State Of Orissa vs M/S Utkal Distilleries Ltd. on 3 March, 2022


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Supreme Court of India

State Of Orissa vs M/S Utkal Distilleries Ltd. on 3 March, 2022

Author: B.R. Gavai

Bench: L. Nageswara Rao, B.R. Gavai

                              1


                                          NON­REPORTABLE

           IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
            CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

         CIVIL APPEAL NOS.5666­5668 OF 2009


STATE OF ORISSA & ORS.                      ...APPELLANT(S)

                          VERSUS


M/S UTKAL DISTILLERIES LTD.              .... RESPONDENT(S)

                     JUDGMENT

B.R. GAVAI, J.

1. The present appeals challenge the common judgment

and order passed by the High Court of Orissa, Cuttack, dated

5th December, 2008, in O.J.C. No.9369 of 1998, W.P.(C) No.

3097 of 2003 and W.P.(C) No. 7108 of 2005, thereby allowing

the said writ petitions filed by the respondent­Company and

setting aside the demand notices issued by the appellants.

2. The facts, in brief, giving rise to the present appeals

are as under:

2

3. The appellant No. 2–Commissioner of Excise, Orissa,

vide order dated 12th September, 1990, granted licence in

favour of the respondent­Company for manufacturing,

bottling, blending and reduction of Indian Made Foreign

Liquor (hereinafter referred to as ‘IMFL’) from rectified spirit.

The license was granted with the condition that the

respondent­Company shall install one rectification column to

rectify/purify the rectified spirit to be used in manufacturing

of IMFL.

4. It is not in dispute that as per the condition in the

license, the respondent­Company installed Extra Natural

Alcohol Column (hereinafter referred to ‘ENA Column’). It is

the case of the respondent­Company that the said ENA

Column installed by it was the first of its kind in the State of

Orissa. It was the case of the respondent­Company that the

manufacturing process resulted in generation of certain weak

spirit, which was not potable, and since the rules did not

provide for allowing such a waste product, a representation
3

was made by the respondent­Company to the appellant No.2

on 19th August, 1992. Accordingly, the appellants

constituted a Technical Committee (hereinafter referred to as

“the Committee”) on 21st November, 1992, to examine the

following issues:

“i) to examine the details of E.N.A.

columns including stock of spirit
inside the same.

ii) Loss during trial run along with the
limit of wastage during the E.N.A.
process adopted by M/s Utkal
Distillery Pvt. Ltd. at Brahmapura
Khurda in the district of Puri.”

5. The Committee submitted its report on 17th June

1993. The Committee found that though there were

provisions in the Boards’ Excise Rules, 1965 for loss of spirit

during transit, during storage, and during bottling, there was

no provision for loss of spirit during re­distillation. The

Committee found that the loss of spirit during the process of

re­distillation was allowed in different States. In

Maharashtra, a loss of 2%; in Bihar, a loss of 1.5%; in
4

Andhra Pradesh, a loss of 2%; and in Karnataka, a loss of 3%

spirit was allowed during re­distillation. Accordingly, the

Committee recommended allowing 2% loss of spirit during

the process of re­distillation in the State of Orissa.

6. Since the appellant No.1­State of Orissa, had not

taken any decision on the report of the Committee, a writ

petition being O.J.C. No.8635 of 1994, came to be filed by the

respondent­Company, for a direction to the appellant No.1 to

take a decision on the report of the Committee. The said writ

petition came to be disposed of by the High Court of Orissa

vide order dated 10th January, 1995, with a direction to the

appellant No.1 to take a decision on the report of the

Committee. The appellant No.1 was further directed to

communicate the decision to the concerned parties within a

period of three months from the date of the decision. The

appellant No.1, vide communication dated 11 th January,

1995, informed the respondent­Company that the

Government has decided to allow 2% process loss while re­
5

distilling the rectified spirit. However, demand notice dated

26th September, 1997, was issued to the respondent­

Company, calling upon it to pay excise duty on the weak

spirit, which was more than 2% allowable wastage.

