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Ajanta Electricals Vs. Collector Central Excise and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ Petition No. 4552/1979
Reported in1988(35)ELT34(P& H)
ActsCentral Excise Act, 1944; Finance (2) Act, 1977; ;Constitution of India - Article 226
AppellantAjanta Electricals
RespondentCollector Central Excise and ors.
Appellant Advocate Bhagirath Dass, Adv.
Respondent Advocate Gopi Chand and; Mani Ram, Advs.
DispositionPitition dismissed
Cases ReferredMadhub Chander v. Raj Coomar Doss
Excerpt: not like alike. he argues that use of word 'namely' clearly suggests that the legislature wanted to define as to which items were included in the expression electric lighting fittings......of india.2. first the factual matrix :m/s. ajanta electricals of phagwara are manufacturing lamp holders, since the year 1958 along with other electrical goods. they supply these goods to various departments of the government and also sell the same in the open market. 3. in 1977, entry no. 61 was added to the 1st schedule of the central excises and salt act, 1944 (hereinafter called 'the act') by the finance (2) act. 1977 (29 of 1977). it reads as under :-_________________________________________________________________item description rate ofno. of goods duty_________________________________________________________________61. electric lighting fittings namely :- switches, plugs ten perand sockets, all kinds : cent adchokes and starters for fluorescent tubes......

Sukhdev Singh Kang, J.

1. Whether lamp holders are electric lighting fittings described in Entry 61 of the 1st Schedule to the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944 and are liable to excise duty is the short but significant question which falls for determination in this writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

2. First the factual matrix :

M/s. Ajanta Electricals of Phagwara are manufacturing lamp holders, since the year 1958 along with other electrical goods. They supply these goods to various departments of the Government and also sell the same in the open market.

3. In 1977, Entry No. 61 was added to the 1st Schedule of the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944 (hereinafter called 'the Act') by the Finance (2) Act. 1977 (29 of 1977). It reads as under :-

_________________________________________________________________Item Description Rate ofNo. of goods duty_________________________________________________________________61. Electric Lighting Fittings namely :- Switches, Plugs Ten perand Sockets, all kinds : cent adChokes and Starters for Fluorescent Tubes. valorem.________________________________________________________________

Under Serial 3 of the Act, excise duty is levied and collected in the manner prescribed and the rates set forth in the 1st Schedule. The result of the addition of Entry No. 61 was that the petitioner was required to pay 10% excise duty on the items mentioned in this entry. Though the language of the entry did not warrant it, yet the departmental authorities interpreted it to mean that lamp holders were covered by this entry. On the insistence of the officers of the excise department, the petitioner-firm after enjoying the benefit of exemption started paying excise duty on lamp holders, although the petitioner continued representing that the lamp holders manufactured by it Were not covered under Entry No. 61. The petitioner came to know that the department was being guided by a Trade Notice No. 100/CE/77 dated the 22nd December, 1977, which reads as under : -

'Sub :- Scope of Tariff Item No. 61-C.E.T. The attention of the trade is invited to Tariff Item No. 61 of Central Excise Tariff.

2. A point has been raised whether the lamp holders (including two-way, three way etc. adapters) and switch-socket combinations

ould be classifiable under Tariff Item No. 61.

3. The matter has been examined and it is clarified that since Item No. 61 covers all kinds of switches, sockets and plugs, the above mentioned articles, which are essentially in the nature of switches, sockets and plugs are covered by Tariff Item No. 61, if they are designed to function as electric lighting fittings.'

The representatives of the Trade had approached the Government nd submitted that the lamp holders were not covered by Entry No. 61. However, this plea was not accepted and the above-mentioned Trade Notice was issued.

4. On September 6, 1979, a deputation of Lamp Holders Manufacturers who had formed themselves into the Punjab Electrical Goods Manufacturers Association, waited upon the Collector, Central Excise, Chandigarh and explained to him the difficulties of the trade and protested against the illegal imposition and realization of excise duty on the Lamp holders. It was urged that the Lamp holders were quite distinct and separate from switches, plugs and sockets and were not covered by Entry No. 61. The petitioner addressed a communication dated 8th November, 1979, to respondent No. 2 requesting him to exempt the lamp holders from the levy of excise duty. However, he did not accept the contention f the petitioner and replied that lamp holders are designed to function as Electric Lighting Fitting and are classifiable under TAriff Item 61 and the petitioner was liable to pay duty on lamp holders. This communication is dated 10th of December, 1979. Since the petitioner is being made to pay excise duty on lamp holders and Item No. 61 has been interpreted by the highest departmental authority, the petitioner has filed this petition seeking directions that respondents be restrained from charging excise duty on lamp holders.

