S.C : The High Court decided against the sales-tax authorities basing itself upon a circular addressed by the CST to all Asstt. Commrs. (Tax Assessment).

Supreme Court Of India

Commissioner Of Sales Tax vs. Indra Industries

Sections U.P. ST 3A, 4A

S.P. Bharucha, R.C. Lahoti & N. Santosh Hegde, JJ.

Civil Appeal Nos. 9330 to 9333 of 1994

12th January, 2000 

Counsel Appeared

R.C. Verma & R.B. Misra, for the Appellant : Dr. Meera Agarwal, Govind Sharan & Ramesh Chandra Mishra, for the Respondent

ORDER

BY THE COURT :

The High Court decided against the sales-tax authorities basing itself upon a circular addressed by the CST to all Asstt. Commrs. (Tax Assessment). The sales-tax authorities challenge the High Court’s decision by special leave. On behalf of the sales tax authorities, it was contended that the said circular is contrary to the law and that, therefore, the High Court should have decided the matter without reference to it. Reliance was placed upon the judgment of two learned Judges of this Court in Bengal Iron Corporation vs. CTO (1993) 90 STC 47. In para. 18, it was said : “So far as clarifications/circulars issued by the Central Government and/or State Government are concerned, they represent merely their understanding of the statutory provisions. They are not binding upon the Courts. It is true that those clarifications and circulars were communicated to the concerned dealers but even so nothing prevents the State from recovering the tax, if in truth such tax was leviable according to law.” It was submitted on behalf of the sales-tax authorities that, notwithstanding the said circular, they were entitled to recover the concerned tax from the respondent. The said circular issued on 19th Jan., 1991, by the CST remains in effect till date. It has not been shown that it has been withdrawn. It is, therefore, very remarkable that it should be contended on behalf of the very sales-tax Department whose Commissioner issued that circular that it is erroneous. It is very remarkable that the sales-tax authorities should instruct their Asstt. Commrs. who deal with tax assessments in a manner which is, according to them, contrary to the law. A circular by tax authorities is not binding on the Courts. It is not binding on the assessee. However, the interpretation that is thereby placed by the taxing authority on the law is binding on that taxing authority. In other words, the taxing authority cannot be heard to advance an argument that it is contrary to that interpretation. The observations in para. 18 of the judgment in Bengal Iron Corporation‘s case (supra), can, at best, apply only when a case of estoppel against a statute is made out.The civil appeals are dismissed with costs.

[Citation : 248 ITR 338]

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