1. The goods involved in this case are non-transparent crucibles and basins of fused silica imported on 20-6-1973. They were assessed by the Department under the residuary item No. 87 of the erstwhile Indian Customs Tariff. In addition, countervailing duty as applicable to chinaware and porcelainware under Item 23B(4) of the Central Excise Tariff was also charged. The appellants seek assessment of basic customs duty under Item 77(2) ICT on the ground that the goods were for exclusive use in laboratories. Regarding the countervailing duty, their plea is that if at all it is leviable, it should be charged under Item 23A(2) CET-laboratory glassware.
2. The case was heard on 8-3-1983. Both sides reiterated their arguments. The appellants, in order to substantiate their stand, showed samples of the subject goods and the catalogue of M/s. Thermal Syndicate Limited ; England which lists the subject goods under the heading "Vitreosil Laboratory Ware". They added that the subject crucibles and basins were heat resistant upto 1000C. They relied upon Tariff Advice No. 29/72 to say that non-transparent varieties of quartz were to be assessed on merits depending upon the nature of the article, its uses and any special properties built into it, while transparent varieties of quartz were to be assessed as glassware.
3. We have carefully considered the matter. Item 77(2) ICT, under which assessment of basic customs duty is sought by the appellants, relates to scientific and surgical instruments, apparatus and appliances. We find force in the Department's plea that everything which is used in laboratories is not necessarily a scientific instrument, apparatus or appliance. The subject goods are nothing more than basins and crucibles, though made of a better material, and do not come in the category of scientific and surgical instruments, apparatus and appliances. We hold, therefore, that they cannot be classified under Item 77(2) ICT. Further, the subject goods being made of non-transparent fused silica, they cannot be regarded as glassware under the erstwhile Indian Customs Tariff. Since there was no other specific heading to cover the subject goods, we hold that they were correctly classified under the residuary item No. 87 ICT.4. As regards the countervailing duty, we find that the goods were neither chinaware nor porcelainware nor glazed clayware and as such their classification under Item 23B(4) was incorrect. Being made of non-transparent fused silica, they were not glassware within the meaning of Item 23A CET either. At the material time, there was no other item available in the Central Excise Tariff to cover the subject goods. We, therefore, hold that the subject goods, being non-excisable at the relevant time, were not liable to any countervailing duty.
5. Accordingly, we reject this appeal in so far as it relates to basic customs duty and allow it with full consequential refund so far as countervailing duty is concerned.