In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court of India held that toughened glass falls under the category of “glass and glassware” as per the Uttar Pradesh Sales Tax Act, 1998. This ruling was in response to a dispute brought forward by Gudex Glass Industries Pvt. Ltd against the Commissioner Trade Tax.
The dispute revolved around whether toughened glass, manufactured and sold by Gudex Glass Industries, should be classified as “glass and glassware” or as an unclassified item subject to lower tax. The trade tax assessment officer had initially deemed toughened glass to be covered by the expression “All goods and wares made of glass”. However, the High Court overruled the Tribunal’s findings, referencing a previous ruling in the case of “Trutuf Safety Glass Industries vs. Commissioner of Sales Tax, U.P”. Despite attempts to distinguish the ruling in “Trutuf”, the Supreme Court upheld the High Court’s interpretation that the expansive description in Item No. 39 of the Tariff Notification includes toughened glass.
This ruling by the Supreme Court provides valuable clarity regarding the classification of goods under the Uttar Pradesh Sales Tax Act, 1998. By including toughened glass under the category of “glass and glassware”, the verdict establishes a precedent for tax assessments and eliminates ambiguity in the interpretation of such laws. This judgement serves as an important reference for companies involved in the manufacturing and sale of glass products.
FULL TEXT OF THE SUPREME COURT JUDGMENT/ORDER
The short question involved is whether the toughened glass manufactured and sold by the appellant are to be classified as “glass and glassware” or as an unclassified item subjected to lower tax.
The trade tax assessment officer ruled against the appellant holding that the toughened glass manufactured by the assessee was covered by the expression “All goods and wares made of glass”. The tariff entry under the U.P. Sales Tax Act, 1998 i.e. Tariff Item No. 39, reads as follows:
“All goods and wares made of glass but not including plain glass-panes, optical lenses, hurricane lantern chimneys, bottles and phials, glass-beads, clinical syringes, thermometers, and scientific apparatus and instruments made of glass….”
The appellate authority and the Tribunal, upset those findings. The High Court, however, set aside the Tribunal’s finding relying upon the judgment of this Court in “Trutuf Safety Glass Industries vs. Commissioner of Sales Tax, U.P.” reported in Learned counsel sought to distinguish the ruling in “Trutuf” and submitted that the width of the description in Item No. 39 of the Tariff Notification i.e. wares made of glass do not encompass toughened glass manufactured by the assessee in this case. The revenue argued to the contrary.
In “Trutuf” this Court had observed pertinently in relation to the same legislation as follows:
“12. The expression used is “in all forms”. The Entry contains an expansive description i.e. “glass” and “glasswares” in all forms”. There is no dispute that the articles manufactured by the assessee are articles made of glass. The word ’form’ connotes a visible aspect such as shape or mode in which a thing exists or manifests itself, species, kind or variety. The use of the word ’in all forms’ is different from the expression ’all kinds’. The conceptual difference between the words “all kinds’ and ’in all forms’ is that the former multiplies items of the same kind while the latter multiplies the same commodity in different forms. The use of the word ’in all forms’ widens the scope of the Entry.
13. It is settled position in law that while interpreting the entry for the purpose of taxation recourse should not be made to the scientific meaning of the terms or expressions used but to their popular meaning, that is to say, the meaning attached to them by those dealing in them. This is what is known as “common parlance test”. The dictionary meaning of ’glassware’ means an article made of glass. The High Court proceeded on the basis that while interpreting the words ’glass and glass wares’ in the entry, it should be interpreted as it is understood by the persons dealing in them. It held that the articles manufactured by the assessee cannot be described as glass or glass wares. The view of the High Court would have been correct had the expression “in all forms” not succeeded the expression “glass and glass wares”. “
This Court is of the opinion that the view expressed by the High Court is unexceptionable. The nature and description of articles in Item No. 39 of the Tariff Notification, emphases the kind of goods which are covered and at the same indicate the class of goods which are not covered. In the opinion of this Court, the article manufactured by the appellant-assessee clearly falls within the description of Item No. 39. The judgment of the High Court, therefore, does not call for interference. The appeals are dismissed.
It is open to the respondent to encash the bank guarantee and proceed appropriately.