Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Indo Burma Petroleum Corp. Ltd. V/s.Commissioner VAT Delhi & Ors.- May 13, 2016


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5103  OF 2016
        (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (C) No.15206 of 2012)

Indo Burma Petroleum Corp. Ltd.                    …. Appellant


Commissioner VAT Delhi & Ors.                        …. Respondents


                 C.A. No.5104 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No.15274/2012
                C.A. No.5105 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No, 15275/2012
                C.A. No.5106 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No. 15279/2012
                C.A. No.5107 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No. 15374/2012
                 C.A. No.5108 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No.15379/2012
                 C.A. No.5109 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No.15680/2012
                 C.A. No.5110 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No.15732/2012
                 C.A. No.5111 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No.15736/2012
                 C.A. No.5112 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No.16330/2012
                 C.A. No.5113 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No.16333/2012
                 C.A. No.5114 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No.16498/2012
                 C.A. No.5115 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No.16520/2012
                 C.A. No.5116 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No.16599/2012
                 C.A. No.5117 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No.16601/2012
                 C.A. No.5118 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No.16615/2012
                 C.A. No.5119 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No.16707/2012
                 C.A. No.5120 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No.16711/2012
                 C.A. No.5121 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No.16793/2012
                 C.A. No.5122 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No.16810/2012
                 C.A. No.5123 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No.16837/2012
                 C.A. No.5124 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No.16841/2012
                 C.A. No.5125 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No.16900/2012
                C.A. No.5126 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No.17164/2012
               C.A. No.5127 of 2016 @ SLP(C) No.17510/ 2012)

                               J U D G M E N T

Uday Umesh Lalit, J.

1.    Leave granted.

2.    These appeals by special leave challenge  correctness  of  the  common
judgment and order dated 27.02.2012 passed by the High  Court  of  Delhi  at
New Delhi in Sales Tax Appeal No.20 of 2012  and  other  connected  matters.
Apart from lead matter i.e. Sales Tax Appeal No.20 of  2012  filed  by  Indo
Burma Petroleum Corporation Ltd., the High Court also dealt with  Sales  Tax
Appeal Nos.6, 7, 10, 14, 16, 23, 25  and  27  of  2012  filed  by  Hindustan
Petroleum Corporation Limited, Sales Tax Appeal Nos.8, 11, 17, 18,  21,  22,
28 and 30 of 2012 filed by Indain Oil  Corporation  Limited  and  Sales  Tax
Appeal Nos.9, 12, 13, 15, 19,  24,  26  and  29  of  2012  filed  by  Bharat
Petroleum Corporation Limited.   These petroleum companies had  filed  Sales
Tax Appeals under Section 81 of the Delhi Value Added Tax  Act,  2004  (“the
Act” for Short).

3.    On 01.06.2006 rates of Petrol and High Speed Diesel were increased  by
Rs.4/- and Rs.2/- respectively from the midnight of 5/6th June, 2006.   This
increase in rates would have resulted in ad valorem increase in Value  Added
Tax (VAT) at the rate of 0.66 paise per litre of Petrol and 0.22  paise  per
litre of High Speed Diesel.  With a view to grant some relief in  the  price
rise to the customers, the  Government  of  National  Capital  Territory  of
Delhi issued a Memorandum  dated  20.06.2006  which  was  to  the  following
                       “GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL CAPITAL
                             TERRITORY OF DELHI
                         OFFICE OF THE COMMISSIONER,
                               VALUE ADDED TAX
                             DEPARTMENT OF TRADE
                             AND TAXES, BIKRIKAR
                       BHAWAN, I.P. ESTATE, NEW DELHI

No.F1[13/Pll/VAT/Act/2006/2069  Dated 20th June, 2006


In pursuance of the ordinance dated 20.06.2006 [copy  enclosed]  promulgated
by the Lt. Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, Value  Added
Tax shall not be charged with immediate effect  on  the  incremental  prices
[including the duties and levies charged thereon by the Central  Government]
of petrol and diesel as has been announced by the Government of  India  with
effect from 6th June, 2006.

Therefore,  diesel  and  petrol  shall  be  sold  in  the  National  Capital
Territory of Delhi by not taking into account the  component  of  the  Value
Added Tax on the increased price  with  immediate  effect,  meaning  thereby
that VAT shall continue to be charged on the pre-revised  prices  of  diesel
and petrol till further notification in this regard.

