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Sugar SAP part of purchase price, to be taxable: SC
April, 09th 2008

In a setback to sugar mill owners, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the state advised price paid by them formed a part of the purchase price paid to the sugarcane growers and was, therefore, to be included in their turnover for the purpose of computation of tax.

A bench comprising Justice Arijit Pasayat, Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Aftab Alam allowed an appeal by Karnataka. It had challenged an order of the Karnataka High Court, which had held that in the absence of agreement between sugarcane buyers and sugarcane growers, the payment of excess amount fixed by the state/central government was not to be reckoned for the purpose of purchase tax under the Karnataka Sales Tax Act, 1957.

The state government, however, had said that purchase tax was payable on the purchase price. The consideration paid for making purchase is the purchase price. On the other hand, the mill owner, in this case, Sri Chamundeswari Sugar, had said that because it was agreed by the grower and the purchaser that a certain amount would be paid, the amount paid as SAP becomes irrelevant.

Rejecting the plea, the court said, In fact, an agreement cannot determine the question of liability to pay the purchase tax.

In our view appellants (state of Karnataka and Others) were justified in demanding purchase tax on the amount paid as SAP and the high courts view is clearly unsustainable and is set aside said Justice Pasayat writing the verdict.

In this case, the assessing authority for the assessment years 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-93 and 1993-94 had passed assessment orders taking into consideration the statutory minimum price fixed by the central government, SAP fixed by the state of Karnataka and all other amounts paid to sugarcane growers by the company as the purchase price paid to sugarcane growers and had levied purchase tax under the Karnataka Sales Tax Act, 1957.

It was challenged by the company in the high court. The grievance of the company was that the assessing authority was not justified in levying purchase tax on the amount paid by the factory to the sugarcane growers over and above the statutory minimum price fixed by the central government.

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