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Saturday, September 17, 2016

doctrine of contemporanea exposition is applied as an admissible aid to its construction. The doctrine is based upon the precept that the words used in a statutory provision must be understood in the same way in which they are usually understood in ordinary common parlance by the people in the area and business. (See : G.P. Singh’s Principles of Statutory Interpretation, 13th Edition-2012 at page 344). It has been held in Rohitash Kumar and others v. Om Prakash Sharma and others[7] that the said doctrine has to be applied with caution and the Rule must give way when the language of the statute is plain and unambiguous. On a careful scrutiny of the language employed in paragraph 3 of the notification dated 21.01.2000, it is difficult to hold that the said notification is ambiguous or susceptible to two views of interpretations. The language being plain and clear, it does not admit of two different interpretations.= In this regard, we may state that the circular dated 15.04.1994 was ambiguous and, therefore, as long as it was in operation and applicable possibly doctrine of contemporanea exposition could be taken aid of for its applicability. It is absolutely clear that the benefit and advantage was given under the circular and not under the notification dated 07.03.1994, which was lucid and couched in different terms. The circular having been withdrawn, the contention of contemporanea exposition does not commend acceptation and has to be repelled and we do so. We hold that it would certainly not apply to the notification dated 21.01.2000.

                         THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                         CIVIL APPEAL NO.102 OF 2010



J.K. Lakshmi Cement Ltd.                     ... Appellant

                                     Versus

Commercial Tax Officer, Pali                       ...Respondent


                                    WITH
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6136 OF 2013


                               J U D G M E N T


Dipak Misra, J.

Civil Appeal No. 102 of 2010


      The appellant is a  Public  Limited  Company  incorporated  under  the
Companies Act, 1956  and  engaged  in  the  business  of  manufacturing  and
selling Grey  Portland  Cement.      In  exercise  of  powers  conferred  by
Section 8(5) of the Central Sales Tax Act, 1956 (for short, “CST Act”),  the
Government    of    Rajasthan    had    issued    a     Notification     No.
F4(72)FD/Gr.IV/81-18 dated 06.05.1986 allowing partial exemptions  from  the
sales tax payable in respect of inter-State sales in the manner and  subject
to the conditions mentioned therein.  Partial exemption  was  granted  under
the said notification at the rate of 50%/75% on the  basis  of  increase  in
the percentage of the entire inter-State sales and  decrease  in  percentage
of stock transfers but the benefit  under  the  said  notification  was  not
available on levy cement.  From the assessment year 1989-90 to  1997-98  the
appellant  had  been  granted  benefit  of  partial  exemption   under   the
notification dated 06.05.1986 except for the  assessment  year  1995-96  and
1996-97 as no claims were made by the appellants being not eligible.
2.    It is necessary to state here that the State, in  exercise  of  powers
conferred  by  Section  8(5)  of  the  CST  Act,  issued  Notification   No.
F4(8)FD/GR.IV/94-70 dated  07.03.1994  superseding  the  notification  dated
09.01.1990 and directing that in respect of  inter-State  sales  of  cement,
tax payable under sub-sections (1) and (2) of  the  said  Section  shall  be
calculated at the rate of 4% without furnishing  declaration  in  Form  ‘C’,
inter alia, subject to the condition  that  the  dealer  making  inter-State
sales under this  notification  shall  not  be  eligible  to  claim  benefit
provided  by  partial  exemption  notification   dated   06.05.1986.    This
notification remained in force from 01.04.1994 to 31.03.1997.
3.    The CCT vide Circular No.  2/94-95  dated  15.04.1994  clarified  that
inter-State sales of cement duly supported by ‘C’ and  ‘D’  forms  shall  be
eligible for benefit of partial exemption notification dated 06.05.1986  and
that such benefit would  not  apply  to  inter-State  sales  which  are  not
supported by declarations in declarations in Forms ‘C’/‘D’.
4.    By Notification No. 97-122   dated  12.03.1997  issued  under  Section
8(5) of the CST Act, the State Government rescinded the Notification No. 94-
70 dated 07.03.1994 and directed that CST on  inter-State  sales  of  cement
shall be calculated at the rate of 4% inter alia subject  to  fulfilment  of
the  condition  that  the  dealer  making  inter-State  sales   under   this
notification shall not be eligible to  claim  benefit  provided  by  partial
exemption notification  dated  06.05.1986.  This  notification  remained  in
force upto 31.03.1998.

