Case No: Civil Appeal No. 15 of 1974
Judge: D.C. Bhattacharya,
Court: Appellate Division ,,
Advocate: Syed Ishtiaq Ahmed,Mr. Habibur Rahman,,
Citation: 28 DLR (AD) (1976) 116
Case Year: 1976
Appellant: Karnaphuli Rayon and Chemical Ltd.
Respondent: Government of Bangladesh
Subject: Interpretation of Statute,
Delivery Date: 1976-5-7
Supreme Court of Bangladesh
Syed A. B. Mahmud Hussain, CJ.
Ahsanuddin Chowdhury, J.
Debesh Chandra Bhattacharya, J.
Fazle Munim, J.
Karnaphuli Rayon and Chemical Ltd.
The Govt. of Bangladesh and others
May 7, 1976.
Interpretation of Statutes
It is true that in certain compelling circumstances, the Court has the power to modify the language used in a statutory provision or its meaning in order to bring it in conformity to the intention of the law-maker, but that happens when the literal interpretation of the words used lead to some absurdity or results in some injustice.
Cases Referred to:
Hansraj Vs. H.H. Dave AIR 1970 SC 755 & Inland Revenue Commissioner Vs. Saxneo Lilley & Skinner (Holdings) Ltd. (1967) All E.R. 756; Thompson Vs. Goold & Co. (1910) A.C. 409 P- 420); Vickers, Sons & Maxim Ltd. Vs. Evans (1910) A.C. 444 of page 445; Messers Usmania Glass Sheet Factory Limited Vs. Sales T s Officer, Chittagong (1970) 22 DLR (SC) 43T— PLD 1971 SC 205.
M. Habibur Rahman, Advocate, instructed by A. Bakkar, Advocate-on-Record—For the Appellant.
Syed Ishtiaq Ahmed, Addl. Attorney-General, with Mahmudul Islam, Asstt. Attorney-General, instructed by S.S. Hoda, Advocate-on-Record—For the Respondents.
Civil Appeal No. 15 of 1974.
(From the Judgment and Order dated 1-12-75 passed by the High Court Division in Writ Petition No. 453 of 1969).
D.C. Bhattacharya, J.
1. This appeal by special leave is against an order of a Bench of the High Court of East Pakistan dismissing a Writ petition summarily.
2. The appellant, which is a public Limited Company, is engaged in the manufacture, inter alia of rayon yarn, filed a petition under Article 5(b) of the Martial Law Proclamation read with Article 6(2) of the Provisional Constitution Order of 1969 before the High Court of East Pakistan for a declaration that the order imposing excise duty on the stockinet "hoses" manufactured by the Company was without lawful authority and was of no effect. The case made over in the said petition as that the petitioner Company which was engaged in the manufacture of rayon had been manufacturing Stockinet "hoses" on its circular knitting machineries since 1967, for the purpose of covering rayon yarn cakes before these cakes were sent to the purification section of the appellant's factory for chemical bath. Previously the appellant used to buy substantial quantity of Stockinet "hoses" from the manufacturers of the said "hoses" from the market, who were not required to pay any excise duty on the said goods. According to the appellant Company, the Stockinet "hoses" manufactured on the appellant's knitting machines were identical in all material respects in length, in breadth, in texture and in use of cotton yarn as rayon material, with those that the appellant had been purchasing in the market. Suddenly the Inspector of Central Excise and Land Customs of Pakistan served upon the appellant Company a notice on 4-12-68 informing it that as the stockinet’s manufactured by it were used for purposes other than for waking garments like banyans, Jerseys, Sweaters etc, it was liable to duty under Item 15A of the First Schedule of the Central Excise and Salt Act, 1944 and asking the Company to follow Central Excise Rule end Procedure regarding clearance of stockinet’s on payment of duty. The appellant Company appears to have submitted an application to the Secretary, Central Board of Revenue, Government of Pakistan, on the 13th December, 1968 praying for exemption from the payment of duty on the stockinet "hoses" manufactured by it on the ground that such manufactures came within the purview of the exemption granted by the Government under section 12(1) of the Central Excise Salt Act, 1944 as contained in Notification NQ. S.R.C. 165 (R)/67 dated 1-9-1967. The appellant Company, however, received a notice dated 13-1-1969 from the office of the Inspector of Central Excise, Government of Pakistan demanding a sum of Rs. 1, 37,628 as Central Excise duty due on the Stockinet "hoses" manufactured by it. The appellant Company having failed to obtain any relief against the said imposition of duty from the Collector of Customs and the Central Board of Revenue moved the High Court of East Pakistan in Writ jurisdiction for a declaration as aforesaid but the High Court by its order dated 1-12-1969 rejected the Writ petition summarily holding that the Stockinet’s which were being manufactured by the petitioner were not for the purpose of "hoses" as garments end that "hoses" as mentioned in item No. (2) in the Notification dated 1-9-67, which were granted exemption from excise duty, referred to seeks and stockings and not to "hoses' for covering rayon yarn.
3. Special leave to appeal was granted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan to consider whether on a true interpretation of the Notification dated 1st September, 1967 the stockinet "hoses" manufactured by the appellant Company on its circular knitting, machines were exempt from excise duty.
