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SC defines manufacturing for finmin
January, 25th 2010

The Supreme Court has asked the revenue department to take into account the process applicable to the product and not dictionary meaning of manufacture to decide the issue of benefits under the provisions of Income Tax Act, Excise Act and Customs Act. The apex court expressed its displeasure over Revenues failure in such cases, saying the department was not following its recommendations over the years.

Repeatedly this court (Supreme Court) has recommended to the department, be it under Excise Act, Customs Act or the Income Tax Act, to examine the process applicable to the product in question and not to go only by dictionary meanings (of manufacture). This recommendation is not being followed over the years , said a bench comprising Justice SH Kapadia and Justice HL Dattu.

The court dismissed a bunch of appeals filed by the Income Tax Department. In such appeals, the issue was whether twisting and texturising of partially oriented yarn amounts to manufacture for the purpose of extending benefits to the assessees in accordance with section 80IA of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

Ruling in favour of the assessees, the court, however, clarified, at the outset, we wish to clarify that our judgment should not be understood to mean that per se twisting and texturising would constitute manufacture in every case. In each case, one has to examine the process undertaken by the assessee .

The structure, the character, the use and the name of the product are indicia to be taken into account while deciding the question whether the process is a manufacture or not, said court in its order.

The apex court perused its earlier order on the issue. In that order, the court had said, "the term manufacture implies a change, but, every change is not a manufacture, despite the fact that every change in an article is the result of a treatment of labour and manipulation.

If an operation/process renders a commodity or article fit for use for which it is otherwise not fit, the operation/process falls within the meaning of the word manufacture .

The Revenue, however,has amended the Income Tax Act in 2009 to define the word manufacture. According to it, manufacture shall, mean a change bringing into existence a new and distinct object or article or thing with a different chemical composition or integral structure.

In one such appeal, the department had challenged Bombay HC order that had ruled in favour of assessee, Emptee Poly-Yarn . According to department, the twisting and texturising of partially oriented yarn undertaken by the company in 1996-97 was manufacture for the purpose of extending benefits under section 80IA of the act.

Then the department had filed appeals in the apex court in 2010. Dismissing the appeals, the court said, partially oriented yarn is not fit for being used in the manufacture of a fabric.

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