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Thursday, May 7, 2015

whether the Central Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (for short, 'CESTAT'), Bangalore erred in disallowing the benefit of the Notification No.8/96 dated 23.07.1996 and Notification No.4/97 dated 01.03.97 respectively to the appellant.

                                                              NON-REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5523 OF 2004


|M/S. B.P.L. LIMITED                        |.....APPELLANT(S)            |
|VERSUS                                     |                             |
|COMMISSIONER OF CENTRAL EXCISE,            |                             |
|COCHIN-II COMMISSIONERATE                  |.....RESPONDENT(S)           |

                                   W I T H
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6037 OF 2004


                               J U D G M E N T


A.K. SIKRI, J.
                 The issue, which arises for consideration  in  the  present
appeals is whether the Central Excise and  Service  Tax  Appellate  Tribunal
(for short, 'CESTAT'), Bangalore erred in disallowing  the  benefit  of  the
Notification  No.8/96  dated  23.07.1996  and  Notification  No.4/97   dated
01.03.97 respectively to the appellant.

      The appellant herein is engaged in the manufacture of excisable  goods
falling under Chapter 85 and 90.  From January 1997  onwards  the  appellant
had been manufacturing and clearing two models of D.C. Defibrillators  which
are known as  Model  No.  DF2389R  with  recorder  and  Model  2389  without
recorder. The appellant had filed classification declaration  from  time  to
time and  classified  the  items  under  C.E.T.  heading  9018  and  claimed
exemption under  Notification  No.8/96  dated  23.09.1996  and  Notification
No.4/97 dated 01.03.97 respectively. The Revenue, however, took a view  that
the said Defibrillators were not eligible to the benefit  of  the  aforesaid
exemption Notifications. Therefore, by letter  dated  17.02.98  it  directed
the  appellant  to  modify   its   classifications   declaration   as   only
miniaturized implantable defibrillators were eligible to the benefit of  the
Notification. The appellant protested by giving reply and  maintaining  that
the Notification in question encompassed the  aforesaid  goods  manufactured
by the appellant as well. The department was not amused by the  reply  given
by the appellant.  It  resulted  in  issuance  of  show-cause  notice  dated
23.09.1998  whereunder  demand   duty   with   respect   to   Defibrillators
manufactured during the period January 1997 to March 1998  was  proposed  as
duty in the said show-cause notice.

      We may point out at this stage that a defibrillator is a  device  that
delivers electrical shock through paddles placed either directly across  the
heart or on the surface of the body during cardiac emergency resulting  from
ventricular  fibrillation.   The  meaning  of   Cardiac   Defibrillator   is
explained in Medicine and Clinical Engineering  Physiological  and  Clinical
Medicine by Bertil Jacobson Karolinska Institute,  Stockholm,  Sweden,  Jhon
G. Webster, University of Wisconsin, Medison.  It reads as follows:-
“Some cardiac arrhyhmias can be treated by passing a  brief  electric  shock
through  heart.  Ventricular  fibrillation  can  often  be  stopped   before
circulatory arrest has  caused  irreversible  brain  damage  due  to  oxygen
deficiency. Likewise, atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter  can  often  be
stopped by defibrillator.”

Ventricular fibrillation may be caused by an external electric shock,  which
occurs near the  peak  of  the  T  wave-  the  vulnerable  period  when  the
ventricle is re polarizing. It may also be caused when a PVC  occurs  during
this same vulnerable period; in this case  the  heart  electrocutes  itself.
Fibrillation has been likened to a dog chasing  its  tail,  with  continuous
travel  of  the  waves  of   depolarization   and   repolarization.   During
defibrillator, a large electric shock causes simultaneous depolarization  of
all cardiac muscle fibres. When they recover,  normal  packing  resumes.  An
energy 50-500 ws (joules) has been found most effective,  with  the  current
passing through the heart along the longitudinal axis. Defibrillator can  be
performed externally via two electrodes placed on the  chest  or  internally
on the exposed heart during an operation. With an electrode about 50  cm  in
area, the resistance through the  thorax  is  about  100  ft.  For  internal
defibrillator on an exposed heart the resistance is lower, about 50 ft.