4. Mr. Habibur Rahman, learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant, has drawn our attention on the term of the Notification which calls for an interpretation in this appeal and is to following effect:
1. Underwears, all kinds.
2. Socks, stockings and hoses,
3. Sweaters and Jerseys.
5. Learned Counsel has contended that the words 'garment' and 'hose' used in the Notification have been used in the general sense of clothing or covering irrespective of the nature of the user. It has been further contended that the Notification clearly shows that what was required under the Notification for exemption was the weaving of fabrics on circular knitting machines in the form of garments specified in the Schedule and that any question relating to the purpose of manufacture or the use of manufactured goods is not relevant for the en-forcibility of the said Notification. It has been submitted by the learned Counsel that the appellant Company previously used to purchase stockinet hoses from the manufacturers of the said goods who were not required to pay any excise duty on such goods and that for the sake of convenience for the manufacture of rayon they established their own circular knitting machines under a licence granted by the Government and have started manufacturing in the factory premises hoses which were identical in all material respect with the hoses procured from the market. It has been contended on the said premise by the learned Counsel that it would be discriminatory if the hoses which are available in the market for sale and are purchased by the appellant company for covering the rayon cakes are exempt form duty and the hoses of the same form and quality which are manufactured by the appellant Company for effecting the same object are leviable with duty. In support of his contention the learned Counsel cited the case of Hansraj Vs. H.H. Dave AIR 1970 SC 755 & Inland Revenue Commissioner Vs. Saxneo Lilley & Skinner (Holdings) Ltd., (1967) All E.R. 756, which disapproved of the method of interpretation of a statutory provision by reading in the said provision a certain word which was not there, unless it was considered necessary from the context. Learned Counsel has also drawn our attention to the following passage at page 33 in Maxwell's Interpretation of Statutes, (12th Edition 1969).
7. On an examination of the language used in the Notification, we do not find any difficulty in accepting the connotation of the words garment' and 'hose' used in the said notification, in their popular as well as their trade or business sense, to be articles of dress or covering, for human use, as has been contended for by the learned Additional Attorney General. It may not doubt be argued, as has been as a matter of fact argued by Mr. Habibur Rahman that 'garment' being in is Dictionary sense an article of dress may mean a clothing of any object including an inanimate object like rayon yarn cake. But if the notification is read as a whole along, with the Schedule it leaves no doubt in anybody's mind that 'garment' definitely refers to hosiery goods woven on the knitting machines in the form of some human wearing apparel. We are concerned in this case with 'hoses' which, as hosiery goods, hardly means anything else than human leg-or footwear, particularly when we find that all other articles mentioned in the Schedule are characteristically human wears. The maxim, 'noscitur a Socis' that is 'a word is known by the Company it keeps' clearly marks out the words 'garments' and 'hoses' as used in the Notification as articles of human use.
8. But the most important thing to determine, for the purpose of the entitlement of the fabrics to the benefit of the exemption given in the Notification is whether they are 'woven on circular knitting machines in the form of garments specified in the Schedule '.It is the 'form of garment' which appears to be the determining factor according to the specific terms of the Notification, and not the use to which the woven fabrics may be put nor the purpose for which they may be produced. As it appears from the facts of the case, the rayon fabrics as produced by the appellant company are woven on circular knitting machines and they are in, the form of hoses as specified in the Schedule, but they are produced, not for the purpose of human use, but for the purpose of covering rayon cakes. It has been contended by the learned Additional Attorney-General that the policy behind the Notification providing for exemption for certain kind of fabrics was to give relief to the general public in respect of certain kind of consumer goods and that it could not be the intention of this Notification that its benefit would go to a person who would produce or use such fabrics for a commercial or industrial purpose unconnected with their user as human wears. We can only speculate about the policy of the framers of the Notification, when the Notification itself is silent on the point, and the question of the policy or intention underlying the Notification been relevant only when there is some son of ambiguity or uncertainty about certain words or expressions used in the instrument which is sought to be interpreted. We do not find any such ambiguity or uncertainty in the Notification in question. The requirement for the eligibility to the duty relief is the wearing 'on the form of hoses' and not 'for the purpose of using as hoses.' It has been argued on behalf of the learned Government Counsel that the question of purpose or use as human wears is implicit in the words 'garment' and 'hoses' and one is to read such purpose or use in the Notification by necessary implication. We do not think that this submission of the learned Additional Attorney-General has got any validity. To interpret the expression, 'in the form of in the manner suggested by the respondent's learned Counsel would have the effect of deleting the said expression and writing in its place the words 'for the use as', which are not there and this is against all canons of interpretation, as it would be legislation and not interpretation. It is true that under certain compelling circumstances, the Court has the power to modify the language used in a statutory provision or its meaning in order to bring it in conformity to the intention of the law maker, but that happens when the literal interpretation of the words used lead to some absurdity or result in some injustice, which in the opinion of the Court could not have been the intention of the said law maker. But here there is no such case. There is no question of absurdity or injustice.
9. We are therefore, of the opinion that the High Court was not correct in rejecting the appellant's Writ petition on the view that the appellant Company was not entitled to the benefit of exemption as the Stockinets which were being manufactured were for the purpose of hoses as garments, but for covering rayon yarn. In our opinion, since the Stockinets manufactured by the appellant Company were woven on circular knitting machines in the form of hoses, they were entitled to the exemption declared in the Notification.
10. The result therefore is that this appeal is allowed, the order of the Dacca High Court is set aside and the order dated 4-12-1968 imposing excise duty in the Stockinets (hoses) manufacture by the appellant Company is declared to have been issued without lawful authority and was of no legal effect.
There shall be no order as to costs in this appeal.