P.V. Dixit, C.J.
1. In this reference under Section 44 of the Madhya Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1958 (hereinafter called the Act), at the instance of the Commissioner of Sales Tax, the question which has been placed before us for decision is-
Whether chaffcutter (kutti-ki-machine) comes under item 12 'mowers' of Notification No. 736-3694-V-SR, dated 1st April, 1959, issued by the State Government as laid down in item 1 of Schedule I appended to the Madhya Pradesh General Sales Tax Act, 1958.
2. The assessee, Messrs Agricultural Implements Dealers' Syndicate, was assessed to sales tax by the Assistant Sales Tax Officer, Morena, on its turnover during the material perisd of sales of ^^dqV~Vh dh e'khu**. This assessment was upheld in appeal by the Assistant Commissioner of Sales Tax, Gwalior. In the second appeal preferred by the assessee, the Sales Tax Tribunal (Board of Revenue), however, held that as ^^dqV~Vh dh e'khu** was a 'mower' mentioned in item No. 12 of Notification No. 736-3694-V-SR, dated the 1st April, 1959, and as agricultural implement, no sales tax could be levied on sales of ^^dqV~Vh dh e'khu** as provided by entry No. 1 of Schedule I to the Act. The Tribunal accordingly, set aside the assessment order passed by the Assistant Sales Tax Officer and the order of the Assistant Commissioner of Sales Tax upholding that order.
3. The answer to the question turns on Section 10(1) of the Act, entry No. 1 of Schedule I, and the meaning of the term 'mower' as used in the notification referred to earlier. By Section 10(1) it is provided that no tax shall be payable on the sales or purchases of goods specified in Schedule I. Entry No. 1 of that Schedule is as follows-
1. Argicultural implements worked or operated exclusively by human or animal agency specified by the State Government by notification in the Official Gazette.
On 1st April, 1959, the Government issued a notification specifying mowers and twentyeight other articles as 'agricultural implements' for the purposes of entry No. 1 of Schedule I. If the machine, which is known in Hindi as ^^dqV~Vh dh e'khu** and in English as 'chaffcutter' is a mower, then clearly the turnover of sales of these machines is exempt from tax under entry No. 1 of Schedule I read with item No. 12 occurring in the notification dated the 1st April, 1959. That a chaffcutter or a ^^dqV~Vh dh e'khu** is an agricultural implement is no settled by the decision of this Court in Commissioner of Sales Tax v. Kapila Machinery Company 1961 M.P. L.J. 1295 As pointed out in that case, a chaffcutter or a ^^dqV~Vh dh e'khu** is a machine for chopping stalks (specially of jowar) and stems for fodder and for cutting hay and grass. This is the meaning in which ^^dqV~Vh dh e'khu** is generally understood in its popular meaning and by the people who use these machines. Now, the term 'mower', which is an English word, is not in common use with the people and the agriculturists who use ^^dqV~Vh dh e'khu**. That term is understood only by a fe who carry on agricultural operations or do gardening with modern implements. It cannot, therefore, be maintained that the terms ^^dqV~Vh dh e'khu** or 'chaff-cutter' or 'mower' mean one and the same thing in common parlance or in their popular meaning as understood by the people who deal with ^^dqV~Vh dh e'khu** or 'mower'. Even in English language, the terms 'chaffcutter' and 'mower' have different meanings. According to the Oxford Dictionary, 'chaffcutter' is a machine for chopping fodder; and a 'mower' is a machine for cutting down grass or produce of field. Now, to chop a stem or a stalk means to cut it into small pieces. To 'mow' stalks or stems or grass means to cut down the stems, stalks or grass with a scythe or a cutting machine. The preposition 'down' used with the verb 'cut' is very important. It signifies cutting or removing something which is embedded or attached to another thing. All the English Dictionaries give the meaning of the verb 'mow' as 'to cut down' grass etc. with scythe or machine. 'To mow' does not mean simply 'to cut'. When, therefore, stalks and stems, after they are detached from earth, are cut into small pieces, whether by a knife or a scythe or a machine, there is chopping of the stalks and stems and not any mowing process. Consequently, the term 'mower', as used in item No. 12 of the notification dated the 1st April, 1959, must be understood as meaning a machine for cutting down stalks, stems, hay, grass etc. standing on the earth. As is clear from the question put before us and from the record, the machines which the assessee sold, and which are known as ^^dqV~Vh dh e'khu** or chaffcutters, are those machines which are used for chopping stalks, stems, hay, grass etc. into small pieces for fodder after their removal from the earth.
4. In holding that 'chaffcutter' or ^^dqV~Vh dh e'khu** was a 'mower', the Tribunal relied on the definition given in a Hindi dictionary of the word 'mower' as meaning ^^dqV~Vh dkVus dh e'khu**. This meaning clearly overlooks the difference between a chaffcutter and a mower. The learned President of the Board of Revenue also observed that there was no difference between ^^dqV~Vh dh e'khu** and a 'mower' as both were used for reducing grass, fodder etc. to 'smaller pieces' and it made no difference in what 'plane the cutteredge of the machine operated'. In so saying and equating ^^dqV~Vh dh e'khu** or chaffcutter with 'mower' for the purpose of exemption from sales tax, the learned President widened the meaning of the term 'mower' for the purpose of exemption contrary to the well-settled principle stated in Crawford's Statutory Construction in paragraph 258 at page 506 that-
Provisions providing for an exemption may be properly construed strictly against the person who makes the claim of an exemption. In other words, before an exemption can be recognised, the person or property claimed to be exempt must come clearly within the language apparently granting the exemption.
In our judgment, the term 'mower', as used in item No. 12 of the notification dated the 1st April, 1959, cannot be understood in a wide sense so as to include chaffcutters or ^^dqV~Vh dh e'khu**. The vie expressed by the Tribunal that ^^dqV~Vh dh e'khu** is a 'mower' and, therefore, exempt from tax under entry No. 1 of Schedule I read with the notification dated the 1st April, 1959, is not correct.
5. Shri Dabir, learned counsel for the assessee, contended that the question referred by the Tribunal for our answer was a question of fact and, therefore, the reference was not competent and that we should decline to answer it. We do not agree. The question whether ^^dqV~Vh dh e'khu** sold by the assessee fell within the meaning of the term 'mower' is clearly a question of law. The question referred to us is not whether the assessee sold 'mowers', and the Sales Tax Tribunal also did not find as a matter of fact that the assessee sold mowers. What the Tribunal held was that the assessee sold ^^dqV~Vh dh e'khu** and that ^^dqV~Vh dh e'khu** was covered by the term 'mower' as used in the notification dated the 1st April, 1959. The contention that the reference is on a question of fact cannot, therefore, be accepted.
6. For these reasons, our answer to the question propounded before us is that a 'chaffcutter' or ^^dqV~Vh dh e'khu** does not fall under entry No. 1 of Schedule I of the Act read with item No. 12 of Notification No. 736-3694-V-SR dated the 1st April, 1959. The assessee shall pay costs of this reference. Counsel's fee is fixed at Rs. 100.