5.    As the factual score has been depicted, for the assessment year  1997-
98, dispute arose whether the sale of levy cement in the  base  year,  i.e.,
1984-85, can be included and taken into consideration  for  calculating  the
base year’s figure for the purpose of calculating  the  benefits  under  the
notification dated 06.05.1986.  A re-assessment notice  was  issued  to  the
appellant for disallowing the said partial  exemption  on  the  ground  that
while calculating the  benefits  under  notification  dated  06.05.1986  the
appellant-company had not included the figure of sale of  levy  cement  made
in the base year, that is,  1984-85.   The  said  re-assessment  notice  was
challenged by  the  appellant  which  formed  the  subject  matter  of  Writ
Petition No. 1790 of 2001 which was dismissed by the  Rajasthan  High  Court
vide order dated 24.07.2002. A Special Appeal bearing No. 497  of  2002  was
filed against the order dated 24.07.2002 before the Division Bench and on  a
reference being made by the Division Bench, the matter  was  referred  to  a
larger Bench and the same is pending consideration. A similar dispute  about
inclusion of levy cement had also arisen for  the  assessment  year  1991-92
which had been decided  by  the  Tax  Board,  Rajasthan   vide  order  dated
16.01.2003 in favour of the  appellant  which  attained  finality  since  no
revision petition was filed by the State against  the  said  decision.   For
the assessment year 1999-2000, the  appellant  was  asked  vide  show  cause
notice dated 16.10.2001 to explain why  the  benefit  of  partial  exemption
under notification dated 06.05.1986 should not be disallowed on  the  ground
that while calculating the benefits under notification dated 06.05.1986  the
appellant had not included the figure of sale of levy  cement  made  in  the
base year, that is, 1984-85.   Against  the  said  show  cause  notice  writ
petition bearing No. 4300 of 2001 was filed and vide order dated  14.08.2002
the High Court disposed of the said writ petition  in  light  of  the  order
dated  24.07.2002  passed  in  Writ  Petition  No.  1790  of  2001.    Being
aggrieved by the said order, the appellant had filed  a  DB  Special  Appeal
No. 539 of 2002 which is pending consideration.  We may immediately  clarify
that we are not concerned with the said assessment years.
6.     For  the  assessment  year  2000-2001,  a  Show  Cause  Notice  dated
11.01.2001 was issued to the  appellant  seeking  to  disallow  the  benefit
under notification dated 06.05.1986 on the ground  that  the  appellant  had
not calculated  the  benefits  under  notification  dated  06.05.1986  after
including the figure of sale of levy cement in the base year, that is, 1984-
85.  Against the said show cause notice Writ Petition  bearing  No.  551  of
2002 was filed which is pending before the High Court.

7.    In exercise of power under Section 8(5)  of  the  CST  Act  the  State
Government vide Notification No. 97-266 dated 21.1.2000  directed  that  tax
payable under sub-sections (1) and (2) of the said  Section  on  the  inter-
State sales of cement shall be calculated at  the  rate  of  6%  inter  alia
subject to the condition that the  dealer  making  inter-State  sales  under
this notification shall not be eligible  to  claim  benefit  provided  under
partial exemption notification dated 06.05.1986.

8.    After a  lapse  of  seven  years  from  the  previous  circular  dated
15.04.1994, the CCT issued another Circular No.             94-95/119  dated
16.04.2001 purporting to clarify  the  applicability  of  partial  exemption
notification dated 06.05.1986 vis-a-vis notification  dated  07.03.1994  and
subsequent notifications dated 12.03.1997  and  21.01.2000.    By  the  said
circular the competent authority purported to  state  that  the  dealer  can
avail of the benefit of either of these two notifications in  any  financial
year meaning thereby that if he opts  for  the  benefit  under  notification
dated 06.05.1986 for the year 2000-2001, he would not be entitled  to  claim
simultaneous benefit in respect of the  same  year  under  the  notification
dated 21.01.2000.

