpretation of taxing statutes.

  13. In A.V. Fernandez v. The State of Kerala[6], Bhagwati, J. referred  to
      a passage from Partington v.  The  Attorney  General[7]  which  is  as
      follows: -

      “As I understand the principle of all fiscal legislation it is this  :
      if the person sought to be taxed, comes within the letter of  the  law
      he must be taxed however great the hardship may appear to the judicial
      mind to be.  On the other hand, if the Crown, seeking to  recover  the
      tax, cannot bring the subject  within  the  letter  of  the  law,  the
      subject is free, however apparently within the spirit of the  law  the
      case might otherwise appear to be.”

  14. The said passage, as has been stated in the  said  pronouncement,  was
      quoted with approval by the Privy Council  in
 Bank  of  Chettinad  v. Income-tax Commr.[8]  and the Privy Council had registered its protest
      against the suggestion that in revenue cases  “the  substance  of  the
      matter” may  be  regarded  as  distinguished  from  the  strict  legal
      position.  Proceeding further the learned Judge stated that:

      “It is no doubt  true  that  in  construing  fiscal  statutes  and  in
      determining the liability of a subject to tax one must have regard  to
      the strict letter of the law and not  merely  to  the  spirit  of  the
      statute or the substance of the law.  If  the  Revenue  satisfies  the
      Court that the case falls strictly within the provision  of  the  law,
      the subject can be taxed.  If, on the other  hand,  the  case  is  not
      covered within the four  corners  of  the  provisions  of  the  taxing
      statute, no tax can be imposed by inference or by analogy or by trying
      to probe into the intentions of the  legislature  and  by  considering
      what      was      the      substance      of       the       matter.”



                                                            [Emphasis added]



  15. In Commissioner of Salex-tax, U.P. v. Modi Sugar Mills Ltd.[9],  Shah,
      J., speaking for the majority in the Constitution Bench, has  observed
      thus: -

      “In  interpreting  a  taxing  statute,  equitable  considerations  are
      entirely out of place.  Nor can taxing statutes be interpreted on  any
      presumptions or assumptions.  The Court  must  look  squarely  at  the
      words of the statute and interpret them.  It must interpret  a  taxing
      statute in the light of what is clearly expressed :  if  cannot  imply
      anything which is not expressed; it cannot import  provisions  in  the
      statutes so as to supply any assumed deficiency.”

  16. In Commissioner of Income-tax, Madras v. Kasturi and Sons Ltd.[10],  a
      two-Judge Bench  has  approvingly  quoted  a  passage  from  the  book
      “Principles of Statutory Interpretation” by Justice G.P. Singh,  Sixth
      Edition 1966, which is as follows: -

      “The well established rule in the familiar words of LORD  WENSLEYDALE,
      reaffirmed by LORD HALSBURY and LORD SIMONDS, means : “The subject  is
      not to be taxed without clear words for that purpose;  and  also  that
      every Act  of  Parliament  must  be  read  according  to  the  natural
      construction of its words”.  In a classic passage LORD  CAIRNS  stated
      that the principle thus: “If the  person  sought  to  be  taxed  comes
      within the letter of the law he  must  be  taxed,  however  great  the
      hardship may appear to the judicial mind to be.  On the other hand, if
      the Crown seeking to recover the tax, cannot bring the subject  within
      the letter of the law, the subject is free, however apparently  within
      the spirit of law the case might otherwise appear  to  be.   In  other
      words, if there be admissible  in  any  statute,  what  is  called  an
      equitable,  construction,  certainly,  such  a  construction  is   not
      admissible in a taxing statute where you  can  simply  adhere  to  the
      words of the statute.”  VISCOUNT SIMON quoted with approval a  passage
      from Rowlatt, J.  expressing the principle in the  following  words  :
      “In a taxing Act one has to look  merely  at  what  is  clearly  said.
      There is no room for any intendment.  There is no equity about a  tax.
      There is no presumption as to tax.  Nothing is to be read in,  nothing
      is to be implied.  One can only look fairly  at  the  language  used.”
      Relying upon this passage Lord Upjohn said : “Fiscal measures are  not
      built upon any theory of taxation”.”[11]

  17. In Commissioner of Wealth Tax, Gujarat-III, Ahmedabad v. Ellis  Bridge
      Gymkhana[12], it has been observed thus: -

      “The rule of construction of a charging section is that before  taxing
      any person, it must be shown that he falls within  the  ambit  of  the
      charging section by clear words used in the section.  No  one  can  be
      taxed  by  implication.   A  charging  section  has  to  be  construed
      strictly.  If a person has not been brought within the  ambit  of  the
      charging section by clear words, he cannot be taxed at all.”

