1. The assessee-company is a dealer in rice-huller and flour-mill machineries. For the assessment year 1973-74, it claimed exemption from sales tax in respect of a turnover of Rs. 4,093.63 relating to sales of hair-beltings and cotton-beltings. So far as the hair-belting is concerned, the certificate produced by the assessee from the Government of India National Test House, Alipore, Calcutta, showed that the ratio of the content of hair and cotton in hair-belting was 50 : 50. The claim was overruled on the ground that the particular item would fall under item 81 of the First Schedule to the Tamil Nadu General Sales Tax Act, 1959, as 'parts and accessories of machinery' and as such taxable, and that it will not fall under item 4 of the Third Schedule exempt from tax. Item 4 of the Third Schedule at the relevant time read as follows :
'All varieties of textiles (other than durries, carpets, druggets and pure silk cloth) made wholly or partly of cotton, staple fibre, rayon, artificial silk or wool including handkerchiefs, towels, napkins, dusters, cotton velvets and velveteen, tapes, niwars and laces and hosiery cloth in lengths.'
2. The question for consideration, therefore, is whether 'hair-belting and cotton-belting' would come within the expression of 'all varieties of textiles' in item 4 of the Third Schedule, or whether it is taxable as 'parts and accessories of machinery' under item 81 of the First Schedule.
3. The matter is not res integra. The Supreme Court in their judgment in Porritts & Spencer (Asia) Ltd. v. State of Haryana : 1983(13)ELT1607(SC) had occasion to consider a similar entry in the Punjab General Sales Tax Act, 1948. The Supreme Court held that the words 'All varieties of cotton, woollen or silken textiles ...' in item 30 of Schedule B to the Punjab General Sales Tax Act must be interpreted according to its popular sense, meaning 'that sense which people conversant with the subject-matter with which the statute is dealing would attribute to it'. It then observed :
'Whatever be the mode of weaving employed, woven fabric would be 'textiles'. What is necessary is no more than weaving of yarn and weaving would mean binding or putting together by some process so as to form a fabric. Moreover a textile need not be of any particular size or strength or weight. It may be in small pieces or in big rolls : it may be weak or strong, light or heavy, bleached or dyed, according to the requirement of the purchaser. The use to which it may be put is also immaterial and does not bear in its character as a textile. It may be used for making wearing apparel, or it may be used as a covering or bed-sheet or it may be used as tapestry or upholstery or as duster for cleaning or as towel for drying the body. A textile may have diverse uses and it is not the use which determines its character as textile.'
4. Rejecting the contention that a scientific or technical meaning for the word 'textile' shall be given in preference to its popular meaning, the Supreme Court further observed :
'It has only one meaning, namely, a woven fabric and that is the meaning which it bears in ordinary parlance. It is true that our minds are conditioned by old and antiquated notions of what are textiles and, therefore, it may sound a little strange to regard 'dryer felts' as 'textiles'. But it must be remembered that the concept of 'textiles' is not a static concept. It has, having regard to newly developing materials, methods, techniques and processes, a continually expanding content and new kinds of fabric may be invented which may legitimately, without doing any violence to the language, be regarded as 'textiles'.'
5. The evidence showed that there were two kinds of dryer felts, cotton dryer felts and woollen dryer felts. Both were made of yarn, cotton in one case and woollen in the other. Some synthetic yarn was also used. The process employed was that of weaving according to warp and woof pattern. The Supreme Court applying the above test held that dryer felts are clearly woven fabrics and must be held as coming within the meaning of textiles.
6. The question whether hair-belting and cotton-belting would come under item 4 of the Third Schedule, came up for consideration before this Court in the case of the same dealer in the decision reported in State of Tamil Nadu v. Navinchandra & Co. 42S.T.C.423. It may be mentioned that item 4 of the Third Schedule was amended by substitution of a new item with effect from 1st April, 1974. The amended entry reads as follows :
'Cotton fabrics, woollen fabrics and rayon or artificial silk fabrics, as defined in items 19, 21 and 22 respectively of the First Schedule to the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944 (Central Act I of 1944).'
7. This Court considered whether hair-belting and cotton-belting would fall within the meaning of this entry and held that it would fall and therefore exempt from tax.
8. The Supreme Court also considered the meaning of 'fabric' and 'textile' in a decision reported in Delhi Cloth & General Mills Co. Ltd. v. State of Rajasthan : 1980(6)ELT383(SC) and held that the term 'fabric' covers all textiles, no matter how construed, how manufactured, or the nature of the material from which made, and the expression 'textiles' is any product manufactured from fibres through twisting, interlacing, boning, looping, or any other means, in such a manner that the flexibility, strength and other characteristic properties of the individual fibres are not suppressed.
9. Thus 'textiles' has a wider meaning than 'fabrics' and if cotton-belting and hair-belting were included in the expression 'cotton fabrics, woollen fabrics .........', certainly it would also be covered by the word 'textiles', in item 4 of the Third Schedule as it stood prior to its amendment.
10. The decision of the Tribunal that the turnover is exempt under item 4 of the Third Schedule is therefore correct and does not call for any interference.
11. Accordingly, the tax revision case is dismissed with costs. Counsel's fee Rs. 250.
12. Petition dismissed.