The Delhi High Court on Monday examined whether pulses fall within the scope of the term ‘grains’ for the purpose of exemption from levy of Environment Compensation Charge (ECC).
Answering the question in the positive, Justice Vibhu Bakhru ruled, “...there is no reason to limit the scope of the word “grains” to exclude any essential commodity falling within that classification. The word “grains” in the context of food stuffs would obviously imply “food grains” and the said term plainly includes pulses.”
The Court was hearing a Petition filed by Narela Food Processing Industries Welfare Association, seeking a clarification for the purpose of levy of ECC on the vehicles carrying pulses.
The levy of ECC was mandated by the Supreme Court through an order passed in October, 2015. The Apex Court had, however, exempted “vehicles carrying essential commodities, that is, food stuffs and oil tankers”. In view of this decision, the State had issued a notification exempting “the vehicles carrying raw vegetables, fruits, grains, milk and tankers carrying petroleum products”.
The Petitioner had, now, brought to the notice of the Court that toll collecting agencies were collecting ECC from vehicles carrying pulses. It demanded that such exemption be granted to pulses as both cereals and pulses fall within the category of ‘grains’.
The State, on the other hand, had proceeded on the assumption that if cereals are food grains, pulses are not. The Court, however, refused to accept this argument, explaining, “In terms of logic, this is akin to a fallacy of “illicit major”: a formal fallacy in categorical syllogism that arises because a major term is undistributed in the major premise but distributed in the conclusion (All A are B; no C are A; therefore, no C are B). For example, all Dogs are mammals; no cats are dogs; therefore, no cat is a mammal.”
“Whilst, it is correct that cereals are food grains, however, that does not mean that pulses are not. Food grains, is a larger group and would include both cereals and pulses,” it, thereafter, concluded.
The Court noted that several enactments include pulses in the definition of food grains, and observed, “The term “food grains” as is commonly understood includes pulses. The Government of India also treats pulses as a part of food grains in the data published in this regard. On the website of the Government of India - data.gov.in, the statistics pertaining to the “Agricultural production of different food grains from year 2003 to 2014 at all India level” includes data pertaining to production of pulses.”