9.     For  the  assessment  year  2000-2001,  a  show  cause  notice  dated
19.08.2003 was issued by the  Commercial  Taxes  Officer  to  the  appellant
seeking to disallow the benefits under notification dated  06.05.1986  on  a
purported  retrospective  application  of  the  Circular  dated  16.04.2001.
Appellant challenged the said show cause notice before  the  High  Court  by
way of a Writ Petition bearing No. 6192 of 2003. The High Court  vide  order
dated 18.11.2003 held that the said show cause notice dated  19.08.2003  was
not justified as Circular dated 16.04.2001 could  apply  only  prospectively
and not retrospectively.
10.   While finalizing the assessment for the assessment year  2001-2002,  a
show cause notice dated 19.08.2003 was issued purportedly based on  Circular
dated 16.04.2001 requiring the appellant  to  show  cause  why  the  partial
exemption   claimed    under    State    Government’s    notification    No.
F4(72)FD/Gr.IV/81-18  dated  06.05.1986  should  not  be   disallowed.   The
appellant submitted its reply but the assessing authority vide  order  dated
26.08.2003 rejected the claim of partial exemption  only  on  the  basis  of
Circular dated 16.04.2001 and imposed additional tax  on  the  assessee  for
the assessment year 2001-2002.

11.    The  appellant  filed  an  appeal  before  the  Deputy   Commissioner
(Appeals), who allowed the appeal on 03.01.2004 holding that  the  appellant
would be entitled to avail such partial exemption in respect of  inter-State
sales made on which concessional rate of 6% was not availed of by  it  under
notification dated 21.01.2000.

12.   Being aggrieved by the order of the appellate authority,  the  revenue
approached the Rajasthan Tax Board in appeal contending,  inter  alia,  that
as per circular dated 16.04.2001 the benefit  could  not  be  claimed  under
notification dated 06.05.1986 if the unit had made sales under  notification
dated 21.01.2000.  In essence,  it  was  urged  that  benefit  of  both  the
notifications could not be availed of in the same financial year.   The  Tax
Board allowed the appeal filed by the revenue.  Against  the  order  of  the
Tax Board, the appellant filed revision petition before the High  Court  and
the learned  Single  Judge  vide  order  dated  17.04.2009  considering  the
submissions put forth by  the  parties  and  upon  analysing  the  principle
stated in Tata Cummins Ltd. v. State of  Jharkhand[1],  M/s  Vividh  Marbles
Pvt. Ltd. v. Commercial Tax Officer[2], State of Rajasthan v.  J.K.  Udaipur
Udyog Ltd.  and  another[3],   MRF  Ltd.  Kottayam  v.  Asstt.  Commissioner
(Assessment) Sales Tax and ors.[4] and other authorities came to  hold  that
condition no. 3 of Notification No. 21.01.2000 has to  be  given  its  plain
and clear meaning and cannot be restricted only to the specific  transaction
of sale covered  by  notification  dated  21.01.2000  itself  and  when  the
condition no. 3 unequivocally states that once the assessee  avails  of  the
benefit of concessional rate of tax under notification dated 21.01.2000,  he
cannot get the partial  benefit  as  envisaged  in  the  Notification  dated
06.05.1986 and accordingly repelled the stand of the assessee.

13.   We have heard Mr. S. Ganesh, learned senior counsel for the  appellant
and Mr. Jatinder Kumar Bhatia, learned counsel for the respondent.

14.   The seminal issue that arises for consideration,  succinctly  put,  is
whether the appellant is entitled  to  dual  benefit  of  partial  exemption
under the notification dated 06.05.1986 and also the lower rate of tax @  6%
under notification dated 21.01.2000. To  answer  the  issue  raised,  it  is
necessary to refer to the notifications and the  language  employed  therein
to ascertain the fundamental intention therein  and  to  appreciate  whether
grant of simultaneous exemptions and benefits would be contrary to the  said
notifications.  The first notification dated 06.05.1986 reads as under:-
“Notification No.F.4(72)FD/Gr.IV/81-18, S.O. 23, May 6, 1986.

