1. The questions for decision in this appeal originally a Show Cause Notice under Section 36(2) of the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944 by the Government of India to the respondents are : whether carrying on certain process on duty paid seamless steel tubes by the respondent to make them into drilling rods and casing tubes constitute manufacture and whether the products so obtained fall under T.I. 68 of the Central Excise Tariff or continue to fall under T.I. 26AA ibid, and the date from which the respondents should get relief in case the Order-in-Appeal is upheld by the Tribunal.
2. Facts as found from the arguments and also from the record are that on 31-8-1977/2-9-1977, the Superintendent of Central Excise, Assessment Group 'D', Pune-2 Division communicated the decision of the Assistant Collector of Central Excise to the respondent. The Assistant Collector, Central Excise had decided that conversion of Steel Tubes into drilling rods and casing tubes would constitute manufacture under T.I. 68 and the processes of conversion would not constitute job work. It appears that the respondents represented against this decision to the Assistant Collector of Central Excise, Pune-2 Division. The said Assistant Collector by his letter dt. 8-5-1979, with reference to the respondents' letter dt. 3-4-1979 replied that he had already examined and decided the issue which was communicated to the Supdt. of Central Excise by his letter dt. 2-9-1977. He also intimated that decision dt.
2-9-1977 having not been challenged in appeal had become final. The respondent challenged the decision contained in letter dated 8/9th May, 1979 before the Collector of Central Excise (Appeals), Bombay. The Collector (Appeals) found in favour of the respondent and held that pipes or tubes after processing of threading and affixing coupling...
do not cease to be pipes or tubes. No new taxable Article comes into existence, as such, the threaded and coupled tubes remain classifiable under T.I. 26AA and not classifiable under T.I. 68. He allowed the appeal with conseqential relief to the respondent. The Government of India then issued Show Cause Notice, proposing to set aside the order of the Collector of Central Excise (Appeals). The Government of India was tentatively of the view that the processes constituted manufacture and the product was classifiable under T.I. 68.
3. On the date of hearing Shri V. Lakshmi Kumaran, S.D.R. represented the appellants and Mr. G.E. Vahanvati with Shri M.P. Baxi, Advocates represented the respondents. They were heard.
4. While Shri V. Lakshmi Kumaran has urged that the processes of conversion of the steel tubes into drilling rods and casing tubes, cutting them into appropriate sizes brings into existence an identifiable new product, Shri Vahanvati has seriously controverted this contention. He has relied on Government of India decision in the case of Teams India in Order-in-Revision No. 255-B, dated 24-6-1982, 1982 E.L.T. 481.
5. We do not think that merely threading and cutting into pieces of seamless tubes and pipes can be said to bring into existence a new identifiable product distinct in name, character and use. We agree with the learned Collector of Central Excise (Appeals) that no new taxable Article comes into existence, and tubes still remain classifiable under T.I. 26AA and not under T.I. 68. The show cause notice would have, therefore, to be discharged and the appeal dismissed.
6. It may be mentioned that Shri V. Lakshmi Kumaran, learned Sr.
Departmental Representative argued that 'the Collector of Central Excise (Appeals), Bombay ought to have rejected the appellants appeal as time-barred. Shri Kumaran's argument is that the Assistant Collector of Central Excise, Pune-2 Dn. had in 1977 itself decided the classification of the product which was communicated to the respondents on 2-9-1977. The respondents did not file any appeal against that communication and the classification under T.I. 68 had, therefore, become final. The Assistant Collector by his letter dt. 8th May, 1979, addressed to the respondents only gave information about the decision contained in letter dated 2-9-1977. The Collector of Central Excise (Appeals), Bombay in fact entertained appeal against letter/decision dated 2-9-1979, which was clearly time-barred. While we appreciate the ingenious argument of Shri Kumaran, it is mentioned only to be rejected. No such grounds were set out in the show cause notice and we are not inclined to entertain this ground. Besides, there is no estoppel in taxation matters and even if the respondents acquiesced in wrong classification during earlier period, nothing precluded them from agitating for proper classification for the later period. Shri Lakshmi Kumaran also argued that consequential relief, if any, should be limited to the respondent only from 9-5-1979 and in any case not earlier to a period beyond 6 months from 3-4-1979 i.e. respondent's letter on which the Assistant Collector took decision dated 8-5-1979.
7. At one stage, the learned Counsel for the respondents was agreeable to this relief with qualification that benefit of job work Notification for the earlier period should be given to the respondent but later he retracted this concession. We have mentioned this argument only to reject the same, on the ground that this argument before us is premature. The Collector of Central Excise (Appeals), Bombay allowed the appeal with consequential relief which is yet to be worked out by the Asstt. Collector of Central Excise after taking into consideration the pleas advanced by the parties. There is no decision as to quantum of consequential relief by the Assistant Collector of Central Excise or by the Collector of Central Excise (Appeals). The point is, therefore, not in issue before us. We, therefore, decline to express any finding on this argument.