5. Mr. Bhagirath Dass, learned counsel for the petitioner, has argued that lamp holders are clearly distinct and separate from switches, plugs and sockets mentioned in Item No. 61. They differ in their composition and usage. They do not like alike. They are used for different purposes. Even a layman can differentiate between a switch, plug, socket and a lamp holder. They are treated as separate items by the Trade. A customer who asked for a lamp holder will not be offered socket, plug or switch by any shopkeeper. Even the Indian Standards Institution has treated these four articles separately. On the other hand, Mr. Gopi Chand Bhalla, the learned counsel for the respondents, has argued that the petitioner has not placed sufficient material on the file which may enable this Court to decide the point raised by Mr. Bhagirath Dass. He has contended that lamp holders may be accepted by some people as sockets.

6. The expression sockets, plugs, switches and lamp holders are wellknown in trade circles. These are articles of daily use and members of the general public even have come to identify them as separate and distinct articles. Mr. Bhagirath Dass has produced before me three compiations of the Indian Standards Institution, which has been set up by the Government of India, which show that lamp holders, plugs, sockets and switches have been treated as different, separate and distinct articles by this prestigious institution. They have prescribed different specifications for all these four items. Mr. Bhagirath Dass has produced specimens of switch, socket, plug and lamp holders before me. A bare look at them establishes that they are entirely distinct and separate articles. I, therefore, hold that lamp holders are not included in terms plugs, switches and sockets.

7. However, the question arises whether lamp holders fall within . the expression 'Electric Lighting Fittings'. Mr. Bhagirath Dass has argued that the word 'namely' has been advisedly used after the words 'The Electric Lighting Fittings' to restrict their meaning and to confine them to the articles which have been mentioned after this word. They are, switches, plugs and sockets, all kinds, chokes and starters for fluorescent tubes. He argues that use of word 'namely' clearly suggests that the Legislature wanted to define as to which items were included in the expression Electric Lighting Fittings. The use of word 'namely' suggests that the articles have been specified and limited.

8. Mr. Gopi Chand has on the other hand argued that according to ordinary dictionary meaning, 'namely' means specifically, expressly; that is to say; 'to wit'. Word 'namely' has not been used to restrict the meaning of the term Electric Lighting Fittings to the articles mentioned. It only illustrates as to what articles may be treated as Electric Lighting Fittings.

9. In my view, the word 'namely' has various shades of meaning depending on the context or intent with which it is used. According to the plain grammatical meaning word 'namely' in relation to Electric Lighting Fittings will be construed as meaning 'That is to say'. It is used to explain and illustrate the preceding term. It has been employed in an interpretative sense indicating what is included in the previous term. Ordinarily, word 'namely' will connote especially, expressly or specifically. It means that the articles following this word are included in the previous ierm. The articles mentioned after the word 'namely' are only certain illustrations of the goods that are intended to be included in the expression Electric Lighting Fittings. The list of articles mentioned is only illustrative. It is not exhaustive.

10. In Stroud's Judicial Dictionary, Vol. J, third Edition, at page 1854, word 'namely' is defined to mean, 'a difference, in grammatical sense, in strictness exists between the words 'namely' and 'including, 'namely' imports interpretation, i.e. 'indicates what is included in the previous term; but 'including' imports addition, i.e. indicates something not included. 'Namely' means 'by name' or 'that is to say'.

11. It is clear from the above that 'namely' indicates what is included in the previous term i.e. Electric Lighting Fittings include sockets, plugs and switches. This does not, however, mean that other articles which though may be Electric Lighting Fittings are not included in Item 61.

12. According to this dictionary as also Webster's International Dictionary, 'namely' means, 'that is to say'. .The expression 'that is to say', has been the subject matter of judicial interpretation in Bhola Prasad v. Emperor, AIR 1942 FC 17. It has been held that, 'the words 'that is to say', the production, manufacture, possession, transport, purchase and sale of intoxicating liquors, opium and other narcotic drugs' in Schedule 7, List 2, Item 31 explain or illustrate and do not amplify or limit the words 'intoxicating liquors and narcotic drugs' immediately preceding them and cover the whole field of possible legislation on the .subject.' It is clear that in the instant case the word 'namely' was intended by the legislative authority to indicate what is included in the previous term. The expression Electric Lighting Fittings does not mean only sockets, plugs and switches. It includes other items also which are in common parlance accepted to mean Electric Lighting Fittings. In fact, one cannot imagine any Electric Lighting Fittings without the lamp holders being fitted therein. Ordinarily every such fittings will require lamp holders to hold the electric bulbs.

13. Mr. Bhagirath Dass then argued that if the Item 61 is interpreted to include lamp holders it will result in a great hardship to the small scale manufacturers. The policy of the State is to encourage such small scale industries and not to unnecessarily burden them with taxes. There is a complete answer to this submission of Mr. Bhagirath Dass in the famous words of Sir Richard Couch C.J. in Madhub Chander v. Raj Coomar Doss (1912) 14 Bom. L R 76 which have become locus classic. He observed, 'we have nothing to do with the policy of such a law. All we have to do is to take the words of the statute and put upon them meanings they appear plainly to bear.'

14. From the above discussion, it is clear that the lamp holders squarely fall within Entry 61 because they are Electric Lighting Fittings even though they may not be plugs, sockets and switches.

15. There is, therefore, no merit in this petition and the same is dismissed but with no order as to costs.

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