  18. Keeping in mind the aforesaid primal  principles  and  the  kernel  of
      fiscal legislation, we shall now proceed to deal with principal source
      of power under the Act and then test whether the amended notification,
      a retrospective one, has been  issued  in  consonance  with  the  said
      power.  In this context, it is imperative to refer to  Section  16  of
      the Act which delegates authority to the State Government to  issue  a
      notification to levy and collect the cess in issue in such  manner  as
      may be prescribed.  The said provision reads as follows:-
      “16.  Levy and collection of cess on mineral rights. – Subject to  any
      limitation  imposed  by  Parliament  by  law   relating   to   mineral
      development, there shall be levied and collected, in  such  manner  as
      may be prescribed, an environment and health cess on mineral rights in
      respect of such minerals and at such rates, not exceeding rupees  five
      hundred each tonne of mineral dispatched, as may be  notified  by  the
      State Government from time to time.”

  19. In exercise of power contained in Section 16 of the  Act  the  Finance
      Department issued a notification on 25.2.2008.  The said  notification
      stipulated that the rate of environment and  health  cess  on  mineral
      rights and the minerals in respect of which cess shall be levied.  The
      rate as stipulated in the said notification in  respect  of  minerals,
      namely, (i) Cement Grade Limestone, (ii) Gypsum, (iii) Rock Phosphate,
      (iv) Wollastone and (v) M.R. Cess on Lead and Zinc was Rs.5/-, Rs.5/-,
      Rs.35/-, Rs.40/- and Rs.80/- per tonne respectively.

  20. While the said notification was in vogue, the State Government brought
      a  notification  dated  23.1.2009  amending  the  notification   dated
      25.2.2008 with effect from 1.4.2008.   The  said  amendment  reads  as
      follows: -

      “In the said notification the existing S. No. 3  and  entries  thereto
      shall be substituted by the following namely: -




      |3.       |M.R. Cess on Rock Phosphate        |500/-”   |



  21.  From  the  aforesaid  notification,  it  is  vivid  that  the   first
      notification was issued  on  25.2.2008  in  exercise  of  power  under
      Section 16 of the Act for imposing a levy  at  a  particular  rate  on
      certain major minerals.  By bringing the amendment  on  23.1.2009  the
      rate of tax in respect of Rock Phosphate was increased to Rs.500/- per
      tonne with retrospective effect.

  22. There is no dispute over the fact that a legislature can  make  a  law
      retrospectively  or  prospectively  subject  to   justifiability   and
      acceptability within the  constitutional  parameters.   A  subordinate
      legislation can be given retrospective  effect  if  a  power  in  this
      behalf is contained in the principal Act.  In this regard we may refer
      with profit to the decision  in Mahabir Vegetable Oils  (P)  Ltd.  and
      another v. State of Haryana and Others[13], wherein it has  been  held
      that:-

            “We may at this stage consider the effect  of  omission  of  the
      said note.  It is beyond any cavil that a subordinate legislation  can
      be given a retrospective effect  and  retroactive  operation,  if  any
      power in this behalf is contained in the main  Act.   The  rule-making
      power is a species of delegated legislation.   A  delegatee  therefore
      can make rules only within the four corners thereof.

      42.  It is a  fundamental  rule  of  law  that  no  statute  shall  be
      construed to have a retrospective operation unless such a construction
      appears very clearly in the terms of the Act, or arises  by  necessary
      and distinct implication. (See West v. Gwynne[14]).”

  23. In MRF Ltd. Kottayam v. Asstt. Commissioner (Assessment) Sales Tax and
      Others[15], the question arose whether under Section  10  (3)  of  the
      Kerala General  Sales  Tax  Act,  1963  power  was  conferred  on  the
      Government  to  issue  a  notification  retrospectively.   This  Court
      approved the view  expressed  by  the  Kerala  High  Court  in  M.  M.
      Nagalingam Nadar Sons v. State of  Kerala[16],  wherein  it  has  been
      stated that in issuing notifications under Section 10, the  Government
      exercises only delegated powers while legislature has  plenary  powers
      to legislate prospectively and retrospectively, a delegated  authority
      like the Government acting under the powers conferred  on  it  by  the
      enactment  concerned,  can  exercise  only  those  powers  which   are
      specifically conferred.  In the absence of such  conferment  of  power
      the Government, the delegated authority,  has  no  power  to  issue  a
      notification with retrospective effect.

  24.  In Vice-Chancellor, M.D. University, Rohtak v.  Jahan  Singh[17],  it
      has been clearly laid down  that  in  the  absence  of  any  provision
      contained in the legislative Act, a delegatee cannot make a  delegated
      legislation with retrospective effect.

  25. In Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority v.  Sharadkumar  Jayantikumar
      Pasawalla and others[18], a three-Judge Bench has ruled thus: -

      “... in a fiscal matter it will not be proper to hold that even in the
      absence of express provision, a delegated authority can impose tax  or
      fee.  In our view, such power of  imposition  of  tax  and/or  fee  by
      delegated authority must be very specific and there  is  no  scope  of
      implied authority for imposition of such tax or fee.  It appears to us
      that the delegated authority must act strictly within  the  parameters
      of the authority delegated to it under the Act  and  it  will  not  be
      proper to bring the  theory  of  implied  intent  or  the  concept  of
      incidental and ancillary power in the matter  of  exercise  of  fiscal
      power.”

