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Deputy Commissioner of Agricultural Income-tax and Sales Tax Vs. P. Jos Zachariah - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectSales Tax
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Case NumberT.R.C. No. 6 of 1964
Judge
Reported in[1965]16STC799(Ker)
AppellantDeputy Commissioner of Agricultural Income-tax and Sales Tax
RespondentP. Jos Zachariah
Appellant AdvocateGovernment Pleader
Respondent Advocate P. Raman Menon, Adv.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredPlastella & Co. v. State of Bombay
Excerpt:
- - and (5) there is not clearly manifested an intent that the general term be given a broader meaning than the doctrine requires. all the conditions are satisfied in this case; by the application of the rule of ejusdem generis the expression 'toilet requisites' in entry 48 will have to be confined to items coming under the first category, that is, toilet preparations like scents and perfumes, powders, snows, scented hair-oils, scented sticks, cosmetics and soaps. but that only means that the rule should be applied with care and only to cases where it is clearly applicable. this is a case where it is clearly applicable;.....toilet preparations under several heads. some of them are bath preparations, dental preparations, hair preparations, lipsticks, manicure preparations, rouges, shaving preparations, skin creams, soaps and toilet powders.8. it may be--as pointed out by sutherland--that the rule of ejusdem generis depending as it does on pure form provides a dangerous yardstick with which to measure the statutory coverage which the legislature intended, and that the rule is a manifestation of the 19th century suspicion of statutory change and insistence on the strictest construction of statutes in derogation of the common law. but that only means that the rule should be applied with care and only to cases where it is clearly applicable. this is a case where it is clearly applicable; and on its application.....
Judgment:

M.S. Menon, C.J.

1. The sole question for determination in this tax revision case is whether combs come within entry 48 of Schedule I to the General Sales Tax Act, 1125. According to the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal they will not come within that entry; and according to the Deputy Commissioner of Sales Tax, Central Zone, Ernakulam--the petitioner before us--they will come within that entry.

2. Entry 48 reads as follows:

Scents and perfumes, powders, snows, scented hair-oils, scented sticks, cosmetics and toilet requisites except soaps.

Entry 51 of Schedule I to the Madras General Sales Tax Act, 1959, was identical in wording prior to the 28th November, 1962; and the Madras High Court was called upon to consider whether hairpins came within that entry in Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes v. Ambika Stores [1963] 14 S.T.C. 688. The Court applied the rule of ejusdem generis and held that hairpins will not come within that entry.

3. The clearest enunciation of the doctrine of ejusdem generis and the reason for the same appear in paragraph 4909 of Sutherland's treatise on Statutory Construction. The paragraph reads as follows:

Where general words follow specific words in an enumeration describing the legal subject, the general words are construed to embrace only objects similar in nature to those objects enumerated by the preceding specific words.

The doctrine is an attempt to reconcile an incompatibility between specific and general words in view of other rules of construction that all words in a statute are to be given effect, if possible; that parts of a statute are to be construed together; and that the legislature is presumed not to have used superfluous words. If the general words are given their full and natural meaning, that is, the meaning they would receive in the abstract, they would include the objects designated by the specific words, making the latter superfluous. If, on the other hand, the series of specific words is given its full and natural meaning, the general words are redundant in part. The rule accomplishes the purpose of giving effect to both the particular and the general words, by treating the particular words as indicating the class, and the general words as extending the provisions of the statute to everything embraced in that class, though not specifically named by the particular words.The resolution of this conflict by ascribing to the series its natural meaning and by restricting the meaning of the general words to things ejusdem generis with the series is justified on the ground that had the Legislature intended the general words to be used in their unrestricted sense, it would have made no mention of the particular words, but would have used only one compendious expression.

4. The conditions which should exist for the application of the doctrine can also be stated in the words of Sutherland in paragraph 4910 of the treatise above-mentioned. They are:

(1) the statute contains an enumeration by specific words;

(2) the members of the enumeration constitute a class;

(3) the class is not exhausted by the enumeration;

(4) a general term follows the enumeration; and

(5) there is not clearly manifested an intent that the general term be given a broader meaning than the doctrine requires.

All the conditions are satisfied in this case; and we cannot but hold that, combs do not come within entry 48 of Schedule I to the General Sales Tax Act, 1125.

5. 'Toilet requisites' is a general expression and it covers, broadly speaking, three categories of things: (1) toilet preparations; (2) toilet accessories; and (3) toilet instruments. The items enumerated in entry 48--scents and perfumes, powders, snows, scented hair-oils, scented sticks, cosmetics and soaps--all come under the first category. The hairpins with which the Madras High Court had to deal in Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes v. Ambika Stores [1963] 14 S.T.C. 688, and the combs intended for being worn in the hair which are mentioned by the Bombay High Court in Plastella & Co. v. State of Bombay [1959] 10 S.T.C. 511, come under the second category. The combs with which we are concerned--which according to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary are strips of wood, bone, horn, metal, etc., with teeth used for disentangling, cleaning, and arranging the hair, or keeping it in place--come under the third category. By the application of the rule of ejusdem generis the expression 'toilet requisites' in entry 48 will have to be confined to items coming under the first category, that is, toilet preparations like scents and perfumes, powders, snows, scented hair-oils, scented sticks, cosmetics and soaps.

6. No statutory definition of the expression 'toilet accessories' or 'toilet instruments' is available. But there is a definition of the expression 'toilet preparation' in the Medicinal and Toilet Preparations (Excise Duties) Act, 1955.

That definition reads as follows:

'toilet preparation' means any preparation which is intended for use in the toilet of the human body or in perfuming apparel of any description, or any substance intended to cleanse, improve or alter the complexion, skin, hair or teeth, and includes deodorants and perfumes.

7. The Encyclopaedia Britannica deals with toilet preparations under several heads. Some of them are bath preparations, dental preparations, hair preparations, lipsticks, manicure preparations, rouges, shaving preparations, skin creams, soaps and toilet powders.

8. It may be--as pointed out by Sutherland--that the rule of ejusdem generis depending as it does on pure form provides a dangerous yardstick with which to measure the statutory coverage which the Legislature intended, and that the rule is a manifestation of the 19th century suspicion of statutory change and insistence on the strictest construction of statutes in derogation of the common law. But that only means that the rule should be applied with care and only to cases where it is clearly applicable. This is a case where it is clearly applicable; and on its application there can be no doubt that combs do not come, as already indicated, within entry 48 of Schedule I to the General Sales Tax Act, 1125. The T.R.C. has hence to be dismissed; and we do so. In the circumstances of the case, however, there will be no order as to costs.


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