P. Subramanianpoti, J.
1. The petitioner is a public limited company manufacturing cables of different sizes at its factory at Kundra. The cables so manufactured are liable to excise duty. Item 33B in the First Schedule of the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944 is the relevant provisions for such duty. That entry prior to amendment by Finance Act, 1966 read :
'Item 33B (i) Insulated copper wires and cables, whether sheathed or insheathed, any core of which, not being one specially designed as a pilot core, has a sectional area of less than 8.0645 a square millimetres and wires and cables of other metals and alloys of not more than equivalent conductivity - 15 % ad valorem,(ii) All others - 5% ad valorem.'
This was amended by Finance Act, 1966, and as amended it reads : -
'Item 33B (i). Insulated wires and cables of copper, aluminium or other metals and alloys, whether sheathed or unsheathed, the conductor of any core of which, not being one specially designed as a pilot core has a sectional area not exceeding 1.5 sq. mm. In the case of copper, or not exeeding 2.5 sq. mm. in the case of aluminium or of not more than equivalent conductivity as of copper in the case of other metals and alloys - 15% ad valorem (ii) All others - 5% ad valorem.
Thereunder under the rule as it stood at the relevant time, the aluminium cables were dutiable at 15 per cent ad valorem if the core of such cables did not exceed 2.5 sq. mm. If the sectional area exceeded this the rate of duty was 5 per cent.
2. The petitioner is manufacturing insulated aluminium cables with sectional area of 2.545 square millimetre. Such area being in excess of 2.5 square millimetres the petitioner claims that the duty should be only at 5 per cent. But the Assistant Collector, Central Excisa, Trivandrum, by Ext. Plorder, determined duty at 15 per cent and in appeal Ext P2 before the Collector of Customs and Central Excise, Cochin the petitioner did not meet with any success for he too adopted duty at 15 per cent ad valorem. This was by Ext. P3 order. A revision was filed before the Government of India and this revision was disposed of by Ext. P5 order. That again adopted 15 per cent ad valorem as if the sectional core did not exceed 2.5 square millimetre.
3. The one and the only argument on behalf of the respondents is that 2.545 square millimetre must be reckoned as 2.5 square millimetres. This is by rounding off and leaving out the second and the third decimal places. In support of this it is stated in the counter-affidavit that as the tariff definition lays down the specification only up to the first decimal place the area of the particular cable has necessarily to be calculated and corrected up to the first decimal place in accordance with accepted arithmetical norms of correction of decimal places, lest there be an arthimetical dallcy in the fallacy in the method of correction. It is further stated that there is nothing unjust or erroneous in this method.
4. There is no place for applying any arithmetical norms here. The question is one of application of fiscal statute. The statute specifically lays down the rate of duty. It provides for 15 per cent duty in certain cases and in all other cases 5 per cent duty. The line of demarcation is also drawn. So long as 2.5 square millimetre is not exceeded the higher duty is leviable. But if the area of the sectional core of the cable exceeds 2.5 square millimetre the lesser duty is attracted. When the area is 2.545 square millimetre it is simple logic that it exceeds 2.5 square millimetre. No rounding off is called for. It is certainly plain that in such a case it is duty at 5 per cent that applies. The view taken by the authorities is perverse. The error is quite apparent on the face of the record.
5. Though the petitioner has a case that the sectional area referred to in Item 33B is not merely the area of the metallic core but the area inclusive of the insulation it is not necessary to consider this, for, even taking the area of the metallic core it exceeds 2.5 square millimetre and for that reason it is the lesser rate of duty that is attracted.
6. The Original Petition is therefore, allowed with costs. Exts. P1, P3, P5 are quashed and the authorities are directed to assess at the lower rate of 5 per cent.