Judgment: CIVIL APPEAL NO. 7285 OF 2001
Markandey Katju, J.
This appeal has been filed against
the impugned judgment of the Allahabad High Court dated 22.2.2000 in
Writ Petition No.23662 of 1999.
2. Heard learned counsel for the
parties and perused the record.
3. The respondent in this appeal,
which is a Union of cane growers and looks after the interest of
sugarcane farmers in Meerut District, was the petitioner in the writ
petition before the Allahabad High Court. It was alleged in the writ
petition that cane growers of the area require implements and other
equipments for agriculture. For this purpose it purchases Animal Driven
Vehicles (hereinafter called ADV carts ) in order to transport the
sugarcane from the agriculture fields to the sugar factories or other
places where it is required to be sent. The State Government from time
to time has provided a subsidy on the purchase of ADV carts and other
4. It appears that the State
Government issued an order dated 20.11.1996 stating that all kinds of
agricultural implements driven by hand operation or animal power should
be purchased from the U.P. State Agro Industrial Limited. The short
question in the writ petition before the High Court was whether the ADV
carts are agricultural implements. If, they are then in order to get
subsidy, purchases had to be made only from the Corporation and not from
5. The Cane Commissioner, U.P.
issued a letter dated 5.3.1999, copy of which is Annexure P-2 to this
appeal, stating that in pursuance of the aforesaid Government order
dated 20.11.1996 of the U.P. Government, ADV carts can only be purchased
from the U.P. State Agro Industrial Limited. This order dated 5.3.1999
of the Cane Commissioner was challenged in the writ petition on the
ground that it was in conflict with the Government order dated
6. The short question in this appeal
is whether ADV carts are also agricultural implements.
7. The Concise Oxford English
Dictionary (Tenth Edn. Revised) defines implement as a tool, utensil or
other piece of equipment used for a particular purpose . The same
dictionary defines `tool as a device or implement, typically hand-held,
used to carry out a particular function .
8. In Webster Comprehensive
Dictionary (International Edn.) the word implement has been defined as a
thing used in work, especially in manual work; a utensil; tool . In the
same dictionary the word tool has been defined as a simple mechanism or
implement, as a hammer, saw, spade, or chisel, used chiefly in the
direct manual working, moving, shaping, or transforming of material .
9. In Advanced Law Lexicon by P.
Ramanatha Aiyar (3rd edn 2005) the word tool has been defined as things
designed to help the hand in work, especially in industrial operations
10. One word can have several
meanings, and several words can have the same meaning (synonyms). Thus,
for example, the word `ball can mean the spherical object used in a
game, or it can also mean a dance; it can also mean having a nice time,
etc. Similarly, several words can have the same meaning e.g. the
Sanskrit words `pankaj , `jalaj , `kamal , `padma , `saroj , `sarsij ,
etc. which all mean `Lotus .
11. No doubt the word implement can
have several dictionary meanings. However, in interpretation it is well
settled that ordinarily the meaning of the word or expression in common
parlance or in common use should be accepted, unless the statute or
order in which it is used has defined it with a specific meaning. There
is no definition of the word implements in the G.O. of the State
Government dated 20.11.1996.
12. In the Mimansa Rules of
Interpretation, which is our indigenous system of interpretation, one of
the principles is ::f<+;ksZxeigjfr
13. The above principle means the
popular meaning overpowers the etymological meaning .
14. For example, the word `pankaja
literally means whatever grows in mud. The word `panka means `mud , and
the suffix `ja means `which is born in . Hence the etymological meaning
of the word `pankaja is that which is born in mud . Thus literally there
can be several things which could mean `pankaja e.g. worms or insects
born in mud, all kinds of vegetation which are born and found in mud,
etc. However, by popular usage the word `pankaja has acquired a
particular meaning in common parlance i.e. lotus. This shows that we
should prefer the popular meaning or the meaning in common usage to the
literal meaning of a word.
