1. This is a revision application filed before the Central Government which, under Section 131-B of the Customs Act, 1962, stands transferred to the Tribunal to be disposed as if it were an appeal presented before the Tribunal.
2. The question to be decided in this matter is whether the imported goods which are called by the Appellant 'film laminate' are classifiable under heading 48.01/21 of the First Schedule to the Customs Tariff Act, 1975 (ICT) as paper (as decided by the authorities below) or under heading 39.01/06 in the group of plastic goods or 38.01/19(1) as chemical products as elsewhere specified.
3. The submission briefly are that before the ICT of 1975 came into force, the goods were being assessed under the "residuary" item 87 of the old ICT of 1934. The appellants further submit that 'film laminate' is a thin film of Electrolyte paste consisting of Zinc Chloride, Ammonium Chloride and Mercuric Chloride carried on a special carrier paper. Both the carrier paper and mixture of chemicals constituting the film together make the film laminate. Such film laminate is an integral part of the Carbon Electrodes required for the production of the layer built dry batteries.
The film laminate is so designed as to permit maximum ionic migration between depolariser mix and Zinc Electrode of the flat Electrolytic cells. The appellants also made reference to a Tariff Advice which, according to the appellant, classified heat-treated test paper under Tariff item 68 of the Central Excise Tariff Schedule and not under item 17. They made comparison with the groups under the old Customs Tariff and argued that the imported goods do not have any of the uses, appearance or trade usage as paper and cited case law in support of the argument. Amongst the case law is the decision in Ram Avatar Budhaiya Prasad Vs. S.T.O., Madhya Pradesh, 1961 S.C. 1325, according to which "the word must be construed not in any technical sense, nor from the botanist's point of view but as understood in common parlance. It must be construed in its popular sense meaning that sense which the people conversant with the common subject matter with which the statute is dealing would attribute to it. It is to be construed as understood in common parlance".
5. The learned Departmental Representative, Shri K.V. Kunni Krishnan, opposed the arguments. He submitted that the imported goods were coated paper and fell under Heading 48 of the I.C.T. and, therefore, the assessment is correct and the arguments of the appellant have no force.
6. We have considered the submissions made by both sides. In this context we perused the copies of the Bills of Entry filed by the appellants. In Bill of Entry No. TC-274 dated 20-2-80, the goodsgwere described as 'film laminate with paper backing' which was amplified by the Department as coated paper for manufacture of battery. In another Bill of Entry of 1978-79, it was described as battery material (rest of the description is not clear, the copy being illegible) and in yet another Bill of Entry (name of the ship : Vishva Nidhi) it was described as film laminate and was amplified as film laminate paper backing. In the importation by Vishva Jyoti (1979-80) imported goods were described as film laminate with paper backing and was amplified as film laminated paper other than electrical insulation.
7. The main ground of the appellant is that the goods imported by them do not have any function of paper, but that of a chemical being used as a part of electric cell i.e., in layer built pack. It is ascertained that the same goods were being assessed under Item 87 in the old Tariff (prior to 1976) as goods not otherwise specified. It also appears to be correct that the Board issued a Tariff Advice to the effect that heat-test paper was classifiable under item 68 of the Central Excise Tariff and not under Tariff item 17 as paper.
8. While these claims regarding the earlier classification etc; put forward by the appellant may be correct, the classification by the Customs authorities has to be done according to the Tariff. A look at Chapter 48 of the Customs Tariff Act shows that it has only one heading i.e., 48.01/21 under which the goods have been assessed and disputed by the appellant. The wording of the item is "paper and paperboard, all sorts...(including impregnated, coated...paper or paperboard)". The Collector in his Order, inter alia, recorded as follows :- "The appellants have referred to Chapter Note 2 under Chapter 48 of the B.T.N. which reads : 'They do not apply to paper or paperboard which has been further processed, for example, by coating or impregnation'. However, on a full reading of this Chapter Note, I find it reads as follows : "Subject to the provisions of Note 3, Heading Numbers 48.01 and 48.02 are to be taken to include paper and paper-board...' Thus, the reference here is two Heading Nos. 48.01 and 48.02. Further on in the B.T.N., under Chapter 48, I find specifically the inclusion of the description 'Paper and paper-board impregnated, coated...' under Heading No. 48.07 and it goes on to say 'The Heading also covers some papers impregnated with insecticides and chemicals'. Thus, it would be evident that the ambit of Chapter 48 is very wide, wide enough to cover paper impregnated and coated with chemicals where the paper may be only a carrier but the assessment is still to be done under Chapter 48." 9. On careful examination of the reasons recorded by the Collector and on perusal of Chapter 48 of the I.C.T., we are of the opinion that the appellants have not Collector's reasoning and that the imported goods are paper impregnated or coated with chemicals and fall under Chapter 48. They have been correctly classified. We, therefore, dismiss the appeal.