In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (5) of section 8  of  the
Central Sales Tax Act, 1956( Central Act 74 of 1956), the State  Government,
on being satisfied that it is necessary so to do in the public interest,  in
supersession of the Finance Department  Notification  No.  F.4  (72)  FD/Gr.
IV/81-36, dated December  3,  1985,  hereby  directs  that,  with  immediate
effect, any dealer, having his place of business and manufacturing goods  in
the State of Rajasthan, may claim partial exemption from the tax payable  in
respect of the sales by him of such  goods  in  the  course  of  inter-State
trade or commerce by way of reduction at the rate  of  50%  of  the  tax  so
payable on increased sales upto 50% and at the rate of 75%  of  the  tax  so
payable on increased sales made over and above the  aforesaid  50%,  in  the
manner and subject to the conditions as follows:-

(1) Such reduction of tax shall be allowed to a dealer  only  after  and  in
respect of the increase which is effected in the percentage of  the  quantum
of goods sold in the course of inter-State trade  or  commerce  out  of  the
total quantum of goods sold within the State and in  the  course  of  inter-
State trade or commerce and dispatched to Head Office, Branch Office,  Depot
or  agent  outside  the  State  for  sale  outside  the  State,  during  any
accounting year as against such percentage during the accounting year  1984-
85.

(2)In the case of a dealer who commenced the manufacture  of  goods  in  the
State of Rajasthan “on or after 1.1.1985”,  the  average  of  the  aforesaid
percentages in respect of the  other  manufacturers  in  the  State  in  the
relevant  industry  during  the  accounting  year  1984-85,  calculated  and
determined  by  the  assessing  authority   with   the   approval   of   the
Commissioner, shall be deemed to  be  the  percentage  in  respect  of  such
dealer for the accounting year 1984-85;


(3) This increase effected in the percentage, as referred to in  clause  (1)
above in respect of  the  sales  in  the  course  of  inter-State  trade  or
commerce, to be considered shall be limited to the extent  of  the  decrease
in the percentage in respect of  the  despatch  of  goods  to  Head  Office,
Branch Office, Depot or agent outside the State for sale outside the  State,
during the relevant accounting year as against such  percentage  during  the
accounting year 1984-85; and

(4) No claim for such reduction of tax shall be allowed in respect of  levy-
cement.”



15.   The notification dated 21.01.2000 is as under:-
                       “[No.F.4(1) FD/Tax Div. 97-266]
                         Jaipur, 21st January, 2000
      In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (5)  of  section  8
of the Central Sales Tax Act, 1956  the  State  Government  being  satisfied
that it is necessary in the public interest so to do,  hereby  directs  that
the tax payable under sub-sections (1) and (2) of the said section,  by  any
dealer having his place of business in the State,  in  respect  of  sale  of
cement made by him from any such place of business  in  the  State,  in  the
course of inter-state trade or commerce, shall be calculated at the rate  of
6% on the following conditions, namely:-

1. That the dealer shall record the correct  name  with  full  and  complete
address of the purchaser in the bill or  cash  memorandum  for  such  inter-
State sale to be issued by him;

2. That the burden of proof that the transaction was in the nature of inter-
State sale shall be on the dealer; and

3. That the dealer making inter-State sales under  this  notification  shall
not be eligible  to  claim  benefits  provided  by  notification  No.F.4(72)
FD/GR.IV/81-18 dated 6.5.1986 as amended from time to time.”