15. The reason behind this principle
is that language is a tool of communication between human beings, and
hence that meaning should be given to a word which helps communication
between people. If the speaker of a word uses it in one sense but the
hearer understands it in another sense, there will be a communication
gap. Hence that meaning should be attributed to a word which everyone
would understand as it has acquired a special meaning in common
16. Keeping the above principle in
mind we may now consider whether an Animal Driven Vehicle can be said to
be an agricultural implement. In our opinion it cannot, for the obvious
reasons that in common parlance implements are usually regarded as tools
used by human beings with their hands (and sometimes with their legs),
or driven by animal power. Thus, a plough which is driven by oxen or
horses would be regarded as an agricultural implement. Similarly, a hoe
or a spade would be agricultural implements. However, a bullock cart
which is used for carrying the agricultural produce from the farm to the
market or the sugar factory cannot, in our opinion, be regarded as an
agricultural implement, because in common parlance it would not be
regarded by people as an implement. A bullock cart is surely not a tool,
though the plough which it pulls (for furrowing the land) is certainly a
tool and therefore, an agricultural implement.
17. Learned counsel for the
respondent has relied on the decision of this Court in M/s. D.H.
Brothers Pvt. Ltd. vs. Commissioner of Sales Tax, U.P. AIR 1991 SC 1992,
in which it was held that sugarcane crushers are not agricultural
implements. In that decision this Court held that a sugarcane crusher is
not used in the agricultural operation, rather it is only when the
agricultural operations have ended and the cane harvested and
transported to the cane crusher that the activity of the cane crusher
begins. Learned counsel submitted that in the present case also the ADV
carts which are used for transporting the sugarcane from the
agricultural field to the sugar factory are not part of the agricultural
operations, as these ADV carts begin their activity of transportation
only after the agricultural operations are over.
18. It is not necessary for us to
deal with this submission because we have earlier held that an ADV cart
is not an agricultural implement since it is not a tool. In view of the
above we find no merit in this appeal and it is accordingly dismissed.
19. Before parting with this case,
we would like to say that it is deeply regrettable that in our Courts of
law, lawyers quote Maxwell and Craies but nobody refers to the Mimansa
Principles of Interpretation. Today our so-called educated people are
largely ignorant about the great intellectual achievements of our
ancestors and the intellectual treasury they have bequeathed us. The
Mimansa Principles of Interpretation is part of that intellectual
treasury, but it is distressing to note that apart from a reference to
these principles in the judgment of Sir John Edge, the then Chief
Justice of Allahabad High Court, in Beni Prasad vs. Hardai Devi, (1892)
ILR 14 All 67 (FB), there has been almost no utilization of these
principles even in our own country (except by one of us, M. Katju, J. in
some of his judgments delivered at Allahabad High Court and in this
Court vide M/s. Ispat Industries Ltd. vs. Commissioner of Customs,
Mumbai JT 2006(12) SC 379.
20. It may be mentioned that the
Mimansa Rules of Interpretation were our traditional principles of
interpretation laid down by Jaimini whose Sutras were explained by
Shabar, Kumarila Bhatta, Prabhakar, etc. These Mimansa Principles were
regularly used by our great jurists like Vijnaneshwar (author of
Mitakshara), Jimutvahana (author of Dayabhaga), Nanda Pandit (author of
Dattak Mimansa ) etc. whenever they found any conflict between the
various Smritis or any ambiguity or incongruity therein. There is no
reason why we cannot use these principles on appropriate occasions.
However, it is a matter of deep regret that these principles have rarely
been used in our law Courts. It is nowhere mentioned in our Constitution
or any other law that only Maxwell s Principles of Interpretation can be
used by the Court. We can use any system of interpretation which helps
us solve a difficulty. In certain situations Maxwell s principles would
be more appropriate, while in other situations the Mimansa principles
may be more suitable.
21. Since we have used a Mimansa
principle in this judgment we thought it necessary to briefly mention
about the Mimansa principles of interpretation (the original works on
Mimansa are all in Sanskrit, but there is a very elucidating book in
English on the subject by K.L. Sarkar called The Mimansa Rules of
Interpretation published in the Tagore Law Lecture Series).
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