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pulp from the waste of jute bags or gunny bags would not be covered by the term 'rags' appearing in Notification dated 01-03-1994 as it could never be the intention to exclude non-conventional material from the benefit of the aforesaid Notification when that was precisely the purpose for which this Notification was issued to encourage use of non-conventional material for the purposes of manufacturing paper or paper products. Still, we would now like to take note of the dictionary meaning that is assigned to the aforesaid terms, that too from the 'Dictionary of Paper' by American Paper and Pulp Association, which obviously is the most relevant and authenticated dictionary for the purpose of the present case as what is in vogue and understood in paper industry is contained in such a dictionary. The Dictionary of Paper by American Paper and Pulp Association clearly makes a distinction between rag pulp and jute. Relevant portion of the book (contained at pages 22 and 26) is reproduced below: “Cotton fibre or rag pulps are used principally in the manufacture of fine and technical papers as listed below, and in the manufacture of roofing papers..” Jute Pulp is used in the manufacture of wrapping paper and tag stock. It is also used to some extent in buff drawing paper. The major supply of jute comes from old sacking, burlap and string...” Jute … Old gunny and sacking are used as raw materials in papermaking” The book 'Pulp and Paper Chemistry and Chemical Technology' by James P. Casey again distinguishes between rags and jute in the following manner: “Use of Rags for Papermaking High-grade cotton and, to some extent, linen rags are used to make the best grades of bond, writing and technical papers, where permanence, high strength, and distinctive quality are of interest. Pulping of Jute Whole jute is rarely used for pulp and papermaking. Salvaged products, such as old jute sacks and burlap, are the materials available to the paper mills. Waste jute is cut into small pieces and dusted before cooking.. Jute pulps are used for the manufacture of high-strength bags, wrappings, drawing papers, and tags.” Dictionary of Paper by TAPPI defines 'rag pulps' as under: “Papermaking fibers made from new or old cotton textile cuttings. The term may also apply to cotton linters, i.e., the short fibers which adhere to the cotton seed after the ginning process. Rag pulps are used in papers where permanence and durability are needed, e.g., ledger, blueprint, map, currency papers etc.” Indian Standard Glossary of Terms used in Paper Trade and Industry – IS 4661 : 1999 defines 'jute' and 'rag pulp' as under: “Jute : (a) An Indian bast fibre, white jute (Corchorus Capsularis) and tossa jute (C. Olitorius) which is used for the manufacture of coarse sacking and bags (gunny sack). Old gunny and sacking are used as raw materials in papermaking... Rag Pulps: Papermaking fibres of cotton made from materials like new or old cotton textile cuttings or cotton linters, mill run, fly cotton, cotton waste etc. Rag pulps are used in papers where permanence and durability are needed, for example, ledger, blueprint, map, currency papers etc." Thus, almost all the books on the subject uniformly define 'rag' or 'rag pulp' as one which is made from cotton waste or cotton textile material. On the other hand, the learned counsel appearing for the Revenue could not point out to a single dictionary or could take us through any technical literature which even remotely suggests that jute gunny bags come under the category of 'rags' in the context of paper technology. The Tribunal has simply brushed aside the aforesaid material with a mere observation that it is not relevant and this approach of the Tribunal cannot be justified. The upshot of the aforesaid discussion is to hold that the impugned decision of the Tribunal does not stand judicial scrutiny and warrants to be set aside. We, thus, allow this appeal, quash the order of the Tribunal and restore the order that was passed by the Commissioner. No costs.

                                                                  REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4908 OF 2005


|M/S. COASTAL PAPER LTD.                    |.....APPELLANT(S)            |
|VERSUS                                     |                             |
|COMMNR. OF CENTRAL EXCISE, VISAKHAPATNAM   |.....RESPONDENT(S)           |


                               J U D G M E N T


A.K. SIKRI, J.
                 The appellant (hereinafter referred to as  the  “assessee”)
is a paper mill which is engaged, inter alia, in the manufacture  of  paper.
For the manufacture of paper, the assessee  uses  various  conventional  raw
materials and also  non-conventional  raw  materials,  namely,  waste  gunny
bags, jute waste etc. The assessee is exigible  to  Central  Excise  on  the
aforesaid product, namely, paper manufactured by it, which the assessee  has
been paying to the respondent (hereinafter referred  to  as  the  “Revenue”)
from time to time. In order to encourage production of paper by use of  non-
conventional raw material, the Government of India issued  Notification  No.
22/94-CE dated 01.03.1994 which assures concessional rate of duty at 5%  for
“paper and paperboard or articles made from non-conventional material”.  The
condition which is contained in the  said  Notification  that  needs  to  be
fulfilled in order to avail the benefit  thereof  to  pay  the  concessional
rate of duty reads as under:

“If  such  paper  and  paperboard  or  articles  made  therefrom  have  been
manufactured, starting from the stage of pulp, in a factory, and  such  pulp
contains not less than 75 per cent by weight of  pulp  made  from  materials
other than bamboo, hard woods, soft woods, reeds (other  than  sarkanda)  or
rags.”