As per the department, Defibrillators manufactured  by  the  appellant  were
designed to provide external counter shock and the apparatus for  which  nil
rate of duty had been prescribed was for defibrillators meant  for  internal
use only and not for conventional Defibrillators  manufactured  and  cleared
by the appellant. The department had  also  invoked  the  longer  period  of
limitation under Section 11A of the Excise Act by alleging suppression.  The
appellant filed their reply to the show-cause notice contending mainly  that
the Defibrillators were meant both for internal and external  use  and  that
the allegation of suppression of fact was totally  incorrect  and  therefore
the demand was time barred. The  appellant  attended  personal  hearing  and
thereafter the Commissioner by order dated 19.11.1999 confirmed  the  demand
of Rs. 27,71,326/- and imposed equivalent  penalty  under  Section  11AC  as
well as further penalty of Rs.1 lakh.

Thereafter, the appellant filed an appeal  before  the  CEGAT,  Madras  (now
Chennai) against the order of the Commissioner mainly  impressing  upon  the
CEGAT  that  the  Commissioner  in  the  impugned  order  had  relied   upon
extraneous grounds  to  come  to  the  conclusion  that  the  Defibrillators
manufactured by the appellant were only for  external  use  and,  therefore,
the benefit of Notification could not be extended.  The  appellant  produced
evidence in the form of certificates from  the  Department  of  Electronics,
hospitals, invoices for clearance of the  equipment  with  internal  paddles
and  other  technical  literature  to  substantiate  their  contention  that
Defibrillators manufactured by them  were  put  to  internal  use  by  using
internal paddles on the exposed hear during  cardiac  surgery.  They  relied
upon decisions that the term 'for use' means capable of being used  and  not
actual use and also on interpretation of statute.  The CEGAT, by  its  order
dated 01.03.2002, held that the Commissioner had come to  a  finding  on  an
incomplete reading of the manual and had not considered well-settled law  on
'for  use'.  The  CEGAT,  therefore,  remanded  the  matter  back   to   the
Commissioner to decide eligibility for exemption under above  notifications.
It further directed that during the re-adjudication  both   the  sides  were
free to  lead  such  evidence  as  were  available  to  be  put  before  the
Adjudicating Authority. They left open the question of  limitation,  penalty
and interest.

On remand, the appellant filed a further reply before the  Commissioner  and
relied upon  various  documents  in  support  of  its  contention  that  its
Defibrillator was capable of internal use and  the  said  Defibrillator  and
implantable Defibrillators were  two  different  pieces  of  equipment.  The
appellant again contended that the demand was time barred, as there  was  no
suppression of facts.  The  appellant  appeared  for  personal  hearing  and
reiterated its submissions and  filed  additional  written  submissions.  It
produced photographs showing the Defibrillator being  put  to  internal  use
during  open  heart  surgery  as  well  as  the  Technical   Literature   to
substantiate its claim.

      The Commissioner,  however,  by  order  dated  22.02.2003  upheld  the
earlier order of the Commissioner and once again denied the benefit  of  the
notification  to  this  product  of  the  appellant.    According   to   the
Commissioner the benefit of the exemption notification  was  available  only
to implantable defibrillators coupled with pace makers.

       The  appellant  once  again  filed  the  Appeal  before  the  CESTAT,
Bangalore. After hearing, an order  dated  31.12.2003  was  passed,  wherein
there was a  difference  of  opinion  between  the  Judicial  and  Technical
Member.  As  per  the  order  of  the  Judicial  Member,  the  Defibrillator
manufactured by the appellant could be used for internal use  and  therefore
they are eligible to the benefit of the notification. Since his opinion  was
in favour of the appellants on merits, he did  not  go  into  the  time  bar
issue. The Technical Member while admitting that the Defibrillator could  be
used for internal use in “rare circumstances” when the  heart  is  open  and
the paddles for internal use are fixed in the Defibrillators as there  is  a
build in mechanism in the Defibrillator for making  it  usable  as  internal
Defibrillator during an open heart surgery, however denied  the  benefit  of
the notification on the ground  that  only  Defibrillators  used  with  pace
maker  and  which  is  implantable  is  eligible  to  the  benefit  of   the
notification.

As there was a difference of opinion, the issue  was  referred  to  a  Third
Member. The Third Member, viz. the President  of  the  Tribunal,  heard  the
matter and passed the order dated 19.05.2004 disallowing the benefit of  the
notification to the Defibrillator thereby concurring with the  view  of  the
Technical Member.

