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SC defers hearing in Vicco Labs' matter
April, 24th 2007

The Supreme Court deferred hearing on a petition filed by the central excise department, seeking recovery of Rs 9.09 crore as excise duty from Vicco Laboratories' as it believes that the company's products are cosmetic and not ayurvedic.

A bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat deferred the hearing by eight weeks on an appeal filed by the department, challenging the Bombay High Court order that restrained it from recovering dues.

Last month, the bench had asked the department, represented by Additional Solicitor-General P P Malhotra, to file additional material in support of its argument that Vicco's products were cosmetic and not ayurvedic.

The department had issued notices to Vicco demanding that it pay Rs 9.09 crore as excise duty for the period between April 2004 to December 2005 on the products Vajradanti (toothpaste) and Vicco Turmeric (skin cream).

It had contended that these products were being marketed as cosmetics in trade parlance and thus cannot avail benefit of Modvat Credit.

Also, the products were not manufactured exclusively in accordance with the formulae described in authoritative books specified in the First Schedule to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, or Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia of India or the US, the UK or Germany, it argued.

The excise department had moved the High Court in April 1988, challenging the order of the civil court, Thane, that said Vicco products were ayurvedic medical preparations.

The High Court while declaring the department's notices as illegal and void had left the issue of classification of these products to be decided in the context of new Tariff Act, 1985 that came into effect in February 1996.

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