As per the aforesaid Notification, following conditions are to be  satisfied
in order to avail the benefit:
(i)   Manufacture of paper and paperboard or articles made therefrom  should
start from stage of pulp, in a factory,
(ii)  Such pulp should contain not less than 75%  by  weight  of  pulp  made
from materials other than bamboo, hard woods, soft woods, reeds (other  than
sarkanda) or rags.
                 It, thus, specifies certain materials  which  are  excluded
from the Notification, meaning thereby, if  the  pulp  is  made  from  those
specific materials, namely, bamboo hard  woods,  soft  woods,  reeds  (other
than sarkanda) or rags then the manufacturer would not be  entitled  to  the
benefit of this Notification.
The assessee herein is manufacturing  paper  out  of  pulp  of  waste  gunny
bags/jute waste and on the  manufacture  of  paper  from  the  pulp  of  the
aforesaid waste, the assessee wants to pay concessional rate of excise  duty
as its contention is that pulp of waste gunny bags or jute  waste  does  not
fall in any of the materials mentioned in the Notification. The Revenue,  on
the other hand, has  taken  the  position  that  the  pulp  of  waste  gunny
bags/jute waste is nothing but pulp of 'rags' and  since  the  Notification,
particularly, disentitles the benefit thereof  if  the  pulp  is  made  from
rags, the assessee is not covered by the said  Notification.  The  question,
therefore, that falls for consideration is  as  to  whether  pulp  of  waste
gunny bags/jute waste is to be treated as the pulp made  from  the  material
'rags'. Before we answer this question, it is deemed necessary to take  note
of the other related Notifications touching upon the subject matter as  well
as history of the present litigation which has lauded  the  matter  to  this
Court.

Notification No. 22/94-CE dated 01.03.1994, with which we are concerned,  is
not the first Notification which permitted concessional rate of excise  duty
in case of manufacture of paper or paper products by using  non-conventional
raw material. First Notification, in this behalf, was issued on  01.03.1973,
i.e. Notification No. 42/73-CE wherein such kind of lesser  rate  of  duties
was prescribed in respect of all sorts of paper  other  than  newsprint  and
all varieties of  boards,  containing  not  less  than  40%  by   weight  of
bagasse,  jute  stalks  or  cereals  straw  in  the  form  of   pulp.   This
Notification was replaced by another Notification No. 128/77-CE dated 18-06-
1977 where the manufacture of the paper (other than some specified kinds  of
papers mentioned therein) contained not less than  50%  by  weight  of  pulp
made from bagasse, jute stalks, cereals straw or waste paper. Certain  other
conditions were also  mentioned  in  this  Notification  pertaining  to  the
description of paper mills manufacturing such paper with which  we  are  not
concerned.  There  have  been  further  Notifications  from  time  to   time
modifying/amending  the  aforesaid  conditions  which  again  need  not   be
referred to as  not  relevant  for  our  purposes.  It  would,  however,  be
necessary to refer to the Notification 48/91-CE dated 25.07.1991 which  held
the field prior to issuance of Notification  No.  22/94-CE  with  which  are
concerned. In this Notification No. 48/91-CE, concessional rate of duty  was
provided in respect of writing and printing paper falling under the  heading
No. 48.02 and uncoated kraft paper, falling under heading No. 48.04  of  the
First Schedule to the Central Excise Tariff Act,  1985  (for  short,  'CETA,
1985') on certain conditions mentioned in the proviso contained in the  said
Notification which was to the following effect.
“Provided that such paper contains not less than 75% by weight of pulp  made
from jute, jute waste (including hessian waste and  old  gunny  bag  waste),
mesta, rice straw, wheat straw or bagasse or mixture thereof or  mixture  of
two or more of the pulps of the aforementioned materials.”

            The purpose of mentioning to the aforesaid  Notification  is  to
point out this Notification listed  those  materials,  the  use  whereof  to
manufacture paper and paper products entitled the manufacturer  to  get  the
benefit of the Notification.  Thus the requirement  was  to  show  that  the
pulp was made from any of the said materials or from the  mixtures  thereof.
It can be termed as 'Positive List'. In contrast, Notification No.  22/94-CE
did not contain the list of those materials from which pulp was required  to
be made and used for the purpose of manufacture of paper.  On the  contrary,
this Notification contained excluded category of  materials,  i.e.,  if  the
pulp was made from those specified materials (which included rags  as  well)
then the benefit of Notification was not  available.  The  effect   of  this
Notification is that if the pulp is made  from  any  other  non-conventional
material which is not spelt  out  in  the  proviso,  it  would  qualify  for
concessional rate of duty in terms of the said Notification.  The  materials
mentioned in this list, for the sake of convenience, can  be  classified  as
'Negative List'.  Now  the  requirement  was  to  show  that  paper  is  not
manufactured  from  the  pulp  of  any  of  the  enlisted  material.   Thus,
according to Notification No. 22/94-CE, the exemption is  available  if  the
paper is made from pulp which contains not less  than  75%  by  weight  made
from   non-conventional   materials.    The   prohibited   material    which
disqualifies from said concessional rate is bamboo or hardwood  or  softwood
or reed or rags.

