Sodexo Meal Vouchers are not ‘goods’ within the meaning of S. 2(25) of Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act, 1949

Supreme Court: While considering the present issue that whether the pre-printed, non- transferrable vouchers printed by the name Sodexo Meal vouchers, can be levied with Local body tax (LBT), the division bench of A.K. Sikri and R.F. Nariman, JJ., setting aside the judgment of the Bombay High Court, held that the business that Sodexo Meal Vouchers are not ‘goods’ within the meaning of Section 2(25) of the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act, 1949 and, therefore, not liable for either Octroi or LBT.

The counsel for the appellant Jay Savla was vociferous in his submission that the vouchers were only a service which was provided by the appellant with no element of ‘goods’ involved in the transaction. On the other hand, the Bombay High Court , relying on the views expressed in Tata Consultancy Services v. State of Andhra Pradesh (2005) 1 SCC 308,  passed the Order that these vouchers are capable of being sold, paid, stored and possessed, thereby validating the levy of tax on the appellant for their business.

The Court on perusing the contentions and the concerned statutory provisions, observed that the High Court erred in interpreting the nature of the vouchers as the nature of their transactions does  not refer something that comes under the ambit of  ‘goods’, rather they are services as defined by law and thus levying the Octroi or local body taxes on them is unreasonable. The Court further observed that the High Court has not discussed and decided the issue correctly. The bench , thus, allowed the appeals and set aside the judgment of the High Court by holding that the vouchers are not ‘goods’ within the meaning of Section 2(25), and therefore, not liable for paying either Octroi or LBT. [Sodexo SVC India Private Ltd. v. State of Maharashtra,2015 SCC OnLine SC 1291, decided on 09.12.2015]

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