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Collector of Customs Vs. Law Publishers - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtCustoms Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal CESTAT Delhi
Decided On
Reported in(1989)(44)ELT374TriDel
AppellantCollector of Customs
RespondentLaw Publishers
.....the respondents, m/s. law publishers, allahabad imported 17 cartons of thermographic printing powder under bill of entry no. 2113/446, dated 3-1-1978. they sought clearance of goods under heading 32.13 of the first schedule to the indian customs tariff act, 1975 at 60% plus 15% without levy of any additional duty under section 3 of the act. the department assessed the goods under heading 32.04/12(1) of the schedule at 100% plus 20% with additional duty at 5% and special excise duty at 5% of basic excise duty under item 14i(ii) of the central excise tariff read with section 3 of the indian customs tariff act, 1975. the importers took up the matter before the assistant collector who held that the material could not be considered as a printing ink of the type falling under.....
1. This is a Revision Application filed before the Government of India which, on transfer, is being treated as an appeal. The revision was filed against the order-in-appeal dated 14-1-1980 passed by the Appellate Collector of Customs, Bombay. The Appellate Collector of Customs, Bombay allowed the appeal and the department have filed this revision application.

2. The Respondents, M/s. Law Publishers, Allahabad imported 17 Cartons of Thermographic Printing Powder under Bill of Entry No. 2113/446, dated 3-1-1978. They sought clearance of goods under Heading 32.13 of the First Schedule to the Indian Customs Tariff Act, 1975 at 60% plus 15% without levy of any additional duty under Section 3 of the Act. The department assessed the goods under Heading 32.04/12(1) of the Schedule at 100% plus 20% with additional duty at 5% and Special Excise duty at 5% of Basic Excise Duty under Item 14I(ii) of the Central Excise Tariff read with Section 3 of the Indian Customs Tariff Act, 1975. The importers took up the matter before the Assistant Collector who held that the material could not be considered as a printing ink of the type falling under Heading 32.13. On appeal, the Appellate Collector held that in Thermographic process of printing, the same is not complete until over the tacky image, the imported powders were applied. So he held that the principal function of the powder was not to give the colour but to give the embossing effect. He, therefore, allowed the appeal.

3. Mr. Sundar Rajan, JDR, appearing for the appellants drew our attention to the competing entries. Heading 32.04/12 and 32.13 read as follows :--------------------------------------------------------------------------------Heading Sub-heading No. and description of the articlesNo.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------32.04/12 Colouring matter; synthetic organic dyestuffs (including pigment dye-stuffs); products of a kind used as luminophores; optical bleaching agents substantive to the fibre, prepared pigments and prepared driers; putty, fillers and stoppings; glass frit and other glass in the form of powder, granules or flakes; stamping foils; (3) Synthetic Organic Dyestuffs not elsewhere specified (4) Azodyes32.13 Writing Ink, Printing Ink and other Inks.--------------------------------------------------------------------------- The learned JDR stated that ink is contemplated under Heading 32.13 whereas 32.04/12 envisages colouring matter. The departmental representative relied on the explanatory notes to the BTN and submitted that vehicle is an important base for the pigment and, in this powder, there being no base and there being no vehicle, the same could not be treated as an ink. The process cannot also be treated as akin to printing. The substance in question is not known as printing ink.

3. Mr. N.C. Sogani, Consultant, who appeared for the respondents stated that the goods should be treated as 'other ink' envisaged under Heading 32.13. He relied on the Interpretation Rules and urged that under Rule 4 goods not falling within any heading of the Schedule shall be classified under the heading appropriate to the goods to which they are most akin. He urged that the goods are more akin to printing ink. The Consultant filed extracts of page 713 of Printing Ink Manual by Reg F.Bowles. Thermographic Printing is described therein as follows :- "Abase of sticky ink of varnish is printed by letter press or litho and a fusible resin powder is dusted on. The powder adheres to the printed area and is afterward fused by heat treatment. Prints produced in this way have a heavy glossy film somewhat similar to die-stamping but the reverse side of the sheet is not embossed." The learned consultant, therefore, submitted that the goods being gold powder used for printing with golden varnish should be treated as a kind of printing ink and classified under Heading 32.13.

4. The process of printing should be one of the aspects that should be taken into consideration before deciding the appropriate Heading. The brochure issued by the manufacturers show that Thermography is a process of printing consisting of sprinkling a resinous compound on to a tacky printed image which is then heated to fuse the powder. The resultant printing gives an embossing effect. Admittedly, thermography is a printing process. Even in the Printing Ink Manual thermographic printing is explained as a form of printing. The heavy glossy film that results in their printing is consequent to the thermographic method of printing. This process is mainly intended for letter-heads, visiting cards and the like. The objection of the department appears to be that this powder does not appear to be coventional printing ink. Even according to the show cause notice issued by Government, the process is an advanced technology over the commonly known die-printing though the notice also says that the powder is not a conventional printing ink. It must be noted that Heading 32.13 envisages not only printing ink, writing ink but also other inks. In the present case, the goods comprise of synthetic resin and metallic pigment. As per "Glossary of Chemical Terms" by Clifford Hampel and G.Hawley, "printing ink" could consist of a resin with a pigment. This apart, the revised show cause notice proceeds mainly on the premise that the process of application of the present substance is a post-printing operation. But it has to be remembered that the sprinkled powder fuses under heat and on to the tacky printed image which acquires an embossed effect. The process is thus, to be carried out in conjunction with printing process. Though it may not be a conventional printing ink it is akin to printing ink and Heading 32.13 which is not limited to "writing ink and printing ink" but covers also "other inks" would, in our view, be more specific and, therefore, more appropriate than Heading 32.04/12 (i). It must also be pointed out that this is a case of review and in the absence of further material or evidence, we are of the view that there are no grounds to modify the order of the Appellate Collector. As rightly pointed out in the Appellate order the process is something akin to printing. The classification given by the Appellate Collector is, therefore, justified. The appeal is therefore, rejected.

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