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Colonial Cases

Queen's Advocate v. Superintendent of Sinai Monastery, 1885

[taxation, religious body]

Queen's Advocate v. Superintendent of Sinai Monastery

Supreme Court of Cyprus
Bovill C.J. and Smith J., 15 October 1885
Source: (1885) 1 Cyprus Law Reports

 

THE QUEEN'S ADVOCATE Plaintiff,

V.

THE SUPERINTENDENT OF SINAI MONASTERY, Defendant

SHEEP TAX - EXEMPTION CLAIMED BY MONASTIC COMMUNITY - CHARTER OF MOHAMMED AND BERATS GIVEN BY SULTAN - TAXATION ORDINANCE, 1879.

   All exemptions from payment of taxes mentioned in the Schedule to "The taxation Ordinance, 1879," were abolished by that ordinance, and therefore the defendant was held liable to payment of sheep tax even though the Monks of Sinai Monastery may have been exempted from payment of taxes by a charter of the prophet Mohammed and the berats of certain Sultans and even though these berats could be held to have the force of law.

   APPEAL from the District Court of Kyrenia.

   The action was brought to recover certain monies alleged to be due from the defendant as sheep tax.

   The defence was tan under a charter granted by the Prophet Mohammed and certain berats granted by the Sultan Majid and Aziz the monks of the Sinai Monastery were excepted from liability to pay the tax.

   The District Court gave judgment for the Defendant (the President of the Court dissenting).

   The Plaintiff appealed.

   The Queen's Advocate in person contended that the language of the documents relied upon by the Defendant was not strong enough to support the exemption claimed, and that such privileges have been abolished by the Taxation Ordinance, 1779.

   Pascal Constantinides for the Respondent. - The documents in question have always been recognized by the Ottoman Government and the monks of the Sinai Monastery have always been exempt from taxation.

   With regard to the Taxation Ordinance, 1879, the berats granted by the Sultans have the force of law, and the ordinance does not apply to exemptions created by a Law, but only to exemptions claimed by "custom, licenses, nationality, condition, creed, calling or otherwise."

   Judgment:  We are of opinion that this appeal should be allowed.  Whatever the precise effect of these documents may be, and whether they have the force of law or not, their effect has been destroyed by the "Taxation ordinance, 1879."  That law says that there shall not be claimed by, or allowed to, any person or persons whomsoever, native or alien whose domicilium for the time being is in this Island, and whether by plea or pretence of custom, licence, nationality, condition, creed, calling or otherwise the right of exemption from payment of the several taxes, duties, etc., enumerated in the schedule.  The sheep tax is one of the taxes enumerated in the schedule.

   We have no doubt that this Law abolished all exemptions from taxation however founded.  The wards "and whether," etc., are not words of limitation and mean "even if a person had a licence from a competent authority" he is obliged to pay.  The law intended to abolish all such exemptions as are claimed in this case, and we think that the language is wide enough to carry out this intention.

   Appeal allowed with costs.

 

 

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School