CIVIL

What is the meaning of Works contract

Karnataka Sales Tax Act, 1957 – Section 2(1)(v-i) -2(1)(k) : “Works contract” means a contract made by the State Government or the public undertaking with any other person for the execution of any of its works relating to construction, repairs or maintenance of any building or superstructure, dam, weir, canal, reservoir, tank, lake, road, well, bridge, culvert, factory or workshop or of such other work of the State Government or, as the case may be, of the public undertaking, as the State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette specify, and include –

(i) a contract made for the supply of goods relating to the execution of any of such works,

(ii) a contract made by the Central Stores Purchase Organisation of the State Government for purchase of sale of goods.”

 Reading the definition, it could be said that it is wide enough to include any work relating to construction, repairs or maintenance of any building or superstructure, dam, weir, canal reservoir, tank, lake, road, well, bridge, culvert, factory or workshop or of such other work of the State Government. However, what is important is that the word “any” has the meaning attach to the work in connection with or for the purpose of completing different works named in the definition. Therefore, if any work is to be executed for the construction, repair or maintenance of canal, the same shall stand included within the definition of ‘Works contract’ on expanded meaning of the word “any” used in the said definition. However, any other independent work which may be carried out either adjacent to the canal or beneath the canal or in the periphery of the canal but has no connection with the construction, repairs or maintenance of the canal and which itself is specified as distinct work, such work could not be linked with or related to the work of canal.

 In the case of K. Raheja Development Corporation Vs. State of Karnataka, , the definition of Works contract in Sec. 2(1)(v-i) of the Karnataka Sales Tax Act is considered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court which reads as under:

“2(1)(v-i) “Works contract” includes any agreement for carrying out for cash, deferred payment or other valuable consideration, the building, construction, manufacture, processing, fabrication, erection, installation, fitting out, improvement, modification, repair or commissioning of any moveable or immovable property.”

In the context of the said definition, Hon’ble the Supreme Court has held and observed in Para 11 of the judgment as under:

“It is thus to be seen that under the Karnataka Sales Tax Act the definition of the words “Works contract” is very wide. It is not restricted to a “Works contract” as commonly understood, i.e., a contract to do some work on behalf of somebody else. It also includes “any agreement for carrying out either for cash or for deferred payment or for any other valuable consideration, the building and construction of any moveable and immoveable property” (Emphasis supplied). The definition would, therefore, take within its ambit any type of agreement wherein construction of a building takes place either for cash or deferred payment, or valuable consideration. To be also noted that the definition does not lay down that the construction must be on behalf of an owner of the property or that the construction cannot be by the owner of the property. Thus, even if an owner of property enters into an agreement to construct for cash, deferred payment or valuable consideration a building or flats on behalf of anybody else it would be a Works contract within the meaning of the term as used under the said Act.”

 Similarly, in the case of Mrs. Kamini Malhotra Case, the Madhya Pradesh High Court construed almost similar definition of ‘Works contract’ given in the present Tribunal Act. The definition of ‘Works contract’ in Sec. 2(i) of the M.P. Madhyasthan Adhikaran Adhiniyam reads as under:

“‘Works contract’ – means an agreement in writing for the execution of any work relating to construction, repair or maintenance of any building or superstructure, dam, weir, canal, reservoir, tank, lake, road, well, bridge, culvert, factory, work shop, power house, transformers or such other works of the State Government or Public undertakings as the State Government may by notification, specify in this behalf at any of its stages, entered into by the State Government or by an official of the State Government or public undertaking or its official for and on behalf of such public undertaking and includes an agreement for the supply of goods or material and all other matters relating to the execution of any of the said works.”

 While construing the said definition, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has held and observed in Paras 16 to 22 as under:

“16. Since, as per Sec. 2(i) of the Adhiniyam ‘Works contract’ means an agreement in writing for the execution of any work specified therein; it is clear that a work to constitute and to be construed as ‘Works contract’ must be strictly covered by the works specified in the said definition and that no other work should be treated as ‘Works contract’.

Therefore, all types of building, tanks whatever be its technical nomenclature, would be covered under the said definition of ‘Works contract’. In Ghanshiam Das Vs. Devi Prasad and Another, the Supreme Court with reference to U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, observed:

“The word building has not been defined in the Act and is, therefore, to be construed in its ordinary grammatical sense unless there is something in the context or object of the statute to show that it is used in a special sense different from its ordinary grammatical sense. So construed according to the dictionary meaning, the existence of a roof is not always necessary for a structure to be regarded as a building, Residential buildings ordinarily have roofs but there can be a non-residential building for which a roof is not necessary. A large stadium or an open air swimming pool constructed at a considerable expense would be a building as it is a permanent structure and designed for useful purpose.”

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Union of India Vs. M/s Popular Construction Co., (2001) 8 AD 297 : AIR 2001 SC 4010 : (2002) 1 CompLJ 46 : (2001) 8 JT 271 : (2001) 6 SCALE 657 : (2001) 8 SCC 470 : (2002) 1 UJ 4 : (2001) AIRSCW 3994 : (2001) 7 Supreme 354
K. Raheja Development Corporation Vs. State of Karnataka, AIR 2005 SC 2350 : (2005) 5 JT 161 : (2005) 5 SCC 162 : (2005) 3 SCR 1210 : (2005) 141 STC 298 : (2006) 3 STR 337
Lucknow Development Authority Vs. M.K. Gupta, AIR 1994 SC 787 : (1994) 80 CompCas 714 : (1994) 1 CompLJ 1 : (1993) 6 JT 307 : (1993) 4 SCALE 370 : (1994) 1 SCC 243 : (1993) 3 SCR 615 Supp
Ghanshiam Das Vs. Devi Prasad and Another, AIR 1966 SC 1998 : (1966) 3 SCR 875
Mrs. Kamini Malhotra Vs. State of M.P. and Others, AIR 2003 MP 13 : (2002) 5 MPHT 245 : (2002) 3 MPLJ 389

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