1. In this batch of writ petitions a common question of law has been raised and argued. I shall take up W. P. No. 130 of 1959, as whatever decision I render therein would govern the other cases.
2. W.P. No. 130 of 1959.-The petitioner is a resident of Narasaraopet. For the assessment year 1957-58, he submitted a return in Form A-3 showing a gross turnover of Rs. 1,13,044-2-9 and claimed exemption with respect to a sum of Rs. 1,12,934-5-3. The net turnover as disclosed by him was Rs. 109-13-6. By an order dated 25th November, 1958, the Deputy Commercial Tax Officer, Narasaraopet, determined the net turnover for the purpose of assessment at Rs. 51,875-7-6.
3. The petitioner is a manufacturer of and dealer in castor oil. The petitioner-firm purchases castor seeds and presses them into castor oil. It is alleged that the firm did exclusive business in such produce, during the assessment year and it claimed, therefore, exemption, in accordance with the terms of Notification II of G. O. No. 1091 Revenue dated 10th June, 1957. The assessing authority found that upto 30th August, 1957, the petitioner manufactured oil on double presses and it was only from 31st August, 1957, that there was a change over to single press. On that finding he held that for a period covered by 15th June, 1957, to 30th August, 1957, the petitioner-firm was not entitled to the exemption claimed, as in that period the firm did not do exclusive business in oil manufactured on single oil press as contemplated in Notification II aforesaid. But with respect to the period from 31st August, 1957 to 3th December, 1957, he allowed exemption on the sale of the castor oil. The petitioner-firm claimed that it was entitled to exemption from tax on the value of the purchase of castor seeds from out of which castor oil was extracted. That claim was disallowed by the assessing authority on the ground that the concession granted in Notification II aforesaid does not extend to tax on the purchase value of the oil seeds and that the firm should pay tax on the first purchase of the castor seeds.
4. Against the orders of the assessing authority the petitioner carried the matter in appeal to the Deputy Commissioner. The appeal was dismissed. It is the order of the assessing authority that is impugned in this petition and a writ of mandamus is prayed for restraining the Commercial Tax Officer from collecting the taxes with respect to the value of the purchase of the castor seeds.
5. The only question debated before me is whether under the Notification II contained in G. O. No. 1091 dated 10th June, 1957, the petitioner is entitled to the exemption from paying tax on the purchase value of castor seeds. Notification II is in these terms :-
In exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-section (1) of Section 9 of the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1957 (Andhra Pradesh Act VI of 1957) the Governor of Andhra Pradesh hereby directs that every person owning or having an interest in single country oil ghani or hand oil press, wherein oil is produced without employing electricity or any other power at any stage of the conversion of the seed into oil, and dealing exclusively in the produce of such ghanis and presses, shall be exempt from payment of any tax under the said Act in respect of such dealings.
6. As is manifest from the above provision, in order that an assessee can claim the benefit of exemption three conditions have to be fulfilled : (1) that the assessee should own a single country oil ghani; (ii) that the oil should be produced without employing electricity or any other power at any stage of the conversion of the seed into oil; and (iii) that he should deal exclusively in the produce of such ghanis and presses.
7. It is not in dispute that with effect from 31st August, 1957, the petitioner-firm answers all the three pre-requisite conditions for claiming exemption. The only controversy is whether the exemption granted in and by the notification is confined only to the tax on the sale of the castor oil or extends also to tax on the purchase value of the castor seeds from out of which the oil had been extracted.
8. On behalf of the petitioner it has been contended that the intend-ment of the notification is really to benefit people who produce castor oil by manual labour with the hand press with a view to help them in competition with the highly '. organised industry driven by electrical power. That being, according to the learned counsel, the primary purpose of the notification, a fair interpretation should be given to its language, and that there is no warrant to assume that exemption does not include tax on the purchase value of the castor Seeds without which the oil cannot be extracted.
9. The learned Government Pleader contends, and in my view rightly, that the Notification provides an exemption from tax and that being so, the language of the rule providing for the exemption should be strictly construed without reference to any intendmeht, equity, or justice. Therefore, it seems to me, that unless the language of the rule supports the contentions of the petitioner-firm, it cannot get any relief from this Court.
10. It is argued that the last limb in the Notification, namely 'shall be exempt from payment of any tax under the said Act in respect of such dealings', means and can only mean that if the assessee satisfies the three conditions laid down in the body of the provision, he cannot be made liable to any tax under the Act. Under the Andhra Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, the tax can be levied on the sale or purchase of goods. The castor oil is subject to tax at the sale point. The castor seeds are liable to tax according to Schedule IV at the 1st point of purchase in the State. It is the case of the petitioner that under the G.O. aforesaid the producer that answers the requirements provided therein is exempt not only from the tax on the sale of the castor oil, but also from tax on the purchase value of the castor seeds without which the oil cannot be extracted. I think there is considerable force in this contention. The expression 'any tax' must be given its full import. The grammatical meaning of the expression 'any', used in affirmative sentence generally means 'every'. If the intendment was to confine the benefit of the exemption only to tax at the sale point of castor oil, it could have been stated so. The absence of the reference to sales tax and the employment of the expression 'any tax under the Act' leads me to the conclusion that the exemption covers not only the sales tax on the castor oil, but also the tax on the purchase value of the castor seeds used for the production of the oil.
11. The learned Government Pleader has tried to meet this contention by pressing upon me that the expression 'any tax' must be read with reference to the other expression 'in respect of such dealings'. So read, it is argued the expression 'such dealings' refers to the produce only. The learned Government Pleader states that the employment of the plural 'dealings' is referable to sale of castor oil and castor cake and other products, and not the purchase of castor seeds which is anterior to the pressing and the production of the oil. In other words, his contention is what is exempted is the produce and not that from out of which it is produced. I do not think that such a limited construction can be put upon the expressions employed in the rule. While construing any provisions of exemption from taxation strictly, one should not lose sight of the actual language employed in the rule and also the purpose for which it has been made. The expression 'dealings' is, in my view, capable and comprehensive enough to take in, not merely the sale of the castor oil and like products, but also the purchase of the castor seeds without which it is obvious oil cannot be extracted. There is no warrant, therefore, in my view, for holding that the exemption refers only to the tax on sale of castor oil and not to the tax on the purchase value of the castor seeds. It seems to me that this is a case in which the proposed assessment is not warranted and a writ of mandamus will issue restraining the Commercial Tax Officer from enforcing the demand in pursuance of the assessment of the tax only with respect of the purchase value of the castor seeds from out of which castor oil has been pressed in the year of assessment. The petition, therefore, is allowed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 50.
12. Since the same points govern the other writ petitions they are also allowed. No advocate's fee.