1. Appeal under Section 129A of the Customs Act, 1962 praying that in.
the circumstances stated therein, the Tribunal will be pleased to set aside the order of the Central Board of Excise and Customs, dated 28-4-1980 in Order No. 998-A to 1011-A, with consequential relief.
2. The appeal coming up for orders upon perusing the records and upon hearing the arguments of Shri C. Natarajan, employee of the appellant and upon hearing the arguments of Shri A. Vijayaraghavan, Departmental Representative for the respondent, the Tribunal makes the following order : 3. Aggrieved by the order of the Central Board of Excise and Customs referred to above, the appellant filed a revision application before the Government of India, which stands transferred to the Tribunal in terms of Section 131B of the Act.
4. A consignment of eight drums of Thiamine Mononitrate valued at Rs. 47,703/- imported by M/s. Ambadi Enterprises Ltd., Madras, the appellant-firm, were not allowed clearance against the licence produced by them. The Collector of Customs, Madras, confiscated the goods under Section 111(d) of the Act and fixed a fine in lieu of confiscation of Rs. 15,901/- vide his Order No. S8/300/79-Gr.I dated 8-11-1979. In doing so, he found that the licence produced by them which authorised the importation of raw materials, components consumable stores etc. in accordance with the provisions of para 106(1) of Part B of Section I of the Policy Book for 1977-78, Volume II, did not cover the importation though the importer was an export house, as defined in the Policy; export linked items listed in Annexure II to Part B, Volume II of the Import Policy, cannot be imported by them. According to the relevant Policy Book Vitamin B-1 can be imported only against export of Vitamin B-1 tablets. The Collector held that Thiamine Mononitrate is a Vitamin B-1 and cannot be imported except against an export linked licence in respect of export of Vitamin B-1 tablets. When the matter was taken up in appeal with the Central Board of Excise and Customs, the Board upheld the order of the Collector but reduced the fine in lieu of confiscation of Rs. 4,800/-. Before the Board it was urged that certain clarifications had been obtained from I.T.C. authorities regarding the importation of Thiamine Mononitrate. It was held by the Board that the correspondence showed that the reply was in the context of a query as to whether canalised items can be imported against a particular licence issued during the period 1977-78.
(i) The J.C.C.I. had clarified to the State Bank of India that Thiamine Mononitrate could be imported by the appellants in the capacity as a registered export house vide letter No. Engg/CA 203/L.
190/2/. 77/77-78 dated 14-3-78; (ii) Vitamin B-1 refers only to Thiamine Hydrochloride according to British Pharmacopoeia as well as Indian Pharmacopoeia. In fact, Indian Pharmacopoeia (2nd Edition) refers to Thiamine Mono-nitrate as Vitamin-B and not B-1; (iii) In similar circumstances the Board, acting through another Member, had in the case of other parties accepted the contention that Thiamine Mononitrate is not Vitamin-B1 for the purposes of import restriction.
6. In the face of the observations of the Board that the correspondence with the J.C.C.I. was in regard to canalisation of import items, and not with pointed reference to Thiamine Mononitrate as such, we called for a copy of the letter from the State Bank of India to which the letter of the Controller of Imports and Exports dated 14-3-78 is a reply. The letter of the State Bank of India is a query about the importation of Thiamine Mononitrate as it is a canalised item, and whether the importer is eligible to import such a canalised item, as he is a registered export house. That Vitamin-B1 is an export linked item and hence banned for import otherwise than against exports of Vitamin-B1 tablets was not directly posed by the Bank nor answered by the Controller of Imports and Exports. We, therefore, agree with the finding of the Board that the exchange of correspondence between the Bank and the J.C.C.I. would not justify the import of Thiamine Mononitrate against the licence produced.
7. The British Pharmacopoeia (Volume I) refers to Thiamine Hydro-chloride and calls it a component of Vitamin-B. In Volume II, in dealing with preparations, it refers to Thiamine Hydrochloride injection and Thiamine Hydrochloride tablets explaining that they are respectively Vitamin-B1 injection and Vitamin-B1 tablets. This, no doubt, is evidence to conclude that Thiamine Hydrochloride is a Vitamin-B1 but it does not necessarily imply that another compound of Thiamine is not also Vitamin B1, McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms (2nd Edition) refers to Thiamine itself as follows : "Thiamine : A member of the Vitamin-B complex that occurs in many natural sources, frequently in the form of cocarboxyiase. Also known as aneurine; Vitamin-B1." This would suggest that what is treated as Vitamin-B1 is Thiamine proper and not necessarily any of its derivatives; 8. The condensed Chemical Dictionary (10th Edition) also refers to Thiamine as follows : "Thiamine (Vitamin-B1) : The antineuritic vitamin essential for growth and the prevention of beriberi. It functions in intermediate carbohydrate metabolism in coenzyme form in the decarboxylation of alphaketo acids." It also states that Thiamine is available as Thiamine Hydrochloride and Thiamine Mononitrate. The B.T.N. speaks about Thiamine and its salts and refers to Thiamine as Vitamin-B1. From the above, it would be seen that what is considered as Vitamin-B1 in technical parlance is Thiamine simpliciter. But for practical purposes in formulary, it is used as one salt or other of Thiamine. The Pharmacopoeia of India, 1966, referred to by the appellant, describes Thiamine Mononitrate as Vitamin B. As we have seen just now the active ingredient in Thiamine Mononitrate is Thiamine; if it were to be accepted as Vitamin B, it can only be as Vitamin-B1 and nothing else.
9. At the time of hearing we had enquired of the appellant as to the use to which Thiamine Mononitrate imported by them was put. They indicated that it was sold to Pfizer Limited, Bombay, to make "Becosules" capsules and "Multivitaplex Forte" capsules, samples of which were produced for inspection. "Becosules" is described as a preparation containing Vitamin B and Vitamin C. It contains Thiamine Mononitrate as such along with other vitamins. There is no other salt of Thiamine in it. In the same way, in 'Multivitaplex Forte' capsules also the only component relatable to Vitamin B1 is Thiamine Mononitrate, again used as such. Thus, it is found that in practice Thiamine Mononitrate is used in India as a Vitamin-B1 by a recognised pharmaceutical company to whom the goods are said to have been sold by the importer.
10. In the light of the above it is clear that Thiamine Mononitrate is a Vitamin-B1 whose importation is not permitted to an export house unless it is against a licence linked to exports of Vitamin B1 tablets.
11. We have also perused the Order No. 567-71 dated 11-10-1981 of the Board relied on by the appellant in which certain consignments of Thiamine Mononitrate imported at Bombay had been allowed to be cleared in appeal, without any penal action. A perusal of that order shows that the Board has seen various publications in which Thiamine Hydro-chloride has been referred to as a Vitamin-B1. In none of these, is there an indication that Vitamin-B1 is only Thiamine Hydrochloride and nothing else. The non-occurrence of Thiamine Mononitrate in the publications noticed by the Board in its order by itself does not prove the negative that it is not a Vitamin-B1.
12. In the above analysis, we find that Thiamine Mononitrate is a Vitamin-B1, the importation of which is not permitted to an export-house against the licence produced (which incidentally shows the export product as engineering goods and bicycles complete and components and accessories therefor, read with the inter-changeability clause). The subsisting fine in lieu of confiscation is itself a low one. Under the circumstances, the appeal is dismissed.