  26. On a perusal of the aforesaid authorities there can be no scintilla of
      doubt that if the power has been conferred under the main Act  by  the
      legislature, the State Government or the delegated authority can issue
      a notification within the said parameters.  In the case at  hand,  the
      High Court interpreting Section 16 has opined that such  a  power  has
      not  been  conferred  on  the  Government  to  issue  a   notification
      retrospectively and, therefore, it can  only  apply  with  prospective
      effect.  Dr. Manish Singhvi, learned counsel appearing for the  State,
      has submitted that wherever a statutory power is conferred,  there  is
      no limitation with regard to exercise of that power and the same could
      be exercised from time to time and even if the words  “time  to  time”
      are absent in the statute, the power conferred under the Act could  be
      exercised all over again and there is no limitation to the  number  of
      times the power is exercised and if the power is  exercised  once,  it
      cannot  be  stated  that  the  power  stands  exhausted.   It  is  his
      submission that the administrative power as well as  quasi-legislative
      power could be exercised any number of times  and  this  principle  is
      embodied under Section 21 of the General  Clauses  Act.   The  learned
      counsel would further contend that even if the words  “time  to  time”
      would not have been there in Section 16 of the Act, the power could be
      exercised any number of times.  To bolster  his  submissions,  he  has
      commended  us to the decisions in A.  Thangal  Kunju  Musaliar  v.  M.
      Venkatachalam Potti, Authorised Official and  Income-Tax  Officer  and
      another[19], D.G. Gose and Co. (Agents) Pvt. Ltd. v. State  of  Kerala
      and another[20],  Bansidhar  and  other  v.  State  of  Rajasthan  and
      others[21] and The State of Madhya Pradesh and others v. Tikamdas[22].

  27. First we shall deal with the aforesaid authorities as learned  counsel
      for the State has assiduously endeavoured to justify the retrospective
      application of the notification on the fulcrum of aforesaid decisions.



  28. In A. Thangal Kunju Musaliar (supra), the  Constitution  Bench,  apart
      from other facets, was dealing with the validity of the   notification
      dated 26.7.1949 as it had brought the Travancore  Taxation  on  Income
      (Investigation, Commission) Act into force with effect from 22.7.1949.
       The said notification was challenged on the ground that it was bad as
      it had purported to bring the Act into  operation  from  retrospective
      effect.  It was urged that Government could not,  in  the  absence  of
      express provision authorizing in that behalf, fix the commencement  of
      the  Act  retrospectively   and   further   the   courts   disfavoured
      retrospective operation of  laws  which  prejudicially  affect  vested
      rights.  Repelling the said submission, the Constitution bench  stated
      thus: -

      “No such reason is involved in this case.  Section 1(3) authorises the
      Government to bring the Act into force on such  date  as  it  may,  by
      notification, appoint. In exercise of  the  power  conferred  by  this
      section the Government surely had the power to issue the  notification
      bringing the Act into force on any date subsequent to the  passing  of
      the Act.  There can, therefore, be no objection  to  the  notification
      fixing the commencement of the Act  on  22.7.1949  which  was  a  date
      subsequent to the passing of the Act.

            So the Act has not been given retrospective operation,  that  is
      to say, it has not been made to commence from a date prior to the date
      of its passing.  It is true that the date of commencement as fixed  by
      the notification is anterior to the date of the notification but  that
      circumstance  does  not  attract  the   principle   disfavouring   the
      retroactive operation of a statute.”

  29. After so stating, their Lordships proceeded to advert  to  the  aspect
      whether the notification was retrospective or not and in  that  regard
      ruled thus: -

      “The operation of the notification itself is  not  retrospective.   It
      only brings the Act into operation on and from an  earlier  date.   In
      any case it was in terms authorised to issue the notification bringing
      the Act into force on any date subsequent to the passing  of  the  Act
      and that is all that the Government did.”

  30. On a seemly appreciation of the ratio laid down in that case, we  have
      no trace  of  doubt  in  our  mind  that  the  said  decision  has  no
      applicability to the facts in the case at hand.  As  is  evident,  the
      notification giving effect to the enactment was prior to the  date  of
      issue of notification but much after the legislature  had  passed  the
      enactment and further the language  employed  in  the  Act  was  quite
      different.  Hence, it can be  stated  with  certitude  that  the  said
      decision does not further the point urged by the learned  counsel  for
      the State.

