1. This is a Stamp Reference by the Taxing Officer of the following question:
Are remissions of revenue granted by the Government in any particular year to be considered in calculating the value under Section 7(v), Court-fees Act?
2. The section in question, Section 7(v)(b), states:
Where the land forms an entire estate or a definite share of an estate paying annual revenue to Government, or forms part of such an estate and is recorded as aforesaid, and such revenue is settled but not permanently - five times the revenue so payable.
3. The five times has been altered by local legislation to six times. Now the words to be interpreted are 'the revenue so payable'. Grammatically the words 'so payable' must refer to something which has gone before and the references to revenue are firstly 'paying annual revenue' and secondly 'such revenue is settled'. The latter mention of revenue is closest to the expression under consideration, and by another rule of grammar it is the word which is closest which governs the clause. 'Such revenue is settled' undoubtedly refers to the revenue fixed at settlement and cannot refer to the revenue less remissions in any particular year. The system of settlement in this Province outside the permanently settled area is that settlements of land revenue are made for a period of 30 or 40 years and during that period there is a fixed land revenue. Aft intervals in agricultural calamities Government may either suspend revenue for a period and collect it afterwards in a later kist or in the following year, or Government may remit part of the revenue which is so suspended. The order for suspension always comes first and the order for remission comes afterwards. In the case of remission for any particular year the order for remission is seldom communicated until after a lapse of a considerable period. The argument of learned Counsel Mr. Aziz who objects to the interpretation of the Taxing Officer is that the calculation under this section should be made on the revenue for any particular year after deducting the revenue remitted. Now this system would result in obscurity during the greater part of a year for which there was remission because, as pointed out already, suspension comes first and after a considerable interval remission is ordered. No one would know during the greater part of the year during which suits would be filed as to what was the amount of revenue which would be the balance after the ultimate orders for remission were received and it would be impossible for the Taxing Officers to know what stamp duty shall be paid. The suggested system therefore is quite impractical. Moreover, as pointed out, there is nothing in the section to indicate that the meaning desired could be placed on it and the grammatical meaning is that the revenue fixed at settlement must be taken for the calculation.
4. A third point is that though remissions have been made from time to time over the last century no one has ever raised such a point under the Court-fees Act, Act 7 of 1870, which has now been in force for 67 years, and there is no ruling in favour of the applicant. For these reasons I consider that the Taxing Officer was correct and I hold that remissions of revenue in any particular year are not to be considered in calculating the value under Section 7(v), Court-fees Act, and that that calculation should be based on the revenue as fixed at settlement. The applicant is allowed time till 8th August 1937, to deposit the balance of the court-fee.