1. Originally preferred as a Revision Application before the Central Government, on transfer to the Tribunal under section 35-P of the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944, hereinafter called the Act, the matter is being treated as an appeal before the Tribunal and is being disposed of accordingly.
2. The facts of the case are not in dispute. The appellants are manufacturers of Aluminium Conductors Steel Reinforced (A.C.S.R.) and of All Aluminium Conductors (A.A.C.). During the relevant time, for some of the products manufactured by the appellants, the Central Government had fixed tariff values under section 3, Sub-section (2) of the Act. The appellants found that it would be more beneficial to them for the purposes of central excise duty to have their goods assessed with reference to value determined under section 4 of the Act rather than with reference to the tariff values fixed by the Government. They contended before the lower authorities that before 1-10-75, during which period the present cause of action arose, an assessee had the right to have his goods assessed to duty with reference to the value fixed under section 4 of the Act or with reference to the tariff values, whichever was beneficial to him. This contention of the appellants was turned down at the appeal stage. It is against this order of the Appellate Collector of Central Excise, New Delhi, that the appellants have to come to seek relief.
3. Smt. Malin Sood, appearing for the appellants submitted that the short legal point for our decision is whether prior to 1-10-75 an assessee, for whose goods tariff values had been fixed under Sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Act, had the option to pay duty either with reference to tariff values or have his goods assessed with reference to value determined under section 4 of the Act,, .whichever way the assessable value thus fixed was beneficial to him. Smt. Sood contended that section 3 of the Act is the charging section only and before it was amended w.e.f. 1-10-75, an assessee had the right to exercise his option whether to pay duty on the tariff value basis or on invoice price i.e. value fixed with reference to section 4 of the Act.
4. Shri Mahesh Kumar, representative of the respondent argued that section 3 is the charging section but for its total effect it has necessarily to be read with Rule 9-A of the Central Excise Rules, 1944.
Section 3 read with Rule 9-A covers all matters relating to the manner in which both the levy and the collection of duties of excise on all excisable goods (except salt) are to be made. Further, section 3 refers to the levy and collection of duties in such a manner as may be 'prescribed'. Section 2(g) of the Act provides that 'prescribed' means prescribed by Rules made under this Act. Shri Mahesh Kumar urged that in respect of excisable goods wherever tariff values have been fixed by the Central Government, section 3 of the Act read with Rule 9-A of the Central Excise Rules, 1944 provided both the authority to levy excise duty and also stipulated that value for assessment purposes shall be the value as determined under Sub-section (2) of section 3 i.e. the tariff values. He also drew our attention to the amendment to section 4 brought w.e.f. 1-10-75, whereby Sub-section (3) of section 4 clearly stipulated that "The provisions of this section would not apply in respect of any excisable goods for which a tariff value has been fixed under Sub-section (2) of section 3". Shri Mahesh Kumar urged that in view of this clear legal position, the appellants have no case and hence deserve no relief.
5. We have heard both the parties. We observe that the language of section 3 of the Act, as it stood prior to 1-10-75, remains unchanged.
The legal position in regard to tariff values, therefore, also remains the same as it was before 1-10-75 except that insertion of Sub-section (3) to section 4 of the Act has placed the matter beyond doubt. We also find ourselves in agreement with the contention made by Shri Mahesh Kumar that section 3 read with Rule 9-A provides full legal authority for levy of duty on such excisable goods with reference to tariff values where tariff values have been notified by the Central Government for them. We do not find substance in the contention of Smt. Sood that section 4 is the only section for determination of value of excisable goods. In respect of goods for which tariff values have been fixed, there is a mutually exclusive alternative under the Act, namely, section 3 of the Act read with Rule 9-A of the Central Excise Rules. In the result we uphold the order of the Appellate Collector and reject the. appeal in the above terms.