Monthly Archives: January 2017

In a Taxing Statute – There is no room for Intendment

In the case of Hansraj Gordhandas v. CCE and Customs, AIR 1970 SC 755 : (1969) 2 SCR 253, it was held as under:
“It was contented on behalf of the respondent that the object of granting exemption was to encourage the formation of cooperative societies which not only produced cotton fabrics but which also consisted of members, not only owning but having actually operated not more than four power-looms during the three years immediately preceding their having joined the society. The policy was that instead of each such member operating his looms on his own, he should combine with others by forming a society which, through the cooperative effort should produce cloth. The intention was that the goods produced for which exemption could be claimed must be goods produced on his own behalf by the society. On a true construction of the language of the Notifications dated 31.07.1959 and 30.04.1960 it is clear that all that is required for claiming exemption is that the cotton fabrics must be produced on power looms owned by the cooperative society. There is no further requirement under the two notifications that the cotton fabrics must be produced by the cooperative society on the power looms ‘for itself’. It is well established that in a taxing statute there is no room for any intendment but regard must be had to the clear meaning of the words. The entire matter is governed wholly by the language of the notification. If the taxpayer is within the plain terms of the exemption it cannot be denied its benefit by calling in aid any supposed intention of the exempting authority. If such intention can be gathered from the construction of the words of the notification or by necessary implication therefrom, the matter is different, but that is not the case here.”
Thus, the aforesaid decision makes it quite clear that in a taxing statute there is no room for any intendment but regard must be had to the clear meaning of the words. The entire matter is governed wholly by the language of the notification. It has also been held by the Constitution Bench, if the tax payer is within the plain terms of the exemption, it cannot be denied its benefits by calling in aid any supposed intention of the exempting authority. That apart, it has also been stated therein that if different intention can be gathered from the construction of the words of the notification or by necessary implication therefrom, the matter is different. State of Jharkhand v. Tata Steel Limited, (2016) 11 SCC 147.

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Filed under Intendment, Tax

Fairness in Government Dealings

In espousing the equitable notion of exacting fairness in Governmental dealings the Court in Food Corporation of India v. Kamdhenu Cattle Feed Industries, (1993) 1 SCC 71 proclaimed that there was no unfettered discretion in public law and that a sovereign authority possessed powers only to use them for public good. Observing that the investiture of such power imposes with it, the duty to act fairly and to adopt a procedure which is “fair play in action”, it was underlined that it also raises a reasonable or legitimate expectation in every citizen to be treated fairly in his dealings with the State and its instrumentalities.
The observance of this obligation as a part of good administration, is obligated by the requirement of non-arbitrariness in a State action, which as a corollary, makes it incumbent on the State to consider and give due weight to the reasonable or legitimate expectations of the persons, likely to be affected by the decision, so much so that any failure to do so would proclaim unfairness in the exercise of power, thus vitiating the decision by its abuse or lack of bona fides. The besieged decision would then be exposed to the challenge on the ground of arbitrariness. It was propounded that mere reasonable or legitimate expectation of a citizen, may not by itself be a distinct enforceable right in all circumstances, but the failure to consider and give due weight to it, may render the decision arbitrary. It was thus, set down that the requirement of due consideration of legitimate expectation formed a part of the principle of non-arbitrariness, a necessary concomitant of the rule of law. Lalaram and Others v. Jaipur Development Authority, (2016) 11 SCC 31.

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Filed under Contract Law, Government Dealings