1. The State is the petitioner and the petition is directed against the order of the Tribunal holding that coffee blended with chicory sold by the respondent-assessee was not liable to be assessed at the rate of five per cent, but only at the ordinary rate. The assessment relates to the year 1957-58. Out of the total turnover of Rs. 12,65,436, blended coffee powder and tablets accounted for a turnover of Rs. 4,85,097. The balance was covered by coffee seeds and pure coffee powder. There is no dispute that under Section 5(v) of the Madras General Sales Tax Act, the latter quantum of turnover was assessable at the rate of five per cent. In the case of blended coffee powder, the question that arose before the Tribunal was whether it could be brought within the content of the expression 'coffee' used in Section 5(v). The Tribunal took the view that the term 'coffee' should be confined only to forms of coffee as explained in the later enactment, Act I of 1959, and that it could not be extended to coffee blended with chicory which according to the usage is a different article from coffee and is often referred to as French coffee. The Tribunal accordingly directed the assessment of this turnover of Rs. 4,85,097 at the general rate of 1-9/16 and 2 per cent. only. It is against this determination of the Tribunal that the State has filed the present revision petition.
2. The short question is whether the expression 'coffee' as found in Section 5(v) of the Act would include a variety of stuff known as French coffee or by any other trade name which is made by an admixture of coffee powder and chicory powder. It may be mentioned that coffee was taxable at a single point at the rate of five per cent, under the 1939 Act. If French coffee covered by the disputed turnover is not coffee within the meaning of Section 5(v), then that commodity would be subject to taxation at each of point of sale but at a lower rate.
3. We are unable to see any substance in the petition. Reference to the various enactments dealing with coffee appears to indicate that by coffee it was generally intended to cover either coffee bean or the coffee seed, whether roasted or prepared. In fact, the Tribunal has taken the view that even coffee powder, if unmixed with any other commodity, would be coffee within the meaning of Section 5(v). When the statute provided for a single point levy of tax at a higher rate and described the commodity as merely coffee, it is axiomatic that a specific commodity was intended and not any commodity going by the name of coffee. When, in addition, we find that there are several enactments dealing with coffee which define coffee in a particular manner, confined only to pure coffee, there is no reason why a similar connotation to the expression 'coffee' in the absence of any particular definition thereof in the Madras General Sales Tax Act, should not be adopted. It is also noteworthy that in the amended Act I of 1959, various varieties of coffee are specifically described and made subject to different rates of taxation. In the First Schedule to Act I of 1959 is listed the goods in respect of which a single point tax is leviable under Sub-section (2) of Section 3 of that Act. One of the items is chicory and that is taxable at five per cent, at the point of first sale in the State. Another item is coffee defined as 'any one of the forms of coffee such as coffee beans, coffee seeds (raw or roasted), coffee powder but not including coffee drink.' This is also taxable at five per cent, at the point of first sale in the State. Yet another item is French coffee which is taxable in the same manner, subject to the condition that the coffee portion of the French coffee has not already suffered tax in this State under the earlier item. Prior to the passing of this Act, chicory was one of the general items taxable at the ordinary rate and for the first time the Legislature, considering the extensive use of chicory in its admixture with coffee powder, has brought it within the scheme of single point levy of tax at the same rate as coffee. To our minds, the Tribunal was justified in referring to this later enactment and it is entitled to rely upon the interpretation of the expression 'coffee' as it appears in the 1959 Act. We see no reason to differ from the Tribunal in the view that it took that blended coffee powder is not the same as coffee that is mentioned in Section 5(v) of the Act. The result is that the petition fails and is dismissed with costs. Counsel's fee Rs. 100.