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1985 (4) TMI 64 - SUPREME COURT
whether excise duty paid directly to the excise authorities or deposited directly in the State Exchequer in respect of Indian liquor by the buyers before removing the same from the distillery could be said to form part of the taxable turnover of the appellant distillery?
Held that:- Admittedly, the bills issued by the appellant did not include the excise duty. As already found, payment of excise duty is a legal liability of the manufacturer ; its payment is a condition precedent to the removal of the liquor from the distillery and payment by the purchaser is on account of the manufacturer. According to normal commercial practice, excise duty should have been reflected in the bill either :as merged in price or being shown separately. As a fact, in the hands of the buyer, the cost of liquor is what is charged by the appellant under its bill together with excise duty which the buyer has directly paid on seller's account. The consideration for the sale is thus the total amount and not what is reflected in the bill. We are, therefore, clearly of the 'opinion that excise duty though paid by the purchaser to meet the liability of the appellant, is a part of the consideration for the sale and is. includible in the turnover of the appellant. The purchaser has paid the tax because the law asks him to pay it on behalf of the manufacturer.
The taxing authority is entitled and is indeed bound to determine the true legal relation resulting from a transaction. If the parties have chosen to conceal by a device the legal relation, it is open to the taxing authorities to unravel the device and to determine the true character of the relationship. But the legal effect of a transaction cannot be displaced by probing into the 'substance of the transaction'. Tax planning may be legitimate provided it is within the framework of law. Colourable devices cannot be part of tax planning and it is wrong to encourage or entertain the belief that it is honourable to avoid the payment of tax by resorting to dubious methods. It is the obligation of every citizen to pay the taxes honestly without resorting to subterfuges. Appeal dismissed.