Bombay High Court remands matter concerning classification of “Aluminium Composite Panel Sheets” to the Maharashtra Sales Tax Tribunal for fresh consideration
By Purushartha Satish
On an appeal against the Order passed by the Maharashtra Sales Tax Tribunal (“MSTT”), the Bombay High Court held that the MSTT had failed to render critical findings of fact in arriving at the conclusion that Aluminium Composite Panel Sheets (“ACP”) are classifiable under Central Excise Tariff Heading (“CETH”) 7610 as “Aluminium parts of structures, prepared for use in structures” [taxable at 12.5%], as opposed to CETH 7606 as “Aluminium Sheets” [taxable at 4%].
Since the rate of VAT was to be determined by the classification of the goods under the Central Excise Tariff Act, it was the Appellant-assessee’s contention that ACP was correctly classifiable under CETH 7606 on the basis of the prevailing international classification, which, in turn, was based on an opinion of the World Customs Organization (“WCO”) on the classification of ACP. Additionally, assessments of ACP under the Central Excise law showed that they were correctly classifiable under CETH 7606.
Conversely, it was the Respondent-Department’s contention that ACP merited classification under CETH 7610 as “Aluminium parts of structures, prepared for use in structures”. This view of the Department was based on the fact that ACP was predominantly used as an ‘external cladding’ in buildings, and was therefore a “part” of the structure.
After considering the rival submissions, the Bombay High Court inter alia observed that the MSTT had failed to appreciate the scope of the rival entries in the Central Excise Tariff Act, the opinion expressed by the WCO, and technical evidence which had been placed on record by the assessee. Accordingly, it remanded the matter to the MSTT with directions to consider the matter afresh, especially with reference to whether ACP would simply be “aluminium plates or strips of a thickness exceeding 0.2 mm” or “aluminium plates, rods, profiles, tubes and the like, prepared for use in structures”.