R.N. Misra, J.
1. This is an application for a writ of certiorari to quash the order dated 29th July, 1970 (annexure 3), and to issue a mandamus to the opposite party to renew the exemption certificate for the year 1970-71 to the petitioner and to withhold the recovery of tax assessed for the said year.
2. The petitioner is a co-operative society with its main place of business at Berhampur in the district of Ganjam. It is a dealer registered under the Orissa Sales Tax Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act) having been assigned Registration No. GAI-2815. Under Rule 5-A of the Rules framed under the Orissa Sales Tax Act the Commissioner of Sales Tax upon an application is authorised to exempt produces of co-operative societies from payment of sales tax. The petitioner had obtained such certificate of exemption from 1965-66 and it was being renewed by the Commissioner of Sales Tax from year to year. For the year 1970-71 (that is, from 1st April, 1970, to 31st March, 1971), the application was made on 2nd March, 1970-vide annexure 2. That application was rejected and the order of rejection was communicated under annexure 3, which is to the following effect :
With reference to your letter No. 3711H dated 20th April, 1970, on the subject indicated above I am directed to say that Clause (iii) of Rule 5-A of the Orissa Sales Tax Rules required that the application for renewal of the exemption certificate should be made not later than a month before the date on which the certificate is due to expire. Since the application has been filed on 2nd March, 1970, the same has been rejected by the Commissioner of Sales Tax, Orissa, being time-barred. The original Exemption Certificate No. 4 of 1965-66 is returned herewith.
For the said year an assessment was made on 7th February, 1972, and a demand of Rs. 7,829.99 has been raised against the petitioner. It is not disputed that for the subsequent year the petitioner's exemption certificate has also been renewed.
3. Rule 5-A (iii) of the Orissa Sales Tax Rules provides :
The exemption certificate shall remain valid till the 31st March of the year in which it is granted and will be renewable from year to year on fresh application made not later than a month before the date on which the certificate is due to expire.
Year' has been defined in Section 2(k) of the Act to be the financial year and, therefore, the certificate contemplated under Rule 5-A is to remain in force from 1st April of a particular year until 31st March of the subsequent year. For the year 1970-71 the application was to be made not later than a month before 31st March, 1970. As a fact the application has, however, been made on 2nd March, 1970 ; 1st March, 1970, was a holiday. Mr. Ramdas for the petitioner takes the stand that the application was required to be made latest by the 1st March, 1970, and that being a holiday, under the provisions of the General Clauses Act, an application made on the following working day must be taken to be compliance of the requirement of law. The learned standing counsel takes the stand that the last date for making of the application was 28th February, 1970, and as that was a working day the petitioner is not entitled to fall back upon the provisions of the General Clauses Act to justify the making of the application on 2nd March, 1970.
4. 'Month' in the absence of any special definition under the Act or the Rules must necessarily mean month according to the English calendar and may be 28, 29, 30 or 31 days according to the length of the month.
The entire month of March had, therefore, to be excluded. Mr. Ramdas relied upon two decisions in support of his contention that the application was in time : Harinder Singh v. S. Karnail Singh A.I.R. 1957 S.C. 271 and Ranganayakamma v. Subbamma A.I.R. 1967 A.P. 208. Neither of the cases has any application to the facts before us. If a strict construction is given to the rule certainly the application was due on or before 28th February, 1970. The application made on 2nd March, 1970, was, therefore, out of time and its rejection cannot be said to be invalid.
5. The provision for exemption from taxation has to be strictly construed and if by following a particular procedure indicated in the law an exemption is available, the requirement to comply with the given procedure must be strictly enforced. We find nothing wrong in the view of the Commissioner in the instant case. The application must accordingly stand dismissed. There would be no order as to costs.
B.K. Ray, J.
6. I agree.