                                                                  [HANS RAJ]
                                           ADDITIONAL COMMISSIONER [POLICY]”

4.    On 21.06.2006 an Ordinance was promulgated by the Lieutenant  Governor
inserting a proviso to the definition “Sale Price” in  Section  2(1)(zd)  of
the Act.  Said Section after such insertion of the proviso reads as under:
“(zd)  "sale  price"  means  the  amount  paid  or   payable   as   valuable
consideration for any sale, including-

(i) the amount of tax, if any, for which the dealer is liable  under Section
3 of this Act;

(ii) in relation to the delivery of goods on hire purchase or any system  of
payment by installments, the amount of valuable consideration payable  to  a
person for such delivery including hire charges, interest and other  charges
incidental to such transaction;

(iii) in relation to transfer of the right to use any goods for any  purpose
(whether or not for  a  specified  period)  the  valuable  consideration  or
hiring charges received or receivable for such transfer;

(iv) any sum charged for anything done by the dealer in respect of goods  at
the time of, or before, the delivery thereof;

(v) amount of duties levied or  leviable  on  the  goods  under  the Central
Excise Act,1944 (1 of 1944) or the Customs Act, 1962 (52 of  1962),  or  the
Punjab Excise Act, 1914 (1 of 1914) as  extended  to  the  National  Capital
Territory of Delhi whether such duties are payable  by  the  seller  or  any
other person; and

(vi) amount received or receivable by the seller by way of deposit  (whether
refundable or not) which has been received or is receivable whether  by  way
of separate agreement or not,  in  connection  with,  or  incidental  to  or
ancillary to the sale of goods;

(vii)  in  relation  to  works  contract  means  the  amount   of   valuable
consideration paid or payable to a dealer for the  execution  of  the  works
contract; less –

(a)  any sum allowed as  discount  which  goes  to  reduce  the  sale  price
according to the practice, normally, prevailing in trade;

(b) the cost of freight or delivery or the cost  of  installation  in  cases
where such cost is separately charged;

and the words "purchase price" with all  their  grammatical  variations  and
cognate expressions, shall be construed accordingly;

Provided that an amount equal to  increase  in  the  prices  of  petrol  and
diesel (including the duties and  levies  charged  thereon  by  the  Central
Government) taking effect from the 6th June 2006 shall not form part of  the
sale price of petrol and diesel sold on and after the date  of  promulgation
of this Ordinance till such date as the Government may, by  notification  in
the Official Gazette, direct:

Provided further that the first proviso  shall  not  take  effect  till  the
benefit is passed on to the consumers.

Explanation:-A dealer's sale price always includes the tax payable by it  on
making the sale, if any."

(The proviso for the sake of convenience has been highlighted in italics.)

5.    On 24.11.2006 Delhi Value Added Tax (Amendment) Act,  2006  came  into
force.  While repealing the  Ordinance,  Section  2  of  the  Amendment  Act
provided as under:
“2.   Amendment of Section 2:-  In the  Delhi  Value  Added  Tax  Act,  2004
[Delhi Act 3 of 2005] [hereinafter referred to as “the Principal  Act”],  in
Section 2, in sub-section  (1),  in  clause  [zd],  before  the  Explanation
occurring at the end thereof, the  following  provisos  shall  be  inserted,
namely –

“Provided that an amount equal to increase  in  the  prices  of  petrol  and
diesel [including the duties and  levies  charged  thereon  by  the  Central
Government] taking effect from the 6th June, 2006 shall  not  form  part  of
the sale price of petrol and diesel sold  on  and  after  the  date  of  the
commencement of the Delhi Value Added Tax [Amendment] Act,  2006  till  such
date as the Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette direct:

Provided further that the first proviso  shall  not  take  effect  till  the
benefit is passed on to the consumer.”

6.    On 30.11.2006 there was partial roll back  of  prices  of  Petrol  and
High Speed Diesel which had been enhanced with effect from 06.06.2006.   The
prices were again rolled back and brought to pre  06.06.2006  status  w.e.f.

7.    The appellant oil companies filed  their  VAT  Returns  with  the  Tax
Authorities on the footing that by reason of the continued operation of  the
first proviso to Section 2(1)(zd) they were permitted to  recover  VAT  only
on the amount of sale price currently charged, as reduced by the amounts  of
Rs.4/- per litre on Petrol and Rs.2/- per litre on High  Speed  Diesel.   In
other words, even after the partial roll back  which  came  into  effect  on
30.11.2006  and  complete  roll  back  w.e.f.  16.02.2007   the   appellants
continued to deduct amounts of Rs.4/- per litre on  Petrol  and  Rs.2/-  per
litre  on  High  Speed  Diesel  from   the   prevailing   sale   price   and
charged/recovered VAT in respect of sale price  so  reduced  by  Rs.4/-  and
Rs.2/- as stated above.

