1. In this writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution, the petitioner's counsel at the time of the hearing, asked the court to issue a writ of mandamus to the 1st respondent requiring it not to levy any octroi duty on the fruits brought by him into the Gulbarga Municipal area, in the course of his trade The other reliefs prayed for in the petition were not pressed.
2. The petitioner is a merchant having his place of business in the market area of the Gulbarga Town. He is dealing in fresh fruits. According to him, he purchases fresh fruits from outside the Municipal area and brings them to Gulbarga town for sale in his shop. He deals in Sithaphal, Bannana, Moosambi, Plantains, Mangoes. Jam, Jambun, Apple, Orange Grape, Pinapple, Melons and Water-melons. The fruits brought by him into the Municipal limits of the Gulbarga town were neither canned, tinned, bottled, boxed or cartooned. The facts stated above are not disputed by the respondents. All that we have to see is, whether the 1st respondent Municipality has competence to levy octroi on the fruits in question.
3. Section 96(1)(b) of the Hyderabad District Municipalities Act (Hyderabad Act XVIII of 1956), to be hereinafter referred to as the 'Act', empowers the Municipality to levy octroi. Section 109 of the Act provides:
'Except as hereinafter provided, octroi, at rates not exceeding those respectively specified in Schedule 'D' shall be levied in respect of the several articles mentioned in the said schedule or of so many of them as the Committee shall from year to year, determine when the said articles are imported from any place into the Municipality.'
Schedule 'D' of the Act reads as follows:--
(Schedule 'D' reproduced.)
4. The question for determination is as to the true scope of entry (d) under the heading 'Edible', in Schedule 'D' of the Act. That entry reads:
'Fruits (canned, tinned, bottled, boxed or cartooned).'
According to the learned counsel for the 1st respondent, all fruits including those that are canned, tinned, bottled, boxed or cartooned are liable to octroi. But according to the learned counsel for the petitioner, only fruits that are either canned or tinned or bottled or boxed or cartooned are liable to octroi. The question is as to which of these two contentions is correct.
5. It must be remembered that we are called upon to interpret a taxing provision. No tax can be levied on a subject by mere implication. Before either a person or an article can be taxed, the provision imposing tax must be clear and unambiguous. If a provision can be reasonably interpreted in two ways, the interpretation that helps the subject will have to be accepted. As has been often said, the courts will not spell out a levy by adding to the statute or by giving the statute an extended meaning. As observed by Maxwell on his Interpretation of Statutes (tenth edition) at p. 288:
'In a Taxing Act one has to look merely at what is clearly said. There is no room for any intendment. There is no equity about a tax. There is no presumption as to a tax. Nothing is to be read in, nothing is to be implied. One can only look fairly at the language used.'
The entry to which we referred earlier, does not say that all fruits including those that are canned, tinned, bottled, boxed or cartooned are liable to octroi. If the intention of the Legislature was to levy octroi on all fruits irrespective of the manner in which they are imported, nothing would have been easier than to say so in the entry. It would have been sufficient if the legislature had merely mentioned the word 'fruits' in entry '(d)'. There was no occasion, muchless a necessity for mentioning within the brackets, 'canned, tinned, bottled, boxed or cartooned'.
6. It is not denied by the learned counsel, for the first respondent that many of the articles shown under the heading 'Edible' can be canned, tinned, bottled, boxed or cartooned. But yet, those words were included within the brackets only in entries (d), (e) and (p) and not with regard to other articles. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that in the case of articles mentioned under entry (d), (e) and (p) the legislature intended to deal with them in a separate manner. Let us take for consideration, for example, entry '(p)'. That entry reads :--
'All kinds of food and drink not specifically provided for (canned, tinned, bottled, boxed or cartooned).'
If the intention of the legislature was to levy octroi on all kinds of food and drink, as contended by the learned counsel for the first respondent, then, there was no necessity to enumerate the entries found under (a) to (s). It would have been sufficient for the legislature to say 'all kinds of food and drink', Courts will hesitate to attribute superfluity to a legislature. Every word in an enactment must be given its due meaning. If we apply that rule of construction to the case before us, necessarily we have to come to the conclusion that the words 'canned, tinned, bottled, boxed or cartooned' mentioned in entries (d), (e) and (p) cannot be considered as superfluous words. On the other hand, if we accept the contention of the learned counsel for the first respondent, it follows that those words are superfluous and the legislature has employed those words merely to convey an idea, which was even otherwise self-evident. We are unable to accept this contention.
7. The learned counsel for the first respondent pressed on us the following passage from Maxwell at page 291--10th edition--of his Interpretation of Statutes:--
'At the same time, such Acts, like penal Acts, are not to be so construed as to furnish a chance of escape and a means of evasion. Indeed, as in criminal statutes, the widest meaning is given to the language when necessary to effectuate the intention of the legislature.'
In the first place this passage is not apposite in interpreting a taxing provision. Secondly, for the reasons already mentioned, we are unable to agree with the learned counsel for the first respondent that the legislature intended to bring within the net of taxation all fruits, irrespective of the manner in which they are imported.
8. Sri Muralidhar Rao, the learned counsel for the first respondent, placed before us a certified copy of the decision of a Single Judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in W. P. No. 1198 of 1963 (Andh Pra) in support of the construction contended for by him. There is no doubt that that decision fully supports his contention. But for the reasons already mentioned, with great respect to the learned Judge, we are unable to accept that decision as correctly laying down the law.
9.In the result, this writ petition is allowed and a writ of mandamus shall be issued to the first respondent requiring it not to collect any octroi from the petitioner in respect of the fruits mentioned above, if they are brought within the Municipal limits of Gulbarga, excepting when they are canned, tinned, bottled boxed or cartooned. The first respondent shall pav the costs of the petitioner. Advocate's fee Rs. 100.
10. Petition allowed.