1.The captioned appeal was originally filed as a Revision Application before the Central Government which, in terms of Section 131 B of the Customs Act, 1962, has come as transferred proceedings to this Tribunal for disposal as if it were an appeal presented before the Tribunal.
2 The facts of the case, briefly stated are that the appellants imported 45 case's of Max Brand staple pins of the c.i.f. value of Rs. 1,13,389 and presented several import licences for clearance of the goods. On objection being raised by the Customs Authorities, they withdrew the licences and presented certain other licences. Finally, the licences presented were held as not valid to cover the import and the Collector, after holding adjudication proceedings, confiscated the goods under Section lll(d) of the Customs Act, 1962 read with Action 3 of the Imports and Exports (Control) Act, 1947. However, he allowed the appellants an option under Section 125 of the Customs Act to redeem the goods on payment of a fine of Rs. 1,50,000 which the appellants availed of The aooeal against the Collector's order was rejected by the Central Board of Excise and Customs. The present appeal is for setting aside the impugned orders and refund of the fine paid.
3 The Collector's reasons for arriving at his conclusion were that the licences presented were governed by the April 1980-March 1981 import policy; that, as laid down in para 5 of the Appendix 17 of the said policy, no import of an item appearing in Appendix 4 (list of absolutely banned goods) shall be - lowed against REP licences eligible to import banned items in accordance with Column 4 or Column 5 in Appendix 17 unless such absolutely banned item was specifically described for import either under Column 4 or Column 5; that Spies figured at Serial No. 622 in appendix 3 and Serial No 62 in Appendix 4 and that therefore, the licences should be specifically valid for clearance of staples and not merely valid for packing material; that the licence holders were merchant exporters. He rejected the importer's contention that the staples figuring in Appendix 3 and Appendix 4 were iron staples and not stationery staples imported by them.
4 Before us, Shri Kantawala, the learned Counsel for the appellants, besides reiterating the submissions before the lower authorities, urged that the fact that stationery staples were not comprehended in Serial No. 622 in Appendix 3 and Serial No 62 in Appendix 4 was supported by the different classification adopted for the two types of staples in the First Schedule to the Customs Tariff Act and in the Schedule to the Imports (Control) Order. Heading 73.31 of the Customs Tariff Schedule reads thus- "Nails Tracks, Staples, Hook-nails, corrugated Nails, Spiked Cramps, Studs Spikes and Drawing Pins, of Iron or Steel, whether or not with heads' of other materials, but not including such articles with heads of copper."(1) * * *(2) * * * "Fittings for loose leaf binders, for files or for stationery books; letter clips, staples, indexing tags and similar stationery goods."(3) * * * Similarly, headings 73.31 of the Import Control Schedule and 83.05 reads as follows :- "Nails, tacks, staples, book-nails, corrugated nails, spiked cramps, studs, spikes and drawing pins, of iron or steel, whether or not with heads of other materials, but not including such articles with heads of copper." "Fittings for loose-leaf binders, for files or for stationery books, of base metal; letter clips, paper clips, staples, indexing tags, and similar stationery goods, of base metal." The present goods were assessed as stationery staples under heading 83.01/15 of the Customs Tariff Schedule. This fact also would show that the goods were different from the staples covered by Appendices 3 and 5. Shri J.M. Jain, the learned Senior Departmental Representative opposing the appeal, submitted that even if the present staples were considered to be packing material, they were banned for import by virtue of Appendices 3 and 4. He also relied on para 5 of the Appendix 17 of the April 1980-March 1981 policy. He also referred to C.C.I.E.'s circular dated the 9th December, 1980 clarifying that staples for stationery were covered by Serial No. 622 in Appendix 3. This circular was addressed to all Chambers of Commerce and Industry and recognised associations borne on the mailing list of the C.C.I.E. The letter of credit in the present case was opened on 12-1-1981 i.e. after the clarificatory circular and, therefore, the appellants could not plead ignorance.
6. In reply, Shri Kantawala urged that the C.C.I.E.'s circular had no legal force.
7. We have carefully considered the submissions of both sides. We could observe in the first place that the appellants' statement is self-contradictory and lacks consistence. If the subject staples are packing materials (though they also say these are stationery staples), then, they should, one would expect, have protested against the assessment of the goods under heading 83.01/15 as stationery staples seeing that the duty rate under this heading is much higher than under the heading appropriate for packing materal: 73.31 Max Brand Staples No. 10 are well known stationery staples. In fact, the memorandum of appeal proceeds on the footing that the goods are stationery staples and not "iron mongery" staples i.e. packing staples. But it is not the real point at issue.Para 5 in Appendix 17 reads as follows :- "No import of an item appearing in Appsndix 4 (Absolute Banned List) shall be allowed against REP licences eligible to import "banned items" in accordance with Col. 4 or Col. 5 hereunder, except if such Absolute Banned Item is specially described for import either under Col. 4 or under Col. 5 or against an Advance Licence issued under this policy." Serial No. 622 in Appendix 3 (list of banned items) and Serial No. 62 in Appendix 4 (absolutely banned list) specify staples without any qualification. We are concerned here with construing not the headings in the Schedule to the Import Control order but of entries in the appendices which do not, on their face, spell out necessary or inevitable linkage with any headings of the Schedule. As such, we have to give the widest meaning to the item "staples" in the said appendices. Stationery staples are certainly staples. In this view of the matter, there is no need to consider the C.C.I.E.'s circular.
8. In the result, we hold that the licences were not valid to cover the subject import. We confirm the orders of the lower authorities and reject the appeal.