Decided on November 18,1963



EKBOTE, J. - (1.) THE question which must be essentially answered in this enquiry is whether the word "miller" used in column (2) of item 3 -C in Schedule IV of the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1957, introduced in accordance with the Amendment Act 26 of 1961, means only the oil miller or takes within its meaning a decorticating miller also.
(2.) THE facts are short and simple and are not at all in dispute. The petitioners in this batch of writs are dealers in groundnut. They decorticate in their mills the groundnut and sell the kernel to dealers both within and without the State. These petitions urge that after the Amending Act 26 of 1961 the word "miller" used in the abovesaid provision means only an oil miller who crushes the kernel of groundnut and produces oil. That provision does not take within its meaning a decorticating miller. In order to appreciate the merits of this contention it is necessary to mention the antecedents of this provision. Under the Madras General Sales Tax Act groundnuts were taxed at multiple points. Every purchaser was liable to pay the tax. After the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1957, was passed, single point levy was introduced and the point of levy was the first purchase within the State. The Amending Act 26 of 1959 changed the point of taxation and declared that it is the last purchaser in the State who would be liable to pay the tax. This amendment came into force on 1st May, 1959. This clause was again amended by the Second Amending Act 26 of 1961 whereby item 3 -C in column (2) of Schedule IV was amended. The clause as it now stands is in the following terms : - "When purchased by a miller in the State, at the point of purchase by the miller and in all other case at the point of purchase by the last dealer why buys it in the State." This Amending Act came into force on 1st October, 1961.
(3.) THE contention of Mr. Reddy Pantulu, the learned counsel for the petitioners, as well as of Mr. Ramakrishnaiah, for some of the petitioners, is that the petitioners do not come under the term "miller". The process consists of mainly removing the husk and converting the groundnut into kernel and that the petitioners do not in their factories change the kernel into oil. It is their contention that they are not millers. This argument is based on a further submission that inasmuch as "groundnuts" include "kernel", and as the process adopted in their mills does not convert or alter the commodity into a new commodity, in other words, as their mills do not manufacture groundnuts into kernel, their factories cannot be considered as mills and their proprietors cannot be called as millers. In support of this contention reliance was placed on Shaw Bros. and Co. v. State of West Bengal ([1963] 14 S.T.C. 878). We also referred to the dictionary meaning of the word "mill". It is no doubt true that in finding the meaning of words in the Constitution and Statutes, judges make some use of the layman's crutch - the dictionary. Yet, the value of the dictionaries must be considered limited by the fact that in English, as in any living language, the meanings of words are in steady process of change. As an authority on meanings, the dictionary is a man -made institution without pretence of guidance by a higher power, or by a basic substratum of natural law, or even by superior Wisdom, to all of which jurists sometimes lay claim. "Why should we follow the dictionary - Justice Homes is said to have remarked once to his brethren, "let the dictionary follow us.";

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