  31. The authority in D.G. Gose and Co. (Agents)  Pvt.  Ltd.  (supra),  has
      been commended to us by the learned  counsel  for  the  State,  as  we
      understand, to substantiate the  point  that  a  levy  can  always  be
      imposed at any point of time even from the retrospective  date  unless
      it is grossly unreasonable.  He  has  specifically  drawn  inspiration
      from paragraphs 13 and 14 of the said decision.  Be it noted,  in  the
      said case, the controversy related to the  Kerala  Building  Tax  Act,
      1961.  The said Act was eventually passed  after  lot  of  changes  on
      2.4.1975  by  which  tax  was  imposed  on  buildings.   However,  the
      imposition of tax on buildings was made with retrospective effect from
      1.4.1973.   One  of  the   challenges   pertained   to   retrospective
      application of the law.  In  that  context,  the  Constitution  Bench,
      speaking through Shinghal, J., in paragraphs 14 to 16, stated thus: -


      “14. Craies on Statute Law, seventh Edn., has stated  the  meaning  of
      “retrospective” at p. 367 as follows:

           “A statute is to be deemed to be retrospective, which takes away
           or impairs any vested right acquired  under  existing  laws,  or
           creates a new obligation, or imposes a new duty, or  attaches  a
           new disability in  respect  of  transactions  or  considerations
           already  past.  But  a  statute  ‘is  not  properly   called   a
           retrospective statute because a part of the requisites  for  its
           action is drawn from a time antecedent to its passing’.”

      It has however, not been shown how it could be said that the  Act  has
      taken away or impaired any vested right of  the  assessees  before  us
      which they had acquired under any existing law, or  what  that  vested
      right was. It may be that there was no liability to building tax until
      the promulgation of the Act (earlier the Ordinances) but mere  absence
      of an earlier taxing statute  cannot  be  said  to  create  a  “vested
      right”, under any existing law, that it shall not be levied in  future
      with effect from a date anterior to the passing of the Act. Nor can it
      be said that by imposing the building tax from an earlier date any new
      obligation or disability has been attached in respect of  any  earlier
      transaction or consideration. The Act is not  therefore  retrospective
      in the strictly technical sense.

      15. What it does is to impose the building tax from April 1, 1973. But
      as was held in Bradford Union v. Wiltshire[23], if the language of the
      statute shows that the legislature thinks it  expedient  to  authorise
      the making of retrospective rates, it can fix the period as  to  which
      the rate may be retrospectively made.

      16.  This  Court  had  occasion  to  examine  the  validity   of   the
      retrospective levy of Sales Tax in Tata Iron and  Steel  Co.  Ltd.  v.
      State of Bihar[24] and it was  held  that  that  was  not  beyond  the
      legislative competence of the State legislature.”



  32. We have already stated that there can be no cavil that the legislature
      has the authority to pass a law both retrospectively and prospectively
      within the constitutional  parameters.   In  the  aforesaid  case  the
      legislature had passed the law with retrospective effect.   The  Court
      opined that the same did not affect the vested rights as  nothing  had
      been done earlier and hence, no right had vested in the citizens.   We
      may, in addition, state that the said  enactment  was  treated  to  be
      valid  as  it  did  not  invite  the  wrath  of  Article  14  of   the
      Constitution.  In the case at hand, we  are  really  not  testing  the
      retrospective applicability of the law made by the legislature  but  a
      notification issued by the  State  Government  in  exercise  of  power
      conferred under a statutory provision.  Needless to say,  there  is  a
      sea of difference between the two and hence, the  aforesaid  authority
      is of no assistance to the learned counsel for the State.

  33. The next submission pertains to the principle embodied under  Sections
      14 and 21 of the General Clauses Act to bolster  the  stand  that  the
      power conferred under the statute can be exercised time and again  and
      there is no limitation to the number of times the power is  exercised.
      In essence, it is submitted that there is no exhaustion of power.   In
      this context, the learned counsel  has  drawn  our  attention  to  the
      Constitution Bench decision in Bansidhar’s case.  In the said case  it
      has been held that when there is a repeal of a statute accompanied  by
      re-enactment of law on the same subject, the  provisions  of  the  new
      enactment would have  to  be  looked  into  not  for  the  purpose  of
      ascertaining whether the consequences envisaged by Section  6  of  the
      General Clauses Act ensued  or  not,  but  only  for  the  purpose  of
      determining whether the provisions  in  the  new  statute  indicate  a
      different intention.  It has also been stated therein  that  a  saving
      provision in a repealing statute is not exhaustive of the  rights  and
      obligations so saved or the rights that survive the repeal.   Building
      the edifice on the  said  premise,  it  is  proponed  that  the  power
      conferred on the State Government under Section 16 of the Act  can  be
      exercised any number of  times  and  the  words  “time  to  time”  are
      redundant or otiose.   Bestowing  our  anxious  consideration  on  the
      aforesaid submission we only state that the aforesaid authority is  of
      no assistance to the appellant-State because the controversy that  has
      emanated in that case is  altogether  a  different  one.   To  put  it
      differently, the proposition laid down in the aforesaid authority does
      not buttress the submission sought  to  be  urged.   In  fact,  it  is
      farther away from the “North Pole”.

