Decided on June 27,1973


Cited Judgements :-



MEHTA, J. - (1.)THE question which has been referred to us for our opinion is as under : " Whether on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the bhinda (lady's finger) seeds purchased by the opponent-mill are oil-seeds covered by entry 6, Part II, of Schedule B to the Bombay Sales Tax Act, 1959, or are covered by the residuary entry 22 of Schedule A to the said Act ?"
(2.)THE question has been referred to us in the following circumstances : THE opponent herein is an oil mill manufacturing edible and non-edible oils and is registered under the Bombay Sales Tax Act, 1959. It was assessed for S. Y. 2020 corresponding to 18th October, 1963, to 4th November, 1964. During the said period it purchased bhinda seeds for Rs. 23,741 for purposes of manufacturing oil out of seeds. THE Sales Tax Officer concerned held that the seeds purchased by the opponent-mill were oil-seeds and should be subjected to tax accordingly under entry 6, Part II, of Schedule B to the aforesaid Act. THE opponent-mill, therefore, took the matter in appeal before the Assistant Commissioner of Sales Tax. THE contention before the Commissioner was that the bhinda seeds purchased by the opponent-mill were vegetable seeds covered by entry 22 of Schedule A to the aforesaid Act and as such not liable to tax. This contention did not find favour with the Assistant Commissioner, who confirmed the order of the Sales Tax Officer and held that bhinda seeds were liable to tax under entry 6, Part II, of Schedule B to the Act. THE opponent-mill, therefore, went in second appeal before the Tribunal. Both the contentions, namely, that the bhinda seeds were vegetable seeds within entry 22 of Schedule A and, secondly, they could not be considered to be oil-seeds liable to tax under entry 6, Part II, of Schedule B were raised. THE Tribunal after referring to the scheme of Schedule A and the relevant entries thereto, namely, entries 22, 23, 25 and 26, held that the expression "vegetable seeds" in entry 22 of Schedule A meant such vegetable seeds which are capable of being sown and actually required for use for such purposes. THE Tribunal then proceeded to consider the facts relating to the purchase of seeds by the opponent-mill and came to the conclusion that bhinda seeds purchased by the opponent-mill were not vegetable seeds as covered under entry 22. On the second contention, whether the seeds were oil-seeds or not, the Tribunal, after referring to the decisions of various High Courts, was of opinion that the meaning which should be attributed to the term "oil-seeds" should be the meaning as attributed under the common parlance. In the opinion of the Tribunal, applying that test, bhinda seeds should not be understood as "oil-seeds". In that view of the matter, therefore, the Tribunal allowed the appeal of the opponent-mill. At the instance of the State, the aforesaid question has been referred to us.
The relevant entry No. 6 of Part II of Schedule B to the Bombay Sales Tax Act, 1959, as stood at the relevant time, read as under : ------------------------------------------------------------------------ PART - II ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Sl. Rate of Rate of No. Description of goods. general purchase sales tax. tax. 1 2 3 4 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 6. Oil-seeds, that is to say, Two naye Two naye seeds yielding non-volatile paise in paise in oils used for human the rupee. the rupee. consumption, or in industry, or in the manufacture of varnishes, soaps and the like, or in lubrication, and volatile oils used chiefly in medicines, perfumes, cosmetics and the like, but not cotton seeds and groundnut and also coconut in shell and kernel which are declared tax-free under entry 13a in Schedule A.------------------------------------------------------------------------

On behalf of the revenue, it was urged that the Tribunal was clearly in error in applying the common parlance test, and on a plain reading of the entry, it should have been construed by the Tribunal that the legislative intent in specifying the different types of oil was to define the oil-seeds and, therefore, the defined meaning should have been preferred. On behalf of the assessee, it was urged that on a true construction and effect of entry No. 6, the Legislature has by using the words "that is to say" in entry No. 6, intended to limit the liability of tax to the specified counts of oil-seeds and, therefore, the Tribunal was correct when it applied the common parlance test. In Commissioner of Sales Tax, Madhya Pradesh, Indore v. M/s. Jaswant Singh Charan Singh ([1967] 19 S. T. C. 469 (S. C.); A. I. R. 1967 S. C. 1454), the Supreme Court was concerned with the question whether on the interpretation of entry 1 of Part III of Schedule II to the Madhya Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1958, that entry would cover within the term "coal" the commodity of charcoal. The court, after referring to the different decisions as to how the entry in the fiscal statute be interpreted, laid down as under : " The result emerging from these decisions is that while construing the word 'coal' in entry 1 of Part III of Schedule II, the test that would be applied is what would be the meaning which persons dealing with coal and consumers purchasing it as fuel would give to that word. A sales tax statute, being one levying a tax on goods, must, in the absence of a technical term or a term of science or art, be presumed to have used an ordinary term as coal according to the meaning ascribed to it in common parlance. Viewed from that angle both a merchant dealing in coal and a consumer wanting to purchase it would regard coal not in its geological sense but in the sense as ordinarily understood and would include 'charcoal' in the term 'coal'. It is only when the question of the kind or variety of coal would arise that a distinction would be made between coal and charcoal; otherwise, both of them would in ordinary parlance as also in their commercial sense be spoken as coal. "

(3.)IN Commissioner of INcome-tax, Andhra Pradesh v. M/s. Taj Mahal Hotel, Secunderabad ([1972] 82 I. T. R. 44 (S. C.); AIR 1972 SC 168), a question arose before the Supreme Court, whether sanitary fittings in a bath room are essential amenities or conveniences which are normally provided in any good hotel in the modern days and would be included in the term "plant" in section 10 (5) of the INcome-tax Act, 1922. The court held that sanitary fittings are included in the word "plant" as the definition thereof clearly indicated that wides possible meaning should be given to the same. IN that context it has been held that where a statute gives a definition of the word, it must not be construed in its popular sense. Mr. Justice Grover (as he then was) speaking for the court observed in paragraph 6 of the judgment as under : " Now it is well-settled that where the definition of a word has not been given, it must be construed in its popular sense, if it is a word of every day use. Popular sense means 'that sense which people coversant with the subject-matter with which the statute is dealing would attribute to it'. . . . . "
In our opinion, we have to interpret the entry as it appears at item No. 6 of Part II of Schedule B to the Bombay Sales Tax Act, 1959. The entry opens with the words "oil-seeds". There is no doubt that these are words of very wide import. The Legislature has not rest satisfied with the use of the words of such a general and wide import, but has suffixed them with the words "that is to say" and thereafter specified firstly those seeds" yielding non-volatile oils" used for certain purposes such as human consumption, industrial use, or in the manufacture of varnishes, soaps and the like; and, secondly, such seeds "yielding volatile oils" used chiefly in medicines, perfumes and cosmetics. It has, however, excluded "cotton seeds and groundnut and also coconut in shell and kernel" which are prescribed under entry 13a in Schedule A as tax-free. In our opinion, the question is, then, what is the meaning to be ascribed to the words "that is to say". Are these words merely illustrating the different types of oil-seeds as generally described in the opening part of the entry, or are they words restricting the general nature of goods, namely, oil-seeds ? The expression "that is to say" has been the subject-matter of judicial interpretation. In Stroud's Judicial Dictionary, 3rd Edition, at page 3007, under the caption "that is to say", it is observed as under : " THAT IS TO SAY : (1) 'that is to say' is the commencement of an ancillary clause which explains the meaning of the principal clause. It has the following properties : (i) it must not be contrary to the principal clause; (ii) it must neither increase nor diminish it; (iii) but where the principal clause is general in terms it may restrict it. "


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