1. The sole question of law referred to this Court by the member, Sales Tax Tribunal, Orissa under Section 24(1) of the Orissa Sales Tax Act, is as follows:
'Whether in the circumstances and on the facts on record, the publication entitled Cuttack Law Times is a 'newspaper' and therefore entitled to exemption, under the provisions of the Orissa Sales Tax Act.'
2. Cuttack Law Tiroes is a non-official monthly law journal which reports verbatim important decisions of the Orissa High Court, the Orissa Board of Revenue and also the Supreme Court, with the usual head-notes like any other law publication. In addition, it publishes short notes of cases of the High Court which are not reported in full. It also contains reports of some of the Orissa Acts and Rules and Statutory orders and notifications issued under these Acts. Besides, there is a journal section in which documents on current legal topics are printed. There are also the usual advertisements as are found in any periodical. The said publication has been registered as a 'newspaper' for the purpose of Section 9 of the Indian Post Offices Act, 1898 and also for the purpose of the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867.
3. The question for decision is whether Cuttack Law Times is liable to pay sales-tax.
4. The power of the Orissa Legislature to levy sales tax is derived from Entry 54 of list II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution which reads as follows :
'54. Taxes on the sale or purchase of goods other than newspapers, subject to entry 92 A of list 1'. (Entry 92 A is not material). Entry 92 of list 1 of the said Schedule confers on Union Parliament alone the power to tax the sale or purchase of newspapers as will be clear from the following entry against that item.
'92-- Tax on the sale or purchase of newspapers and on advertisements published therein'.
In conformity with the aforesaid legislative power conferred by the Constitution, the Government of Orissa by notification No. 11682-F dated the 8th August 1951, exempted sales and purchases of newspapers from liability to pay sales tax under the Orissa Sales Tax Act.
5. The Constitution does not contain any definition of the expression 'news-paper', but Entry 39 of list III of Seventh Schedule gives an indication of the meaning of that expression. That Entry is as follows:
'39. Newspapers, books and printing presses.'
When the framers of the Constitution thus placed the two expressions 'newspapers' and 'books' in one entry, it is reasonable to infer that they intended to convey two different meanings to the two expressions.
6. The meaning of the expression 'newspaper' as given in the Oxford Dictionary is as follows:
'A printed, now usually daily or weekly, publication containing news, commonly with the addition of advertisements and other matters of interest'.
Thus, the main content of a newspaper must be 'news' though there may also be advertisements and other matters of interest in it. In the same Dictionary while pointing out that the word 'news' is a plural of medieval Latin 'Novum' which means a new thing, the following definition has been given:
'Tidings: the report or account of recent events or occurrences brought or coming to one as new information. New occurrences as a subject of report or talk'. Thus the essence of 'news' is its 'novelty', that is, the close proximity between the time of the event or occurrence and the time when it is reported or talked about.
7. The primary purpose of a book, however, is not necessarily to publish news about recent events or occurrences but to deal with matters which may have a permanent interest for the purpose of reference in future. The fundamental distinction between a 'newspaper' and a book of reference, has been well brought out by Hood J. in Ex parte Stilwell, (1923) 29 V.L.R. 413 (at page 418) in the following terms (quoted at page 485 of 'Words and Phrases Judicially defined' Vol. 3 by Rowland Burrows):
''I feel no hesitation in saying that this Brads, haw's Guide is not a publication known and recognised as a newspaper in the generally accepted sense of the word. In its real nature it is essentially a book of reference and lacks every element of what I should call a 'newspaper'. Its form, its contents, and its use all point to something totally different to an ordinary newspaper whose main object is to give information about recent events and which is not a record, but is in its nature ephemeral, even though many persons do file their copies for reference.'
In my opinion, these observations apply with full force while considering whether Cuttack Law Times is a newspaper or book. Its form, its contents, and its use all point to the fact that it is primarily meant to be a book of reference to be cited in the Law Courts. It may contain recent reports of decisions, but as it is a monthly publication the report cannot be said to be so very recent as to amount 'news' as ordinarily understood. The few comments and the few articles that may appear in the Journal section of the monthly do not change the essential character of the publication, viz. to give an accurate report of the important decisions for the purpose of being cited in law courts.
8. If the definitions of the expression 'newspaper' and 'book' occurring in the various statutes in India be carefully scrutinised the essential distinction between the two appears to have been maintained by the Legislature.
Thus, in the Press and Registration of Books Act 1867 a 'book' is defined as follows:
' 'Book' includes every volume, part or division of a volume and pamphlet, in any language and every sheet of music, map, chart or plan separately printed' -- see Section 1).
The same Act defines 'newspaper' as follows:
' 'Newspaper' means any printed periodical work connected public news or comments of public news' -- (see Section 1).
Section 9(2) of the Indian Post Offices Act 1898 is as follows:
'For the purpose of such registration, every publication consisting wholly or in great part of political or other news, Or of articles relating thereto, or to other current topics, with or without advertisement, shall be deemed to be a 'newspaper', subject to the following conditions.......'
Section 2 of the Parliamentary Proceedings (Protection of Publication) Act 1956 defines 'newspaper' as follows:
'In this Act 'newspaper' means any printed periodical work containing public news or comments on public news, and includes a news-agency supplying material for publication in a newspaper'.
In Section 2(a) of the Delivery of Books and Newspaper Act 1956 the expression is defined as follows:
' 'Newspaper' means any printed periodical works containing public news or comments on public news published in conformity with the provisions of Section 5 of the Press and Registration o Books Act of 1867'.
Section 2(b) of the Newspaper (Price and Page) Act 1956 says:
' 'Newspaper' means any printed periodical work containing public news or comments on public news appearing at intervals of not more than a week''.
Lastly I would refer the Working Journalists (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, where the expression is defined in Section 2(b) thus:
' 'Newspaper' means any printed periodical work containing public news or comments on public news and includes such other class of printed periodical work as may from time to time be notified in thisbehalf by the Central Government ill the Official Gazette'.
9. It will thus be noticed that in all these statutes the essential pre-requisite of a periodical, in order to make it a 'newspaper', is that it must contain mainly public news or comments on public news. In the Post Office Act the relevant words used are 'political or other news'. For the purpose of this reference it is unnecessary to consider whether the expression 'other news' occurring in Section 9(2) of that Act should be construed ejusdem generis and whether purely non political news, even though it might have a public interest, would be 'news' for the purpose of the Post Office Act, but it is essential that it must be 'news' as ordinarily understood. Books containing authoritative reports for future reference can, by no strain of language, be said to contain 'news' so as to become 'newspaper'. Parliament thus seems to have maintained the distinction between 'newspapers' and 'books' as indicated in Entry 39 of List III of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, referred to above.
10. The petitioner cannot rely on the fact that his monthly was registered as 'newspaper' under the Post Office Act and under the Press and Registration of Books Act. The interpretation put on the expression 'newspaper' by the authorities concerned (under those Acts) would not obviously bind either this Court or the Sales Tax Department.
For these reasons, I would answer the question referred by the Sales Tax Tribunal in the negative.
There will be no order for costs.
11. I agree.