  34. At this juncture, we are obliged to state that the learned counsel for
      the State had really drawn immense invigorating inspiration  from  the
      pronouncement in Tikamdas (supra).  In the  said  case  a  three-Judge
      Bench was considering whether a subordinate legislation, namely,  M.P.
      Foreign Liquor Rules could be ultra vires the Sections 62  and  63  of
      the M.P. Excise Act, 1915 as the  notification  that  was  issued  had
      retrospective effect.  The factual expose’ of the said case  is  that,
      on 25.4.1964 the  M.P.  Government  by  virtue  of  its  powers  under
      Sections 62 and 63 of M.P.  Excise  Act,  1915  amended  M.P.  Foreign
      Liquor Rules which were published on 25.4.1964 and the said  amendment
      was given retrospective effect from 1.4.1964 as a consequence of which
      a demand for the difference of licence fee was made.  The  three-Judge
      Bench observed that there is no doubt that unlike legislation made  by
      sovereign legislature, subordinate  legislation  made  by  a  delegate
      cannot have retrospective effect unless the rule-making power  in  the
      concerned statute expressly or by necessary implication confers  power
      in this behalf.  After stating the abovesaid proposition  the  learned
      Judges referred to Section 62 of the relevant Act which empowered  the
      State Government to make rules for the purpose  of  carrying  out  the
      provisions of the Act and in that context, observed that the said rule
      may regulate the amount of fee, the terms and conditions  of  licences
      and scale of fees and the manner of fixing the fees payable in respect
      of such licences, but the said provision by itself did  not  expressly
      grant power  to  make  retrospective  rules.   Thereafter,  the  bench
      referred to Section 63 which read thus: -

      “all rules made and notifications  issued  under  this  Act  shall  be
      published in the Official Gazette, and shall have effect from the date
      of such publication or from such other date as  may  be  specified  in
      that behalf.”

  35. Interpreting the said Section, the Court opined thus: -

      “Clearly  the  Legislature  has  empowered  its  delegate,  the  State
      Government, not merely to make the rules but to give  effect  to  them
      from such date as may be specified by the  delegate.   This  provision
      regarding subordinate legislation  does  contemplate  not  merely  the
      power to make rules but to bring them into  force  from  any  previous
      date.  Therefore ante-dating the effect of the; amendment of  Rule  IV
      is not obnoxious to the scheme nor ultra vires Section 62.”

  36. From the aforesaid, it is luculent that the language used  therein  is
      quite different.  In the case at hand, Section 16 uses the words “from
      time to time”.  Even if  we  accept  the  submission  of  the  learned
      counsel for the State that the words “time to time” are redundant, the
      provision does not remotely suggest to have  conferred  power  on  the
      State Government to make rules with retrospective  effect.   In  fact,
      the aforestated decision was cited  with  immense  aplomb  during  the
      course of hearing  that  words  “time  to  time”  empowers  the  State
      Government or the delegate to make the rules retrospectively.  It  may
      be noted, despite so much gloss put on the  said  proposition  in  the
      written note of submission, there is a real departure  but  we  think,
      and we should, the original  submission  made  in  course  of  hearing
      deserves to be dealt with. In Tikamdas (supra) the  language  used  by
      the legislature was that the notification issued under the  Act  shall
      have the effect from the date of publication in the  Official  Gazette
      or  from  such  other  date  as  may  be  specified  in  that  behalf.
      Interpreting the same, the  Court  opined  that  the  legislature  had
      empowered the delegate to make the rules from any  previous  date  and
      hence, it was neither obnoxious to the scheme nor ultra vires  Section
      62.  Thus, the words used therein “or from such other date  a  may  be
      specified in that behalf” were  interpreted  by  the  Court  that  the
      legislature had empowered the delegate to make a rule retrospectively.
       In the case at hand, as has been stated hereinbefore, the words  used
      in Section 16 are “from time to time”.  The learned  counsel  for  the
      State is absolutely justified in stating that it can be exercised  any
      number of times and the power does not get exhausted.  To elaborate, a
      maximum rate  has  been  specified  by  the  legislature.   The  State
      Government can fix the rate on any of  the  minerals  from  period  to
      period with the conditions prescribed therein, namely,  no  limitation
      is imposed by the Parliament by law relating  to  mineral  development
      and the maximum limit of Rs.500/- per tonne.  To clarify  further,  if
      there is an imposition of Rs.35 it can be varied as the  occasion  may
      arise.  The rate fixed can be varied, changed or modified from time to
      time.  We really cannot discern from the language employed in the said
      provision that because of the use  of  the  words  “time  to  time”  a
      notification can be issued imposing a rate of tax  with  retrospective
      effect or apply the notification retrospectively.  A notification  can
      only be issued, as we perceive, prospectively, and we are inclined  to
      think so as legislature has deliberately used the words “from time  to
      time” and not the language as is noticed in Tikamdas (supra).

