Decided on October 30,1967



- (1.) AT the instance of the Commissioner of Sales Tax, M. P. , the Sales Tax Tribunal (Board of Revenue, M. P.) has referred (he following question for our decision : Whether on the facts and circumstances of the case examination answer-books are exercise books and as such exempt from sales tax under entry 14 of Schedule I to the Madhya Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1958?
(2.) THE assessee is a dealer in stationery. In the assessment proceedings for the period 1st April, 1962 to 31st March, 1963, the Sales Tax Officer allowed a deduction in the sum of Rs. 23,836. 42 paise representing the sale price of examination answer-books, treating the examination answer-books as covered by entry 14 of Schedule I to the Madhya Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1958. The Additional Commissioner, acting in exercise of revisional powers conferred by Section 39 (2) of the Act, set aside the order of the Sales Tax Officer and included the aforesaid sum in the taxable turnover and assessed the tax accordingly. The Sales Tax Tribunal, however, held that the examination answer-books were included under entry 14 of Schedule I, and restored the order of the Sales Tax Officer. The Tribunal, however, referred the abovesaid question for our decision.
(3.) SECTION 10 (1) of the Act provides that no tax shall be payable on the sales or purchases of goods, specified in the second column of Schedule I, subject to the conditions and exceptions, if any, set out in the corresponding entry in the third column thereof. Entry 14 of Schedule I reads: Exercise books. In Crawford's Statutory Construction it has been stated in paragraph 258, at page 506, that Provisions providing for an exemption may be properly construed strictly against the person who makes the claim of an exemption. In other words, before an exemption can be recognized, the person or property claimed to be exempt must come clearly within the language apparently granting the exemption. In other words, such an entry should be strictly construed. Another rule of construction that must be followed is to interpret the words of everyday use as understood in common parlance. "exercise book" as understood in common parlance means a book used by students for the purposes of school exercise set to them by their teachers. The use of an examination answer-book is for altogether a different purpose. It is used for testing the knowledge of the pupil at the examination. Though an exercise book and an examination answer-book may be made out of the same material, namely, paper, and though an examination answer-book can be used by a person for various purposes, it cannot be equated with an exercise book. The learned Member of the Tribunal, while interpreting the entry, commented that the words "exercise note-books" is not strictly good English. But it may be noted that the entry is only "exercise books" and not "exercise note-books". A large part of the discussion is devoted to note-books by the learned Member of the Board which is uncalled for. The simple question is whether an "exercise book" is the same thing as an "examination answer-book", and the answer must be in the negative. We have already pointed out that the entry being an entry granting exemption, must be strictly construed against the person who claims exemption. Construed in that manner, there is no scope for enlarging the meaning of the expression "exercise books" to include "examination answer-books" as well. The Sales Tax Tribunal was not, therefore, right in setting aside the order of the Additional Commissioner of Sales Tax.;

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