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Bombay Switchgears, Mahalakshmi Vs. Collector of Central Excise - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtCustoms Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal CESTAT Delhi
Decided On
Reported in(1985)(22)ELT611TriDel
AppellantBombay Switchgears, Mahalakshmi
RespondentCollector of Central Excise
Excerpt:
.....natural justice had not been observed. when the matter came up for hearing, we specifically asked shri ramakrishnan who appeared for the appellants whether they were pres sing these grounds and would like us to remand the matter for a fresh decision by the lower authorities. shri ramakrishnan stated that they would like a decision on merits by the tribunal and were therefore not pressing their points relating to natural justice. we thereafter heard shri ramakrishnan on the merits of the appeals.4. shri ramakrishnan showed us samples of the lamp-holders manufac tured by the appellants. these are the articles commonly seen in houses and factories, into which electric bulbs are fixed. shri ramakrishnan also showed us some samples of three-pin plugs which are commonly used for connecting.....
Judgment:
1. These are two appeals against the combined order dated 3-9-1983 passed by the Collector of Central Excise (Appeals), Bombay, in respect of two appeals to him by the appellants. Since both the matters are interconnected and relate to the same issue, they are dealt with in this common order.

2. The short point for consideration in these appeals is whether the "Landholders manufactured by the appellants are covered by Item 61 of the Central Excise Tariff. The description of Item 61 reads as follows :- It has been held by the Collector (Appeals) that lamp-holders are in the nature of sockets (which are specified in Item 61) and as such they would be covered under that item. As against this, it is the contention of the appellants that lampholders are not known in trade parlance as sockets, and that in accordance with the principle that goods should be classified according to their popular meaning, or the meaning attached by those who deal with them, that is, in the commercial sense, they cannot be regarded as sockets and would therefore fall outside Item 61 and be covered by the residuary Item 68.

3. In their two appeals the appellants had raised some points which were in the nature of complaints that the principles of natural justice had not been observed. When the matter came up for hearing, we specifically asked Shri Ramakrishnan who appeared for the appellants whether they were pres sing these grounds and would like us to remand the matter for a fresh decision by the lower authorities. Shri Ramakrishnan stated that they would like a decision on merits by the Tribunal and were therefore not pressing their points relating to natural justice. We thereafter heard Shri Ramakrishnan on the merits of the appeals.

4. Shri Ramakrishnan showed us samples of the lamp-holders manufac tured by the appellants. These are the Articles commonly seen in houses and factories, into which electric bulbs are fixed. Shri Ramakrishnan also showed us some samples of three-pin plugs which are commonly used for connecting some electrical appliances to a current outlet, and the corresponding socket outlets. It was his contention that it was only these socket outlets which were commercially known as sockets, and that the lampholders were not so known.

5. Shri Ramakrishnan cited the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Advani-Oerlikon Ltd. and Anr. v. Union of India and Ors (1981 ELT 432). In para 6 of that judgment reference had been made to various judicial decisions, including that of the Supreme Court in Dunlop India Ltd. v. Union of India [AIR 1977 SC 497], wherein it was held that meanings given to Articles in a fiscal statute must be as. people in trade and commerce, conversant with the subjeot, generally treat and under stand them in the usual course. A further quotation from the same judgment of Supreme Court is that "it is well-established that in interpreting the mean ing of words in a taxing statute, the acceptation of a particular word by the trade and its popular meaning shall commend itself to the authority". S hri Ramakrishnan relied on these judgments for the proposition that it was the commercial meaning or the popular meaning of an expression which should be adopted for construing an entry in the Central Excise Tariff.

6. Thereafter Shri Ramakrishnan referred to certain Indian Standard Specifications. One of these was IS: 1293-1967, titled "Specification for three-pin plugs and socket-outlets". The other was IS : 1258-1967, titled "Specification for Bayonet Lampholders". According to him the existence of these specifications clearly showed that a socket (otherwise known as a socket outlet) was something which was complementary to a plug, and it was different and distinct from a lampholder. Shri Ramakrishnan argued and if one went to the market and asked for a socket, one would never be given a lamp holder.

7. Shri Ramakrishnan further argued that the onus was on the Depart ment to bring the Article sought to be taxed within the scope of the item sought to be applied, and in this case the onus had not been discharged.

8. Shri Ramakrishnan also sought to argue that even if the lampholders could be said to be sockets, they were entitled to exemption since they had been manufactured without the aid of power. Shri Tayal raised an objection to this ground being raised before us. He pointed out that it involved a question of fact as to whether power was being used. He also pointed out that this ground had not been raised before the lower authorities, nor even in the memoranda of appeals filed to us. Shri Ramakrishnan thereupon stated that he was not pressing this ground.

9. Replying to Shri Ramakrishnan, Shri Tayal submitted that the Indian Standard Specifications cited by Shri Ramakrishnan did not give the full picture. Thus, IS : 1293-1967 referred only to three-pin plugs and socket outlets used in connection with such three-pin plugs. Shri Tayal pointed out that in many cases two-pin plugs were also used, and they had their corres ponding sockets. These, however, were not covered by the standard. This would show that what was contained in the standard was not exhaustive.

10. As regards IS : 1258-1967, containing the "Specification for bayonet lampholders", Shri Tayal pointed out that it did not contain any definition of a lampholder.