  37. We are disposed to think that the words “from time  to  time”  in  law
      have a different connotation.  In  this  regards  we  may  refer  with
      profit to certain authorities in the field.  In Kashmir Singh v. Union
      of India and others[25], question arose  whether  rule  of  perpetuity
      would be applicable  in  respect  of  a  member  of  a  Sikh  Judicial
      Commission constituted under the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 and in  that
      context the words used “from time to time” that find place in Sections
      40 and 70 of Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1996 fell for  interpretation.
      A contention was raised on behalf  of  State  of  Punjab  that  having
      regard to the tenor of Sections 40 and 70 of the Act  it  was  evident
      from the language employed in the said provisions a reasonable meaning
      was required to be given and on proper construction of the words “from
      time to time” would lead to the conclusion that the Government had the
      power to make fresh appointments of the  members.   The  Court,  while
      dealing with various contentions, ruled that the provisions in the Act
      clearly indicated the tenure of the Commission but the  dichotomy  had
      been created in view of the words “time to time” and the limited power
      of the State to dissolve the Commission.  In that context,  the  Court
      observed thus: -
      “With a view to find out an answer to the question as to what  meaning
      should be assigned to the words “from time to time”, in our opinion, a
      holistic reading of the statutes should be resorted to.”


38.   We have referred to the aforesaid decision for  the  purpose  that  in
case one thinks of any implied power from the language used in  the  statute
by using the words “from time to time” there has to be  a  holistic  reading
of the statute but not a fragmented one.   That  apart,  the  said  decision
clarifies that on certain occasions the  words  “from  time  to  time”  have
their signification when one relies on a provision that the power  exercised
once does not get exhausted solely because the use of words  ”from  time  to
time”,  but the said terms may not have any importance but when reliance  is
placed as a source of  power  to  issue  a  notification  or  order  to  act
otherwise with retrospective effect.  In that  event,  needless  to  say  it
warrants proper interpretation.  In the case at hand, it can  definitely  be
stated that despite reading the entire Act  in  a  holistic  manner  we  are
unable to trace any other provision throwing any light on  the  words  “from
time to time” and, therefore, the conferment of power shall  rest  upon  the
construction that is exclusively placed on Section 16 of the Act.

  38. In M.P. Vidyut Karamchari Sangh v.  M.P.  Electricity  Board[26],  the
      controversy that arose for  determination  was  whether  an  agreement
      despite expiry would prevail over  a  regulation  made  under  Section
      79(c) of the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948 pertaining to the  age  of
      superannuation of employees of the Board having regard to the  use  of
      the words “time to time” in Section 2 of the Madhya Pradesh Industrial
      Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1961.  After stating the  facts  the
      Court observed thus: -
      “43.  The power of the Board, therefore, to lay down the conditions of
      service of its employees either in terms of  regulation  or  otherwise
      would be subject only to any valid law to the  contrary  operating  in
      the field.  Agreement within the meaning of the  proviso  appended  to
      Standing Order 14-A is not a law and, thus, the  Regulations  made  by
      the Board shall prevail thereover.

      44.   The Board has power to make regulations which having  regard  to
      the provisions of the General Clauses Act would  mean  that  they  can
      make such regulations from time to time.”



  39. The aforesaid decision is referred to solely for the purpose that  the
      words, namely, “from time to time” may be associated with  any  number
      of times, of course subject to the principle of reasonableness and its
      impact  but  does  not  engulf  the  spectrum  of  retrospectivity  or
      retroactivity in its ambit and sweep.

  40. In Shree Sidhbali Steels Limited and Others v. State of Uttar  Pradesh
      and Others[27], the Court in a writ petition preferred  under  Article
      32 of the Constitution was dealing with the issue of justifiability of
      the action taken by U.P Power Corporation Limited which had  issued  a
      notification  on  7.8.2000.   It  was   propounded   that   the   said
      notification was illegal, arbitrary and violative of  Article  14,  19
      (1) (g) and 21 of the Constitution insofar as it denies the petitioner
      the  hill  development  rebate  of  33.33%  on  the  total  amount  of
      electricity  bills  issued  by  the  respondents  for  the   remaining
      unexpired period of five years from the date of commencement of supply
      of electricity to  the  industrial  units  of  the  petitioners.   The
      question that emerged for consideration before the  three-Judge  Bench
      was whether benefit given by statutory notification could be withdrawn
      by the Government by another statutory notification  and  whether  the
      principles of promissory estoppel could be applicable to a case  where
      concessions/rebates given by statutory notification were  subsequently
      withdrawn by another statutory notification.   The  three-Judge  Bench
      did not accept the statement of law in U.P. Power Corpn. Ltd. V.  Sant
      Steels and Allys (P) Ltd.[28] where a Division Bench had  stated  that
      the notification issued under Section 49 of the  Electricity  (Supply)
      Act, 1948 could be revoked/modified only if express  provision  exists
      for the revocation/modification of the said notification under Section
      49 itself and as there is no such provision under Section  49  it  was
      not open to the Corporation to revoke the same.  That  apart,  it  was
      stated therein that the provisions of the General Clauses Act would be
      applicable in case of delegated legislation if  withdrawal/curtailment
      of benefit was in larger public interest or  if  the  legislation  was
      enacted   by   the   legislature   authorizing   the   Government   to
      withdraw/curtail the benefit granted by  a  notification.   While  not
      accepting the said statement of law as correct the  three-Judge  Bench
      referred to Sections 14 and 21 of the General Clauses  Act,  1897  and
      opined thus:-

