1. The only point raised in this revision petition filed by the State against the order of the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal is whether the Tribunal acted properly in levying 1 per cent tax on the rice starch sold by the assessee as if it came within the scope of the proviso to Section 3(1) of the Tamil Nadu General Sales Tax Act, 1959. The assessment is for the assessment year 1967-68. The assessee sold what is called 'inedible starch made from contaminated rice' and claimed it to be a rice product within the meaning of Section 3(1), proviso (1), as it was made of rice. The assessing authority and the Appellate Assistant Commissioner did not accept this submission of the assessee and, therefore, brought the amount to tax at the rate of 3 per cent. On further appeal, the Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal held that the produce sold by the assessee came within the scope of the said proviso, as the term 'rice product' used in the said proviso was wide enough to encompass rice starch made from contaminated rice. Therefore, it held that the assessee was liable to be taxed only at the rate of 1 per cent. It is this order of the Tribunal that is challenged in this revision case by the State.
2. Section 3(1) provides that every dealer whose total turnover for a year is not less than ten thousand rupees and every casual trader or agent of a non-resident dealer, whatever be his turnover for the year, shall pay a tax for each year at the rate of the percentage specified in the said provision, as it applies to the relevant year. The proviso to that section runs as follows:
(i) in the case of foodgrains, namely, wheat, paddy (rice in husk), rice (husked paddy), cholam, cumbu, ragi, thinai, varagu, samai and kudiraivali and in the case of rice products (for example, rice flour and rice bran), wheat products (for example wheat flour, sooji and wheat bran), milk, fresh vegetables (other than those mentioned in the First Schedule), fresh fruits, betel and plantain leaves, flowers, eggs, meat and fish (other than canned meat and fish), the rate shall be one per cent.
3. The contention of the learned Additional Government Pleader is that a reading of the entire proviso would show that a concessional rate of tax of one per cent is intended to be levied only in respect of edibles and not in respect of inedibles. He submitted also that this inedible starch made out of contaminated rice is not a rice product so as to come within the scope of this proviso. We are unable to agree. It is clear from the order of the Tribunal that the starch came out of rice and, therefore, it is as much rice product as rice flour or rice bran. Possibly this became rice powder by reason of the sheer efflux of time without any human action being necessary therefor like damaged rice. As we are satisfied that it is rice product, we consider that the proviso was rightly applied by the Tribunal. We do not find any warrant in the proviso for restricting the scope of the expression 'rice product' only to edibles. If that proviso had stated that it would apply only to edibles, then the contention of the learned Government Pleader would be correct.
4. However, in the absence of any such restriction in the proviso we consider that the proviso cannot be construed as if it related only to edible items. It is common knowledge that even edible items are sometimes used for non-food purposes. Therefore, the way in which the particular product is used is not the criterion but it is the quality of the product that determines its eligibility to come within the proviso. The quality of the present product is such that it falls within 'rice product'. We are satisfied that the Tribunal acted correctly in applying the proviso and fixing the rate at 1 per cent in relation to the product. The tax revision petition is accordingly dismissed. The assessee will be entitled to its costs. Counsel's fee Rs. 250.