1. These appeals were initially preferred before the Central Government by way of Revision Applications, which, on the constitution of this Tribunal, have been transferred to it in terms of the provisions of Section 131-B of the Customs Act, 1962 to be disposed of as if they were appeals presented before it. These Revision Applications are hereinafter referred to as appeals.
2. The only question which falls for decision in this batch of appeals is whether the goods imported by the appellants which are described in the invoice and the relative Bills of Entry "PRESSPAHN PAPER" were or were not entitled to be assessed at the concessional rate of duty provided in the Ministry of Finance (Dept. of Revenue) Customs Notification No. 37 of 1-3-1978. In order to better appreciate the contention of the appellants it is better to straightaway set out the Notification in extenso :- "In exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-section (1) of section 25 of the Customs Act, 1962 (52 of 1962), the Central Government, being satisfied that it is necessary in the public interest so to do, hereby exempts condenser tissue paper and electrical grade insulation paper, falling within Chapter 48 of the First Schedule to the Customs Tariff Act, 1975 (51 of 1975), when imported into India, from- (a) so much of that portion of the duty of customs leviable thereon, which is specified in the said First Schedule, as in excess of 75 per cen ad valorem; and (b) the whole of the additional duty leviable thereon under section 3 of the second mentioned Act.
It is the appellants' contention that the goods imported by them were entitled to be considered as electrical grade insulation paper eligible for the concessional rate of duty in terms of the said Notification.
The Asstt. Collector of Customs rejected the claims on the ground that the grammage of the imported presspahn paper being over 180 grammes per sq. metre, it could not be considered as "paper" but only as "board" and, therefore, it was not entitled to the benefit of the said Notification. On appeal, the Appellate Collector basing his conclusion on the Indian Standard Publication "Glossary of terms used in paper trade and industry", wherein "board" has been defined as "paper of substance not below 180 grammes per sq. meter (GSM) (generally above 250 GSM) characterised by its rgidity" rejected the appeals since the grammage of the imported paper was over 180 GSM. He also held that the amendment of Customs Notification No. 37, dated 1-3-78 by Customs Notification No. 174, dated 7-9-78 was prospective in character and its benefit would not be available to the subject goods which were imported prior to 7-9-78. It may be noted here that the said amending Notification specifically brought within the scope of Notification No.37, dated 1-3-78 "Electrical grade insulaion paper board". It is against the Appellate Collector's orders that the Appellants had preferred Revision Applications to the Government which have now been transferred to this Tribunal for disposal as if these were appeals presented before it.
3. Shri N.C. Sogani, Consultant, appearing on behalf of the appellants, submitted that there was no dispute regarding the classification of the subject goods under heading No. 48.01/21(1) of the Ist Schedule to the Customs Tariff Act, 1975. The learned Consultant submitted that the Indian Standard Publication-"Glossary of terms used in paper trade and industry (IS: 4661-1968) was a glossary .of terms used in the general paper trade and industry. Para 0.4 of the said Indian Standard (IS) made it clear that in case there was any difference between the definitions in this glossary and those in the standards for individual materials, the latter shall prevail. The ISI has published two Standards IS: 1576-1967 for Pressboard for electrical purposes and IS: 8570-1977 for Presspaper for electrical purposes. In the event of doubt, therefore, the definitions in the latter 2 specifications should prevail. Turning to IS: 4661- 1968, Shri Sogani referred to the definition of board-"paper of substance not below 180 GSM" (generally above 250 GMS) characterised by its rigidity." He also referred to the definitions of Presspahn Paper and Press Board as given in the said IS: 4661-1968 :- "Presspahn-Glossy pressboard (see 'Pressboard'), or paper having a high density, chiefly characterised by its electrical insulating properties and its high mechanical strength, capable of being pressure moulded." "Pressboard-A board made usually on an intermittent board machine and afterwards subjected to pressure to consolidate the plies and subsequently dried and highly calendered." Presspahn paper and pressboard were substances used in the electrical trade and industry and, therefore, going by the stipulation in the said IS Publication, the definitions in the Standards for these 2 special substances should prevail. Shri Sogani thereafter referred to IS: 8570-1977 which is a specification for Presspaper for electrical purposes in the preparation of which assistance has been derived by the ISI from the British specification No. 3255 : 1975 issued by the British Standards Institution. Para 1.1 of IS: 8570-1977 explains that the said Standard covers presspaper either or of natural colour of four different types, each upto 0.5 mm thick, supplied either in roll form or as sheets cut from the roll. Presspaper is available in thickness greater than 0.5 mm and in respect of such presspaper the limits should be the subject of agreement between the purchaser and the manufacturer.
