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The Bengal National Textile Mills Ltd. Vs. C.T.A. Pillai, Jt. Secretary and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectExcise
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Case NumberMatter No. 926 of 1977
Judge
Reported in1979CENCUS319D,1979(4)ELT664(Cal)
AppellantThe Bengal National Textile Mills Ltd.
RespondentC.T.A. Pillai, Jt. Secretary and ors.
Cases ReferredDunlop India Ltd. v. Union of India
Excerpt:
central excises & salt act, 1944 - section 3 - tariff item 18--rayon & synthetic fibres and yarn--notification no. 52/72-c.e., dated 17.3.1972, as subsequently amended--held that at the relevant time synthetic staple fiber of non-cellulosic origin did not include acrylic fibre. - ordersabyasachi mukharji, j.1. in this application under article 226 of the constitution, there are three petitioners. first one is the company and the petitioners nos. 2 & 3 are the directors of the said company, the petitioners challenge in this application mainly on order of the central government passed in revision on 14th july, 1977 which was communicated to the petitioners on 11th august, 1977. in order to appreciate the challenge, it is necessary to narrate a few facts. the petitioner no. 1 is a public limited company and has its mill at birati in the district of 24 parganas near calcutta and, inter-alia, carries on business as manufacturers of woollen worsted synthetic yarns of various types and also as manufacturers of woollen, art silk and other fabrics of various kinds. item.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Sabyasachi Mukharji, J.

1. In this application under Article 226 of the Constitution, there are three petitioners. First one is the Company and the petitioners Nos. 2 & 3 are the Directors of the said Company, The petitioners challenge in this application mainly on order of the Central Government passed in revision on 14th July, 1977 which was communicated to the petitioners on 11th August, 1977. In order to appreciate the challenge, it is necessary to narrate a few facts. The petitioner No. 1 is a public limited company and has its mill at Birati in the district of 24 parganas near Calcutta and, inter-alia, carries on business as manufacturers of woollen worsted synthetic yarns of various types and also as manufacturers of woollen, art silk and other fabrics of various kinds. Item No. 18 of the First Schedule to the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944 called Central Excise Tariff which was in force during the relevant period, that is to say, in 1974 was as follows:

18. Rayon and Synthetic Fibres and Yarn, in or in relation to the manufacture of which any process is ordinarily carried on with the aid of power--Explanation : Rayon and synthetic Fibres and Yarn shall be deemed to include-

(i) Man-made fibers ;

(ii) Spun (discontinuous) yarn containing not less than ninety per cent by weight of man-made fibres calculated on the total fibre content;

(iii) Man-made filament (continuous) yarn; and

(iv) Man-made metallic yarn.

2. Under a notification issued by the Government of India on 17th March, 1972, the Central Government exempted yarn spun out of synthetic staple fibre falling under Item No. 18 of the First Schedule to the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944 and of the descriptions specified in column 2 of the Table annexed to the said notification from so much of the duty of excise leviable thereon as was in excess of the duty specified in the corresponding entry in column 3 thereof. The relevant portion of Table was as follows:

Column 1 Column 2 Column 3

2 Yarn Spun-

(a) Wholly out of synthetic

staple Fibre of non-

cellulosic origin other

than acrylic fibre, or

(b) partly out of the staple

fibre aforesaid and partly

any other fibre or fibres,

provided that the natural

fibre content, if any, of

the yarn does not exceed

10 per cent of its weight-

If the non-cellulosic fibre

content of it is-

(i) 50 per cent or more Rs. 15,00

(ii) less than SO per cent

but not less than 25 per

cent 12.00

(iii) less than 25 per cent but

more than 10 per cent 10.00

(iv) 10 per cent or less 7.50

3. It appears that there was an amendment to the notification which was to the following effect:

In exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-rule (1) of Rule 8 of the Central Excise rule, 1944, the Central Government hereby directs that the notifications of the Government of India in the Ministry of Finance (Department of Revenue and Insurance) specified in column (2) of the Table hereto annexed shall be amended in the manner specified in column (3) of the said Table.