        “Section 14 deals with the exercise of a power successively and has
      no relevance to the question whether the power claimed can at  all  be
      conferred. By Section 14 of the General Clauses Act, 1897,  any  power
      conferred by any Central enactment may be exercised from time to  time
      as occasion arises, unless a different intention appears in  the  Act.
      There is no different intention in the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948.
      Therefore, the power to issue a notification under Section 49  of  the
      Act of 1948, can be exercised from time to time  if  circumstances  so
      require.”

      After so stating the learned Judges analysed the scope of  Section  21
of the General Clauses Act and opined that Section 21  embodies  a  rule  of
construction and the nature and extent of its application must  be  governed
by the relevant statute which confers the power to issue  the  notification,
etc.  Thereafter, the court enumerated the principle thus:-
      “...there is no manner of doubt that the exercise  of  power  to  make
      subordinate legislation includes the power to rescind the  same.  This
      is made clear  by  Section  21.  On  that  analogy  an  administrative
      decision is revocable while  a  judicial  decision  is  not  revocable
      except in special circumstances. Exercise of power  of  a  subordinate
      legislation will be prospective and cannot be retrospective unless the
      statute  authorises  such  an  exercise  expressly  or  by   necessary
      implication.”

      Analysing further the learned Judges opined that by virtue of Sections
14 and 21 of the General Clauses Act,  when  a  power  is  conferred  on  an
authority to do a particular act, such power can be exercised from  time  to
time and carries with it the power to withdraw, modify, amend or cancel  the
notifications earlier issued,  to  be  exercised  in  the  like  manner  and
subject to like conditions, if  any,  attached  with  the  exercise  of  the
power. It would be too narrow a  view  to  accept  that  chargeability  once
fixed cannot be altered. Since the charging  provision  in  the  Electricity
(Supply) Act, 1948 is subject to  the  State  Government’s  power  to  issue
notification under  Section  49  of  the  Act  granting  rebate,  the  State
Government, in view of Section 21 of the General Clauses Act,  could  always
withdraw, rescind, add to or modify an exemption notification.  No  industry
couldn claim as of right that  the  Government  should  exercise  its  power
under Section 49 and offer rebate and it is for  the  Government  to  decide
whether the conditions were such that rebate should be granted or not.   The
aforesaid authority clearly lays  down  that  the  power  conferred  can  be
exercised in the context of wores “from time to time” as used in the Act  or
in aid of General Clauses Act.


  41. At this juncture, we may fruitfully refer to the meaning given to  the
      words “from time to time” in certain dictionaries and the  description
      made in certain other texts.  In “Words and  Phrases”,  Volume  17  A,
      1974, “from time to time” has been enumerated in various contexts.  We
      may think it appropriate  to  reproduce  certain  contexts  which  are
      useful in the present case.

      “The phrase “from time to  time”  means  as  occasion  may  arise,  at
      intervals, now and then occasionally. Florey  v.  Meeker,  240  P.  2d
      1177,1190,194 Or. 257.”

                          xxx   xxx  xxx   xxx  xxx

      “In  constitutional  amendment,  authorizing  Legislature   to   alter
      salaries of named county officers “from  time  to  time”,  the  quoted
      phrase does not mean from “term to term”. Almon v. Morgan  County,  16
      So.2d 511,514,245 Ala. 241.”

                       xxx   xxx    xxx    xxx    xxx

      “The phrase  “from  time  to  time”,  as  used  in  the  Constitution,
      authorizing the Legislature to increase the number of  judges  of  the
      Supreme Court from time to  time,  means  occasionally;  that  is,  as
      occasion requires, and therefore the words cannot be held to mean that
      the Legislature may  not  decrease  the  number  of  judges  after  an
      increase thereof. State v. McBride, 70 P.25,27,29 Wash. 335.”

                         xxx     xxx     xxx     xxx

      “The Century Dictionary defines the phrase ‘from time to time’ to mean
      ‘occasionally’; and the Universal Dictionary  defines  ‘from  time  to
      time’ to mean, ‘at intervals; now and then.” The  phrase  is  used  in
      such meaning in Acts1898, c. 123, para 95, which  directs  the  police
      commissioners of Baltimore, at the request of the park  commissioners,
      to detail from time to  time  members  of  regular  police  force  for
      preservation of order in the parks. Upshur v. City of Baltimore, 51 A.
      953, 955, 94 Md. 743.”