16.   On a careful scanning of the  notification  dated  06.05.1986,  it  is
evident that it allows  partial  exemption  from  sales-tax  on  inter-State
sales, subject to and in the manner stipulated therein.   The  exemption  of
75% or 50% is granted with reference to the quantum of  goods  sold  in  the
course of inter-State trade or commerce out of the total  quantum  of  goods
sold within the State, as against  such  percentage  during  the  accounting
year 1984-85, which is treated as the base year.  As per  the  notification,
it is applicable to a dealer who has his place of business; and he  must  be
manufacturing goods inside the State. The intention is to  encourage  inter-
State sale of goods manufactured and sold  by  a  dealer  in  the  State  of
Rajasthan.  It has a purpose.  The increase in  quantum  of  goods  sold  in
inter-State trade or commerce with reduction in quantum of  stock  transfers
by way of branch or depot transfers on which NIL or no Central Sales tax  is
applicable would increase the  revenue  of  the  State.   Clause  4  of  the
notification envisages that no reduction of tax is to be allowed in  respect
of levy cement.  Computation of the total quantum of  goods  with  reference
to the exclusion of levy cement is not  a  subject  matter  of  the  present
appeal and that is pending for consideration before the Appellate Bench  and
Single Judge of the High Court.  Nevertheless, it is apparent  that  changes
in figures of the quantum of goods, whether with  reference  to  inter-State
sales and intra-State sales in the base  year  and  in  the  year  in  which
benefit is claimed, would impact the  determination  and  quantification  of
the benefit.  Therefore, the  exclusion  or  inclusion  in  the  quantum  or
turnover is critical and significant.

17.   The 21.01.2000 notification applies to a  dealer  having  a  place  of
business in the State and is in respect of sale of cement made by  him  from
any place of business within the State in the course  of  inter-State  trade
or commerce.  Apart from the above,  certain  other  conditions  are  to  be
satisfied.  They are (a) sales-tax in respect of inter-State  sales  as  per
the notification would be calculated at the rate of 6% and  (b)  the  dealer
making inter-State sales under notification dated 21.01.2000  would  not  be
eligible to claim benefit provided in  the  notification  dated  06.05.1986.
Clause 3 of the notification lays down  that  if  a  dealer  claims  benefit
under notification dated  21.01.2000,  he  is  not  eligible  to  claim  the
benefit  under  notification  dated  06.05.1986.  Benefit  under   the   two
notifications cannot be claimed at the same time.  It is simple and clear.

18.   A  dealer  making  inter-State  sales  under  the  notification  dated
21.01.2000 is disqualified and not  eligible  to  claim  benefit  under  the
notification dated 06.05.1986.  The reason is to deny dual benefit and  also
the notification dated 06.05.1986 computes  the  benefit  on  the  basis  of
turnover.  Bifurcation and division of turnover  would  lead  to  distortion
and cause anomalies.

19.   To get over  the  aforesaid  impasse,  the  learned  counsel  for  the
appellant  has  raised  three  contentions.   The  two  notifications  being
beneficial should be liberally construed, for it cannot be assumed that  the
intendment was that if an assessee claims and was entitled to  a  relatively
small or partial exemption under notification dated 06.05.1986, he would  be
deprived of the exemption even if he meets the conditions  in  paragraphs  1
and 2 of the notification dated 21.01.2000.   The  submission  is  that  the
assessee can get benefit of both the notifications but not the dual  benefit
in the sense that inter-State sales on which benefit  of  concessional  rate
of tax of 6% is not availed of could  be  granted  partial  exemption  under
notification dated 06.05.1986.  Quite apart from the aforesaid argument,  it
is urged that partial exemption could  be  granted  under  the  notification
dated 06.05.1986 in respect of such intra- State sales not  covered  by  the
notification dated  21.01.2000;  and  benefit  of  partial  exemption  under
notification dated 06.05.1986 would co-exist  with  the  notification  dated
21.01.2000, though in respect of different and distinct  transactions.   The
second limb of argument is that this interpretation  was  the  understanding
of the respondents,  as  they  had  issued  circular  dated  15.04.1994  and
pursuant to the said circular, the appellant and the  other  assessees  were
extended  benefit  of  the  notification  dated  06.05.1986  and  also   the
notification  dated  07.03.1994,  which  has  now  been  replaced  and   re-
introduced in the form  of  notification  dated  21.01.2000.   The  plea  of
consistency especially when the revenue in earlier years  had  accepted  the
said interpretation is highlighted.  The  last  plank  of  argument  is  the
circular dated 15.04.1994 was clarificatory and had rightly interpreted  and
expounded the  interplay  between  the  two  notifications.  Therefore,  the
circular dated 15.04.1994 under  the  notification  dated  07.03.1994  would
equally apply  and  would  guide  the  interpretation  of  the  notification
    dated 21.01.2000.

