Fuel for thought
An yeast manufacturing company in Uttar Pradesh had been filing sales tax returns under “chemicals of all kinds, including fuel gases” for 20 years when “fuel gases” was dropped and the rate of tax lowered to four per cent from 10 per cent in March 2003. In 2005, the authorities imposed a higher rate of tax on the company, contending that yeast is not a chemical but a living organism and should be taxed under “unclassified item”. The company challenged the decision in court. Upholding the company’s claim, the Supreme Court held that where the classification had been accepted for more than 20 years, it could not now be changed just because the tax had been lowered under that head (Mauri Yeast India Pvt. Ltd vs State of UP).
A person was convicted under Section 66 of the Narcotics, Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act on the basis of a fax recording an assignment of mandrex tablets that was found on him. This particular Section specifies that the court will presume that any document procured from a person and tendered as evidence under the Act is correct until proven otherwise. The man appealed successfully against the conviction in the high court. The directorate of revenue approached the Supreme Court, which upheld the high court’s judgment. The apex court held that a document can be held as proof under Section 66 only if it is decipherable, in this particular case the fax was illegible and could not be used as the sole basis to convict the accused (Directorate of Revenue vs Mohd. Nisar Holia).
In a case of kidnapping and murder, the prosecution wanted to produce a videotape of the accused’s confession. The accused opposed this, contending that the video was not permissible evidence as the statement had been made in the presence of the police. The Orissa High Court held that even a confessional statement can be submitted as evidence under Section 27 of the Evidence Act as long as it relates to discovery of a fact that is later corroborated. It permitted the prosecution to make arrangements to show the relevant parts of the tape in court (Amulya Kumar Panda vs State of Orissa).