THE TABLE

_________________________________________________

SI. Notification Amendment

No. Number &

date

1 2 3

1. 52/72-Central In the Table annexed

Excise, dated to the said notification,

the 17th in column (2)

March, 1972. against S. No. 2, for

the words 'and partly

Any other fibre or

fibres', the words and

brackets and 'partly

Any other fibre or

fibres (including

acrylic fibre)' shall be

substituted.

2. ...

3. ...

_________________________________________________

There was further amendment to the notification on 1st march, 1973 which was subsequently amended on the 1st March, 1974 and the relevant portion of the said notification was as follows:

Item Description of goods Rate of

No. duty

18 Rayon and synthetic

fibres and yarn in or

in relation to the

manufacture of which

any process is or dinarily

carried on with the aid

of power Rs. 60.00

per kg.

** ** **

Under Government of India, Ministry of Finance (Department of Revenue and Insurance), Notification No. 52/72 Central Excise, dated the 17th March, 1972, as subsequently amended by Notification No. 170/72, Central Excise dated the 24th July, 1972, No. 49/73, Central Excise, dated the 1st March, 1973 and No. 28/74, Central Excise, dt. the 1st March, 1974 the Central Government hereby exempts yarn spun out of synthetic staple fibres falling under Item No. 18 of the First Schedule to the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944 (1 of 1944) and of the description specified in column (2) of the Table hereto annexed, from so much of the duty of excise leviable thereon as is in excess of duty specified in the corresponding entry in column (3) thereof:

** ** **

Sl. Description Duty

No.

2 Yarn spun:-

(a) wholly out of synthetic

staple fibre of non-

cellulosic origin other than

acrylic fibre or

(b) partly out of the staple

fibre aforesaid and partly any

other fibre or fibres (including

acrylic fibre) provided that the

natural fibre content, if any of

the yarn does not exceed 10

per cent of its weight-

if the non-cellulosic fibre

content of it is--

(i) 50 per cent or more 15.00

(ii) less than 50 per cent but

not less than 25 per cent-- 12.00,

(iii) less than 25 per cent

but more than 10 per cent 10.00

(iv) 10 per cent or less 7.50

4. The Tariff, as in operation on the relevant date, viz., 11th May, 1974, was as indicated in the preceding paragraph. Gate passes were issued on 23rd July, 1974 and goods were cleared by the petitioner No. 1 on payment of excise duty at Rs. 7.50 per kg. According to the petitioners, the goods cleared contained 93% acrylic fibre and 7% nylon tops. The Assistant Collector of Central Excise, Calcutta asked the petitioner No. 1 to show cause why duty at the rate of Rs. 15/-should not be levied on the goods cleared under the said gate passes as the goods contained more than 50% synthetic staple fibres of non-cellulosic origin. The petitioner No. 1 showed cause on 31st January, 1975.

5. On 1st March, 1975, there was further amendment to the notification which was to the following effect:

Item Description of Rate of

No. goods duty

18 Rayon and synthetic fibres 85.00 per

and yarn including Tex- kg.

tured yarn, in or in relation

to the manufacture The duty

any process is ordinarily for the

carried on with the aid of time being

power. leviable on

the base yarn,

if not already

paid, plus Rs.

20.00 per kg.

(i) Fibres and yarn, other

than Textured yarn ;

(ii) Textured yarn produced

out of Base yarn

(iii) Other textured yarn Rs. 105.00

Per kg.

Explanation I:--'Fibres and yarn other than Textured Yarn shall be deemed to include:

(i) Man made fibres:

(ii) Man-made metallic yarn ;

(iii) Spun (discontinuous) yarn containing not less than 90 per cent by weight of, man-made fibres calculated on the total fibre content, and

(iv) Man-made filament (continuous) Yarn that has not been processed to introduce crimps, coils, loops or curls along the length of thefilaments, but does not include bulked yarn and stretch yarn.

Explanation II--''Textured Yarn' means yarn that has been processed to introduce crimps; coils, loops or curls along the length of the filaments and shall include bulked yarn and stretch yarn.

Explanation III--'Base yarn' means yarn falling under sub-item (1) of this item from which the Textured yarn has been produced.

