1. This revision arises out of an order with regard to the liability to pay the court-fee upon an application for compensation filed, under S. 110 of the Motor Vehicles Act. R. 291 of the Bombay Motor Vehicles Rules, 1959, provides for the procedure of making application to the Claims Tribunal. R. 292 prescribes the fees that are to accompany such an application and are to be paid in the form of court-fee stamps. R. 292, prior to its present amendment introduced by the notification of Oct. 28, 1977, had provided for payment of fixed court-fee of Rs. 10/--. The amended rule which applies to the present claim laid by the applicant in sum of Rs. 70.000/- raises the question of computation of the court-fee. The application was accompanied, it is not In dispute, 'with the court-fee of rupees 220-50. After computing, upon an interpretation of entry (iii) in the amend-ed Sub-rule (1). the Court has directed the applicant to pay Rs. 350/- as the correct court-fee. The Court has treated each entry as an independent provision directing payment of fees unconnected with the other. That order is questioned in the present revision application.
2. The amended Sub-rule (1) of R. 292 reads as follows:--
'An application for compensation under R. 291 shall be accompanied by a fee in the form of Court-fee stamps m accordance with the following scale, namely:--
Amount of claimFee 12
(i)Not exceeding Rs. 5000/-10/-(ii)Exceeding Rs. 5000/- but not exceeding Rs. 50,000/-1/2 per cent, of the amount of claim.(iii)Exceeding Rs. 50,000/- but not exceeding Rs. 1 lakh.1/2 per cent. of the claim.(iv)Exceeding Rs, 1 lakh.1 per cent. of the amount of claim.
(Underlining provided to emphasise the use of the words).
3. The underlined portions of the rule call for interpretation irrespective of whether the incident of the fee is higher or lower. Now, in the matters of construction of statutes imposing fiscal liability it is the letter of the law that has to be given effect to irrespective of any other considerations. Therefore, if the meaning be clear, the fee according to that meaning will have to be levied and collected. It is true, however, that if the language be susceptible to two equally reasonable interpretations, then the one that would favour the subject will be chosen for application.
4. It is apparent as the history of the rules shows that for the first time by the amended rule a graded scale of levy of fees is being prescribed. In other words, the rule purports to lay down the scale having correlation with the fee required to be paid. In all the entries, the rule has used the word 'exceeding' prescribing the amount and its extent. The use of the word 'exceeding' in the rule while laying down a scale is clearly suggestive of interconnection inter se between each of the steps and not their disjunction or separation. Entry (i), therefore, prescribes the extent of the amount for which afaxed fee of Rs. 10/- has to be paid, while entry (ii) takes into account the amounts above Rs. 5000/- but below Rs. 50.000/- and prescribes the fee for such claim. So also is the position of entries (iii) and (iv). Reading all these entries together, it follows that they were inter-connected and are simply enacted to lay down the graded scale of fees to be levied having reference to the amount of claim, the primary or basic step being indicated by entry (i) that in all cases where the amount is below Rs. 5,000/- the fee is required to be paid at Rs. 10/-. But as the grade rises on the upward side, the rise of the fee is indicated by entries (ii) to (iv).
5. The word 'scale' suggests, as its connotation goes, laying down of graduated or ordered series of degrees or stages. It is implicit in the scale that it rises by steps, the first or the basic following the other, and it is matter of successive progression of steps having definite links amongst themselves. The concept of scale in the matter of revenue necessarily involves provisions for statutory slabs indicating correlation to the incidence of the levy. When, therefore, a fiscal statute prescribes a scale, it is implicit that the steps by which the graduated series rises are made up of all the grades which are part of the succeeding grades. In other words, the basic grade continues to be basic even with regard to the next following grade and it carries with it the incident of levy as directed by the given fiscal statute. Providing of scales is a common modality where statutory slabs are enacted that carry the specific imposition of the levy of the tax or fee. The words occurring in the entries above consistently from entries (i) to (iv) as 'exceeding' therefore are clearly descriptive in character and carry clear connotation meaning what is greater than the preceding one. The term 'exceed' and the qualifying adjective like 'exceeding' are relative terms and indicate going over or topping or over and above of what preceded or what is set as the basic standard or limit. It postulates correlation with some other higher stage. Mathematically and as part of the computing provision of the statute the term 'exceeding' will always indicate the correlation as meaning over and above the preceding entry or the pre-ceding slab. Therefore, keeping these common connotations of the terms 'scale' and 'exceeding' and their conceptual operation in view, it is obvious that when the mode of computation is laid down in column 2 under the heading 'Fee', it is made referable by the adjective which describes the slab having correlation to the preceding slab. So for the purpose of column 2 the claim will have to be the exceeding claim than the earlier one. The whole entry, reading together both columns 1 and 2, means the excess claim than the claim mentioned in the preceding entry. So construed, the rule simply means that when the total claim is in the first slab of Rs. 5,000/-, the application has to be accompanied by a fee of Rs. 10/-. When it exceeds Rs. 5000/- on the excess amount between Rs. 5,000/- and Rs. 50,000/- the applicant has to pay the court-fee at the rate of 1/4 per cent of the amount so exceeding. Similarly. , when the amount in claim exceeds V Rs. 50,000/- but does not exceed Rs. 1 lakh, the claimant would have to pay only for the excess of Rs. 50,000/- at per cent of the amount of claim; and when it exceeds Rs. 1 laks, at 1 per cent of the amount of claim in excess of Rs. 1 lakh. Uniformly, therefore, each slab will carry the same levy of fees.
6. This interpretation plainly sub-serves the purpose and also fully and completely answers the language of the rule. If this interpretation is not followed, in case the claim were to extend even by a rupee than Rs. 5,000/-, the claimant will have to pay only for the excess of Rs. 1 Rs. 12.50 though for Rs. 5000 the rule directs the levy of Rs. 10/- only. The phraseology employed using the word 'exceeding in all these four entries clearly indicates that the excess over the preceding entry has to be worked out for computing the levy as indicated in column 2, the basic being the slab indicated by entry (i)'. For that purpose the claim is the excess claim than in the earlier entry; and It is reasonable to read when the matter is of laving down the scale that the first step or the grade is taken into the second or higher grade as it is treating the lesser as the part of the higher and levy indicated only with regard to the difference between the lower and the higher.
7. In this view it has to be concluded that the applicant was liable to pay under entry (iii) the amount of court-fee as was calculated having reference to the earlier steps or grades available in entries (i) and (ii).
8. For the State Mr. Badar, the learned Assistant Government Pleader, concedes that if this meaning is given, the court-fee is properly paid. In view of this, the direction seeking recovery of payment of Rs. 350/- of court-fee on the basis of entry (iii) as including the levy with reference to the total amount of the claim and excluding the preceding levies cannot be sustained. The impugned order is, therefore, set aside and it is adjudged that the court-fee of Rs. 222-50 on Rs. 70,000/- is properly paid under rule 292 (1) (iii) of the Bombay Motor Vehicles Rules. There will, however, be no order as to costs in this revision application.
9. Revision allowed.