20.   In order to appreciate the contentions raised,  it  is  imperative  to
reproduce notification dated 07.03.1994 and the circular  dated  15.04.1994,
and the circular dated 16.04.2001 by which  circular  dated  15.04.1994  was
withdrawn.  The notification dated 07.03.1994 reads as under:-
“Notification No.F.4 (8) FD/Gr.IV/94-70 S.O. No. 200,  Jaipur,  dated  March
7, 1994.

In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (5) of section 8  of  the
Central Sales Tax Act, 1956 (Central Act 74 of 1956),  and  in  supersession
of  this  Department  Notification   No.F.4   (72)   FD/Gr.IV/82-34,   dated
27.06.1990, the State Government being satisfied that  it  is  necessary  in
the public interest so to do, hereby directs that the tax payable under sub-
sections (1) and (2) of the said section, by any dealer having his place  of
business in the State, in respect of the sales of cement made  by  him  from
any such place of business in the course of inter-State  trade  or  commerce
shall be  calculated  at  the  rate  of  4  percent  without  furnishing  of
declaration in form “C” or  certification  in  form  “D”  on  the  following
conditions, namely:-

(i) that the dealer shall record the name and full and complete  address  of
the purchaser in the bill or cash memorandum for such  inter-State  sale  to
be issued by him;

(ii) that the burden to prove that the transaction  was  in  the  nature  of
inter-State sale, shall be on the dealer; and

(iii) that the dealer  making  inter-State  sales  under  this  notification
shall not be eligible to claim benefit  provided  for  by  the  notification
No.F.4. (72) FD/Gr.IV/81-18, dated 6.5.1986, as amended from time to time.

This notification shall come into force  from  1st  April,  1994  and  shall
remain in force upto 31st March, 1997.”

21.   The circular dated 15.4.1994 is reproduced below:-
                       “Tax Policy circular No.2/94-95
                             State of Rajasthan
                          Commercial Tax Department
No. Pa. 16/Budget/Tax/Commissioner/94-95/108
      Dated 15/4/1994

To,

All Deputy Commissioners, Commercial Tax
All Assistant Commissioners, Commercial Tax
All Commercial/Assistant Commercial Tax Officers


                                  Circular

The notification No. Pa. 4 (8) FD/Group-4/94-70 dated  7/3/1994  was  issued
by the State Government and the rate of central tax on the inter-State  sale
of cement is fixed unconditionally at 4  percent  in  case  the  declaration
form-‘C’ or form-‘D’ is not submitted between 1/4/1994 to 31/3/1997.   Under
the said notification the trader doing the inter-State  sale  shall  not  be
entitled to claim for the benefit made available  through  the  notification
No. F4 (72) FD/Group-4/61-18 dated 6/5/1986 amended from time to time.

It is made clear in this respect that the benefits  made  available  through
the notification No. F 4 (72) FDR-Group-4/81-18 dated  6/5/1986  as  amended
from time to time with respect to the inter-State sale of  the  cement  done
with the form-‘C’ or form-‘D’, but aforesaid benefit shall not be  available
in case the inter-State sale is done without the form-‘C’ or form-‘D’.”

22.    The  circular  dated  16.04.2001  withdrawing  the   circular   dated
15.04.1994 is as follows:-
                          “GOVERNMENT OF RAJASTHAN
                         COMMERCIAL TAXES DEPARTMENT
          No.F-16 (Budget) Tax/CCT/94-95/119 Dated April 16th, 2001

All Dy. Commissioners
All Assistant Commissioners
All Commercial Taxes Officers.
All Assistant Commercial Taxes Officers.