There have been some amendments in the  Notification  No.  22/94-CE  in  the
subsequent years.  During the financial years  1995-96,  1997-98  and  1999-
2000 (till October 1999), the concessional rate  of  duty  is  provided  for
paper made of pulp containing not less than 75% by weight of pulp made  from
materials other than bamboo, hard wood, soft wood, reeds  or  rags.  But  in
respect of the year 1996-97, the concession was given to paper made of  pulp
containing not less than 50% by weight of pulp  made  from  materials  other
than bamboo, hard wood, soft wood, reeds or rags.

Reverting to the case of the assessee, it has been using old or  used  gunny
bags/jute waste for the manufacture of paper.  It was availing  the  benefit
of  the  aforesaid  notification  and  paying  concessional  rate  of  duty.
However, on 28.04.2000, a show-cause notice was issued  by  the  Revenue  to
the appellant stating therein that the  paper  manufactured  by  using  jute
bags/  gunny  bags  are  not  eligible  for   exemption   under   the   said
notifications or successor notifications whereby the aforesaid  notification
was amended from time to time.  Extended period of  limitation  was  invoked
under proviso to Section 11A of the Central Excise  Act,  1944  (for  short,
“Act”) and demand of differential central excise duty for  the  period  from
01.04.1995 to 31.10.1999 was given. This show cause notice was  followed  by
two more show cause notices dated 16.05.2000  and  13.03.2001  covering  the
period from November, 1999 to May, 2000. The assessee  contested  the  stand
taken by the Revenue in these show cause notices, taking the  position  that
pulp made out of jute bags/gunny bags entitled the  assessee  to  avail  the
benefit of the said Notification as the paper from the waste  of  jute  bags
was non-conventional method. In support, the assessee also gave material  in
the form of technical literature and expert opinion.  Personal  hearing  was
provided   by   the   Commissioner   of   Central   Excise,   Visakhapatnam.
Thereafter,  the  Commissioner  passed  Order-in-Original  dated  02.05.2005
accepting the contention of the assessee and dropping  all  the  three  show
cause notices. He also held that  show  cause  notice  dated  28.04.2000  is
barred by limitation as well under Section 11A of the  Act  as  the  Revenue
was not entitled to invoke the proviso to Section  11A  and  claim  extended
period of limitation.

A perusal  of  the  order  of  the  Commissioner  would  disclose  that  the
Commissioner was persuaded by the fact that  the  purpose  of  issuing  such
Notification was to  encourage   the  use  of  waste  from  non-conventional
materials  as  raw  materials  for  the  purpose  of  manufacture  and   in,
particular, use of such raw  materials  like  jute  waste,  mesta,  baggase,
hessain, old gunyy bag waste, rice straw, wheat straw etc.  and  reduce  the
use of bamboo, hard wood, soft wood etc. to save forest. He also noted  that
before 1994, Notifications contained list of  those  materials  use  whereof
qualified for the concessional rate (i.e.  the  'Positive  List')  and  from
1994, the 'Negative List' was prescribed by excluding only the  set  of  raw
materials,  use  of  which  did  not  qualify  for  the   benefit   of   the
Notification. The Commissioner also referred to the speech  of  the  Finance
Minister to emphasize that the Notification has evolved  in  a  eco-friendly
manner  with  more  and  more  encouragement  for  use  of  non-conventional
materials. Going by the aforesaid spirit of the  Notification,  when  it  is
found that jute and gunny bags were included  in  the  'Positive  List'  and
waste therefrom is widely known  as  non-conventional  method  of  producing
paper and paper products, these materials should not be treated  as  'rags',
inasmuch as while including rags in the 'Negative List' intention could  not
be to encompass waste of gunny bags and jute bags  within  said  expression.
In the Order-in-Original passed by the Commissioner,  he  pointed  out  that
there is no definition of 'rags' in the Notification and,  similarly,  there
is no definition of jute pulp  in  any  Notification  which  could  help  in
tracing any description of gunny bags waste. The  Commissioner  opined  that
for this reason, it  was  prudent  to  fall  back  upon  the  definition  or
standard text or other notifications which define these  words.  Thereafter,
he referred to the 'Glossary of Terms used in Paper Trade and Industry'  for
the adoption of definition/description of jute, jute paper, jute  pulp,  rag
pulps, rags etc. and on that basis concluded as under:
“37.  The meaning of the word Rags as they have  not  been  defined  in  the
notification itself, has to be derived from  the  contemporaneous  evidence.
From the definitions of Rag pulp, jute pulp available in the IS Glossary  of
Terms used in Paper Trade and Industry,  the  definition  of  Rags  appended
with the Notification No. 8/96-CE and  the  definition  of  rag  in  various
judgments mentioned in para 26.A it  conveys  the  meaning,  in  unambiguous
terms, that old used gunny bags would not be equated with rags.

