( 338 )
Dr. COUDERT v. THE MUNICIPAL COUNCIL OF
D. G.t Colombo, 21,662.Assessment—" Schoolbuilding **—" Building” —OrdinancesNo.7 of
1887, e. 3, and No. 7 of 1902, s. 127.
“ School buildings ” which under the proviso to section 13. ofOrdinance No. 7 of 1902 are exempted from taxation, are only suchbuildings as' ar$. actually used for tuition and private study, anddo .not include other rooms and buildings such as refectories,dormitories, kitchens, residences ofmasters,bathrooms, &c., in
the school premises, which are not used for such purposes.
fjp HE facts are sufficiently set forth in the judgment.
Bawa, for the appellant.
Domhorst, K.C.t and Samqpayo, K.C., for the respondent.( 889 )
29th January, 1906. Grenier, A.J.—
The plaintiff in this case is the Archbishop of Colombo and theowner and proprietor of the buildings and premises bearing assess-ment Nos. 9 and 9a, situated at Sutherland road. These buildingsand premises are those of St. Joseph’s College, and the defendantCouncil, the Municipal Council of Colombo, assessed the same for theyear 1905 at the respective annual values of Rs. 8,020 and Rs. 1,000,aggregating the sum of .Rs. 4,020, for the purposes of the police,lighting, and water-rates, and leviable at the times stated in the 8rdparagraph of the plaint.
On the 26th January, 1905, notices of the said assessments wereserved on the plaintiff, who subsequently preferred a statement ofobjections to the said assessments and required the defendant Coun-cil to exempt the said buildings and premises from the payment ofthe said rates in terms of the provisions contained in the provisoattached to section 127 of Ordinance No. 7 of 1902. The defendantCouncil having refused to exempt the said building and premises,this action was brought so that there might be an inquiry by theDistrict Court into the objections raised by, the plaintiff in regard totheir rateability. At the trial only one issue was proposed by theplaintiff’s counsel, which was agreed to by the other side, with theexception of certain words, the presence of which affected thequestion whether the whole of the buildings and premises, or only apart thereof, were or were not exempt from the rates.
The District Judge accepted the issue as proposed. It certainlywould have been more satisfactory if the defendant Council had atthis stage stated to the Court what part of the buildings and pre-mises they considered rateable, in order that this Court might havehad a clear understanding of. the position of the parties. I say thisin view of what the District Judge has recorded as part of the addressof defendant’s advocate, at the close of the plaintiff’s case,that the Council has exempted only the class rooms, i.e., where theclasses meet, the library, and students’ rooms used for.private study,and that every other portion of the building has been assessed. 1suppose I am accordingly entitled to assume that this was an admis-sion by the defendant Council that particular parts of the buildingsand premises are not liable'~to be assessed in terms of the provisions
contained in the proviso to section 127 of Ordinance No. 7 of 1902.I think, however, that the defendant Council might have made thematter clearer by the production of a plan by a competent personof the buildings and premises, and have indicated on it what theparts were that were exempted from the payment of the rates.
( 840 )
The question then that the Court below had to adjudicate uponwas whether the whole of the buildings and premises bearing assess-ment Nos. 9 and 9a were rateable, or only some parts of it. It isnecessary in the first place to ascertain the meaning of the term“ building " as used and defined in section 3 of Ordinance No. 7.of1887. The definition is as follows:—" Unless the context other-wise requires, ' building ' means any house, hut, shed, or roofedenclosure, whether used for the purpose of a human habitation orotherwise or any wall." The introductory words “ unless the con-text otherwise requires " can only mean that if there is anything inany of the sections of the Ordinance,, or in other words in the wholetext of the Ordinance, which calls for the application of any othgrmeaning than that given by section 8, the terms must be under-stood and read as conveying the meaning given by that section andno other meaning. There is nothing in the context, as far as I can see,which gives the term “ building " the very wide meaning which theDistrict Judge has given to it, or which requires or justifies-such a meaning. The District Judge saya that ordinarily theterm “ building ” means the fabric, the edifice. That is admittedlyso, if there is no word qualifying it. But I must confess I cannotfollow him when he proceeds to state as his conclusion, from the useof the words “ unless the text otherwise requires/* &c., in section 3,that the Ordinance did not intend to restrict, nor did it' restrict,the word “ building " to any house, hut, shed, or roofed enclosure,and, if the context otherwise required it, building may mean some-thing more than the edifice or “ fabric."
The fallacy underlying this statement and which renders the con-clusion wrong, in my opinion, is that it seems to have been assumedeither that the definition in section 3 of the term “ buildings " hadbeen amplified and enlarged in the context, or that by implica-tion such an effect could be given to it as would justify the use ofthe term in a most elastic sense, or that the intention of the Legis-lature was that it should be so used. The matter has, to my mind,been placed beyond controversy by the use of the word ‘ schoolbefore the word " buildings."
