Ujjam Bai v. State of Uttar Pradesh

DATE OF JUDGEMENT – 10th April 1962

COURT – Supreme Court of India

JUDGES – Justice S.K. Das

CITATION – 1963 SCR (1) 778

PARTIES – Smt. Ujjam Bai (Petitioner) State of Uttar Pradesh (Respondent)

Subject: The concept of certiorari as a writ under Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution.

FACTS –

Two Notifications were passed by the Government of UP in 1957 and 58 with respect to exemption of Sales Tax for certain good excluding Bidis which were added in the Second Notification. Such exemption was not absolute and was on the basis of Central Excise Duty payment. The petitioner filed the quarterly returns of the firm to which the Sales Tax Officer replied with the notice for assessment of Bidi between Apr 1 and June 30 1958. The Petitioner based on the same contended that he has a clear exemption based on Notification 1. The STO contended that the First notification applies to dealers in respect of Bidis provided the additional Excise leviable on them has been paid by Dec 13 1957, which was not paid and hence is liable to pay tax. Aggrieved by the Court of Appeal and the High Court, the petition was filed under A. 32 in the SC.

CONTENTIONS –

What is the scope of the Courts in India with respect to their power of writ under Certiorari?

Petitioner – The petitioners contended that the whole assessment order is unconstitutional and interferes with the right to carry out business without interference under A. 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution. Further it was contended that the STO misconstrued Notification 1 with respect to the exemption of tax on bidis on which additional excise duty is levied. As a result of which misconstruction tax was imposed on the Petitioner which was unauthorized and is in violation of his right under Article 19(1) (g)

Respondent – It was contended that Notification 1 exempts the petitioner from sales tax only if the additional excise duty has been paid by the same party and that Taxation is protected

under A. 265 therefore falling out of the scope of A 19(1) (g) of the Constitution. Further it was contended that though restriction is imposed, an order of assessment as made by a tribunal acting under a statue such as the order of Dec 1958 does not infringe Article 19(1) of the Constitution.

JUDGEMENT –

It was held that under Article 32(certiorari power) the SC would quash an order of a quasi- judicial body affecting fundamental rights if –

  • it acts without jurisdiction or
  • wrongly assumes jurisdiction or
  • fails to follow the principle of natural justice or
  • to observe the procedural provisions that are mandatory.

Therefore, in the current case, an order of assessment made by the authority under a taxing statute which is intra-vires wouldn’t be open to challenge as violative of Article 19 (1) (g) on the only ground that it is based on a misconstruction of provision of the Act or of a notification issued thereunder. The petition was therefore dismissed as the tribunal took a decision which is intra-vires to the jurisdiction it possess.

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