This is how the matter has come up to this court  in  the  form  of  present
appeal filed by the appellant under Section 35 L(b) of  the  Central  Excise
Act (herein after refer to as Act), challenging the  aforesaid  order  dated
19.05.2004.

      We have already taken  note  of  the  product  in  question  with  its
salient features and particular uses it can be put to.  Question  is  as  to
whether  it  satisfies  the  requirement  of  Notification  No.   8/96   and
Notification No. 4/97, under which  the  appellant  is  claiming  exemption.
Thus, before we proceed  further  it  would  be  apt  to  scan  through  the
ingredients of the aforesaid notifications along with earlier  notifications
under which exemption is granted in respect of defibrillator, from  time  to
time. First notification in this  behalf  is  the  Notification  No.  339/86
dated 11.06.1986, which was amended by notifications  dated  01.03.1989  and
01.03.1994. Material part of these Notifications read as under:
“Notification  No.  339/86-CE  dated  11.06.86   amended   by   Notification
Nos.88/89-CE dated 01.03.89 and 58/94-CE dated 01.03.94.

8 DC Defibrillators now internal use and Pacemakers  and  their  accessories
including patient cable,  internal  Defibrillators  Paddles  45mm  and  55mm
sizes but excluding:-

(a)   Cardiac Monitors
(b)   Cardioscopes
(c)   E.C.G. Monitors of any type.
(d)   E.C.G. Recorder

and the following components of D.C. Defibrillators, namely:-

(i)   Connector.
(ii)  Discharge/Damp Relay
(iii)       High Voltage Retractable, Flexible Wire
(iv)  Polyester/Paper Discharge Capacitor

20.   Implantable Cardiac Pacemaker and
            accessories.
30.   Pacemaker Wires.
31.   Patient Cable for Pacemaker.”

We now reproduce the relevant portion of the two Notification Nos. 8/96  and
4/97 with which we are directly concerned. These are as follows:-
“II.  Notification No.8/96 dated 23.07.1996-

                                    TABLE

(7)   D.C. Defibrillators for internal use and
            pacemakers.

(16)  Implantable cardiac pacemakers.

(58)   Pace Maker.


III.  Notification No.4/97 dated 01.03.97

                                    TABLE

217.  Medical equipment and other goods
            specified in List 6.

                                   LIST 6

(7)   DC Defibrillators for internal use and pace\
            makers.

(16)  Implantable cardiac pacemakers.

(58)  Pace Maker.”

From the reading of the aforesaid notifications, it  becomes  apparent  that
originally those D.C. Defibrillators which were meant for both  internal  as
well as external use and also pacemakers and  their  accessories  etc.  were
eligible for exemption. Certain goods which did not  qualify  for  exemption
like cardiac monitor, Cardioscopes etc. were specifically excluded.  On  the
other hand some  of  the  components  of   D.C.  Defibrillators  which  were
exempted from payment of Excise duty were also specifically  mentioned.  For
our purposes what is relevant is that in  the  original  Notification  dated
11.06.1986, as  amended  on  01.03.1989  and  01.03.1994,  the  goods  which
qualified for exemption were “Defibrillators for internal and  external  use
and pacemakers  and  their  accessories  including  patient  cable  internal
defibrillator paddles 45mm and 55mm sizes”.  Implantable  cardiac  pacemaker
and accessories were also specifically included. This  entry  under  went  a
substantial challenge in the notification  No.  8/96  dated  23.07.1996.  In
this Notification, replacing the earlier notifications,  defibrillators  for
external use are no more eligible for exemption. The entry now  reads  “D.C.
Defibrillator for internal use and pacemaker”. Thus, what is omitted is  not
only external  use  but  also  accessories  of  these  D.C.  Defibrillators.
Likewise in place of earlier entry which mentioned  on  implantable  cardiac
pacemaker and accessories, entry  in  this  Notification  confines  only  to
implantable  cardiac  pacemakers.   Accessories  thereof  are   specifically
removed from exemptions. Moreover in place of  pacemaker  wires  now  it  is
only pacemaker. Though  in  the  earlier  notification,  patient  cable  for
pacemaker was included  as  exempted  item,  it  is  omitted  altogether  in
Notification No.8/96. This position is maintained  in  Notification  No.4/97
dated 01.03.1997.