11. Shri Tayal submitted that the term "Socket" was generic and covered a range of Articles. A socket could be designed for receiving a plug or for receiving a lamp.

12. In support of his contention that the term "Socket" would cover a lampholder, Shri Tayal filed extracts of definitions taken from various works of reference. These are reproduced below :- McGraw Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms-II Edition (page 1483) "Socket (Elec)-A device designed to provide Electric Connections and mechanical support for an electronic or electric component requiring convenient replacement" "Socket-A hollow part or piece for receiving and holding some part or thing ; as, an electricl light bulb socket. Anat, a hollow in one part, which receives another part; as, the socket of the eye ; the con cavity of a joint, as, the socket of a hip" Socket-"...; (Elect) device receiving plug, light bulb, etc. to make connection ; ..." IS: 1885 (Part XVI Section 3)-1967-Electrotechnical Vocabulary Part XVI-Lighting-Section 3 : Lamps and Auxiliaiy Apparatus 3.40-Lampholder-An accessory used for usually connecting a lamp to an electrical circuit. It may also in addition support the lamp.

Shri Tayal pointed out that the definition of a socket in the McGraw Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms showed clearly that it was a generic term, and it could clearly cover a lamp. The definition of a lampholder in IS : 1885 (Part XVI-Section 3)-1967 would show that a lamp holder clearly conformed to the generic description of a socket as given in the McGraw Hill Dictionary. Even stronger confirmation of this position could be found in the definitions given in the New Webster's Dictionary and the Concise Oxford Dictionary, which made it very clear that the term socket would include a device receiving a light bulb, which was nothing but a lamp holder.

13. Shri Tayal submitted that the definitions in the two dictionaries clearly showed the popular understanding of a term socket, as covering lamp holders.

14. As regards Shri Ramakrishnan's argument that a socket should be regarded as something which was complementary to a plug, Shri Tayal sub mitted that this did not follow from the wording of the tariff description, which referred to "Switches, plugs and sockets, all kinds". It did not say "plugs and sockets therefor", and to interpret it in that sense would mean adding a word to the statute, which was not permissible. On the contrary, by the use of the words "all kinds", it was clear that the legislature intended that the entry should cover all kinds of sockets, which would necessarily mean that lamp holders also should be covered.

15. As regards Shri Ramakrishnan's argument that the burden was on the revenue to bring the Article within the entry, Shri Tayal submitted that this had been amply done, as would be seen from the speaking order passed by the Collector.

16. At this stage the Bench, which had been scanning through the Indian Standard Specification IS : 1885 (Part XVI/Sec. 3)-1967 placed before us by Shri Tayal, observed that the definition "Cap" at page 9 of the Standard appeared to be relevant to the issue. This definition is reproduced below :- "3.20 Cap-That part of a lamp which holds it in a lampholder and usually provides connection to the electric supply.

Note.-The cap (base) of a lamp and its corresponding holder (socket) are generally identified by one or more letters followed by a number which indicates approximately the principal dimensions (generally the diameter) of the cap in millimetres..." It was observed that this definition contained a specific reference to a lamp holder as a "socket". This was brought to the notice of Shri Ramakrishnan for this comments. Shri Ramakrishnan again referred to the principle laid down in the Dunlop India case that meaniqgs given to Articles should be as people in trade and commerce understand them.

17. We have carefully considered the issue in this case. There is no doubt that the interpretation of the relevant item has to be in accordance with the understanding of people in trade and commerce, conversant with the subject. In this respect, the definitions relied upon by Shri Tayal lend subs tantial support to the Department's case.

Further, the extract from the Indian Standard Specification on "Lamps and Auxiliary Apparatus" (vide para 16 above) clinches the matter.

Indian Standard Specifications are meant for the use of people in trade and commerce-those who manufacture various Articles and those who have to buy and deal in them. These specifications and defini tions can certainly be taken as representing the understanding of such people. In the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Union of India v. Delhi Cloth and General Mills and Ors [1977 E.L.T. (J 199)], strong reliance has been placed on a specification of the ISI in the following words :- "This specification by the Indian Standard Institution furnishes very strong and indeed almost incontrovertible support for Dr.

Nanji's view-.." In fact, by themselves referring to certain ISI Specifications and relying on them, the appellants have implicitly admitted that these repiesent the common trade usage and terminology.

18. Shri Ramakrishnan's other point that if one goes to the market and asks for a socket, one would not be shown a lampholder, is also without force, in the light of what we have found, namely, that the term "socket" is a generic one, and covers among other things both plugs and lampholders. It is true that in such a case one may have to use the specific term in order to be under stood. But that does not mean that the generic term is not applicable to the Article for which there is a specific term. For instance, Item 33C covers "Domestic Electrical Appliances, not elsewhere specified". An electric shaver, a hair dryer, a toaster, and a hot plate are all domestic electrical appliances which clearly fall within the scope of this item. At the same time if one goes, to a shop and asks for a "Domestic Electrical Appliance", it is obvious that one would not be shown the shaver, hair dryer or other specific Article which one has in mind. In the same way, if one asks for a socket, one may not be shown a lampholder, but that is only because the first is a generic and the second a specific term, and it does not mean that the second does not come within the scope of the first.

19. For the above reasons we find that there is no force in these two appeals and we accordingly reject them.


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