38.   The show cause notice has gone to add that jute  waste  is  not  gunny
bag waste and as the party has not mentioned in their record jute waste  and
not gunny bag waste, there has been suppression of information.  So long  as
we hold that rags are not gunny bag waste and  gunny bags are  not  excluded
raw materials for the purpose of concession, it  does  not  matter  how  the
gunny bag is described  in  documents.  The  amendments  to  Central  Excise
Notification No. 48/91 dated 25.7.91 vide  30/93  shows  unambiguously  that
Jute Waste shall include old gunny bag waste. Therefore,  it  still  remains
correct that gunny bag waste can be described as waste of jute products  and
in extension would be includible in Jute Waste. Therefore, there is no  mis-
declaration in raw  material  account.  In  addition,  this  description  by
itself would not prove the point of the show  cause  notice.  As  the  basic
premises on which the SCN stands is  not  available,  other  allegations  of
suppression and application of extended period and attraction under  Section
11AC and 11AB or violations under Rule 226 and 173Q are not sustainable.

39.   Therefore, the allegation listed in Para 42 of the show  cause  notice
regarding violation of Rule   173B  by  misdeclaring  gunny  waste  as  jute
waste, Rule 173G regarding willful  suppression  of  Raw  Material  Account.
Rule 9(1)  regarding  discharge  of  appropriate  duty  and  173F  regarding
determination of correct rate of duty pertaining to clearances of goods  out
of gunny bag pulp do not stand on basis of above evidence of disclosure.”


The Revenue was not satisfied with the  aforesaid  outcome  and,  therefore,
preferred an appeal  against  the  order  of  the  Commissioner  before  the
Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal  (for  short,  'CESTAT').
The CESTAT has, vide impugned order dated 04.02.2005, upset the decision  of
the Commissioner on merits,  holding  that  the  waste  of  jute/gunny  bags
amounts to  'rags'  and,  therefore,  pulp  made  out  of  it  and  use  for
manufacture of paper would not be covered by the said Notification.

While arriving at this conclusion, the  Tribunal  remarked  that  inferences
drawn by the Commissioner from  the  Finance  Minister's  Budget  speech  or
Board's circular do not appear to be flowing either from the said speech  or
from Board's clarification and the reasoning of  the  Commissioner  in  this
respect was  false.   It  also  rejected  the  contention  of  the  assessee
predicated on HSN Chapter Headings. According to the Tribunal, pulp  out  of
rags was specifically excluded from the Notification.  'Rag'  is  understood
to be worn out, soiled and torn of a textile material.  In view thereof,  it
was not necessary to refer to any dictionary,  Glossary  of  Terms  used  in
Paper and Paper Industry or words and phrases to find  out  the  meaning  of
'rags'. The relevant portion, discussing this aspect reads as under:
“11.   We are unable to agree with this contention.   There  is  no  denying
the fact that gunny bags/jute bags are  articles  of  textiles.  Admittedly,
such jute bags which shows signs of wear and tear are excluded from  heading
63.09 and are classified with the corresponding new articles  under  heading
63.05. But there is another category of old gunny bags  which  are  so  worn
out, soiled or torn beyond clearing or repairs and are  generally  fit  only
for the recovery of the fibres for the manufacture of  paper  etc.  This  is
the separate category of old gunny bags which is different from  gunny  bags
showing only signs of wear. Thus a rag is one which is worn out, soiled  and
torn of a textile material. If that is the meaning  of  rags,  there  is  no
need to refer to any dictionary, glossary of terms used in paper  and  paper
industry or S.B. Sarkar's Words and Phrases  to  find  out  the  meaning  of
rags. The respondent uses torn, soiled etc. gunny bags to make  pulp.  Gunny
bag is a textile material.  We agree  with  the  Revenue's  contention  that
rags can be  made of any textile material or textile articles  and  are  not
limited to pieces of cotton or articles made of cotton.”


However, on the issue of limitation, the Tribunal  has  concurred  with  the
order of the Commissioner and rejected the appeal of  the  Revenue  to  that
extent.  The net result is that the demand contained in  show  cause  notice
which pertained to the period from 01.04.1995 to  31.10.1999  is  concerned,
the same is treated as time barred.  Insofar  as  learned  counsel  for  the
assessee is concerned, in his endeavour to demonstrate that  waste  of  jute
bags/gunny bags cannot be termed as 'rags' in the sense the term is used  in
the Notification, he  laid  great  stress  on  the  principle  of  purposive
interpretation that needs to be given to the Notification. Thus main  thrust
of his argument was that the objective  of  the  Notification  to  give  its
benefit to those who are using waste from  non-conventional  materials.   He
submitted that  it  was  well-known  that  jute/gunny  bags  were  the  non-
conventional methods which was well recognised in the commercial  world.  To
put it in nutshell,   he based his arguments on the  reasons  given  by  the
Commissioner. He also submitted that the reasons given by the Tribunal  were
faulty and in the absence of any definition of 'rags' in  the  Notification,
dictionary meaning could be relied upon as was held by the Supreme Court  in
the case of Rohit Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd. v. Collector of Central  Excise,
Baroda[1].

