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Interpretation of Tax Laws Concept
December, 26th 2014

The concept of 'pari materia' is very important for interpretation of tax laws, more so when the provisions of different laws relate to same subject or object. Legislations with different scope are not pari materia statutes. Judicial pronouncements on this subject bring clarity on the application of concept of pari material.

Statutes are in pari materia which relates to the same person or thing, or to the same class of persons or things. The word ‘par’ must not be confounded with the word ‘similes’. If two different statutes are not on same subject but have the different objects, they operate on their own field. When the two pieces of legislation are of different scopes and with reference to different subject, it cannot be said that they are in pari materia (refer: State of Punjab v. Okara Grain Buyers Syndicate Ltd. 1963 (11) TMI 74 - SUPREME COURT).

Statutes having common object may provide aid to each other. But different statutes seeking to achieve different objects rule out interpretation of expressions used in one statute with reference to their use in another statute and decisions rendered with reference to construction of one Act cannot be applied with reference to the provisions of another Act, when the two Acts are not in pari materia [Ram Narayan v. State of Uttar Pradesh 1956 (9) TMI 54 - SUPREME COURT]. It cannot be presumed that the Legislature while enacting a statute intended to import meaning from other statute for interpretation of provisions of the former statute, unless otherwise stated in the former statute. When there is no ambiguity in interpreting object of a statute it is not permissible to refer for the purpose of its construction, provisions of any other legislation. An effort to construe legislation on one subject with the help of other legislation on different subject is to defeat the purport of the former statute, unless both the statutes serve the common object. Only by incorporation or adoption of provisions of a statute for the construction of other, no aid is permissible. Rule of construction suggests that when two statutes remain different and distinct and each is to be judged with reference to their object, there is no scope for adoption of provisions of one statute by the other. The object of each enactment plays a dominant role in rule of construction.

In Hotel and Restaurant Association v. Star India (P.) Ltd. 2006 (11) TMI 540 - SUPREME COURT OF INDIAit has been held that the definition of a term in one statute cannot be used as a guide for construction of a same term in another statute, particularly in a case where statutes have been enacted for different purposes. It has also been held in Eagles Chicory (Firm) v. Collector of Central Excise and Customs 1986 (7) TMI 358 - CEGAT, NEW DELHI that it is no sound principle of construction to interpret an expression used in one Act with reference to its use in another Act, since the meaning of words and expressions used in an Act must take their colour from the context in which they appear. In Bharat Hansraj Gandhi v. AddL Collector of Central Excise 1990 (12) TMI 89 - HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BANGALORE (KARNATAKA)it has been held that it is not a sound principle of construction to interpret the expressions with reference to their use in another Act, when the two Acts are not in pari materia. Apex Court in CCE v. Shree Baidyanath Ayurved Bhawan Ltd. 2009 (4) TMI 6 - SUPREME COURT has held that the definition of one statute having different object, purpose and scheme cannot be applied mechanically to another statute. As stated above, the object of Excise Act is to raise revenue for which various products are differently classified in New Tariff Act.

It is well-known law that the Legislature has power to define a word even artificially, seeKishanlal v. State of Rajasthan 1990 (3) TMI 323 - SUPREME COURT OF INDIA, CIT v. Sundaram Spinning Mills 1999 (12) TMI 2 - SUPREME Court The definition of a word in the definition section may either be restrictive of its ordinary meaning or it may be extensive of the same. When a word is defined to ‘mean’ such and such, the definition prima facie is restrictive and exhaustive, [Commissioner of Trade Tax v. Kajaria Ceramics Ltd. TMI ID= 105572 2005 (7) TMI 351 - SUPREME COURT OF INDIA ; Commercial Taxation Officer v. Rajasthan Taxchem Ltd. 2007 (1) TMI 187 - SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

It may be stated that the object of interpretation of a statute is to discover the intention of the Parliament as expressed in the Act. The dominant purpose in construing a statute is to ascertain the intention of the Legislature as expressed in the statute, considering it as a whole and in its context. That intention, and therefore the meaning of the statute, is primarily to be sought in the words used in the statute itself, which must, if they are plain and unambiguous, be applied as they stand. [Western Agencies Pvt. Ltd. v. CCE, 2011 (3) TMI 528 - CESTAT, CHENNAI (LB) ].

In Wear Well Tyre and Tubes Pvt Ltd v. Union of India 2014 (2) TMI 193 - Madhya Pradesh High Court it was held that if provisions in Special Act was contrary to provisions of general law, special law would supersede general law.

In Kone Elevator India Pvt. Ltd. v. State of Tamil Nadu 2014 (5) TMI 265 - SUPREME COURT it was held that it is well known that while interpreting taxing statutes, strict and literal interpretation should be made and what is applicable to one taxing statute may not be applied to another taxing statute. Hence, what is applicable to another taxing statute may not be applied to a case governed by sales tax statutes.

In THE COMMISSIONER OF INCOME-TAX Versus M/s ECOM GILL COFFEE TRADING PVT. LTD. 2012 (7) TMI 562 - KARNATAKA HIGH COURT it was held that a particular enactment cannot be engrafted to provisions of another enactment assuming them to be similar or same or analogous and language is more or less similar.

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