1. This is a petition under Section 54(1) of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural Income-tax Act, 1955, to revise the order of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural Income-tax Appellate Tribunal dated October 30, 1971, holding that cashew trees are not fruit-bearing trees, but nut-bearing trees. The question arose in the context of the assessability of the respondent herein to agricultural income-tax under the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural Income-tax Act, 1955. Section 10(1) of the said Act exempts a personholding land not exceeding 12 1/2 standard acres from the operation of the Act. The expression 'standard acre' has been defined in Clause (vv) of' Section 2 as meaning, among others, two acres of tope. The word 'tope' itself has been defined in Clause (y) of Section 2 as meaning 'any land containing large groups of fruit trees or valuable timber trees, whether growing spontaneously or grown artificially and includes orchards.' In the present case, the respondent herein was admittedly owning 17.25 ordinary acres of land where cashew trees were grown. What is the extent in standard acres of this 17.25 acres of cashew trees, with reference to the exemption limit provided for in Section 10(1) referred to already, came to be considered by the Tribunal. The contention of the respondent was that cashew trees are not fruit-bearing trees, but only nut-bearing trees, and, therefore, the land containing those trees will not come within the scope of the definition of 'tope' as contained in Section 2(y) of the Act. The Tribunal accepted this contention of the respondent herein and directed the lower authorities to arrive at the standard acres in respect of the 17'25 acres on the basis that they are unirrigated dry lands and not 'tope' as coming within the scope of Section 2(y) of the Act. It is the correctness of this conclusion that is challenged in the present tax revision petition.
2. We have no hesitation in holding that the Tribunal was in error in coming to the conclusion that the cashew trees are not fruit-bearing trees but nut-bearing trees. The Tribunal in paragraph 6 of its order points out thus :
'The cashew trees are grown not for their fruits, but only for their nuts. The cashew nuts are more valuable and the value of the cashew fruits is negligible. In respect of mangoes and other fruits, the fruits alone are valuable and the nuts have no value. A tree can be classified as a fruit-bearing tree or a nut-bearing tree only on the basis of the value of the fruits or the value of the nuts they yield. The nuts of the cashew trees alone are valuable and their fruits have very little value. In such a view, it cannot be stated that the cashew trees are fruit-bearing trees.'
3. On the face of it, the reasoning of the Tribunal for classifying a tree as a fruit-bearing tree or a nut-bearing tree based upon the question whether the fruit is more valuable or the nut is more valuable, is founded neither on logic nor on reason. It is not in dispute that a cashew tree bears fruits and the nut forms part of the fruit. Simply because the nut is more valuable than the fruit, it cannot be contended that the tree does not bear fruits but bears only nuts. Therefore, it is clear that cashew tree is a fruit-bearing tree. Further, the Tamil Nadu Agricultural Income-tax Act, 1955, does notmake any distinction between a fruit-bearing tree and a nut-bearing tree. If at least the enactment uses the two expressions 'fruit-bearing tree' and 'nut-bearing tree' independently, there may be some justification for distinguishing one from the other and for attempting to find out the point of distinction between the two. When the statute merely uses the expression 'fruit-bearing tree', there is absolutely no scope for a fine distinction between a fruit-bearing tree and a nut-bearing tree, when the tree admittedly bears fruits, on the basis as to whether it is the fruit which is more valuable or the nut that is more valuable. Under these circumstances, we have no hesitation in holding that the Tribunal was in error in concluding that a cashew tree is not a fruit-bearing tree, but only a nut-bearing tree and, therefore, the lands of the respondent herein would not come within the scope of the word 'tope' as defined in Section 2(y) of the Agricultural Income-tax Act. Consequently, the tax revision case is allowed and the order of the Agricultural Income-tax Appellate Tribunal is set aside, with the result that the order of the Assistant Commissioner of Agricultural Income-tax dated January 24, 1970, is restored. There will be no order as to costs.