1. This is a revision application to the Government of India under Section 131 of the Customs Act, 1962 (as then applicable) which, in accordance with Section 131B(2) ibid, is to be proceeded with as if it were an appeal filed before the Tribunal (it is hereinafter referred to for convenience as "the appeal"). After notice had been duly issued, the matter was taken up for hearing today, the 18th April, 1983.
2. On the appeal being called today, Shri A.K. Jain, S.D.R., appeared for the Department. No one appeared for the appellants. The Bench was shown a telegram received from the appellants in which they had requested that the case be decided on the basis of Order No. 595/81 dated 21-4-1981 of the Government of India on a revision application of Messrs. Acme Synthetic Chemicals. Accordingly, the Bench decided to take up the appeal for disposal on merits.
3. The present appeal relates to the importation of "Carmine SS" which was assessed by the Customs authorities under Heading No. 32.04/12(1) as "colouring matter", and also to countervailing duty under Item 14D of the Central Excise Tariff. The appellants have claimed that the basic duty should have been assessed under Heading No. 29.01/45(19) as "laboratory chemicals". So far as countervailing duty is concerned, they appear to have no grievance, since in the Government of India order referred to by them the levy of countervailing duty has been upheld.4. So far as the basic duty is concerned, in the above-mentioned Government of India order-in-revision, the goods imported by Messrs.
Acme Synthetic Chemicals, namely "gas/chromatographic chemicals" were held to be correctly assessable as laboratory chemicals under Heading No. 29.01/49(19) as they were found to be sold in 1/2 kg. or 1/2 litre packing and otherwise to comply with the requirements for assessment as laboratory chemicals set out in Note 2 to Chapter 29 of the Customs Tariff Schedule. In the present case it was confirmed by Shri Jain from the Customs House records available with him that the goods had been imported in packings of 25 gms. each though the total value of the consignment was Rs. 21,000/- approximately. He, however, argued that the analogy of the Government of India order-in-revision relied on by the appellants did not apply in the present case, as the carmine SS was a pigment or dye. Moreover it was derived from cochineal, and did not have a definite chemical composition. He accordingly argued that the classification adopted by the Customs authorities was correct.
5. We observe that the appellants had submitted a number of certificates from medical laboratories, etc., to show that the goods found application in those laboratories. The fact that the goods may not have a definite chemical composition is not material, in view of the wording of Note 2 to Chapter 29. In fact this Note is very wide in scope and has the effect of bringing within sub-heading (19) of Heading 29.01/45 a large number of substances provided they satisfy the conditions of packing, purity, marking or other features mentioned in that Note which show that they are meant for use solely as laboratory chemicals. This has evidently been done with a view to avoiding piece-meal assessment of laboratory chemicals of which importations may be made with a large variety of chemicals in each consignment. A doubt was raised whether the goods in question, namely, carmine SS should be excluded from the scope of sub-heading 19 on the ground that it was used more as a stain than as a chemical used in reactions. We, however, feel that so long as its use in laboratories is established (as has abundantly been done by the certificates produced), the scope of the expression "laboratory chemicals" should not be unduly narrowed down.
We, therefore, hold that the goods were eligible for assessment under Heading No. 29.01/45(19), for purposes of basic Customs duty, and order that appropriate relief by way of refund should be given. So far as the levy of countervailing duty is concerned, as there is no corresponding provision in the Central Excise Tariff, and in view of the appellants own submission, no relief is due.