Madras High Court: Importance Of Appellate Remedy, At No Circumstances, Be Undermined
The Madras High Court did not consider a writ petition challenging the higher rate of tax since the Assessee had not filed an appeal before the appropriate authority i.e. the Tamil Nadu Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal in this case.
The matter titled M/s. Saint Gobain Glass India Ltd. v. The Appellate Joint Commissioner & Anr, was placed before the Single Judge Court of Justice S.M. Subramaniam in the High Court of Madras.
The factual background of the matter was that the Petitioner – Assessee being in the manufacturing and sale of float glass, mirror and automotive glasses, was a registered dealer under the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Value Added Tax Act, 2006 (TNVAT Act) as well as under the provisions of the Central Sales Tax Act, 1956 (CST Act).
The matter related to the C-Form, which is a statutory declaration to be issued by the buyer for the purpose of concessional rate, in terms of Section 8 of the CST Act. The Petitioner – Assessee through this petition had challenged the order of the Respondent – Authorities, wherein the Petitioner's appeal against the inclusion of freight in the taxable turnover and levy of higher rate of tax for want C-Form, was dismissed.
The Petitioner – Assessee contended that the Respondent – Authorities had dismissed the appeal; without considering any of the legal grounds, judgements relied on as well as the factual aspects raised.
The judge perused the order and found that the Respondent – Authorities had considered the merits and then they had passed the order.
The Court noted that the Petitioner – Assessee had not preferred an appeal before the Tamil Nadu Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal and observed that the correctness of the order was to be tested before the Tamil Nadu Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal, under the provisions of the Act.
The Court considering certain disputed facts observed that such adjudication could not be done by the High Court, under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. The Court further made following remarks regarding the power of judicial review under Article 226 of the Constitution of India:
"The power of judicial review under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is to be exercised to scrutinise the processes through which a decision is taken by the competent authority in consonance with the provisions of the Act, but not the decision itself. Thus, the petitioner is bound to prefer an appeal before the Tamil Nadu Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal, under the provisions of the Act, in a prescribed format, by complying with the procedures contemplated. The petitioner has also raised certain factual disputes in this Writ Petition and the findings of the Tribunal would be of assistance to the High Court for the purpose of exercising the power of judicial review under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Thus, the importance of the appellate remedy, at no circumstances be undermined".
The Court thus, disposed of the appeal by granting liberty to the Petitioner – Assessee to prefer an appeal before the Tamil Nadu Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal and directed the said tribunal to condone the delay considering the pendency of this writ petition before this High Court.