1. The preliminary question arising in. this case is whether the cognizance of this suit by a Civil Court is barred by Section 262, Sub-section (2) of the District Municipalities Act (Madras) IV of 1884; and that depends upon whether with reference to the proviso to that Sub-section it can be held that the provisions of the Act have been in substance and effect complied with by the Municipality, if as contended by the Respondent (the owner of a Printing Press in Mangalore) he is liable to be taxed under the Act, with reference only to the profits of his business and not the gross receipts. Under Section 53 and Schedule A to the Act, the class under which he is liable to be taxed depends upon his ' estimated income ' and if the meaning of the word 'income' in Schedule A be ' profits' or 'net income' and not gross income it will be impossi-ble to maintain that the provisions of the Act have been in substance and effect complied with if the municipality have, as admitted, taken the estimated gross income and not the net income as the basis for determining the class in which the respondent is to be placed.
2. In our opinion the word 'income' which occurs throughout Schedule A must be taken to mean the 'net income' or profits derived from the business and not the gross income or receipts. In Lawless v. Sullivan L.R.6 A.C. 373 the question raised with reference to Section 4 of New Brunswick Act, 31 Vic. C. 36, was whether the tax thereby imposed upon the appellant bank was to be assessed upon the amount of income derived from its business within the city of St. John during the year in question without taking into account losses which had accrued during that period. The Privy Council reversing the decrees of the Courts below held that ' there can be no doubt that in the natural and ordinary meaning of language the income of a bank or trade for any given year would be understood to be the gain, if any, resulting from the balance of the profits and losses of the business in that year. That alone is the income which a commercial business produces and the proprietor can receive from it. The question is whether the word ' income' in the enactment construed is to be understood in a different and, what for the pur-pose of taxation would be a more onerous, sense' (pp. 378--379). After adverting at length to various provisions of the Act (then in question) and the arguments advanced in the case their Lordships came to the conclusion that ' there is nothing in the enactment imposing the tax nor in the context which should induce them to construe the word ' income ' when applied to the income of a commercial business for a year otherwise than in its natural and commonly accepted sense as the balance of gain over loss '. The case of The Queen v. The Commissioners of the Port of Southampton L.R. 4 H.L. 472 is there distinguished on the ground that the context in which the word ' income' in one of a series of Special Acts (then in question) relating to the Port of Southampton occurred clearly showed that the word was used to signify the total amount of dues and duties payable to the Commissioners under a former Act.
3. During the course of the argument in Lawless v. Sullivan L.R. 6 A.C. 373 Sir Montague Smith observed that the ' burden is on those who seek to put the most onerous meaning on words used to show clearly that that Meaning was intended.' We find nothing in the context in Schedule A (to the District Municipalities Act) or in any other part of the Act, which would lead to the conclusion that the word 'income' is there used in the ' more onerous sense ' as contended for on behalf of the Municipality or otherwise than in its 'natural' and commonly accepted sense' as denoting the profits or net income derived from the business. The fact that. the tax leviable under Section 53 is not an ad valorem tax upon ' income' but a tax upon ' arts, professions, trades and callings' is not a circum-stance suggesting, that the word 'income ' occurring in Schedule A is not used in its ordinary acceptation above referred to, inasmuch as the amount of tax (ranging from Rs. 100 to 1) fixed under each of the nine classes in Schedule A is regulated with reference to the estimated income derived from the exercise of the various arts, professions, trades and callings therein mentioned.
4. We, therefore, hold that the jurisdiction of Civil Courts to take cognizance of the suit is not barred by Sub-section 2 of Section 262 of Act IV of 1884 and that the decision of the District Munsif was right. The revision petition therefore fails and is dismissed with costs.