Gujarat Composite Ltd. & ANR Vs. Ranip Nagarpalika & ANR  INSC
392 (2 November 1999)
V.N.Khare JU D G ME N T Bharucha, J.
the manufacture of their end products, the appellants bring raw asbestos into
the area of the Ranip Nagarpalika, the first respondent. The question is
whether they are liable to pay octroi under Entry 70 of Schedule I of the
Gujarat Gram and Nagar Panchayats Taxes and Fees Rules, 1964, as they contend,
or under Entry 71 thereof, as the respondents contend. Entry 71 is the general
residuary entry. Entry 70, as we have ascertained from the relevant Gazette,
reads (precisely) thus :
Quartz, Zircon sand, Felspar, Gypsum, Grog Minerals and Oxides used as raw
High Court, being approached by the appellants, dismissed their Writ Petition
by the order under challenge.
found that there were disputed questions of fact, as to whether raw asbestos
was a mineral and whether grog was a mineral.
raw asbestos is a mineral has been found by this Court in the judgments in
Hyderabad Industries Limited vs. Union of India (1995) 5 SCC 338 and (1999) 5
SCC 15. The only issue that has, therefore, been addressed by learned counsel
for the parties is in relation to the Entries aforementioned.
said Entry 70 comprehends (1) Silica, (2) Quartz, (3) Zircon sand, (4) Felspar,
(5) Gypsum and (6) Oxides when used as raw materials. The question is in
relation to Grog Minerals; do these words in the said Entry 70 refer to (1)
Grog and (2) Minerals, or do they refer to one item known as Grog minerals. It
will be seen that each item in the said Entry 70, other than Grog Minerals,
starts with a capital letter and is separated from the other by a comma. Where
the item consists of two words, as in Zircon sand, Zircon has a capital Z and
sand has a small s. There is, therefore, a patent error in the printing of said
there should have been a comma between Grog and Minerals therein or Minerals
should have had a small m.
word Grog usually means potable liquor, but it also means a substance used in refractories.
It is, according to the Encyclopedia Brittancia, 1980 Edition, Macropaedia,
Volume IV (quoted in the judgment of the High Court under challenge) mortar
made of aluminium compounds and used as a refractory, sprayed to form linings
of furnaces and ovens. Dealing with grog chemicals, the Encyclopedia states
that most refractories are produced in the form of brick, bonded and fired in
furnaces. Some castable refractories are made in the form of mortars, usually
tabular alumina with calcium aluminate cement as a binder. These mortars,
called grog, are sprayed under pressure to form the linings of the steel industrys
basic oxygen furnaces, electric ore furnaces, steel ladles and coke ovens, and
for steam boilers, rotary kilns, and many other high temperature applications.
case of the respondents initially was that Grogmineral was a single word. In a
later affidavit it stated that the said Entry 70 referred to an item called
Grog Minerals and, in this behalf, all that was referred to was an invoice of
the Sihor Nagar Palika which showed that eight tonnes of grog minerals had been
produced by M/s Prakash Traders and imported into Sihor by Hightech Investment
Pvt. Ltd. wherein octroi had been charged.
Investment Pvt. Ltd. purchased the grog minerals from Bhavnagar Refrectories
and Ceramics Manufacturing Company. It appears from the affidavit that the
respondents had the grog minerals produced as aforesaid analysed by Italab
Private Limited. The report of the analysis shows that this product was a
compound of silica, alumina, ferrous oxide, titanium dioxide, manganese oxide,
calcium oxide, magnesium oxide, phosphorous penzoxide, sulpher trioxides,
sodium oxide and potassium oxide; in other words, that it is not a mineral but
a grog chemical of the kind referred to above.
there a material known to the technical world as grog mineral, there would have
been ample literature on the subject and the respondents would have produced
it, particularly since, according to the appellants, there is no such thing.
The appellants rely upon the opinion of the Director, Geology & Mining, Ahmedabad
that, to the best of his knowledge, there is no mineral called grog.
and minerals, on the other hand, are known to the technical world and the said
Entry 70 would make perfect sense if the items grog and minerals therein were
read separately. That this should be done is also indicated by the fact that
the word Minerals therein starts with the capital M as does every item in the
said Entry 70 and by the fact that where the item is a composite of two words
as in Zircon sand the second word starts with a small letter.
learned Attorney General, appearing on behalf of the first respondent,
submitted that it was not the function of the Court to supply a comma between
Grog and Minerals and that the said Entry 70 should be read only as referring
to an item called Grog Minerals. In this behalf he drew our attention to the
judgment of this Court in Shrimati Hira 1122) where it was said that it is the
duty of the court to try to harmonise the various provisions of an Act passed
by the Legislature. But it is certainly not the duty of the Court to stretch
the words used by the Legislature to fill in gaps or omissions in the provisions
of an Act. Reference was also made to Nalinakhya Bysack vs. Shyam Sunder Haldar
and Ors. (1953 SCR 533) where it was said that it was not competent to any
Court to proceed upon the assumption that the Legislature has made a mistake.
The Court must proceed on the footing that the Legislature intended what it has
said. Even if there is some defect in the phraseology used by the Legislature,
the Court cannot aid the Legislatures defective phrasing of an Act or add and
amend or, by construction, make up deficiencies which are left in the Act. Even
where there is a casus omissus, it is for others than the Courts to remedy the
defect. In P.K. Unni vs. Nirmala Industries and Ors. (1990 (2) SCC 378) this
Court said that it must proceed on the assumption that the legislature did not
make a mistake and that it intended to say what it said. Assuming there was a
defect or an omission in the words used by the legislature, the court would not
go to its aid to correct or make up the deficiency. The court cannot add words
to a statute or read words into it which are not there, especially when the
literal reading produces an intelligible result. Where, however, the language
of the statute led to manifest contradiction of the apparent purpose of the
enactment, the court could adopt a construction which would carry out the
obvious intention of the legislature. In doing so, as Denning, L.J., had said,
A Judge must not alter the material of which the Act is woven, but he can and
should iron out the creases.
are, in the first place, not dealing with a statute and we are not adding or
subtracting words. We are dealing with an Entry in Rules that is, manifestly
erroneously printed, as pointed out above. We are trying to make sense of that
Entry by ironing out its creases. There being no such item known to the
technical world as Grog Minerals, it is patent that the said Entry 70 was
intended to cover (1) Grog and (2) Minerals. This is the only manner in which
any sense can be made of the said Entry 70. That being so and raw asbestos
being a mineral which is used by the appellants as a raw material, the
appellants are entitled to pay octroi on the raw asbestos they bring into the
respondents area under the said Entry 70 and not under the residuary Entry 71.
appeal is allowed, and the judgment and order under appeal is set aside.
interim stage of this appeal, the appellants were required to pay octroi as
demanded but it was made clear that in the event the appeal was allowed the
respondent would refund the excess amount of the octroi paid by the appellants
with interest at the rate of 15 per cent per annum. Now that the appeal is
allowed, the respondent shall refund to the appellants the excess amount of the
octroi paid to date with interest thereon at the rate of 15 per cent per annum.
view of the order upon the civil appeal, the writ petition does not survive for
consideration and it is disposed of. No order as to costs.