Mr. K. Radhakrishnan, learned senior counsel  appearing for the  respondent,
likewise, did the same exercise but  in  reverse,  i.e.,  he  supported  the
reasons given by the Tribunal with the submission that it  was  a  blemished
decision of the Commissioner based on faulty  reasoning  which  has  rightly
been reversed by the Tribunal. Apart from relying  upon  the  reasons  which
persuaded the Tribunal to conclude the matter in favour of the  Revenue,  he
strenuously argued that since the excise duty is leviable  on  the  product,
any assessee taking advantage of the exemption notification had to  strictly
come within the four corners of the said Notification  to  get  the  benefit
thereof. Adopting  this  line  of  argument,  he  also  submitted  that  the
Notification   mentions   the   word   'rags'   simplicitor   without    any
qualifications or exceptions. Therefore, wherever it is found that  pulp  is
from the waste material known as 'rags', the said product would come in  the
excepted category. He emphasized that since it  could  not  be  denied  that
waste of  gunny  bags/jute  bags  is  known  as  'rags',  if  the  paper  is
manufactured from the pulp from the  waste  of  gunny  bags/jute  bags,  the
assessee would be disentitled to claim the benefit of the Notification.

We have considered the aforesaid submissions with reference  to  record  and
the plethora of material produced before us by both the  sides.   It  cannot
be denied that if  one  has  to  look  into  the  ordinary  meaning  of  the
expression 'rags' and on that basis construe the Notification  in  question,
the assessee would not be entitled to the concessional rate of  excise  duty
inasmuch as the waste of gunny bags or jute bags would be called  'rags'  in
ordinary sense of the term.  However, whether case can be decided with  such
simplistic overtones,  is  the  question.  We  are  of  the  view  that  the
expression 'rags' appearing in the Notification has to be  construed  having
regard to the attendant circumstances, the context  in  which  the  same  is
used in the said Notification as well as the purpose  for  which  this  term
has appeared in the Notification. At the same time, it is also necessary  to
go behind the objective for which  Notification  itself  is  issued  thereby
giving it a purposive interpretation, which  has  become  cardinal  rule  of
interpretation. In our  opinion,  it  is  only  after  examining  all  these
factors that the final decision should be arrived at.

Right from 1977, the Central Government  prescribed  concessional  rates  of
excise duty for paper made from non-conventional raw  material,  subject  to
certain conditions. History of these Notifications, in  brief,  has  already
been traversed by  us  in  the  beginning.  The  purpose  for  issuing  such
Notifications is clear, namely, to encourage the manufacturers of the  paper
and paper products to use non-conventional technology in contrast  with  the
conventional technology of using pulping bamboo or wheat. The reason is  too
obvious. Use of bamboo or wheat for  the  manufacture  of  paper  and  paper
products needs  cutting of trees which in turn has  the  devastating  effect
of deforestation. It leads to degradation of  environment  and  the  adverse
impact of deforestation with serious consequences  are  now  well-known.  On
the other hand with the adoption of non-conventional methods  of  production
by taking pulp from the waste of gunny bags/jute waste, mesta,  rice  straw,
wheat straw, bagasse etc., not only the said waste is utilised in  a  useful
and constructive manner, it saves environment as  well.  Such  a  benevolent
purpose for issuing these Notifications has been emphasized by  the  Finance
Ministers themselves from time to time in the budget speeches.

The tenor and language of various Notifications issued in this  behalf  from
time to time also reflect the experience which was gained over a  period  of
time. Whereas in the beginning,  Notification(s)  prescribed  the  'Positive
List'  of the  materials  that  had  to  be  used  to  get  the  benefit  of
concessional rate of duty, the thrust underwent a conceptual  transformation
and changed to the 'Negative List', i.e.  mentioning  only  those  materials
use whereof  will  not  entail  the  benefit,  thereby  making  the  benefit
available to  all  other  forms  of  non-conventional  materials.  This  was
because of the reason that experience has shown that it was  not  proper  to
mention the non-conventional material by putting them in a straitjacket  and
to provide that  all  kinds  of  non-conventional  materials  used  for  the
manufacture of paper should qualify for  concessional  rate  excepting  only
those which need not be given such a benefit. This thrust,  therefore,  from
'Positive List' to 'Negative List' is of great significance and  has  to  be
kept in mind.

Proceeding further therefrom, it is important to note  that  the  pulp  made
from jute, jute waste including hessian waste and old gunny bags  waste  are
specifically included in  the  'Positive  List'  contained  in  Notification
dated 17.09.1990.  Thus, as per  the  said  Notification  if  the  paper  is
manufactured from the pulp made from the waste of the  aforesaid  materials,
the benefit of concessional rate was admissible.  To put  it  otherwise,  it
has always been  clearly understood that jute or jute  waste  including  old
gunny bag waste is non-conventional material. Once that is  accepted,  could
the intention behind Notification No. 22/1994-CE be  to  exclude  this  non-
conventional  material  with  the  insertion  of  the  word  'rags'  in  the
'Negative List'. It seems difficult to comprehend such a kind of outcome  or
situation.