7. After receipt of the demand notice, the respondent­

Company made a representation to the appellants, stating

therein that the wastage generated during rectification

process was an impure spirit/weak spirit, which was not fit

for human consumption. It was, therefore, contended that

the State Government has no authority to impose excise duty

on the weak spirit. The said representation was not

responded to and another demand notice was issued on 8 th

July, 1998. The respondent­Company, therefore, filed a writ

petition being O.J.C. No.9369 of 1998. By an interim order,

the High Court stayed the demand notices.

8. It appears that in the meantime, the sample of the

weak spirit was sent for chemical examination to the

Chemical Examiner to the Government of Orissa and Deputy
6

Drugs Controller. In the report of the Chemical Examiner

dated 12th August, 1999, the sample was found unfit and

unsafe for human consumption.

9. Two more demand notices dated 12th March, 2003

and 20th May, 2005, were issued to the respondent­Company,

which were challenged by it before the High Court of Orissa

by way of Writ Petitions being Writ Petition (Civil) No.3097 of

2003 and Writ Petition (Civil) No.7108 of 2005 respectively.

10. All the three writ petitions were finally decided

together by the High Court on 5th December, 2008, thereby

allowing the said writ petitions, as aforesaid. Being

aggrieved, the present appeals are filed.

11. We have heard Shri M.N. Rao, learned Senior

Counsel appearing on behalf of the appellants and Shri

Soumyajit Pani, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the

respondent.

12. Shri M.N. Rao, learned Senior Counsel appearing on

behalf of the appellants submits that the Committee was
7

constituted on the basis of the representation of the

respondent­Company. He submitted that once the

Committee had recommended allowing of wastage only to the

extent of 2%, it was not permissible for the respondent­

Company to submit that the demand of excise duty on weak

spirit, which was more than 2%, is not tenable. He

submitted that the High Court has erred in allowing the writ

petitions.

13. Shri Soumyajit Pani, learned counsel appearing on

behalf of the respondent, on the contrary, submits that the

issue is no more res integra. The Constitution Bench of this

Court, consisting of seven Judges, in the case of Synthetics

and Chemicals Ltd. and others vs. State of U.P. and

others1 has held that the State Legislature had no authority

to levy duty or tax on industrial alcohol, which is not fit for

human consumption as that could only be levied by the

1 (1990) 1 SCC 109
8

Centre. He, therefore, submits that there is no reason to

interfere with the impugned judgment and order.

14. It is not in dispute that the license, which was

granted to the respondent­Company, is for the purpose of

manufacturing, bottling, blending and reduction of IMFL. It

is also not in dispute that as required under the license, the

respondent­Company has installed one ENA column to rectify

the rectified spirit to be used in the manufacturing of IMFL.

It is also not in dispute that the sample of wastage generated

in the manufacturing process was sent for examination to the

State Drugs Testing and Research Laboratory, Orissa. The

Chemical Examiners also submitted their report on 12 th

August, 1999. It will be relevant to reproduce the opinion of

the Chemical Examiners, which is as under:

“The subject sample of Weak Spirit has
been tested for limit tests and Ethyl Alcohol
content­ 54.8 O.P. and found not to have
passed limit tests for Acidity, Aldehydes,
Fusel Oil and Furfural as per I.S.­323­1959
for rectified Spirit and hence considered to
be unfit and unsafe for potable purpose.”
9

15. It is thus clear that the wastage generated has been

found to be unfit and unsafe for potable purpose.

16. The Constitution Bench of this Court in the case of

Synthetics and Chemicals Ltd. (supra) was considering the

issue, as to whether the States are entitled to levy excise duty

in respect of industrial alcohol. Different legislations in the

different States dealing with such a power of the State

Government came up for consideration before the

Constitution Bench of this Court in the said case. The

Constitution Bench observed thus:

“95. It was also contended that the State
ultimately falls back on the consideration
for parting with the privilege to sell alco­
holic liquors which has been the basis of
series of decisions of this Court based on
English and American decisions but ac­
cording to the learned counsel for the pe­
titioners this doctrine of privilege and
consideration for sale of privilege also
could be available to the State only in re­
spect of alcohol or alcoholic liquors which
are for human consumption. According to
the learned counsel by merely widening
the definition of intoxicating liquors in re­
10

spective excise laws enacted by the States
the ambit of authority of taxation could
not be enlarged by the State legislature
when in List II Entry 51 the words used
are alcoholic liquors for human consump­
tion. Entry 84 in List I reads:

“84. Duties of excise on tobacco and
other goods manufactured or produced
in India except—

(a) alcoholic liquors for human con­
sumption;

(b) opium, Indian hemp and other
narcotic drugs and narcotics,
but including medicinal and toilet prepa­
rations containing alcohol or any sub­
stance included in sub­paragraph (b) of
this entry.”

96. Entry 51 in List II reads:

“51. Duties of excise on the follow­
ing goods manufactured or produced
in the State and countervailing duties
at the same or lower rates on similar
goods manufactured or produced else­
where in India:—

(a) alcoholic liquors for human con­
sumption;

(b) opium, Indian hemp and other nar­
cotic drugs and narcotics;

but not including medicinal and toilet
preparations containing alcohol or any
11

substance included in sub­paragraph

(b) of this entry.”

97. A comparison of the language of
these two entries clearly demonstrates
that the powers of taxation on alcoholic
liquors have been based on the way in
which they are used as admittedly alco­
holic liquor is a very wide term and may
include variety of types of alcoholic
liquors but our Constitution­makers dis­
tributed them into two heads:

(a) for human consumption

(b) other than for human consumption
Alcoholic liquors which are for human
consumption were put in Entry 51 List II
authorising the State legislature to levy
tax on them whereas alcoholic liquors
other than for human consumption have
been left to the central legislature under
Entry 84 for levy of duty of excise. This
scheme of these two entries in Lists I and
II is clear enough to indicate the line of
demarcation for purposes of taxation of
alcoholic liquors. What has been ex­
cluded in Entry 84 has specifically been
put within the authority of the State for
purposes of taxation.

98. Entry 8 in List II reads:

“8. Intoxicating liquors, that is to
say, the production, manufacture, pos­
12

session, transport, purchase and sale
of intoxicating liquors.”
This entry talks of intoxicating liquors
and further on refers to production, man­
ufacture, possession, transport, purchase
and sale of these liquors. It appears that
the State has levied some kind of duties
in various names at each of these stages
used in this entry, that is, production,
manufacture, possession, transport, pur­
chase and sale. But from the scheme of
entries in the three lists it is clear that
taxing entries have been specifically en­
acted conferring powers of taxation
whereas other entries pertain to the au­
thority of the legislature to enact laws for
purposes of regulation. If we compare En­
try 8 in List II with Entry 51 it is clear
that when Entry 51 authorises the State
legislature to levy tax and duties on alco­
holic liquors falling in Entry 51, Entry 8
confers authority on the State legislature
to enact laws for regulation. Similarly are
entries in List I. As regards regulation or
regulatory fees it was contended that En­
try 52 in List I empowers the Parliament
to declare the industries which the Union
proposes to control in public interest un­
der Industries Development and Regula­
tion Act.

99. Entry 52 List I reads as under:

13

“52. Industries, the control of which
by the Union is declared by Parliament
by law to be expedient in the public in­
terest.”

100. Such a declaration is made by the
Parliament and this industry that is in­
dustry based on fermentation and alcohol
has been declared to be an industry un­
der that Act and therefore is directly un­
der the control of the Centre and there­
fore even in respect of regulation the au­
thority of the State legislature in Entry 8
List II could only be subject to the Indus­
tries Development and Regulation Act or
Rules made by the Centre.

101. Under these circumstances there­
fore it is clear that the State legislature
had no authority to levy duty or tax on al­
cohol which is not for human consump­
tion as that could only be levied by the
Centre.”