Keeping  in  view  the  aforesaid  characteristic   and   feature   of   the
Notifications in  question,  in  contradistinction  to  the  position  which
prevailed in the earlier Notification dated 11.06.1986 as amended from  time
to time and taken note of above, we  have  to  examine  as  to  whether  the
defibrillator of the appellant would be covered by these two Notifications.

It is not disputed by the appellant that their Defibrillators are  primarily
meant for external use. It is, however, contended  that  this  can  be  used
internally as  well.  It  is  also  admitted  case  that  the  defibrillator
manufactured by the appellant is not implantable  internally  in  the  human
body. The only justification given by the appellant is that at the  time  of
carrying out the open heart surgery same  device  can  be  used  to  deliver
electrical shock.  However, it is  accepted  that  to  give  the  electrical
shock paddles are needed,  which  is  sold  by  the  appellant  only  as  an
accessory. Not only this, while selling  the  defibrillators  said  paddlers
are not sold as an integral component/accessory of the main  equipment.   To
the contrary, their purchase is optional,  meaning  thereby  the  choice  is
that the buyer to purchase paddle  or  not.  During  the  arguments  it  was
conceded that 99 per cent sale of these defibrillators were without  paddles
which means that predominantly the goods are sold  for  external  use  only.
We would also like to reproduce, at this stage the description of the  goods
in question as given by the appellant itself in the  operating  and  service
manual of the product in question. It reads as follows:-
“DESCRIPTION

BPL's  Portable  Defibrillator/Monitor  is  designed  to  provide   external
counter shocks and to display hear rate and ECO  wave  forms  on  the  scope
screen.

….........Delivery  of  the  monophasic  countersjock   pulse   (Lown/Edmark
Waveform) is triggered by depressing the discharge buttons on  both  of  the
anterior paddles, or if internal paddles are used, by  depressing  the  INT,
PADDLE DISCHARGE button located  on  the  control  panel  Optional  anterior
paddles are equipped with a CHARGE push button that functions the  same  way
as the SET CHARGE MANual push button does.”


Going by the aforesaid features of the appellant's goods in  question  which
are primarily meant  for  external  use,  simply  because  it  can  be  used
internally as well but not  without  the  paddles  and  paddle  is  optional
accessory, it  is  difficult  to  hold  that  conditions  contained  in  the
exemption Notifications are satisfied.  We are making these remarks  in  the
context of the Notification in question when  contrasted  with  the  earlier
Notification, as already described above. On these facts  the  Third  Member
of the tribunal in the impugned order made the following analysis:
“5.   As  mentioned  earlier,  the  Notification  No.339/86  as  amended  by
Notification Nos.88/89 and 58/94 took in both DC Defibrillator for  internal
and external use. While including accessories in the  above  items  specific
reference was made to 'internal defibrillator paddles  with  45mm  and  55mm
sizes'. It is relevant to note that there is  a  marked  difference  in  the
description of the item when it came  to  Notification  Nos.8/96  and  4/97.
There is no reference to D.C. Defibrillator for external use or  a  specific
reference  to  'internal  defibrillator  paddles'.  Even  according  to  the
assessee, its product can be treated as  D.C.  Defibrillators  for  internal
use  only  when  it  is  fitted  with  internal  defibrillators.  Admittedly
assessee is clearing defibrillators without  such  'internal  defibrillators
paddles' also. A reference to assessee's Operating and Service Mannual  also
would  show  that  'internal  defibrillator  paddles'  are   only   optional
accessories. Defibrillators for external use which are once included in  the
exempted category are not taken out  of  such  category  under  Notification
Nos. 8/96 and 4/97. If the assessee’s contention is to be accepted  then  in
spite of such specific exclusion its product will continue  to  get  benefit
of exemption on the basis  of  supply  of  some  optional  accessories  like
internal paddle.

