D.S. Tewatia, J.
1. The petitioner-firm, which is registered as a Small-Scale Reroller with the Iron and Steel Controller, Ministry of Steel, Government of India, Calcutta, manufactures products like rods, bars, flats etc., from old and rerollable scrap, semi-finished steel and ingots manufactured with the aid of electric furnaces by Mini-Steel Plants set up by the private enterprises. Prior to 1-3-1973, no excise duty was leviable on ingots, whether manufactured in the Main Steel Plants like Tata Iron and Steel, Rourkela, Bhillai or Durgapur Steel Plants or by Mini-Steel Plants with the aid of electric furnaces. However, product-duty on flats manufactured from ingots coming from either source was levied as under :
(i) Flats exceeding 5 mm but not exceeding 10 mm. Rs. 75/- permetric tonne.(ii) Flats exceeding 10 mm in thickness. Rs. 65/- permetric tonne.
In addition to the above amount, regulatory excise duty at the rate of 50 per cent of the above said duty was levied.
2. On 1-3-1973, respondent No. 1, that is, Union of India, issued notification No. 65/73 (Annexure 'A' to the writ petition) under Sub-rule (1) of Rule 8 of the Central Excise Rules, 1944, hereinafter referred to as the Rules, providing that the Steel ingots manufactured with the aid of electric furnace from specified material were to be exempt from payment of duty in excess of Rs.50/- per metric tonne. The exemption in the case of ingots manufactured by the main producers from payment of duty was in excess of Rs. 100/- per metric tonne, that is, if a Mini-Steel Plant was to pay Rs. 50/-as excise duty on ingots produced by it, the main producers of ingots, that is, Main Steel Plants, were to pay such duty at Rs. 100/- per metric tonne on ingots produced by them.
3. On the same date viz. 1-3-1973, another notification No. 67/73 (Annexure 'B' to the writ petition) was promulgated by the Union of India, respondent No. 1, in which it was provided that the given products made from steel ingots, on which duty at the appropriate rate had already been paid, were to bear excise duty at the rate of Rs. 65/- per metric tonne irrespective of the fact whether ingots used for producing such products were produced by the main producers or the Mini-Steel Plants with the aid of electric furnaces.
4. A third notification No. 68/73 (Annexure 'C to the writ petition), on the same date, that is, 1-3-1973, was issued by respondent No. 1 providing that flats of thickness exceeding 5 mm but not exceeding 10 mm were exempt from payment of so much of duty as was in excess of Rs. 175/- and flats exceeding 10 mm were similarly exempt from payment of so much of duty as was in excess of Rs. 165/-. Sub-clause (b) of the proviso at the end of the notification, however, provided that in the case of products mentioned in the aforesaid table made from steel ingots, on which appropriate duty of excise had already been paid, the duty specified in column (3) shall be reduced by an amount equal to the amount of duty already paid on such steel ingots.
5. The petitioner-firm in this case has impugned the demand for excise duty on the basis of notification, annexure 'C, inter-alia, on two grounds (1) that the goods in question were manufactured much before 1-3-1973 and the incidence of excise-duty being on the manufacture of goods, the excise levy of such goods would not be recoverable in terms of the impugned notification, annexure 'C, and (2) that the proviso part of the impugned notification is discriminatory and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, in that while two manufacturers of flats from the same material, that is, ingots, have been subjected to differing rates of excise-duty, the one who manufactured flats from ingots received from Mini-Steel Plants, which had paid Rs. 50/- as excise-duty on ingots produced by such plants, shall have to pay excise-duty at the rate of Rs. 125/- per metric tonne on flats with thickness of 5 mm to 10 mm and Rs. 115/- per metric tonne on flats of thickness of 10 mm and above, while the other manufacturer of flats using ingots secured from the Main Steel Plants and on which such steel plants had paid Rs. 100/- as excise duty on such ingots, would be charged Rs. 75/- and Rs. 65/- respectively on flats of the corresponding thickness.
6. The petitioner-firm has additionally challenged the vires of Sub-rule (1) of the Rule 8 of the Rules which empowers the Central Government to grant exemption from payment of excise-duty as being arbitrary on the ground that it suffers from the vice of excessive delegation of legislative power.
7. In view of the provisions of Rule 9-A (1) (ii) of the Rules, Mr. D.S. Nehra, counsel for the petitioner-firm, has not pressed his first ground.
8. As regards the attack on the vires of Sub-rule (1) of Rule 8, it may be observed that apex Court in Orient Weaving Mills (P) Ltd. and Anr. v. Union of India and Ors., AIR 1963 S.C. 98 had upheld this rule to be intravires and expressly ruled that it did not suffer from the vice of excessive delegation of legislative power. In view of the authoritative pronouncement by the Supreme Court, I find no merit in the contention advanced on behalf of the petitioner-firm that Sub-rule (1) of Rule 8 suffers from the vice of excessive delegation of legislative power
9. What now survives for consideration is the second ground of attack against the notification, annexure 'C, which in its working is said to be treating with uneven hand the persons similarly situated.
10. The impugned notification in actual effect gives concession and does not impose any additional burden by way of excise-levy. It is true that in one case the exemption works out to be less than in the other case, but that is not for the'reason that respondent No. 1 intended to give less concession to one manufacturer of flats than the other. What the proviso to the impugned notification has achieved is the clubbing of the excise-duty payable on the manufacturer of ingots with the one payable on the products manufactured from the ingots. It did not add a bit to the excise-duty burden imposed by the non proviso part of the notification in question.
11. the contention advanced by the petitioner-firm is accepted and the proviso part of the impugned notification is struck down, then the resultant position would not be of any gain to the petitioner-firm, unless the Government issues a modified notification of the kind which it had issued on 1-3-1974 [GSR (72)E], wherein the exemption granted was uniform.
12. I am, therefore, of the view that the impugned notification cannot be attacked as being discriminatory merely on account of the fact that the Central Government had tried to club the excise-duty paid on the ingots by its manufacturers and the excise-duty levied on flats manufactured from such ingots and had thereby tried to give some relief in excise-duty to the manufacturer of flats from the ingots.
13. For the reasons above mentioned, I find no merit in this petition and dismiss the same, but with no order as to costs.