The Plea of Limitation IX: Express Exclusion of Section 5 of The Limitation Act, 1963

Relevant Provisions: 

The Assam Value Added Tax Act, 2003 

  1. Revision to High Court – (1) Any dealer or other person, who is dissatisfied with the decision of the Appellate Tribunal, or the Commissioner may, within sixty days after being notified of the decision of the Appellate Tribunal, file a revision to the High Court; and the dealer or other person so appealing shall serve a copy of the notice of revision on the respondents to the proceedings.
  1. Application of sections 4 and 12 of Limitation Act, 1963 – In computing the period of limitation under this Chapter, the provisions of section 4 and 12 of the Limitation Act, 1963 (Central Act 36 of 1963) shall, so far may be, apply.

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A scrutiny of the scheme of VAT Act goes to show that it is a complete code… Section 84 of the VAT Act made only Sections 4 and 12 of the Limitation Act applicable to the proceedings under the VAT Act. The apparent legislative intent, which can be clearly evinced, is to exclude other provisions, including Section 5 of the Limitation Act. Section 29(2) stipulates that in the absence of any express provision in a special law, provisions of Sections 4 to 24 of the Limitation Act would apply. If the intention of the legislature was to make Section 5, or for that matter, other provisions of the Limitation Act applicable to the proceedings under the VAT Act, there was no necessity to make specific provision like Section 84 thereby making only Sections 4 and 12 of the Limitation Act applicable to such proceedings, inasmuch as these two Sections would also have become applicable by virtue of Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act. It is, thus, clear that the Legislature intended only Sections 4 and 12 of the Limitation Act, out of Sections 4 to 24 of the said Act, applicable under the VAT Act thereby excluding the applicability of the other provisions. 

The High Court has rightly pointed out the well settled principle of law that “the Court cannot interpret the statute the way they have developed the common law ‘which in a constitutional sense means judicially developed equity’. In abrogating or modifying a rule of the common law the Court exercises the same power of creation that built up the common law through its existence by the judges of the past. The Court can exercise no such power in respect of statute, therefore, in the task of interpreting and applying a statute, judges have to be conscious that in the end the statute is the master not the servant of the judgment and no judge has a choice between implementing it and disobeying it.”

What, therefore, follows is that the Court cannot interpret the law in such a manner so as to read into the Act an inherent power of condoning the delay by invoking Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 so as to supplement the provisions of the VAT Act which excludes the operation of Section 5 by necessary implications.”

 – Hon’ble Justice A.K. Sikri, M/s. Patel Brothers v. State of Assam, [Civil Appeal Nos. 49-50 of 2017].

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