6.  The material  produced  by  the  Revenue  before  the  Commissioner  and
accepted by him were later made  available  toe  the  assessee  before  this
Tribunal. Arguments were addressed by  both  on  that  basis.  The  relevant
portion from the Commissioner’s order is quoted below:-

“Internal Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICD) were  originally  developed  and
have been most frequently  used  for  prevention  of  sudden  cardiac  death
(www.americanheart.org). A modern internal  defibrillator  is  much  smaller
and is implanted in the upper chest. Newer devices are a combination of  ICD
and pacemaker in the unit. These combination  ICD/pacemakers  are  implanted
in  patients  who  require  both  devices  (www.emedicine.com)........  This
device is a small electric generator hooked up  to  wires  called  leads.  A
typical ICD weighs about 4 ounces and measures  about  ½  inch  thick  by  2
inches wide and is implanted under the skin in the upper  chest.  Leads  are
the wires that conduct the ICD to the heart  the  tip  of  which  is  placed
against the heart's inner wall and carries electric impulses  from  the  ICD
to the heart through the cut vein into the heart's chambers  beginning  with
the right ventricle (www.chfpatients.com).”

7.  The above would show that D.C. Defibrillators for internal use  included
in the exempted category cannot be taken as  a  defibrillator  for  external
use cleared by the appellant with an accessory  of  internal  defibrillators
paddles. A reference to reply received from Jerry Potts to  the  appellant's
query would also lead such a conclusion. The reply reads as follows:-

“Implantable  defibrillators  are  definitely   distinct   from   'internal'
defibrillators used during surgery to countershock the heart.  If  anything,
the term internal defibrillator, as you defined it  in  your  message,  more
closely relates to an external defibrillator. That  is  because  the  device
typically used to manually deliver a counter shock to the myocardium  during
open hart surgery is  identical  to  those  defibrillators  that  externally
deliver transthorascic shocks to  a closed chest  (except  for  the  peddles
that are used.)”

Therefore, the defibrillator used during open heart surgery is identical  to
the defibrillators used to deliver transthorascic shocks  externally  except
for the internal paddles additionally provided. Exclusion of  defibrillators
for external use from the exemption provisions in Notification Nos.8/96  and
4/97  cannot  be  ignored.  Appellant's  product  which   is   basically   a
defibrillator for external use  but  capable  of  using  during  open  heart
surgery if the optional accessory of  internal  defibrillators  paddles  are
also provided, cannot be treated as  defibrillators  for  internal  use  are
contemplated in the exemption provisions.”


We approve the aforesaid reasoning and rational given  by  the  Tribunal  in
coming to the conclusion that the goods of the appellant would  not  qualify
the description contained in Notification Nos.8/96 and  4/97.  It  is  trite
that strict interpretation is to be given  to  the  exemption  notifications
and it is upon the assessee to approve that he fulfills all  the  conditions
of eligibility under such Notifications. This is so held by  this  Court  in
Rajasthan Spinning and Weaving Mills, Bhilwara, Rajasthan  v.  Collector  of
Central Excise, Jaipur, Rajasthan[1], wherein this principle was  stated  in
the following manner:
“16.   Lastly,  it  is  for  the  assessee  to  establish  that  the   goods
manufactured by him come within the ambit  of  the  exemption  notification.
Since, it is a case of exemption from duty, there  is  no  question  of  any
liberal construction to extent the term  and  the  scope  of  the  exemption
notification. Such exemption notification must  be  strictly  construed  and
the  assessee  should  bring  himself  squarely  within  the  ambit  of  the
notification. No extended meaning can be  given  to  the  exempted  item  to
enlarge the scope of exemption granted by the notification.”

This principle has been reiterated time and again. It is  not  necessary  to
take note of all such  cases.   We  would  however  like  to  reproduce  the
restatement of this member by the Constitutional  bench  of  this  Court  in
Commissioner of Central Excise,  New  Delhi  v.  Hari  Chand  Shri  Gopal  &
Ors.[2], as follows:
“29.  The law is  well  settled  that  a  person  who  claims  exemption  or
concession has to establish  that  he  is  entitled  to  that  exemption  or
concession.  A  provision  providing  for  an   exemption,   concession   or
exception, as the case may be, has to be  construed  strictly  with  certain
exceptions depending upon the settings  on  which  the  provision  has  been
placed in the statute  and  the  object  and  purpose  to  be  achieved.  If
exemption is available on complying with certain conditions, the  conditions
have to be complied with. The mandatory  requirements  of  those  conditions
must be obeyed or fulfilled exactly, though at times, some latitude  can  be
shown, if there is a failure to comply  with  some  requirements  which  are
directory in nature, the  non-compliance  of  which  would  not  affect  the
essence or substance of the notification granting exemption.

