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Must pay central excise
April, 12th 2010

The Supreme Court held last week that setting up of an asphalt drum mix plant by using duty-paid components would amount to manufacture of a new product and therefore it would attract central excise duty. The court set aside the ruling of the excise tribunal in the case, Commissioner of Central Excise vs Solid & Correct Engineering Works, and asked it consider the question of tax and penalty afresh. The court rejected the argument of the firm that the plant was fixed to the earth and since it was immovable property, it could not be imposed the duty. The judgement stated that in this case, the machinery was fixed by nuts and bolts to the earth in order to provide wobble-free operation and the intention was not to attach them permanently to the earth. Therefore, it was not eligible for the exemption granted to immovable properties.

Customs house agents duty to show documents for transport

The Supreme Court has held that it is not merely the duty of the owner or transporter, but also of the customs house agent to produce the endorsed copy of the declarations required under law for taking goods outside West Bengal. The court upheld the penalty imposed on two customs agents firm for failing to do so in the appeals, P D Prasad & Sons vs Commissioner of Commercial Taxes. Goods in these cases were imported from Europe at Kolkota and they were to be transported to Mumbai and Delhi. The importing firms appointed customs house agents to clear the goods and transport them to their destinations.

Declarations were to be made and copies shown to the authorities. However, the agents maintained that their role was to get documents cleared from the customs and port authorities and they were not responsible for transport of the goods. However, this view was not accepted by the authorities, the taxation tribunal or the Calcutta high court. The agents appealed to the Supreme Court, which upheld the high court view. It stated that under the state Sales Tax Act and Rule 211A under it, any person like the owner, clearing agent, customs house agent or transporter or any person taking delivery of the consignment has an obligation to produce the declaration for taking them outside the state. Non-production of the documents before a competent authority would give rise to a legal presumption of tax evasion, subject to such presumption being rebutted, the judgement said.

Andhra Pradesh HC judgment on compensation for accident set aside

The Supreme Court has set aside the judgment of the Andhra Pradesh High Court which denied compensation to a widow in a motor vehicle accident death. The tribunal had awarded Rs 4 lakh she had asked for, though it was less than what was due according to the Motor Vehicles Act. The high court reduced it to Rs 75,000. She appealed to the Supreme Court.

Restoring the tribunals award, the Supreme Court stated in the case, Manam Saraswathi vs APSRTC, that the high court took a contrary stand while it stated that the driver of the state transport bus was not rash and negligent while causing the death, it still awarded a lower compensation. The findings of the high court are totally contradictory and unsustainable, the judgement said.

Entrepreneurs efforts in vain

The Supreme Court has set aside the compensation awarded to a small entrepreneur by the National Consumer Commission as the problems for sanction of the loan were created by the businessman himself. In this case, Rajasthan Financial Corporation vs Commander S C Jain, he sought loans from the corporation. But he did not produce the documents required or they were not believed by the corporation. When he moved the consumer commission, he was awarded Rs 1.5 lakh with interest as compensation for his troubles. Setting aside this order, the Supreme Court stated that there was no evidence of deficiency in service under the Consumer Protection on the part of the corporation.

Appeals for regularisation of jobs dismissed

The Supreme Court has dismissed the appeals of a group of workers who had sought regularisation of their employment in the appeals, Satya Prakash vs State of Bihar. They have been working in the state education council for more than ten years as daily wage workers. When they sought regularisation, the Patna high court rejected their plea stating that merely because they had worked as daily wage employees, they did not acquire any claim for regularisation in public employment. The Supreme Court endorsed this view and stated that they were not appointed to any sanctioned posts. Merely because they were continued as casual or temporary workers beyond the term of their appointments, they would not be entitled to absorption in regular service permanently if the original appointment was not made following a due process of selection.

Injunction confirmed

A division bench of the Delhi high court headed by the Chief Justice has confirmed the injunction passed by a single judge bench against the use of the trade mark Shriram by a firm producing plaster of paris as it was found to be passing off of the product as that of DCM Shriram Consolidated Ltd. It said that the balance of convenience lay in favour of DCM, if not for itself, then at least for the sake of consumers of plaster of Paris.

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