Turning to para 3.1 of the said IS: 8570-1977 Shri Sogani referred to classification of 4 types of press-paper: Type 'D' was a hard presspaper, sometimes referred to as presspahn. Shri Sogani submitted that these technical specifications went to show that presspahn paper was an electrical grade insulation paper and it could be of thickness upto 0.5 mm. In the subject case the thickness ranged from 0.18 mm. to 0.40 mm. and, therefore, the imported goods clearly fell within the specification for electrical grade insulation paper. Turning to IS: 1576-1967 (Specification for solid pressboard for electrical purposes), he referred to para 4.2 which sets out the range of thickness of 4 types of pressboards described in the said IS Standard as falling between 0.50 to 6.35 mm. Next, Shri Sogani referred to the British Standard 3255 : 1975 to which a reference has been made in IS : 8570-1977. The said British Specification deals with Presspaper for electrical purposes. In the foreword it is stated that the definition of presspaper is substantially in agreement with international proposals, although it should be noted that internationally the difference between 'paper' and 'board' is by'grammage' (mass per unit area) whereas the "electrical industry regards paper as being produced by a continuous process and board as being produced by an intermittent machine. A series of preferred thickness is given and the electric strength is now a breakdown and not a proof test. Para 1 recognises 4 types of presspaper each upto 0.5 mm., thick supplied either in roll form or in sheets cut from the roll. It further notes that presspaper is available in greater thickness than 0.5 mm., but in respect of such paper the limit should be subject to agreement between the manufacturer and the purchaser. It also refers to presspahn as "hard presspaper" generally made from chemical wood pulp. BS : 231-1975, which deals with pressboard for electrical purposes, sets out the range of nominal thickness of 4 types of pressboards as 0.8 mm. to 6.0 mn.
4. Having regard to the technical evidence adduced, Shri Sogani submitted that there should be no doubt as to the real scope of the expression "electrical grade insulation paper" appearing in Notification No. 37-Cus., dated 1-3-78. The said expression would take within its scope the imported goods which, according to the Indian specifications and the British Specifications which formed the basis for the Indian Specifications, clearly fall within the definition of presspaper for electrical purposes and are not to be considered as pressboard for electrical purposes within the meaning of the expression as given in the said publications. The Appellate Collector had relied only on IS:4661-1968 which was basically for the general paper trade and industry even according to which, if there was any difference between the definitions in that Standard and those in the Standards for individual materials, the latter shall prevail. In the present case, there were Standards specific to presspaper and pressboard for electrical purposes and the definitions given in these Standards should be followed. Going by these definitions, the goods involved in the present batch of appeals were presspahn paper of thickness ranging between 0.13 mm (159 GSM.) to 0.50 mm (610 GSM) and were, therefore, clearly covered by the expression "electrical grade insulation paper" appearing in Notification No. 37-Cus., dated 1-3-78.
5. Shri K.V. Kunhikrishnan, JDR, appearing on behalf of the Respondent, submitted that the technical evidence and arguments now being adduced had not been adduced before the Appellate Collector. He submitted that from 1956 onwards the Custom Houses had been following the practice of assessment of presspahn as paper or board depending upon its substance being 180 GSM or below or being above 180 GSM. He referred to a publication titled "Industrial & Speciality Papers" by Small Business Publications, Delhi, in which pressboards are referred to as having thickness ranging from 0.005 inches to 0.125 inches. According to this definition paper of even 0.13 mm. would be considered as board.
6. We have given careful consideration to the submissions of both the sides. It is abundantly clear from the technical specifications contained in the 3 Indian Standards-IS: 1576-1967, IS: 4661-1968 and IS: 8570-1977, and the 2 British Specifications BS: 231-1975 and BS: 3255-1975 that presspahn paper is electrical grade insulation paper whose thickness ranges from 0.10 mm. to 0.50 mm. In the absence of any statutory demarcating line between "paper" and "board" either in the tariff schedule or in the relevant notification, we have to go by the understanding in the electrical trade and industry and, for this purpose, the Indian Standards and British Standards relevant to paper and board for electrical purposes amply make it clear that the thickness of presspahn paper could range from 0.10 mm. to 0.50 mm. In the case of the imported goods are the subject matter of this batch of appeals, the thickness of the imported paper ranges from 0.18 mm. to 0.40 mm. The publication referred to by the Departmental Representative does not clearly spell out the distinction between presspaper and pressboard and we do not feel inclined to go by the definition of pressboard as contained in it in the face of the overwhelming evidence adduced by the appellents in the shape of Indian and British Standards.
7. Having regard to the foregoing discussions, we set aside the orders appealed against, allow the appeals and direct that the Assistant Collector of Customs, Bombay shall grant the consequential relief to the appellants within 2 months from the date of communication of this order.