8.    On  05.06.2007  following  Gazette  Notification  was  issued  by  the
Government of NCT:
        “Notification No.F.3[8]/Fin.[T&E]/2007-08/ Dated 5th June, 2007
In exercise of the powers conferred by first proviso to clause [zd] of  sub-
section [1] of Section 2 of the Delhi Value Added Tax Act, 2004[Delhi Act  3
of 2005], the Lt. Government of the National  Capital  Territory  of  Delhi,
hereby, directs that the date of publication of  this  notification  in  the
Official Gazette, to be the date from which the proviso  referred  to  above
shall cease to be effective.

By order and in the name  of  the  Lt.  Governor  of  the  National  Capital
Territory of Delhi.
                                         [Ajay Kumar Garg]
                             Dy. Secretary Finance [T& E]”

9.     In October 2007, Notices of default under Section 32 of the Act  were
issued to the appellants. Notice dated 22.10.2007 issued to  the  appellants
in the lead matter i.e. Indo Burma Petroleum Company Ltd. stated as under:

      “……The exemption of VAT which  was  allowed  vide  notification  dated
24/11/2006 was only in respect of that portion of price of petrol  &  diesel
which was incremental to the price  of  petrol  &  diesel  prevalent  as  on
5/6/2006.  However, it has been observed that the  oil  company  even  after
reduction in the price of petrol & diesel has not  paid  VAT  on  an  amount
equal to the prices by which the price of petrol & diesel were increased  on
6/6/2006 which is not as per law.”

10.   The Notices as aforesaid having called upon the appellants to pay  VAT
and penalty, objections were taken by each of the appellants  under  Section
74 of the Act which  were  rejected  by  the  Additional  Commissioner  III,
Department of Trade and Taxes, Government of National Capital  Territory  of
Delhi vide Common order dated 04.08.2008.  It was observed:
“The amendment clearly says that to extend relief from the increase made  in
the price level of 05-06-2006  Govt.  declared  to  forgo  the  VAT  on  the
increased portion taking effect from 06-6-2006.  The  base  price  fixed  by
the Govt. in deciding the  exemption  was  the  price  level  prevailing  on
05.05.2006.  The amendment was made only to stop  the  prices  from  further
increase.  The Govt. had no intention to  allow  any  relief  on  the  price
level prevailing on 05.06.2006 and if any intention would  have  been  there
then such an amendment should have been  made  prior  to  06.06.2006.   Now,
with the reduction in price on 30-11-06 and 16-02-07 the  prices  came  down
to the level of 05.06.2006 and  with  prices  coming  at  the  level  it  is
implied that, the exemption allowed in VAT would cease as this would not  be
in conformity with the intentions  of  the  legislature.   The  notification
dated 05-06-2007 issued by the Govt. was done only  to  end  the  prevailing
confusion among the petroleum dealers.  Once the price decreased  on  16-02-
07 and brought at par with price on 05-06-2006, the notification  issued  by
the Govt. would deem to have become inoperative.  The penalty  imposed  upon
the dealers are consequential to the tax imposed.”

11.   The matters were carried in appeal by the  appellants,  namely  Appeal
Nos.134-147/ATVAT/08-09  and  other  connected   matters.    The   Appellate
Tribunal in its common judgment and order  dated  01.12.2011  dismissed  the
appeals as regards the main issue but set aside  the  demand  of  penalties.
It was observed, as under:
“17…. Tax is to be paid  as  per  Section  4  of  the  Act  on  the  taxable
turnover.  Taxable turnover is to be computed as per Section 5  r/w  Section
2(1)(zm) of the Act.  Section 2(1)zm) talks about the ‘sale  price’.   ‘Sale
price’ is defined by Section 2(1)(zd) as a valuable  consideration  for  any
sale including amount of tax payable under  the  Act.   (emphasis  in  bold)
Thus if a State Govt. wants to give relief against the  price  increased  by
the Central Government the it could only do so by not charging  tax  on  the
increased portion but for doing so it had to exclude the  increased  portion
from the purview of the expression ‘valuable consideration  for  any  sale’.
In our considered view purpose of the Govt. of NCT of Delhi  in  introducing
the proviso in question, when considered from  the  plain  language  of  the
proviso, was to direct the appellant dealers to continue to pay the  VAT  as
if there was no increase  in  the  prices  by  the  Central  Govt.   In  our
considered view, the act of the Govt. of NCT of  Delhi  in  introducing  the
proviso  in  question,  by  no  stretch  of  imagination,  could  goad   the
appellants to embark upon an  exercise  in  reducing  the  basic  price  for
calculating the VAT, as  argued  by  the  Ld.  Counsel  for  the  appellants
because simple meaning of this  proviso  is  that  oil  companies  were  not
required to include the increased component as a part of sale  consideration
under Section 2(1)(zd) of the Act.  When the increased component was not  to
be a part of sale consideration under  Section  2(1)(zd)  of  the  Act,  the
obviously the appellants were not to charge VAT  on  the  same  as  per  the
definition of  the  term  ‘sale  price’  which  came  to  be  controlled  by
introduction of the proviso in question.  When there was no  effect  of  the
increased component, in the liability to pay  Vat  then  it  was  immaterial
when there was complete roll back or when the  Notification  was  issued  as
per this proviso.  Thus in our considered view, the submission  of  the  Ld.
Counsel for the appellants  that  the  meaning  of  this  proviso  was  that
appellants shall continue to follow the deduction till another  notification
was issued which was in fact issued in June 2007 and oil  companies  stopped
taking benefit of the proviso after  this  notification  in  June  2007,  is
without any merit.”