Now “ school buildings " are expressly exempted from the pay-ment of rates by the proviso to section 13 of The Municipal Councils'Ordinance of 1902, which amended in some respects the principalOrdinance. When the Legislature made use of the term “ schoolbuildings," I do not think that it intended to give it more thanthe ordinary popular meaning “ of buildings " in which classes meetday by day for tuition and for private study. We are all familiar withsuch buildings, and if a visitor asked any intelligent schoolmaster
( 841 )
to show him over the school buildings, he would not, I amsure, make any mistake about them, but would take his visitor overthe buildings in which the class rooms were. As has often beenpointed out by this Court, we must gather the intention of the Legis-lature by looking at the whole scope and object of any enactment,avoiding subtle .interpolations, giving words which are not used inany obviously technical sense their plain ordinary meaning. There-fore, I fail to see how there could be any difference of opinion as tothe meaning of the term school buildings,” or even as regards themeaning of the term '* building ” as defined in the principal Ordi-nance.
*Now, such being my finding on this point, it follows that I musthold that the buildings and premises in question are rateable, saveand except such parts thereof as are used as class rooms where theclasses meet for tuition and private study. It would appear fromthe evidence of the Bector of St. Joseph's College that besides theclass rooms there are several other rooms and buildings which arenot used as class rooms, and which, therefore, do not come under thedescription of school buildings and are rateable. Some of the author-ities cited to us at the argument, although they do run on parallellines with the present case, contain the principles which should governcases of this nature. I find that the term used in the Englishstatute is “ school house,” and not ” school building.” Possiblyour Legislature might with advantage have used the term ‘“schoolhouse,” which is by no means an ambiguous term, and which cer-tainly does not admit of any subtle disputations as to its meaning:
In the matter of the Oxford University and this Ciiy of OxfordPoor Bate, reported in the 27 L. J. Rep., Mag. Cas. 33, it washeld by Coleridge, J., the other Judges sitting with him being LordCampbell, C. J., and Crompton, J., that the University was exemptfrom the payment of poor rate under 17 and 18, Viet. Ch. CCXIX.in respect only of the occupation of buildings which were necessaryfor the public purposes for which the University was erected,namely, the advancement of national religion and learning; butthat the exemption did not extend to a cellar under the SheldonianTheatre which was used by an individual as a place of deposit forhis books, nor to the tower part of the building containing theAshmolean Museum which was fitted up and used as a residence bythe Header in Mineralogy, nor to so much of the Taylor Institutionas was used as a residence for the Librarian, not necessarily, butfor his own convenience.
The District Judge has referred to the case of Rex v. Overseersof Fulboum, 6 B. and 8. 451, which, he thought, indicated the spirit
( 842 )
in which exemptions should be regarded. It was held in that case,'and in my humble opinion rightly, upon the words ini “ The LunaticAsylum Act, 1868 ” (8 and 9, Viet. C. 126; 16 and 17, Viet. 0. 97),that as the buildings and the lands were used for the purpose of anasylum within section 35, the primary object of the farm and.garden being the sanitary- occupation of patients with a view to theircure, the Committee of Visitors were not rateable in respect of theprofits. The Lunatic Asylum not only consisted of the building, but |of land about fifty acres in extent, and were acquired, for the purposeof a Lunatiq Asylum; and the farm and garden were cultivated bygardeners,, who were part of the establishment, assisted by thepatients. There was, therefore, no question that the building andland were used for the purposes of an asylum within the meaning*ofsection 35 of the Act.
There is no analogy, as far as I can see, between the English casesand the present case. Here we have our local Ordinance in which .the word school buildings ” is used, and no mention made of anyland or buildings attached to such buildings. The evidence of theBector shows that there is a fairly large piece of ground on whichthere are several cocoanut trees. There are refectories, dormitories,kitchens, residences, or rooms for some of the masters, bathrooms,&c. There is a tuck-room, a room for the washing, an infirmary,and some rooms used by the Catholic Club. All these are rateable.It is impossible in the state of the record for this Court to declarewhich particular parts of the buildings and premises are rateable andwhich not.
The order appealed from will, therefore, be set aside, and The casesent back for the District Judge to find definitely on the point, ex-empting from the payment of rates the class rooms and the roomswhere the classes meet for tuition or for private study. Theappellant will have the costs of this appeal and of the Court below.
Wendt, J.—I agree.
DR. COUDERT v. THE MUNICIPAL COUNCIL OF COLOMBO