1. This is an appeal filed by Shri Satish Kumar Goyal against the order of the Collector of Customs (Appeals), Bombay, No. S/49-210/83R dated nil.
2. Shri N.C. Sogani, Consultant, has appeared on behalf of the appellant and Shri S.C. Rohatgi, JDR, on behalf of the respondent.
3. Briefly, the facts are that the appellant imported fully automatic and computerised equipment for developing of colour films, printing, enlarging and processing of colour photo prints. This was done on behalf of a partnership concern, duly registered with the Directorate of Industry as a small-scale industry for processing and printing of colour films, photo-copying, instant photography and making of commercial and non-commercial movies and video recording. The appellant was granted an import Licence by the Chief Controller of Imports and Exports, New Delhi, which, on the recommendation of the Director of Industry, New Delhi, was duly endorsed for being treated as Project Import. Thereafter, as required under the Project Import (Registration of Contract) Regulation, 1965, the appellant applied to the Assistant Collector of Customs, Bombay, for registration of contract under Heading No. 84.66 of Customs Tariff Schedule. This was refused by the Assistant Collector, who observed that Tariff Heading 84.66 of CTA-75 related to machinery including prime movers, instruments, apparatus, appliances, etc,, for initial setting up of a plant or substantial expansion of the existing unit of a specified industrial plant. He stated that while the term "industrial plant" was not defined in Customs Tariff Act, industrial process generally meant a process of manufacture, production or extraction. Interpreted as such, the Assistant Collector held that colour photo processing laboratories could not be treated as industrial plant under Heading 84.66 of CTA, 75. Later, when the appellant went in appeal before the Collector of Customs (Appeals), Bombay, he confirmed the order of the Assistant Collector on the grounds mainly that developing, printing, enlarging and otherwise processing of colour films does not amount to production of a commodity or manufacture of an article., He held that it was essentially in the nature of a service industry or a job industry.
4. On behalf of the appellant, it is pointed out that, as per the Handbook of Import and Export Procedure 1982-83, an importer was entitled to duty concession provided that two requirements were satisfied, firstly, that the import licence issued for the capital goods should be for the initial setting up of a project and, secondly, that the importer should obtain the necessary recommendation of the sponsoring authority. Both these requirements, it is claimed, were satisfied by the appellant. It is further pointed out that the intention of the Government of India was clarified in a circular issued on 4th November, 1983, in which it was made abundantly clear that Project Import facility would be admissible in the case of automatic colour film process laboratory (mini colour laboratory), subject to the usual conditions. In view of this circular of the Govt. of India, it is pointed out, that the doubts raised at the level of the Assistant Collector and the Collector (Appeals) as regards whether the equipment imported could come within the definition of an industrial plant or whether a mini processing colour laboratory could be considered to be engaged in a process of manufacture, which, according to the appellant,-were, in any case, not based on any technical advice or authority, did not merit any further investigation. It was also pointed out that Project Impart concession had been extended to imports of similar equipment in a number of other cases, such as, M/s. Sunda Ram Colour Lab., New Delhi, and M/s. Saraswati Colour Lab., New Delhi.
Above all, the appellant has cited and filed before us a copy of the judgment of the Madras High Court, in the case of Das Colour Laboratory v. Asstt. Collector of Customs, Appellate Collector of Customs and Collector of Customs, Madras (Writ Petition No. 8398 of 1984). In this case, on identical facts, the Madras High Court have allowed the Project Import concession for similar equipment imported by Das Colour Laboratory.
5. From the Department side, in the course of oral submissions, the arguments contained in the orders of the Assistant Collector and the Collector (Appeals) have been reiterated. On a specific query, as regards the judgment of Madras High Court in the case of M/s. Das Colour Lab., the department have stated that they have no comments to offer.
6. We have carefully considered the facts of the case and the submissions made before us. In view of the judgment of the Madras High Court in the: case of M/s. Das Colour Lab. and, in the absence of any judgment of any other High Court or the Supreme Court taking a contrary view, we feel that we do not need to go into the merits of the arguments put forward by the department and we set aside the order of the Collector of Customs (Appeals), Bombay, and allow the appeal with consequential relief to the appellant.