12.    The  appellant-companies  being  aggrieved   in   so   far   as   the
interpretation placed on the first proviso to Section 2(1)(zd)  of  the  Act
was concerned, preferred appeals under Section 81  of  the  Act  before  the
High Court.  The High Court took the view that upon the  partial  roll  back
w.e.f. 30.11.2006 and upon the complete roll back w.e.f. 16.02.2007  benefit
of the proviso ceased to be partly or fully applicable.   According  to  the
High Court the proviso simply protected and gave  exemption  in  respect  of
enhanced ad valorem VAT payable on account of increase in petrol and  diesel
from 06.06.2006 and the benefit under the proviso ceased to  operate  partly
and fully on and w.e.f. partial and complete roll back respectively.   These
appeals by special leave challenge the correctness of the  decision  of  the
High Court.  We have  heard  Mr.  S.  Ganesh,  learned  Senior  Advocate  in
support of the appeals and Mr. Arvind Datar learned Senior Advocate for  the

13.  According to the appellants, the benefit in terms  of  the  proviso  in
question was to the extent of VAT chargeable and payable in respect  of  the
amount of  increase and the benefit so quantified  must  be  made  available
regardless of any variation or  decrease in the rates  of  Petrol  and  High
Speed Diesel. For example, if the price before  the  increase  in  rates  is
taken to be x and the price were to be x+4 as a result  of  increase  w.e.f.
06.06.2006, the benefit  of  VAT  payable  in  respect  of  the  element  of
increase i.e. 4 must be available even if upon partial roll back  the  price
were to be x+1 or upon full roll back the price were to be x itself. If  the
logic is accepted, upon full roll back, according to the appellants the  VAT
would be payable on x-4.

14.   In our view, the proviso ought to be given normal and natural  meaning
keeping in mind the context,  object  and  reasons  for  its  enactment  and
incorporation.  The idea was to protect the interest  of  the  consumers  by
giving exemption in respect of enhanced ad valorem VAT  payable  on  account
of increase in prices of diesel and petrol from 06.06.2006.  On the  element
of increase no additional ad valorem VAT was payable and  according  to  the
proviso the increased component was not to be part  of  sale  consideration.
Consequently VAT was  not  to  be  charged  in  respect  of  such  increased
component, as per definition of the term  “sale  price”  which  came  to  be
controlled by introduction of the proviso.   When  there  was  no  increased
component and  therefore  no  liability  to  pay  VAT  in  respect  of  such
increased component, benefit under the proviso ceased to be applicable.  The
proviso cannot be given operation beyond the element of  increase,  so  much
so that even after complete roll  back,  the  benefit  in  respect  of  that
amount must operate. That certainly was not the intent.   The  idea  was  to
grant benefit only in respect of that element of VAT respecting increase  in
rates and not beyond.  If  that  component  of  increase  ceased  to  be  in
existence, the benefit of proviso also ceased to be in operation.

15.   We, therefore, affirm the  view  taken  by  the  High  Court  and  the
Appellate Authority and are not persuaded to take a different  view  in  the
matters.  Affirming the judgment  of  the  High  Court,  these  appeals  are
dismissed without any order as to costs.

    (T.S. Thakur)

     (Uday Umesh Lalit)
New Delhi
May 13, 2016

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