1. The question in this case is whether stainless steel 'flats' of 6 mm (thickness) X 250 mm (width) in straight lengths, imported by the appellants, are liable to be assessed to duty as stainless steel strips under Item 73.15(2)-CTA, or under Tariff Item No. 73.15(1), being item "not elsewhere specified".
2. Shri Kumar M. Mehta has urged that the said goods were described in the invoice as well as in the Bill of Entry as stainless steel 'flats'.
It has also been contended that as per the expert advice obtained from the Victoria Jubiless Technical Institute, Bombay, and Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, the item imported by the appellants could be classified more appropriately as 'flats' rather than 'Hoops and Strips'. It has been further urged by Shri Mehta that while the Collector of Customs (Appeals), Bombay, in his Order-in-Appeal No.S/49-646/79-R dated 19-3-1979 has held that the impugned goods satisfied all the conditions laid down for 'Hoops and Strips' and, therefore, merited classification accordingly. Hereafter, his successor Collector of Customs (Appeals), Bombay, has in subsequent Order dated 19-3-80 disagreed with his predecessor and in four separate Appeals, arising out of similar orders in respect of identical stainless steel 'flats', passed by the same Assistant Collector of Customs, in the matter of Rookman Private Ltd., Hamilton Industries (Pvt.) Ltd. and Kirloskar Oil Engines Ltd. allowed all the said appeals and held that the said goods were liable to be assessed under Hem No. 73.15(1) and not under Item 73.15(2). It has also been urged that the Department accepted the said order passed in March 1980 and that thereafter all similar consignments of stainless steel 'flats' have been allowed to be cleared by Customs authorities in Bombay under Item No. 73.15(1).
3. On a specific query from us, Shri K.V. Kunhikrishnan, JDR, has not controverted the above facts.
4. We have carefully considered the matter. In view of the fact that, on examination, the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, and the Victoria Jubiless Technical Institute, Bombay, have given the opinion that the item imported by the appellants would be more appropriately classifiable as 'flats' rather than 'Hoops & Strips' and also that in 1980 the Collector of Customs (Appeals), Bombay has held in respect of imports of identical stainless steel 'flats' in 4 separate appeals that such stainless steel 'flats' are liable to be assessed under Item No.73.15(1) and not under Item 73.15(2), and also that it appears that this decision of the Collector has since guided the assessment of similar imports, we hold that the goods imported by the appellants were liable to be assessed under Item 73.15(1).
5. We allow the appeal accordingly with consequential relief to the appellants.