With the aforesaid introduction, we reproduce the  'Negative  List'  of  the
materials specified in the Notification 22/94-CE. It mentions 'bamboo,  hard
woods, soft woods, reeds (other than Sarkanda) or rags'.  What  is  intended
by mentioning that pulp made from the aforesaid material  would  not  entail
benefit. Obviously, all other materials, namely, bamboo,  hard  woods,  soft
woods, and reeds are conventional raw materials.  These  are  the  materials
which have direct bearing on cutting of trees and in  turn  on  environment.
Therefore, 'rags' has to be read ejusdem generis.  It has to be  the  specie
of the earlier kind of materials mentioned  therein.   Otherwise,  it  would
not make any sense. Admittedly, jute waste or  for  that  matter  gunny  bag
waste  have  no  adverse  impact  on  environment.    Significantly,   while
mentioning reeds, the Sarkanda is specifically excluded therefrom.

It needs to be emphasized that prior to 1984, the exemption  to  paper  made
from unconventional raw materials was  available  only  when  the  paper  is
manufactured  from  the  specified  non-conventional  raw  materials.    For
example, Notification No. 46/83-CE dated 01-03-1983 prescribed  concessional
rate of excise duty for paper containing not less than  fifty  per  cent  by
weight of pulp made from bagasse, jute stalks, cereal straw, elephant  grass
(Imperata Cylindrica), mesta (Kneaf) or waste paper.  Thus, jute stalks  was
specified as a non-conventional raw material  in  the  notification  itself.
However, vide Budget of 1984, the scope of the exemption to paper made  from
non-conventional  raw  materials  was  widened  and  relevant   portion   of
Notification No. 25/84-CE dated 01-03-1984 reads as under:
“In exercise of the powers …. the Central Government  hereby  exempts  paper
and paperboards …. manufactured out of pulp containing not less than 50  per
cent by weight of pulp made from materials (other  than  bamboo,  hardwoods,
softwoods, reeds or rags)...”

             Thus,  right  from  the  year  1984,  the   coverage   of   the
Notification was widened inasmuch as any materials other than the  specified
ones would be considered as non-conventional raw  materials  and  the  paper
made therefrom would be eligible for the exemption.  This  is  also  evident
from the Finance Minister's speech while presenting the Finance Bill,  1984,
relevant portion of which reads as under:
“108... As a further measure of relief,  I  proposed  to  reduce  the  basic
excise duty on printing and writing paper and also kraft paper  produced  by
large  paper  mills  by  Rs.  425  per  metric  tonne,   and   corresponding
concessions are being  given  on  the  duty  leviable  on  such  paper  when
unconventional   raw   materials   are   used    in    their    manufacture.
Simultaneously, the range of permissible  unconventional  raw  materials  is
being expanded.”

The Budget Explanatory Notes to Finance Bill, 1984 (at para  8.6)  reads  as
under:
“8.6  Another  change  made  is  with  regard  to  extending  the  scope  of
unconventional raw  materials  by  paper  mills  for  the  purpose  of  duty
concessions.  It  has  not  been  proided  that  the  concessions  would  be
available for use of any raw materials (other than bamboo, hard woods,  soft
woods, reeds and rags) to the extent of at least 50% by weight  of  pulp  in
the manufacture of paper (with few  exceptions)  or  paperboard.   In  other
words, so long as the percentage by weight of pulp bamboo, hard woods,  soft
woods, reeds or rags is not more than 50%, the concessional rates of  excise
duty would apply.”

Thus, all the above materials and the  notifications  clearly  suggest  that
the Government itself distinguished between jute bags/gunny  bags  and  rags
and the exemption was being extended  to  paper  made  from  old  jute/gunny
bags.

No doubt, such  exemption  Notifications  call  for  strict  interpretation.
However, at the same time when the expression 'rags' is not defined  in  the
Notification, it has to be assigned a particular meaning which  defines  the
purpose for which such a Notification was issued giving  by  plain  meaning,
even when there is a total disconnect  between  the  said  meaning  and  the
Notification, may lead to absurd  results  as  it  would  exclude  the  non-
conventional material in the form of waste from  jute  bags  or  gunny  bags
even when this very material was there in the 'Positive List' and  qualified
for exemption. This  Court  has  held  in  the  case  of  H.M.M  Limited  v.
Collector of Central Excise, New Delhi[2] that the benefit of  Notifications
has to be interpreted by going into the purpose of beneficial  notifications
and that one does not have to go only by the language employed therein.

To the same effect is the judgment of this Court  in  Collector  of  Central
Excise and Others v. Himalayan  Cooperative  Milk  Product  Union  Ltd.  and
Others[3] where this  Court  remarked  that  'purpose  and  policy  decision
behind the notification should not be defeated by  giving  it  some  meaning
other that what is clearly and plainly flowing from it.  At this  stage,  it
would also be pertinent to refer to another judgment of this Court in  Rohit
Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd. v. Collector of  Central  Excise[4],  wherein  the
Court held that there would be circumstances where a generic word is  to  be
given limited meaning by reason of its context.  We  would  like  to  borrow
the following discussions therefrom:
“10.  The principle of statutory interpretation  by  which  a  generic  word
receives  a  limited  interpretation  by  reason  of  its  context  is  well
established.  In  the  context  with  which  we  are   concerned,   we   can
legitimately draw upon the "noscitur a sociis"  principle.  This  expression
simply means that "the meaning of a word is to be judged by the  company  it
keeps." Gajendragadkar, J. explained the scope  of  the  rule  in  State  v.
Hospital Mazdoor Sabha (1960-2 S.C.R. 866) in the following words:

            "This rule, according to Maxwell, means that, when two  or  more
words which are susceptible of analogous meaning are coupled  together  they
are understood to be used in their cognate  sense.  They  take  as  it  were
their colour from each other, that is, the more general is restricted  to  a
sense analogous to a less general. The same  rule  is  thus  interpreted  in
"Words and Phrases" (Vo. XIV, p. 207): "Associated words take their  meaning
from one another under the doctrine of nosciture a  sociis,  the  philosophy
of which is that the meaning of  a  doubtful  word  may  be  ascertained  by
reference to the meaning of words  associated  with  it;  such  doctrine  is
broader than the maxim Ejusdem Generis." In fact the latter maxim  "is  only
an illustration or specific application of  the  broader  maxim  noscitur  a
sociis". The argument is that certain essential features or  attributes  are
invariably associated with the words "business and trade" as  understood  in
the  popular  and  conventional  sense,  and  it  is  the  colour  of  these
attributes which is taken by the other words used in the  definition  though
their normal import may  be  much  wider.  We  are  not  impressed  by  this
argument. It must be borne in mind that noscitur a sociis is merely  a  rule
of construction and it cannot prevail in cases where it is  clear  that  the
wider words have been deliberately used in order to make the  scope  of  the
defined word correspondingly wider. It is only where the  intention  of  the
Legislature in associating wider words with words of  narrower  significance
is doubtful, or otherwise not clear that the present  rule  of  construction
can be usefully applied. It can also be applied where  the  meaning  of  the
words of wider import is doubtful; but, where the object of the  Legislature
in  using  wider  words  is  clear  and  free  of  ambiguity,  the  rule  of
construction in question cannot be pressed into service."

This principle has  been  applied  in  a  number  of  contexts  in  judicial
decisions where the Court is clear in its mind that the  larger  meaning  of
the word in question could not have been intended in the  context  in  which
it has been used. The cases are too numerous to  need  discussion  here.  It
should be sufficient to refer to one of them  by  way  of  illustration.  In
Rainbow Steels  Ltd.  v.  C.S.T.,  (1981)  2  SCC  141  this  Court  had  to
understand the meaning of the word 'old' in the context of  an  entry  in  a
taxing tariff which read thus:

            "Old, discarded, unserviceable or absolute machinery, stores  or
vehicles including waste products ..... "

Though the tariff item started with the use of  the  wide  word  'old',  the
Court came to the conclusion that "in order to fall  within  the  expression
'old machinery' occurring in the entry, the machinery must be old  machinery
in the sense that it has become  non-functional  or  non-usable".  In  other
words, not the mere age of the machinery, which would  be  relevant  in  the
wider sense, but the condition of the machinery analogous to that  indicated
by the words following it, was considered relevant for the purposes  of  the
statute.



11.  The maxim of noscitur a sociis has been described by Diplock,  C.J.  as
a "treacherous one unless one knows the societas to which the socii  belong"
(vide: Letang v. Coopex, 1965-1 Q.B. 232).  The  learned  Solicitor  General
also warns that one should not be carried away by labels  and  Latin  maxims
when the word to be  interpreted  is  clear  and  has  a  wide  meaning.  We
entirely agree that these maxims and precedents are not to  be  mechanically
applied; they are of assistance only in so far as they furnish  guidance  by
compendiously summing up principles based  on  rules  of  common  sense  and
logic. As explained in Collector of Central  Excise  v.  Parle  Exports  (P)
Ltd., 1989 (38) E.L.T. 741 (S.C.) = (1989-1 S.C.C. 345 at  p.357)  and  Tata
Oil Mills Co. Ltd. v. C.C.E., 1989 (43) E.L.T. 183 (S.C.) = (1989-4 SCC  541
at p. 545-6) in interpreting the scope of any notification,  the  Court  has
first to keep in mind the object and purpose of the notification. All  parts
of it should be read harmoniously in aid of, and not in derogation, of  that
purpose. In this case, the aim and object of the notification is to grant  a
concession  to  small  scale  factories   which   manufacture   paper   with
unconventional raw materials. The question  naturally  arises:  Could  there
have been any particular object intended to be achieved by  introducing  the
exceptions set out in the proviso? Instead  of  proceeding  on  the  premise
that it is not necessary to look for any reason in a taxing statute,  it  is
necessary to have a closer look at  the  wording  of  the  proviso.  If  the
proviso had referred only to 'coated paper', no special  object  or  purpose
would  have  been  discernible  and  perhaps  there  would  have   been   no
justification to look beyond it and enter into a speculation as to  why  the
notification  should  have  thought  of  exempting   only   'coated   paper'
manufactured by these factories from the purview of the exemption.  But  the
notification excepts not one but a group of items. If  the  items  mentioned
in the group were totally dissimilar and  it  were  impossible  to  see  any
common thread running through them again, it may be permissible to give  the
exceptions their widest latitude. But  when  four  of  them-undoubtedly,  at
least three of them-can be brought under an intelligible classification  and
it is also conceivable that the Government  might  well  have  thought  that
these small scale factories  should  not  be  eligible  for  the  concession
contemplated by the notification where they manufacture  paper  catering  to
industrial purposes, there is a purpose in  the  limitation  prescribed  and
there is no reason why the rationally  logical  restriction  should  not  be
placed on the proviso based on this classification. In our  view,  the  only
reasonable way of interpreting the proviso is  by  understanding  the  words
'coated paper' in a narrower sense consistent  with  the  other  expressions
used therein.”




