1. The question for decision in this appeal, originally a Revision Application to Government of India, is whether High Carbon Steel Brass plated Shredded wire (Code name Shreddic) imported by the appellants for the purpose of Customs falls under Heading 73.15(i) read with Heading 73.14 of C.T.A. as claimed by the appellants or Heading 73.33/40 ibid as assessed by the Revenue.
2. The Assistant Collector of Customs rejected the claim for re-assessment and refund by order dated 19-1-1977 holding that the goods are small cut pieces of wire used for the enforcement and are manufactured to a given length of 3/8" to 1/2'; hence they were manufactured articles out of wire and not wire itself. The assessment, therefore, under Heading 73.33/40 at the time of import was held by him to be correct. Appellate Collector of Customs, Bombay, by his order dated 8-11-1977 held that the wires after cold drawing had undergone a process of shredding and as such these were not usual wires falling under Item 73.14 or 73.15 of Customs Tariff Act. With this reasoning he upheld the order passed by the Assistant Collector of Customs.
Aggrieved, appellants filed Revision Application to Government of India which is the present appeal.
3. Before us appellants have filed purchasing specification regarding the imported material which bears code name 'Shreddic'. A certificate from Mr. R.E. Dagnall, Technical Superintendent, explaining the nature of the goods, photostat copy of Indian Standard Glossary of Terms relating to Iron and Steel IS 1956 (Part V) 1956, para 2.138 containing definition of wire and also photostat copies of Explanatory Notes of Customs Cooperation Council Nomenclature on Chapter 73.14 Iron & Steel wire whether or not coated but not insulated. A leaflet of appellants' Earth-mover tyres where shredded wire is used as an under-tread is also filed. A copy of Order-in-Appeal No. S-49/1361/79R, dated 9th October, 1979 passed by Shri M.G. Vaidya, Collector of Customs (Appeals), Bombay, wherein another consignment of the same goods was ordered to be classified under Heading 73.14 is also filed.
4. At the hearing of the appeal Shri Ravinder Narain, learned Advocate for the appellants, submitted that the reasoning of the lower authorities for denying classification to shredded wire under Heading 73.15 (i) read with Heading No. 73.14 of CTA on the ground that wire had been shredded was wholly unjustified. He submitted that note l(o) in Chapter 73 which defined 'wire for the purpose of the Chapter had no restriction or stipulation as to length of wire and same is true of definition of 'wire' contained in Clause (o), Section 15, Chapter 73 of CCCN. In trade, as would be evident from purchase specification and certificate issued by the Technical Superintendent referred to above, the goods are known as shredded wire, i.e., in spite of shredding it still retains its identity as wire. He also submitted that in any case Heading 73.33/40-Other articles of iron or steel-was not at all applicable in the case of the subject goods because the goods are alloys consisting of high carbon steel wires and copper and zinc (i.e.
brass). It would thus not be iron or steel and being an alloy not fall under Heading 73.33/40 and the appropriate and specific classification for the same could only be Heading 73.150) read with 73.14 of CTA. He also referred to order dated 9th October, 1979 passed by Shri M.G.Vaidya, Collector of Customs (Appeals), Bombay and submitted that the same Custom House for a later consignment in respect of the goods had revised its views and ordered classification under Heading 73.14. A sample of wire was also shown to us during arguments. The sample was in small cut pieces of 3/8" to 1/2" in length.
5. On behalf of the respondents Shri S.C. Rohtagi strongly defended the orders passed by the lower authorities. He also referred to meaning of wire in McGraw Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms, 2nd Edition, and submitted that according to this Dictionary a 'wire' is a thin, flexible, continuous length of metal. The goods in question being small pieces could not be called 'wire' and, therefore, the classification done by the lower authorities did not call for any interference. 'He prayed for dismissal of the appeal.
6. For case of reference, definition of 'wire' in Note l(o) of Chapter 73 and in ISI, Headings 73.14, 73.15 and 73.33/40 are extracted below : 73.1(o) : Wire cold-drawn products of solid Section of any cross-sectional shape, of which no cross-sectional dimension exceeds 13 millimetres. In the case of heading Nos. 73.25, 73.26 and 73.27/28, however, 'wire' is deemed to include rolled products of the same dimensions.
I.S.I. 2.138 Wire : A finished product, round, half-round, square, hexagonal, flat or of any other Section including grooved Section characterised by the fact that it has been subjected to a sizing operation at ambient temperature by the process of drawing through a die or by other mechanical means. Wire is generally supplied in coil form but in exceptional cases can also be supplied in straight lengths. It shall also fall within the following dimensional limits : 73.14 : Iron or steel wire, whether or not coated, but not insulated.
73.15 : Alloy steel and high carbon steel in the forms mentioned in Headings Nos. 73.06/07 to 73.14.
73.33/40 : Other articles of iron or steel. Meaning of wire as set out in McGraw Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical terms, 2nd Edition on which the respondent relies is also extracted below : Wire: A thin, flexible, continuous length of metal usually or circular cross-Section.
We may also refer to meaning of wire in Concise Oxford Dictionary New 7th Edition (to which neither party has made reference) where the following meaning is given : Wire : (piece of) metal drawn out into form of thread or slender flexible rod.
7. Heading 73.33/40 which is applicable in the case of other articles of iron and steel is clearly not applicable to the goods in question because the goods are alloys and are not articles of iron or steel. No arguments were addressed by the parties as to proper classification of the goods if they were held to be articles of alloys, i.e., articles not made of iron or steel. However, in the view we take it is not necessary for us to deliberate on this point further.
8. The definition of wire in Note l(o) reproduced above and the ISI definition has no restrictions or stipulation as to length of wire. The Concise Oxford Dictionary meaning which must be held to reflect common understanding also does not put any restriction or stipulation as to length. According to this definition, even a slender flexible rod could be wire. As to Shri Rohtagi's reliance on McGraw Hill's Dictionary of Scietific and Technical Terms and the argument that wire can be only in continuous length, the definition of wire is set out in Tariff itself and is also available in ISI specifications and the two do not have the requirement of continuous length. It is better to prefer these two definitions rather than accept the McGraw Hill's Dictionary. This apart, it is well settled that meaning of terms used in a Fiscal institute should be understood in trade parlance. ISI definition has been accepted to be representing trade understanding. That, as already stated, has no restriction as to length. The invoice and the specification of the goods which again must be taken to reflect trade understanding describe the goods as wire, though shredded. Considering all this, appellants' claim that the goods in question 'shredded wire' would fall for classification under Heading 73.15, i.e., alloy steel and high carbon steel in the form mentioned in Heading No. 73.06/07 to 73.14 (Headings 73.06 to 73.13 are not relevant for the goods in question or for the present appeal), read with Heading 73.14, iron or steel wire, whether or not coated but not insulated must be accepted.
9. In coming to the above conclusion we have also taken note of the fact that Bombay Custom House, as evidenced by order dated 9-10-1979 passed by the Collector of Customs (Appeals) had accepted the claim for classification and reassessment under Heading 73.14 for another consignment of identical goods. (It appears that before him it was not argued that the wire was not made of iron or steel but made of alloy steel and high carbon steel mentioned in Heading 73.15).
10. As a result appellants' claim for classification of the goods in ques-tion under Heading 73.15 read with Heading 73.14 of CTA is accepted. The orders passed by the lower authorities are modified with consequential relief to the appellants. The appeal is allowed in the foregoing terms.