Explanation IV-This item does not include mineral fibres and yarn Notification No. 27/75 C.E. dated 3.1.75 : In exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-rule (1) Of Rule 8 of the Central Excise Rules, 1944, and in supersession of the notification of the Government of India in the Ministry of Finance (Department of Revenue and Insurance) No. 52/72-Central Excise, dated the 17th March, 1972, the Central Government hereby exempts yarn spun out of synthetic staple fibres falling under Item No. 18(1) of the First Schedule to the Central Excise and Salt Act, 1944 (1 of 1944) and of the description specified in col. (2) of the Table hereto annexed, from so much of the duty of excise leviable thereon as is in excess of the duty specified in the corresponding entry in column (3) thereof.

THE TABLE

SI. Description Duty

No.

1. Yarn spun- Rs. Per kg

(a) wholly out of synthetic

staple fibre of cellulosic

origin or

(b) Out of staple fibre

aforesaid and cotton only,

provided that the cotton

content of the yarn does

not exceed 10 per cent of

its weight :

(i) of 84 or more counts 4.00

(ii) of 69 or more counts

but less than 84 counts 3. 0

(iii) of 51 or more counts

but less, than 69 counts 2.80

(iv) of 40 or more counts

but less than 51 counts 2.40

(v) of 34 or more counts but

less than 40 counts 1.60

(vi) of 29 or more counts but

less than 34 counts 1.45

(vii) of 22 or more counts but

less than 29 counts 0.65

(viii) of 14 or more counts but

less than 22 counts 0.30

(ix) of less than 14 counts 0.15

(c) out of staple fibre

aforesaid and any natural

fibre other than cotton,

provided that the natural

fibre content of the yarn

does not exceed 10 per

cent of its weight. 12.00

2. (a) Wholly out of synthetic

staple fibre of non-

cellulosic origin other

than acrylic fibre, or

(b) partly out of the staple

fibre aforesaid and partly

any other fibre or fibres

(including acrylic fibre)

provided that the natural

fibre content, if any, of

the yarn does not exceed

10 per cent of its weight.

If the non-cellulosic fibre content of it is :

(i) 50 per cent or more 24.00

(ii) less than 50 per cent, but

not less than 25 per cent 19.20

(iii) less than 25 per cent, but

more than 10 per cent 16.00

(iv) 10 per cent or less 12.00

3. Yarn spun either wholly out

of acrylic fibre or partly of

such fibre and partly of any

natural fibre, the natural

fibre content of such yarn

being not more than 10

per cent-

(1) manufactured on worsted system-

(a) hand knitting 16.00

(b) others

(i) of 40 counts and above- 22.40

(ii) of above 20 counts but

below 40 counts- 12.80

(iii) of 20 counts and below 6.40

(2) Manufactured on other system-

(i) of 40 counts and above 12.80

(ii) of above 20 counts

but below 40 counts 8.00

(iii) of 20 counts and below 4.80

Explanation : for the purpose of this notification the term account' means New French Count.

Notification No. 73/76 C.E. dated 16.3.76. In exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-rule (1) of Rule 8 of the Central Excise Rules 1944, the Central Government hereby directs that the notifications of the Government of India in the Ministry of Finance (Department of Revenue and Insurance) specified in column (2) of the Table hereto annexed shall be amended or further amended as the case may be, in the manner specified in the corresponding entry in coilumn (3) of the said Table.

6. On 20th March, 1975, an order was passed by the Assistant Collector of Central Excise and duty was levied at Rs. 15/- per kg. In the said order the Assistant Collector, Central Excise observed that the entire matter was carefully examined in the light of notification No. 52/72-C.E. dated 17th March, 1972 and it revealed that the yarn content of the product in question was 93% acrylic and 7% nylon. According to the Assistant Collector it was made out of 100% synthetic staple fibre of non-cellulosic origin. The product, therefore, attracted SI. No. 2 (b) (I) of Notification No. 52/72-C.E. dated 17th March, 1972 as it contained more than 50% of synthetic staple fibre of non-cellulosic origin. The order which the Assistant Collector of Central Excise passed was to the following effect:

Having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case as on record as well as the submissions made and contention taken by the assessee, I am satisfied that the Yarn cleared by the assessee under Gate Pass Nos. 47 dated 23.7.74 and 48 dated 24.7.74 attracts duty @ Rs. 15 per kg. as envisaged in Sl. No. 2 (b) (1) of Notification No. 52/72-C.E., dated 17.3.72 and not Rs. 7.50 under S.No. 2(b) (iv) of the said Notification. Since duty has been paid @ Rs. 7.50 per kg., I confirm the demand for the differential duty for Rs. 5094.38 and order under Rule 10 of Central Excise Rule 1944 that the assessee should pay Rs. 5094.38 to the Reserve Bank of India, Calcutta on T.R. 6 under Head of Account 038-Union Excise Duties' A shareable duties basic excise duties--Additional excise duties--Receipted copy of T.R. 6 should be submitted to this office for record within 10 days of the receipt of this Order.

7. The petitioner No. 1 preferred an appeal and the Appellate Collector allowed the appeal holding, inter-alia, as follows:

I have carefully gone through the records of the case, the appeal petition and the submission of the appellants at the time of personal hearing held on 22.4.75.

The subject goods contained 93% of acrylic fibre and 7% of nylon fibre. The appellants assessed the same @ Rs. 7.50 per kg.' under Sl. No. 2(b) (iv) of notification No. 52/72 dated 17.3.72. But Asstt. Collector ordered that the goods should pay duty @ Rs. 15,00 per kg. presented under Sl. No. 2(b) (i) of the above notification as the yarn contained more than 50% of non-cellulosic fibre--the actual content of the non-cellulosic fibre in the yarn being 100%. The appellant urged in the appeal and at the time of heading that acrylic fibre is not to be taken os non-cellulosic fibre for purpose of notification No. 52/72, dated 17.3.72 as clearly clarified in the notification. I am inclined to agree with the appellant and hold that the acrylic fibre is to be taken as included in 'any other fibre or fibres' as distinct from staple fibre according to the provisions of the notification. So, acrylic fibre is not to be taken as non-cellulosic staple fibre in determining rate of duty of yarn under the above notification.

The appeal is, accordingly, admitted with consequential relief, if any.

8. In the meantime; on 16th March, 1976 an amendment notification was is used and the said notification was to the following effect:

Sl. Notification Amendment

No. No. and date

8. 27/75-C.E. In the said notification in

dated 1st the Table-(1) In S. No.

March, 1975. 1, in sub-clause

(i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi). (vii),

(viii) and (ix) of Clause (a) and

(b) and in Clause (c), for the

corresponding entries in column

(3), the entries 3.25 2.60. 2.30,

1.95, 1.20,0.55, 0.15 and 9.75,

should respectively be substituted.

(2) in column (2) against S. No. 2(1)

for the description against Clause (a),

the following description shall

be substituted:

'(a) wholly out of synthetic staple fibre of

non-cellulosic origin including acrylic

fibre; or'(ii) from the description against

Clause (b), the brea-ckets and words

('including acrylic fibre') shall be omitted.

(3) S. No 3 and the entries against

it shall be omitted.

9. The effect of the said notification on the relevant item of the said table is set out hereunder and indicated in red ink

Column 1 Column 2 Column 3

2 (a) Wholly out of synthetic

staple fibre of non-cellulosic

origin including acrylic fibre, or

b) Partly out of the staple fibre

aforesaid and partly any other

fibre or fibres provided that the

natural fibre content, if any,

of the yarn does not exceed 10

per cent of its weight-

If the fibre contents of it is-

(i) 50 per cent or more 24.00

(ii) less than 50 per cent, but

not less than 25 per cent, 19.20

(iii) less than 25 per cent, but

more than 10 per cent, 16.00

(iv) 10 per cent or less 12.00

10. There upon the Central Government issued a notice under Section 36(2) of the Central Excise and Salt Act, 1944 wherein after setting out the facts the show cause notice observed, inter alia, as follows:

On examination of the case records the Central Government tentatively hold the view that the order of the Appellate Collector, Central Excise, Calcutta mentioned above, is not proper, legal and correct in as much as both acrylic and nylon fibres were synthetic fibre of non-cellulosic origin and it is nowhere stated in the Notification No. 52/72-C.E. dated 17.3.72 that to determine the percentage of non-cellulosic fibre content, acrylic fibre content has to be ignored. Since non-cellulosic content in the impugned goods is more than 50% in this case, the goods are classifiable under serial number 2(b)(i) of Notification No. 52/72-C.E. dated 17.3.1972.