                                  CIRCULAR

A question has been raised as to the  applicability  of  Finance  Department
notification   No.F.4(72)FD/Br.IV/   81-18   dated   06.05.1986    vis-a-vis
notification  No.F/(8)   FD/Gr.IV/94-70   dated   07.03.1994   and   similar
subsequent notification  dated  12.03.1997  and  the  existing  notification
dated 21.01.2000. The issue has been examined and it  is  clarified  that  a
dealer can avail the benefit of either of these  two  notifications  in  any
financial year. For instance, if he  opts  for  benefit  under  notification
dated 06.05.1986 for the financial year 2000-2001, he would not be  entitled
to claim simultaneous benefit  in  the  same  year  under  the  notification
providing for reduce rate of tax on cement in course  of  inter-state  trade
or commerce without any supportive  Form  C  or  D.   Consequently,  if  the
benefit of notification dated 21.01.2000 is being availed in  any  financial
year,  the  dealer  shall  be  debarred  from  claiming  any  benefit  under
notification dated 6.5.1986 for the same assessment year.

Keeping in view the above status, the Circular  No.F.16  (Budget)Tax/CCT/94-
95/108 dated  15.04.1994  is  hereby  withdrawn  and  the  dealers  will  be
entitled to claim  benefit  of  either  of  the  two  notifications  in  any
financial year. Action may be taken accordingly.

Sd/-
(P.K.Deb) Commissioner”


23.   As the factual score would depict, Notification dated  07.03.1994  was
applicable from 1st April, 1994 to 31st March, 1997.  It was not  applicable
with effect from 1st April, 1997.  In such a  situation,  the  plea  of  the
appellant that dual  benefits  were  availed  of  under  notification  dated
07.03.1994 post 1st April, 1997 is unacceptable and has to be rejected.   Be
it noted, by another notification No. 97-122  dated  12.03.1997,  the  State
Government had rescinded notification dated  07.03.1994  and  directed  that
the Central Sales Tax shall be calculated @ 4%,  subject  to  the  condition
that the dealer making inter State sales in this notification would  not  be
eligible to claim benefit of partial exemption under the notification  dated
06.05.1986.  The notification dated 12.03.1997 had remained  in  force  upto
31st March, 1998.  The circular dated 15.04.1994 in express  words  was  not
applicable to the notification dated 21.01.2000.

24.   It is limpid that the circular dated 15.04.1994, when  in  force,  had
referred to the notifications dated 07.03.1994 as well as 06.05.1986.  Under
the notification dated 07.03.1994, the rate of central  tax  on  inter-State
sale of cement was unconditionally fixed at  4%,  even  when  there  was  no
declaration in Form  C  and  Form  D.   The  notification  dated  06.05.1986
relating to inter-State sale required Form C and Form D,  for  availing  the
benefit.  The circular did not in clear and categorical terms lay down  that
dual or multiple benefits under the two notifications could  be  availed  of
by the same dealer.  It, however, appears that both  the  assessee  and  the
Revenue had understood the circular dated 15.04.1994  to  mean  that  inter-
State transactions would qualify and would be entitled to partial  exemption
under the notification dated 06.05.1986, when accompanied with Form C and  D
and for inter-State sale transactions without  Form  C  and  D,  benefit  of
notification dated 07.03.1994 would apply.

25.   The understanding by the assessee and the Revenue,  in  the  obtaining
factual matrix, has its own limitation. It is because the principle  of  res
judicata would have no application in spite  of  the  understanding  by  the
assessee and the Revenue, for the circular dated 15.04.1994, is not  to  the
specific effect as suggested and, further notification dated 07.03.1994  was
valid between 1st April, 1994 up to 31st March, 1997 (upto 31st March,  1997
vide notification dated 12.03.1997)  and  not  thereafter.   The  Commercial
Tax Department, by a circular, could  have  extended  the  benefit  under  a
notification and, therefore,  principle  of  estoppel  would  apply,  though
there are authorities which opine that a circular  could  not  have  altered
and restricted the notification to the determent of the assessee.  Circulars
issued under tax enactments  can  tone  down  the  rigour  of  law,  for  an
authority which wields power for its own advantage is given right to  forego
advantage when required and  considered  necessary.   This  power  to  issue
circulars is for just, proper and efficient management of the  work  and  in
public interest. It is a  beneficial  power  for  proper  administration  of
fiscal law, so that undue hardship may not be caused. Circulars are  binding
on  the  authorities  administering  the  enactment  but  cannot  alter  the
provision  of  the  enactment,  etc.  to  the  detriment  of  the  assessee.
Needless to emphasise that a  circular  should  not  be  adverse  and  cause
prejudice to the assessee. (See : UCO  Bank,  Calcutta  v.  Commissioner  of
Income Tax, West Bengal[5]).


