The Finance Minister’s speech only highlights the more important proposals of the budget. Those are not the enactments by the Parliament. The law as enacted is what is contained in the Finance Act, the Bench said dismissing his Appeal.
The Supreme Court, in a judgment has recorded its appreciation of an Appellant before it, who appeared as Party in Person, for presenting the case ‘like a seasoned professional with utmost skill and knowledge.’Apex Court bench comprising of Justices Madan B. Lokur and NV Ramana, though dismissed his appeal, appreciated Mr. Amin Merchant for “the strenuous efforts put forth by the appellant and the kind of efforts he put in to collect the data.”
In his Appeal against dismissal of his Writ petition by Bombay High Court, Amin Merchant, who argued in person, submitted before the Apex court Bench, that the rate which has been prescribed for goods he imported during 1993-1994 period falling under a particular Custom Tariff is higher than that was authorized in the Budget Proposals during financial years 1993-94 and 1994-95.
According to him, the then Finance Minister had presented the budget proposals before the Parliament which were duly approved by the Parliament and as per the approved budget proposals, the goods imported by him attracts reduction in duty higher than 85% to 85% advalorem for 1993-94 and higher than 65% to 65% ad valorem for the year 1994-95.He further contended “The tariff charged and the tariff rates in the finance bill are contrary to the approved budget proposals.Budget proposals announced by the FM in the Parliament are duly passed and/or approved by the Parliament, no person, executive, bureaucrat or any authority or Court of Law has the authority and/or power to alter or amend the same. If the executives are allowed to prescribe any tariff rates contrary to the Budget Proposals duly authorized by the Parliament, then the Budget Proposals duly passed by the Parliament will have no meaning and will be rendered nugatory and thus opening the flood gates for ‘corrupt practice’.”
FINANCE MINISTER SPEECH IS NOT AN ENACTMENT OF PARLIAMENT
Negating his contentions the Court held that, the Finance Minister’s speech is not an enactment of Parliament, rather it is the Finance Act which is the Law. The Court observed as follows: “The whole thrust of the appellant is that the proposals of the Finance Minister were duly approved by the Parliament. No doubt, the appellant has placed before this Court the proposals of the Finance Minister which discloses the intention of the Government but there is no material placed before us to demonstrate that the budget proposals are duly accepted by the Parliament. It is an admitted fact that pursuant to the proposals, the Finance Act was passed by the Parliament wherein for the goods specified under Tariff Sub-Heading 2208.10, particular tariff was specified. We are unable to agree with the argument advanced by the appellant for the reason that he is unable to make note of the difference between a proposal moved before the Parliament and a statutory provision enacted by the Parliament, because the process of Taxation involves various considerations and criteria. Every legislation is done with the object of public good as said by Jeremy Bentham. Taxation is an unilateral decision of the Parliamentand it is the exercise of the sovereign power. The financial proposals put forth by the Finance Minister reflects the governmental view for raising revenue to meet the expenditure for the financial year and it is the financial policy of the Central Government. The Finance Minister’s speech only highlights the more important proposals of the budget. Those are not the enactments by the Parliament. The law as enacted is what is contained in the Finance Act. After it is legislated upon by the Parliament and a rate of duty that is prescribed in relation to a particular Tariff Head that constitutes the authoritative expression of the legislative will of Parliament. Now in the present facts of the case, as per the finance bill, the legislative will of the Parliament is that for the commodities falling under Tariff Head 2208.10, the tariff is Rs.300/- per litre or 400% whichever is higher.”
APPRECIATION OF APPELLANT
In the penultimate Paragraph of the Judgment, it is said: “Before we conclude, we would like to record our appreciation for the strenuous efforts put forth by the appellant and the kind of efforts he put in to collect the data. We feel that it is not out of place to mention that the appellant has presented the case like a seasoned professional with utmost skill and knowledge.”
Read the Judgment here.