The aforesaid discussion would be sufficient to  hold  that  pulp  from  the
waste of jute bags or gunny bags would not be covered  by  the  term  'rags'
appearing in  Notification  dated  01-03-1994  as  it  could  never  be  the
intention to exclude non-conventional  material  from  the  benefit  of  the
aforesaid Notification when that was precisely the purpose  for  which  this
Notification was issued to encourage use of  non-conventional  material  for
the purposes of manufacturing paper or paper products.  Still, we would  now
like to take note  of  the  dictionary  meaning  that  is  assigned  to  the
aforesaid terms, that too from the 'Dictionary of Paper' by  American  Paper
and  Pulp  Association,  which  obviously   is   the   most   relevant   and
authenticated dictionary for the purpose of the present case as what  is  in
vogue and understood in paper industry is contained in such a dictionary.

The Dictionary of Paper by  American  Paper  and  Pulp  Association  clearly
makes a distinction between rag pulp and  jute.   Relevant  portion  of  the
book (contained at pages 22 and 26) is reproduced below:
“Cotton fibre or rag pulps are used principally in the manufacture  of  fine
and technical papers as listed below, and  in  the  manufacture  of  roofing
papers..”

Jute Pulp is used in the manufacture of wrapping paper and  tag  stock.   It
is also used to some extent in buff drawing  paper.   The  major  supply  of
jute comes from old sacking, burlap and string...”

Jute … Old gunny and sacking are used as raw materials in papermaking”

The book 'Pulp and Paper Chemistry and  Chemical  Technology'  by  James  P.
Casey again distinguishes between rags and jute in the following manner:
“Use of Rags for Papermaking

High-grade cotton and, to some extent, linen rags are used to make the  best
grades of  bond,  writing  and  technical  papers,  where  permanence,  high
strength, and distinctive quality are of interest.

Pulping of Jute

Whole jute is rarely used for  pulp  and  papermaking.   Salvaged  products,
such as old jute sacks and burlap, are the materials available to the  paper
mills.  Waste jute is cut into small  pieces  and  dusted  before  cooking..
Jute pulps are used for the manufacture of  high-strength  bags,  wrappings,
drawing papers, and tags.”

Dictionary of Paper by TAPPI defines 'rag pulps' as under:
“Papermaking fibers made from new or old cotton textile cuttings.  The  term
may also apply to cotton linters, i.e., the short  fibers  which  adhere  to
the cotton seed after the ginning process.  Rag pulps  are  used  in  papers
where permanence and durability are needed, e.g.,  ledger,  blueprint,  map,
currency papers etc.”

Indian Standard Glossary of Terms used in Paper  Trade  and  Industry  –  IS
4661 : 1999 defines 'jute' and 'rag pulp' as under:
“Jute : (a) An Indian bast fibre,  white  jute  (Corchorus  Capsularis)  and
tossa jute (C. Olitorius) which  is  used  for  the  manufacture  of  coarse
sacking and bags (gunny sack).  Old  gunny  and  sacking  are  used  as  raw
materials in papermaking...

Rag Pulps: Papermaking fibres of cotton made from materials like new or  old
cotton textile cuttings or cotton linters,  mill  run,  fly  cotton,  cotton
waste etc.  Rag pulps are used in papers  where  permanence  and  durability
are needed, for example, ledger, blueprint, map, currency papers etc."

Thus, almost all the books on the subject uniformly  define  'rag'  or  'rag
pulp' as one which is made from cotton waste  or  cotton  textile  material.
On the other hand, the learned counsel appearing for the Revenue  could  not
point out to a single dictionary or could  take  us  through  any  technical
literature which even remotely suggests that jute gunny bags come under  the
category of 'rags' in the context of paper technology.

The Tribunal has simply brushed aside the aforesaid  material  with  a  mere
observation that it is not  relevant  and  this  approach  of  the  Tribunal
cannot be justified.

The upshot of  the  aforesaid  discussion  is  to  hold  that  the  impugned
decision of the Tribunal does not stand judicial scrutiny  and  warrants  to
be set aside.  We, thus, allow this appeal, quash the order of the  Tribunal
and restore the order that was passed by the Commissioner.
                 No costs.

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


                             .............................................J.
                                                     (ROHINTON FALI NARIMAN)
NEW DELHI;
JULY 21, 2015.
-----------------------
[1]   (1990) 3 SCC 447
[2]   (1996) 11 SCC 332
[3]   (2000) 8 SCC 642
[4]   1990 (47) ELT 491 (SC)

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