30.  In Novopan India Ltd. (Novopan India Ltd.  v.  CCE  and  Customs,  1994
Supp (3) SCC 606) this Court held that a person, invoking  an  exception  or
exemption provisions,  to  relieve  him  of  tax  liability  must  establish
clearly that he is covered by the said provisions and, in case of  doubt  or
ambiguity, the benefit of it must go to the State.  A Constitution Bench  of
this Court in Hansraj Gordhandas v. CCE and  Customs  (AIR  1970  SC  755  :
(1969) 2 SCR 253) held that (Novopan India Ltd. Case, SCC p. 614, para 16):

“16...such a notification has to be interpreted in the light  of  the  words
employed by it and not on any other basis.  This was so held in the  context
of the principle that in  a  taxing  statute,  there  is  no  room  for  any
intendment, that regard must be had to the clear meaning of  the  words  and
that  the  matter  should  be  governed  wholly  by  the  language  of   the
notification i.e. by the plain terms of the exemption.”


Having regard to the above it is difficult to accept the contention  of  Mr.
Datar, learned senior counsel who appeared for the appellant, predicated  on
the submission that such  defibrillator  of  the  appellant  is  capable  of
internal  use  and,  therefore,  it  would  be  covered  by  the   aforesaid
notifications. No doubt there is difference between  the  'actual  use'  and
'intended for use' and even when a product  is  not  actually  used  but  is
capable of being used, it would be treated as the product 'for use' as  held
in State of Haryana v. Dalmia Dardri  Cement  Limited[3].  However,  in  the
present case we find that defibrillator when  sold  without  paddle  is  not
capable of being used  internally  and  paddle  is  only  sold  as  optional
accessory.

For the same reason, judgment in the case of Collector  of  Customs,  Bombay
v. Handicraft Exports[4] will also  have  no  application  to  the  instance
case. In that case exemption from import duty was  provided  in  respect  of
'embellishment for footwear under the notification. The Court held that  the
imported  goods  need  not  be  capable  of  being   exclusively   used   as
embellishment for footwear but may also be capable for being used for  other
purposes. Here, as noted above, defibrillators  are  not  capable  of  being
used internally without paddles and paddle is an accessory  which  does  not
qualify for exemption any longer. It would be  pertinent  to  note  that  in
Handicraft Export's case this Court also held that  importer  will  have  to
prove  that  the  goods  were  not  only  capable  of  being   utilized   as
embellishment for shoes but also that the same were imported  for  and  were
actually been used for embellishment for footwear. In the  present  case  as
defibrillators are sold without paddles, obviously the sale as such  is  not
intended by  the  purchaser  to  be  used  for  internal  purpose.  We  are,
therefore, of the view that the majority opinion of the Tribunal is  correct
in law.

This leaves us with the question of extended period  of  limitation  invoked
by the department. It was  contended  that  the  declaration  given  by  the
appellant was bona fide and such bona fides were clear from  the  fact  that
law on this issue was not free from doubt which can  be  gathered  from  the
fact that even the impugned judgment of the Tribunal  is  not  unanimous  as
the Member (Judicial) had taken a different view which was in favour of  the
appellant. However, we find that the Third Member did not decide this  issue
and left it for the regular bench to consider the same, with  the  direction
that the appeal would be placed before the regular Bench.  Without  awaiting
the decision  the  appellant  filed   the  present  appeal  challenging  the
impugned order passed by the  Third  Member.  Since  we  are  affirming  the
decision rendered by the majority, it  will  now  be  for  the  Tribunal  to
consider the issue of limitation.

Insofar as the present appeals are concerned, the same are dismissed.
                 No costs.

                             .............................................J.
                                                                (A.K. SIKRI)



                             .............................................J.
                                                     (ROHINTON FALI NARIMAN)

NEW DELHI;
MAY 05, 2015.
-----------------------
[1]   (1995) 4 SCC 473
[2]   (2001) 1 SCC 236
[3]   (1987) Supp SCC 679
[4]   (1997) 7 SCC 144

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