1. These are connected petitions. The same petitioner has filed all these petitions. In these petitions, the petitioner complains that the penalty imposed on it by the Collector of Central Excise as per his Order, dated 13-4-1959, which is impugned in the present petitions, is not authorised by law and, therefore, it is an illegal levy.
2. The material facts are as follows :-
The petitioner is a manufacturer of sugar in Hospet in Bellary District. He was storing sugar in his factory premises. On 15-5-1957, the petitioner issued out of its factory after paying the duty due on 250 bags of sugar. These 250 bags were issued in five different consignments. For each one of the consignments, a separate gate pass was issued. The sugar was issued in the presence of the official belonging to the Central Excise Department. That official had noted the time of the issue in the petitioner's account as well as in the gate passes. Admittedly, the sugar in question was issued from the godown sometime prior to 5 p.m. on that date. The petitioner's factory has a big compound. It is admitted that the distance between the factory premises and the outer gate is about two furlongs. When the lorries and the carts that were carrying the sugar in question went near the main gate, they were stopped by the Central Excise officials for checking. After checking they were allowed to go out of the main gate. But by the time they were allowed to go out of the main gate, it was past 5 p.m. The question for consideration is, whether in view of the fact that those vehicles had left the main gate after 5 p.m., the petitioner had contravened the provisions of Rule 224(2) of the Central Excise Rules. At this stage, it is necessary to mention that 15-5-1957 was the date on which the budget had to be presented to the Parliament.
3. Rule 224(2) says :
'No goods shall be removed from the factory or a warehouse after 5 p.m. on the date appointed for the presentation of the annual or any supplementary budget of the Central Government to the Parliament.'
4. The question for decision is whether the goods in question were removed from the factory after 5 p.m.
5. Undoubtedly, they were removed from the warehouse prior to 5 p.m. But it was contended on behalf of the revenue that they were removed from the factory after 5 p.m. 'Factory' is defined in Section 2(C) of the Central Excise and Salt Act, 1944 as 'Factory' means any premises including precincts thereof, wherein or in any part of which excisable goods other than salt are manufactured, or wherein or in any part of which any manufacturing process connected with the production of these goods is being carried on or is ordinarily carried on. Under this definition before any particular premises or precincts could be considered as factory or a part of the factory in the premises or precincts in question, excisable goods other than salt should be manufactured, or, any manufacturing process connected with the production of those goods should have been carried on or ordinarily carried on. Admittedly the vehicles in question had left the factory premises. Further admittedly, they were not within the premises or precincts where any part of the manufacturing process was going on. They were in an open space, probably, a place reserved for parking carts and other vehicles. Therefore, it cannot be said that the excisable goods were within the 'Factory' after 5 p.m. on 15-5-1957.
6. For the reasons mentioned above, we are of the opinion that the levy imposed on the petitioner is not warranted by law. Therefore, the orders imposing the penalty are quashed. If the petitioner has already paid the penalty in question, the same will be returned to the petitioner. No costs.