                          xxx     xxx    xxx    xxx

      “The county board of supervisors had no authority to alter an election
      precinct in September, under statute providing that  board  may,  from
      time to time, change the boundaries of precincts  and  providing  that
      changes might be made at regular or special meeting in July, since the
      two provisions were in pari materia and should be  construed  together
      in the light of all the provisions of the  statute,  the  words  “from
      time to time” meaning “at times to recur,” and not “at any time.” Laws
      1885, p. 193 para 29, Laws 1871-72, p. 380, para 30,  S.H.A.  ch.  46,
      para 29, 30. County Board of Union County v. Short, 77 Ill App.  448.”




  42. In The Law Lexicon, The Encyclopedic  Law  Dictionary:  (2nd  edition,
      1997, page 764), the words have been conferred the following meaning:-


      “From time to time – “as occasion may arise”.  The words “from time to
      time” mean that an adjournment may be made as and  when  the  occasion
      requires and they will not mean adjournment  from  one  fixed  day  to
      another fixed day.  The words “from time to time” are words which  are
      constantly introduced where it is intended to protect a person who  is
      empowered to act from the risk of  having  completely  discharged  his
      duty when he has once acted, and therefore,  not  being  able  to  act
      again in the same direction.  The meaning of the words “from  time  to
      time” is that after once acting the donee of the power may act  again;
      and either independently of, or by  adding  to,  or  taking  from,  or
      reversing altogether, his previous act.”


  43. In Blacks Law Dictionary: (5th edition page 601), it has been  defined
      as follows:-
      “From time to time – Occasionally, at intervals, now and then.”


  44. In Stroud’s Judicial Dictionary: (5th edition volume 2 page 1053),  it
      has been stated as follows:-
      “From time to time ‘as occasion may arise’ (as per William, J.,  Bryan
      v. Arthur, 11 A. & E 117).”


  45. Thus, the conspectus of authorities and the meaning  bestowed  in  the
      common parlance admit no room of doubt that the words  “from  time  to
      time” have a futuristic tenor and they do not  have  the  etymological
      potentiality to operate from a previous date.  
The  use  of  the  said
      words in the Section 16 of the Act cannot be said  to  have  conferred
      the jurisdiction on the  State  Government  or  delegate  to  issue  a
      notification in respect of the rate with retrospective  effect.   
Such
      an interpretation does not flow from the statute which is  the  source
      of power.  
Therefore, the notification as far as it covers the  period
      prior to the date of publication of the notification in  the  official
      Gazette is really a transgression of the  statutory  postulate.   
Thus
      analysed, we find that the view expressed by the High  court  on  this
      score is absolutely flawless and we concur  with  the  same.   We  may
      reiterate for the sake of clarity that we have  not  adverted  to  the
      defensibility of the analysis from other spectrums which  are  founded
      on the principles set forth in Kesoram’s case as the matter  has  been
      referred to a larger Bench and the lis in these appeals  fundamentally
      pertain to the retrospective applicability of the notification  issued
      by the State Government as regards the  rate  of  cess  on  the  major
      mineral, i.e. Rock Phosphate.

  46. Resultantly, the appeals, being  devoid  of  merit,  stand  dismissed.
      Ordinarily, we would have imposed costs regard being had to the change
      of stance by the appellant from  time  to  time  but  recognizing  the
      anxiety on behalf of the State, we restrain from doing so.




                                                             ……………………………….J.
                                                 [Anil R. Dave]




                                                             ……………………………….J.
                                                               [Dipak Misra]

New Delhi;
December 06, 2013.




    -----------------------
[1]    (1990) 1 SCC 12
[2]    (1991) Suppl. 1 SCC 430
[3]    (2004) 10 SCC 201
[4]    (2011) 4 SCC 450
[5]    (2005) 2 SCC 673
[6]    AIR 1957 SC 657
[7]    (1869) 4 H L 100 at p. 122(B)
[8]    AIR 1940 PC 183
[9]    AIR 1961 SC 1047
[10]   AIR 1999 SC 1275
[11]   This passage presently finds place at page 826, Twelfth Edition 2012
of “Principle of Statutory Interpretation” by G.P. Singh.
[12]   AIR 1998 SC 120
[13]   (2006) 3 SCC 620
[14]   (1911) 2 Ch 1 :  104 LT 759 (CA)
[15]   (2006) 8 SCC 702
[16]   (1993) 91 STC 61 (Ker)
[17]   (2007) 5 SCC 77
[18]   AIR 1992 SC 2038
[19]   AIR 1956 SC 246
[20]   (1980) 2 SCC 410
[21]   (1989) 2 SCC 557
[22]   (1975) 2 SCC 100
[23]   1868 LR 3 QB 606, 616
[24]   AIR 1958 SC 452
[25]   (2008) 7 SCC 259
[26]   (2004) 9 SCC 755
[27]    (2011) 3 SCC 193
[28]   (2008) 2 SCC 777

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