The Central Government, therefore, in exercise of powers, vested in them under Section 36(2) of the Central Excise and Salt Act, 1944, propose to set aside the order of the Appellate Collector of Central Excise, Calcutta, mentioned above and to restore the above stated order of the Asstt. Collector of Central Excise, Calcutta IX Division, or the pass such order as would deem fit after consideration of the submission of the party.

Before, however, passing any order the Central Government invite the party to show cause to the Central Government within 30 days of the receipt of this notice as to why the said order of the Appellate Collector of Central Excise, Calcutta be not set aside. If no reply is received within the specified period, the case will be decided on the basis of evidence available on record.

11. The petitioner No. 1 showed cause and thereupon the Central Government has passed the impugned order dated 14th July, 1977 wherein it was observed after setting out the circumstances and the issuance of the show cause notice, inter alia, as follows.:

'The party urged that considering the scheme of Notification No. 52. of 1972 a mixture of acrylic fibre with staple fibre is envisaged only underNo. 2(3) of that Notification. Accordingly the party added, that acrylic fibre should be considered as inclusive of non-cellulosic fibre only after amendment of the present Notification by 73/76 dated 16.3.76.

Government of India have considered structure of Notification No. 52/72 and held that a yarn made out of either 100% synthetic fibre of non-cellulosic origin or such staple fibre and any other non-cellulosic fibre is covered by Sl. No. 2 of the Notification. As acrylic fibre is non cellulosic in origin, the acrylic part of this should also be included, in determining the non-cellulosic fibre content of a mixed yarn.

Government of India, therefore, confirm the tentative view already contained in the show cause notice and order that the order-in-appeal be set aside and order-in-original of the Asstt. Collector be restored.

12. It is mainly the validity of this order, which is under challenge in this application under Article 226 of the Constitution.

13. On behalf of the petitioners it was contended that prior to the amendment of the notification on the 16th March, 1976, whice I have set out hereinbefore, in order to be entitled to exemption yarn spun-(a) wholly out of synthetic staple fibre of non-cellulosic origin other than acrylic fibre, or (b) partly out of the staple fibre aforesaid and partly other fibre or fibres, provided that the natural fibre content, if any, of the yarn does not exceed 10 per cent of its weight in certain proportion, as indicated in the notification set out hereinbefore, was entitled to exemption. Therefore, it was contended that acrylic fibre did not come within the meaning of non-cellulosic fibre content. Otherwise there was no prupose in using the expression 'other than' before the expression 'acrylic fibre' in 2(a) of the notification. If non-cellulosic fibre content did not mean something different from acrylic fibre, then the expression 'other than' would be redundant. It was, therefore, urged that reading the expression of the relevant notification, which was in force, it could not be said that acrylic fibre was considered to be non-cellulosic in origin and the acrylic part of this should also be taken into consideration in determining the non-cellulosic fibre content of mixed yarn. There was no purpose in treating these two separately. In this connection reference was made to the significantly different languages used in the earlier notification dated24th March, 1972 and 24th July, 1972 referred to hereinbefore, and also to the subsequent notification dated the 16th March, 1976, which according to counsel for the petitioners was redundant if the non-cellulosic fibre content was included in the acrylic fibre. Counsel naturally stressed that in construing a provision of this nature the expression used in the context or the statute must be looked into and mere grammatical meaning or dictionary meaning of one particular expression divorced from the context or the scope of the notification or the statute should not be adhered to and in this context the context and the purpose and the entire scheme was much more important than grammer as, he stressed, was emphasised by Sir Thomas Moore as indicated in Craies Statute on Law, Seventh Edition, pages 159 to 160. There is, however, in my opinion, no dispute on this proposition and now it is well settled that an expression of this nature in a particular fiscal or in any other legislation, must be construed in the context and the meaning should not be confined only to its grammatical meaning. There is also no dispute on the proposition that an ambiguity, if there be any, in the expression used should be resolved in favour of the assessee or tax-payer. Counsel also drew my attention to three affidavits of Bhupendra Singh Boid, Mangal Singh and S.K. Guin filed in support of this rule claiming to be the dealers in these types of goods and who have alleged that acrylic fibre is not known in the trade as non-cellulosic fibre. In this connection reliance was placed on the decision in the case of Union of Indiav. Delhi Cloth and General Mills : 1973ECR56(SC) , where the Supreme Court has reiterated that in construing expressions of this nature it is not the technical meaning that should be adhered to but rather preference should be given to the expression as understood in the world of commerce.