17. It could thus be seen that the Constitution Bench

has held that the Constitution makers distributed the term

‘alcohol liquor’ into two heads, viz., (a) for human

consumption; and (b) other than for human consumption. It

has been held that the alcoholic liquors, which are for human
14

consumption, are put in Entry 51 List II authorizing the State

Legislature to levy tax on them, whereas alcoholic liquors

other than for human consumption have been left to the

Central Legislature under Entry 84 for levy of duty of excise.

It has been held that what has been excluded in Entry 84 has

specifically been put within the authority of the State for

purposes of taxation. The Constitution Bench clearly held

that the State Legislature had no authority to levy duty or tax

on alcohol, which is not for human consumption as that

could be levied only by the Centre.

18. A three Judge Bench of this Court in the case of

State of U.P. and others vs. Modi Distillery and others 2

was considering the power of the State Government to levy

excise duty on wastage of liquor after distillation. Following

the judgment of the Constitution Bench of this Court in the

case of Synthetics and Chemicals Ltd. (supra), this Court

observed thus:

2 (1995) 5 SCC 753
15

“10. What the State seeks to levy excise
duty upon in the Group ‘B’ cases is the
wastage of liquor after distillation, but be­
fore dilution; and, in the Group ‘D’ cases,
the pipeline loss of liquor during the
process of manufacture, before dilution.
It is clear, therefore, that what the State
seeks to levy excise duty upon is not alco­
holic liquor for human consumption but
the raw material or input still in process
of being rendered fit for consumption by
human beings. The State is not empow­
ered to levy excise duty on the raw mate­
rial or input that is in the process of be­
ing made into alcoholic liquor for human
consumption.”

19. It could thus be seen that this Court held that the

State was only empowered to levy excise duty on alcoholic

liquor for human consumption. This Court held that the

State has no power to levy excise duty on wastage of liquor

after distillation.

20. Even the perusal of Section 27(1) read with Section

2(6) of the erstwhile Bihar and Orissa Excise Act, 1915,

(hereinafter referred to as ‘the said Act’), which governed the
16

field at the relevant time, would clarify the position. They are

reproduced hereunder:

“Section 2(6)

2. Definitions­ In this Act, unless there is
anything repugnant in the subject or
context;

(6) “excisable article” means­

(a) any alcoholic liquor for human
consumption; or

(b) Any intoxicating drug;

Section 27(1)

27. Power to impose duty on import,
transport and manufacture ­ (1) An excise
duty or countervailing duty, as the case
may be, at such rate or rates as the State
Government may direct, may be imposed
either generally or for any specified local
area, on

(a) any excisable article imported; or

(b) any excisable article exported; or

(c) any excisable article transported;

or

(d) any excisable article (other than
tari)
manufactured under any
licence granted in respect of Clause

(a) of Section 13; or
17

(e) any hemp plant cultivated, or any
portion of such plant collected,
under any licence granted in
respect of Clause (b) or Clause (c)
of Section 13; or

(f) any excisable article manufactured
in any distillery or brewery
licensed, established, authorised or
continued under this Act.

Explanation ­ Duty may be imposed
on any article under this sub­
section at different rates according
to the places to which such article is
to be removed for consumption, or
according to the varying strengths
and quality of such article.”

21. Perusal of Section 27(1) of the said Act would reveal

that the State’s power to impose duty on import, export,

transport and manufacture is only in respect of any excisable

articles imported, exported, transported and manufactured.

‘Excisable article’ has been defined to be any alcoholic liquor

for human consumption or any intoxicating drug. It is thus

clear that even under the relevant statute, the State has
18

power to levy excise duty only in respect of the alcoholic

liquor for human consumption.

22. In view of the legal position as settled by the

Constitution Bench of this Court in the case of Synthetics

and Chemicals Ltd. (supra) and the three Judge Bench in

the case of Modi Distillery (supra) and the statutory

provisions contained in the said Act, we see no reason to

interfere with the impugned judgment and order. The

appeals, therefore, are found to be without merit and as

such, dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs. All

pending applications, if any, shall stand disposed of.

………………………….J.

[L. NAGESWARA RAO]

………………………….J.

[B.R. GAVAI]

NEW DELHI;

MARCH 03, 2022



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