B.C. Varma, J.
1. By this writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the petitioner, which is a partnership firm, challenges the levy and collection of fee by the Krishi Upaj Mandi Samiti, Rajnandgaon (respondent No. 2) on the groundnut oil imported by the petitioner within the market area of that. Krishi Upai Mandi.
2. The petitioner trades in pulses, oil-seeds and oil in Rajnandgaon within the market area of Krishi Upai Mandi, Rajnandgaon. It imported and sold ground nut oil within the market area of the Krishi Upaj Mandi. Consequently, respondent No. 2 levied fee under Section 20 of the Madhya Pradesh Agricultural Produce Markets Act, 1960, on the groundnut oil brought and sold by the petitioner within the market area for the period between 1-4-1971 to 31-12-1971. The petitioner objected to this levy of fee. The objection was rejected by respondent No. 2, vide its order, dated 26-12-1972. Thereupon, respondent No. 3, who is In-charge Recoveries of Krishi Upaj Mandi Samiti, Rajnandgaon, served a demand notice under Section 146 of the M. P. Land Revenue Code, 1959, requiring the petitioner to pay the amount of fee. This demand notice is Annexure IV. The petitioner claims before us that this levy of Mandi-fee on groundnut oil and its consequent recovery being illegal and without jurisdiction are liable to be quashed.
3. The main contention advanced by Shri N. Section Kale, learned counsel for the petitioner, is that groundnut oil is not an agricultural produce as defined in Section 2 (1) (i) of the Madhya Pradesh Agricultural Produce Markets Act, 1960. It was submitted by the learned counsel that various items under Category IV of the Schedule annexed to the Act do not indicate that groundnut oil is also included in that category. Elaborating his argument, learned counsel proceeded to say that the heading 'Oil-seeds and edible oils' assigned to Category IV of the Schedule is only for the sake of convenience of grouping together various items. The produce sought to be brought within the term 'agricultural produce' are only those which are enumerated in various items under Category IV. It was, therefore, argued that groundnut oil as such is not an agricultural produce as defined in Section 2 (1) (i) of the Act and no Mandi-fee could, therefore, be levied on the sale of groundnut oil within the market area of Krishi Upaj Mandi, Rajnandgaon.
4. Having heard the counsel for the parties, we are of opinion that the contention raised by the petitioner cannot be accepted. The period for which the fee is recovered is prior to the coming into force of the Madhya Pradesh Krishi Upaj Mandi Adhiniyam, 1972 (Act 24 of 1973), and therefore the present case is governed by the provisions of the M. P. Agricultural Produce Markets Act, 1960. Section 2 (1) (i) of the Act defined 'agricultural produce' to mean the produce of agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry and all other produce specified in the Schedule. The Schedule annexed to the Act specified various agricultural products in which there are thirteen categories and has assigned heading to each of the categories. Category IV bears the heading 'Oil-seeds and Edible Oils' and is as follows:
IV. Oil-seeds and Edible Oils--
1. Groundnut (Shelled and unshelled),
5. Cotton seed.
6. Castor seed.
11. Mahua seed (gulli).'
Various items under this category are only seeds. Oil as such from those seeds is not actually mentioned in those entries. All the same, the heading assigned to the entry seems to bring edible oils also as 'agricultural produce' within the meaning of Section 2 (1) (i) of the Act. Under these circumstances, therefore, the heading assumes significance. The heading assigned to Category IV is in the nature of preamble. It cannot be said that this heading is just a convenient mode to group together various seeds which the Legislature intended to bring within the term 'agricultural produce'. In fact, the heading is the key opening the mind and leads to the interpretation of the entries. Maxwell in his treatise on Interpretation of Statutes, 11th Edition, at page 48, has stated the law in this behalf as follows:
'The headings prefixed to sections or sets of sections in some modern statutes are regarded as preambles to those sections. They cannot control the plain words of the statute but they may explain ambiguous words.
A cross-heading in an Act can probably be used as giving the key to the interpretation of the section unless the wording of the section is inconsistent with such interpretation.'
5. The above passage from Maxwell was applied by the Supreme Court in Bhinka v. Charan Singh, AIR 1959 SC 960. It was a case under Section 180 of the U. P. Tenancy Act, 1939, which provided for ejectment of a person who retained possession of land otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of the law for the time being in force. The question was whether a person retaining possession under order passed under Section 145 of the Criminal Procedure Code could retain possession under that Act. The Supreme Court construed the words 'possession in accordance with the law for the time being in force' as meaning possession with title. In reaching this conclusion, support was taken from theheading of that section which read 'Eject-ment of person occupying land withouttitle.' It would also be useful here torefer to the speeches delivered in theHouse of Lords in the case of Director ofPublic Prosecutions v. Schildkamp (1969)3 All ER 1640. During his speech, LordReid said :
'I would not object to taking all these matters (punctuation, cross-heading and side-notes) into account provided that we realise that they cannot have equal weight with the words of the Act.....A cross-heading ought to indicate the scope of the sections which follow it but there is always a possibility that the scope of one of these sections may have been widened by amendment.'
Lord Upjohn, in the same case, observed:
'In this somewhat conflicting state of authorities what role do cross-headings play? In my opinion, it is wrong to confine their role to the resolution of ambiguities in the body of the Act. When the Court construing the Act is reading it through to understand it, it must read the cross-headings as well as the body of the Act and that will always be an useful pointer as to the intention of Parliament in enacting the immediately following sections. Whether the cross-heading is no more than a pointer or label or is helpful in assisting to construe or even in some cases to control the meaning or ambit of those sections must necessarily depend on the circumstances of each case, and I do not think it is possible to lay down any rules'.
Lord Upjohn and Lord Reid used the heading, the punctuation and the cross-heading under Section 322(3) of the Companies Act, 1948, to restrict the prosecution for offences created by the said section when a Company went into liquidation and the prosecution was held to be not tenable while it was a going concern.
6. A close reading of the heading to Category IV reveals that in fact it combines two categories, namely, (i) the oilseeds and (ii) edible oils. Various items under this category including groundnut at item No. 1 should be read as if falling under both these categories (oil-seeds and edible oils) separately. It will, therefore, mean that what is included as 'agricultural produce' is the oilseeds as also the edible oils of each item enumerated under the category. Item No. 1 under that category is groundnut. The way we read the entry it would mean that what is included as 'agricultural produce' is groundnut as oil-seed and as edible oil. Thus we are of opinion that groundnut oil is also included in that category as an edible oil.
7. There is another way to look at this entry. Oil-seeds of different kinds are enumerated under this category. In case in which from the seeds so enumerated pdible oil can be produced, it can well be treated to be included under that entry. This would be so if we attribute significance to the heading 'Oil-seeds and Edible Oils'. We have shown above that such headings are keys opening the mind of the Legislature. There is no dispute that groundnut oil produced from groundnut is edible. The word 'edible' according to the Random House Dictionary means an article fit to be eaten as food. It is common knowledge that groundnut oil is very commonly so used. In fact, learned counsel for the petitioner did not dispute that groundnut oil is edible.
8. We are, therefore, of opinion that groundnut oil is also an item included in Category IV of the Schedule annexed to the Act and, therefore, is 'agricultural produce' within the meaning of Section 2(1)(i) of the Act. Thus the only contention raised in support of the petition fails.
9. The petition consequently fails and is hereby dismissed with costs. Counsel's fee RS. 100. The balance of the security amount be refunded to the petitioner.