14. Counsel also submitted that impugned order suffered from lack or paucity of reason and he drew my attention to the observations of the Supreme Court in the case of Hotchtief Cammon v. State ofOrissa : (1975)IILLJ418SC . So far as the last mentioned point urged on behalf of the petitioner is concerned, in view of the context of the facts of this case and in the light of the show cause notice I do not think that the impugned order can be condemned as lacking in reasons and, therefore. I am unable to accept this contention urged in support of the petition.

15. On behalf of the revenue learned Junior counsel drew my attention to a decision in the case of Dunlop India Ltd. v. Union of India AIR 1977 SC 597 where also the Supreme Court reiterated that the meaning given to Articles in a fiscal statute must be as people in trade and commerce, conversant with the subject generally treated and understood them in usual course. But the Supreme Court emphasised that once an Article was classified and put under a distinct entry, the basis of classification was not open to question. Technical and scientific tests offered guidance only within limits. Once the articles are in circulation and came to be described and known in common parlance, then there is no difficulty for a statutory classification under a particular entry. Counsel for the revenue stressed on the point that once an article was placed in a particular item then there was no further question of enquiring whether the item was properly placed or not. But the difficulty is to find out the meaning of the item which is placed in a particular category and in resolving that difficulty, as the Supreme Court has emphasised, popular meaning in my opinion, has to be given preference to technical or dictionary meaning. It was further emphasised that both acrylic fibre and synthetic fibre have non-cellulosic origin. In this context it was emphasised that there was no dispute as to the origin and counsel for the revenue drew my attention to the averments made in paragraph 7(a) of the petition, which are more or less on this aspect admitted in page 44 of paragraph 3 of the affidavit-in-opposition. The origin was not in dispute. But the problem is about the content, specially the use of the expression 'other than' as I have indicated before. Counsel for the revenue emphasised that the subsequent notification dated 16th March, 1976 was introduced entirely for different purpose and it was only when Clause 2(a) did not wholly come then Clause (b) of the said notification would come into operation. Therefore, he stressed the point that the subsequent notification of 1976 could not be considered to be in aid of the argument that there was some ambiguity in the previous notification which required to be rectified by the subsequent notification. He may be right to that extent that the subsequent notification dealt with different situation. But in view of the expression used at the relevant time of the notification in question and in view of the evidence that in the trade as it is understood and in view of the fact that the Central Government did not at all advert to this aspect in the impugned order, I am unable to sustain that at the relevant time synthetic staple fibre of non-cellulosic origin included the acrylic fibre. I am awareex-excising jurisdiction under Article 226 the Court should not normally depart from the views of the departmental authorities as they are supposed to be conversant with the trade. But here the Appellate Collector has taken a view which the revisional authority was reversing and the revisional authority has not at all considered how these goods are understood in the trade. Further more the views of the Appellate Collector confirm the position that on this aspect two views are possible. If that is the position, then in my opinion, the impugned order cannot be sustained.

16. Learned senior counsel for the revenue also urged the point that the petition was not properly verified. But I do not think that there is much substance in the contention. The authority of the Factory Manager, who has verified the petition has not been challenged. If it had been, then the authority would have been produced.

17. In the premises, the order dated the 14th July, 1977 passed in Revision is set aside and the Order of the Appellate Collector passed on the 4th June, 1975 is restored. Government is directed to act in accordance with the order of the Appellate Collector. The Rule is made absolute to the extent indicated above. There will, however, be no order as tocosts.


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