26.   In Commissioner of Central Excise, Bolpur v. Ratan  Melting  and  Wire
Industries[6], it has been held that circulars and  instructions  issued  by
the Board are binding on the authorities under respective statute, but  when
this Court or High Court lays down a principle, it would be appropriate  for
the Court to direct that the circular should not be  given  effect  to,  for
the circulars are not binding on the  Court.  In  the  case  at  hand,  once
circular dated 15.04.1994 stands withdrawn vide circular  dated  16.04.2001,
the appellant-assessee cannot claim the benefit of the  withdrawn  circular.


27.   The controversy herein centres round the period from 1st  April,  2001
to 31st March, 2002.  The period in question is  mostly  post  the  circular
dated 16.04.2001. As we find, the appellant-assessee  has  pleaded  to  take
benefit of the circular dated 15.04.1994, which  stands  withdrawn  and  was
only  applicable  to  the  notification  dated  07.03.1994.   It   was   not
specifically applicable to the notification dated 21.01.2000. The fact  that
the third paragraph of the  notification  dated  21.01.2000  is  identically
worded to the third paragraph of the notification dated 07.03.1994 but  that
would not by itself justify the applicability of circular dated 15.04.1994.

28.   In this  context,  we  may  note  another  contention  that  has  been
advanced  before  us.  It  is  based  upon  the  doctrine  of  contemporanea
exposition.  In our considered opinion,  the  said  doctrine  would  not  be
applicable and cannot be pressed into service.  Usage or practice  developed
under a statute is indicative of the meaning  prescribed  to  its  words  by
contemporary  opinion.   In  case  of  an  ancient  statute,   doctrine   of
contemporanea  exposition  is  applied  as  an   admissible   aid   to   its
construction.  The doctrine is based upon the precept that  the  words  used
in a statutory provision must be understood in the same way  in  which  they
are usually understood in ordinary common parlance  by  the  people  in  the
area  and  business.  (See  :   G.P.   Singh’s   Principles   of   Statutory
Interpretation, 13th Edition-2012  at  page  344).   It  has  been  held  in
Rohitash Kumar and others v. Om Prakash Sharma and others[7]  that the  said
doctrine has to be applied with caution and the Rule must give way when  the
language of the statute is plain and unambiguous. On a careful  scrutiny  of
the language employed in paragraph 3 of the notification  dated  21.01.2000,
it is  difficult  to  hold  that  the  said  notification  is  ambiguous  or
susceptible to two views of interpretations.  The language being  plain  and
clear, it does not admit of two different interpretations.

29.   In this regard, we may state that the circular  dated  15.04.1994  was
ambiguous and, therefore, as long as it  was  in  operation  and  applicable
possibly doctrine of contemporanea exposition could be taken aid of for  its
applicability.  It is absolutely clear that the benefit  and  advantage  was
given under the circular and not under the  notification  dated  07.03.1994,
which was lucid and couched in different terms.  The  circular  having  been
withdrawn, the contention  of  contemporanea  exposition  does  not  commend
acceptation and has to be repelled and we do so.   We  hold  that  it  would
certainly not apply to the notification dated 21.01.2000.



30.   In view of the aforesaid analysis, we do not find  any  merit  in  the
instant appeal and the same is, accordingly, dismissed.   There shall be  no
order as to costs.

Civil Appeal No. 6136 of 2013

31.   In view of the judgment passed in Civil Appeal No. 102 of  2010,  this
appeal also stands dismissed.  There shall be no order as to costs.

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



                                       ……………………….….J.
                                       [C. Nagappan]

New Delhi;
September 16, 2016

-----------------------
[1]    2006 (16) Tax update 199
[2]    2007 (17) Tax update 307
[3]    (2004) 137 STC 438
[4]    (2006) 8 SCC 702
[5]    (1999) 4 SCC 599
[6]    (2008) 13 SCC 1
[7]    (2013) 11 SCC 451

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