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VAT on tendu leaves sent for review
March, 12th 2012

The Supreme Court has set aside the judgments of the Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh High Courts and allowed tendu-leaves traders to file their returns before the VAT assessing authority who shall dispose of the matters within two months. The Minor Forest Product (Trading & Development) Co-operative Federation Ltd had initiated the tender process for sale of Tendu leaves. One of the conditions was that the bidder, whose bid is accepted, has to remit the taxes under the VAT Act to the state government. Several firms which were successful bidders were asked to pay the tax. They moved the high courts asking the respective revenue departments to treat the sales as inter-state sale and, therefore, not exigible for the levy. The high courts dismissed their petitions, without going into the nature of the transactions. They appealed to the Supreme Court in a batch, led by M/s Zunaid Enterprises vs State. The Supreme Court stated that the assessing authority should have decided the factual aspect and not the high courts.

Medicament or detergents?
The Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal of the Commissioner of Central Excise and upheld the view of the tribunal in its dispute with M/s Wockhart Life Sciences Ltd. In this case, the controversy was over whether the Povidone Iodine Cleansing Solution USP and Wokadine Surgical Scrub were medicaments or detergents for the purpose of duty. The firm argued that they were of medical use while the revenue authorities maintained that they were detergents. The tribunal and the court ruled that the goods were medicaments. The judgment said: They are used by the surgeons for the purpose of cleaning or de-germing their hands and scrubbing the surface of the skin of the patient before that portion is operated upon. The purpose is to prevent the infection or disease. Therefore, the product in question can be safely classified as a medicament.

The Supreme Court has ordered that leases of minor minerals, including their renewal for an area of less than five hectares, be granted by the states/Union territories only after getting environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forest. In its interim order in the case, Deepak Kumar vs state of Haryana, the court further asked the Centre to bring into force the Minor Minerals Conservation and Development Rules 2010 at the earliest. The court regretted that Haryana and various other states have not so far implemented the recommendations of the ministry or the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Mines before publishing auction notices granting short-term permits for minor mineral boulders, gravel and sand in the riverbeds and elsewhere. The states were asked to follow the ministrys guidelines to protect environment, while at the same time not affecting infrastructure activities.
Injunction on foreign proceedings

The Delhi High Court has granted an injunction in favour of the Union of India and against Videocon Industries Ltd in a dispute involving the jurisdiction of the English court while the issues have purportedly been decided by the Supreme Court of India. The government wanted to restrain the firm from proceeding with its claim before the High Court of Justice, Queens Bench Division, Commercial Court, London. The origin of the dispute under arbitration was a production sharing contract between the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and a consortium of four companies consisting of ONGC, Videocon Petroleum Ltd and others. While allowing the application of the government, the high court stated that the integrity of the proceedings before the Supreme Court of India, which culminated in the final judgment and order dated May 11, 2011 must necessarily be protected. The court further stated that it would not be fair to compel the government to pursue a matter in a foreign country when the Supreme Court has held in favour of it. That would amount to perpetuating injustice and possibly result in conflicting judgments of two courts causing significant harm to the arbitration proceedings and delaying the same for an indefinite period of time, possibly resulting in their abrupt termination.

Compensation for denial of admission
The National Consumer Commission has dismissed the appeal of an emigration agency in Punjab, which had promised a student to get admission in Hales College of Australia along with visa and travel documents. The student paid Rs 2.67 lakh for admission and Rs 50,000 as service charges. It was later found that the visa application was not submitted to the Australian high commission. Therefore he could not join the college. He did not get back the course fee also. He moved the consumer forum which asked the agency to return the money and pay compensation. The appeal case of the agency, Genesis Immigration Ltd vs Arun Williams, was dismissed.

Order to remove trade mark
The Intellectual Property Appellate Board has directed the Registrar of Trade Marks to remove the registration of an Indian firm which claimed the mark KYK for bearings of motor vehicles. This order was made on an application by Japanese KYK Corporation Ltd, which claimed the mark since 1952 and asserted that it had world-wide reputation in this trade.

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