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whether Risograph is an office machine having duplicating function and thus to be classified under sub- heading 8472.90 of the Customs Tariff Act, 1975 or is it a printing machine to fall under sub-heading 8443.50. = Revenue has taken the position that it is a specie of duplicating machine and falls under the sub- heading 8472.90, viz. 'Other'. Though under both the sub-headings the import duty is 65%, however, insofar as printing machinery is concerned, by virtue of Notification No. 59/94-CUS dated March 01, 1994, which includes Chapter Heading 84.43, the duty is to be calculated at the rate of 25% ad valorem. = Risograph machine is in the nature of a screen printing machine and not duplicating machine. It would, therefore, be covered under sub-heading 84.43 and not 84.72. We, thus, allow the appeal and set aside the orders of the Tribunal and authorities below. In the given circumstances, there shall not be any order as to costs.


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4513 OF 2005

|M/S. HCL LIMITED                           |.....APPELLANT(S)            |
|VERSUS                                     |                             |
|COMMISSIONER OF CUSTOMS                    |                             |
|NEW DELHI                                  |.....RESPONDENT(S)           |

                               J U D G M E N T

                 Classification of the machines known  as  Risograph,  which
are imported by the appellant M/s. HCL Limited, is  the  issue  involved  in
the present appeal.  The question is as to whether Risograph  is  an  office
machine having duplicating function and thus to  be  classified  under  sub-
heading 8472.90 of the Customs Tariff Act, 1975 or is it a printing  machine
to fall under sub-heading 8443.50.  The main chapter under  which  both  the
sub-headings fall is Chapter 84 which deals with 'Machinery  and  mechanical
appliances'.  Sub-heading 84.43  thereof  relates  to  'Printing  machinery;
machines for uses ancillary to printing' and various entries under this sub-
heading are as follows:
|84.43      |  |Printing machinery; machines for uses   |       |
|           |  |ancillary to printing                   |       |
|           |  |- Offset printing machinery:            |       |
|8443.11    |- |Reel fed                                |65%    |
|8443.12    |- |Sheet fed, office type (sheet size not  |65%    |
|           |  |exceeding 22 x 36 cm)                   |       |
|8443.19    |- |Other                                   |65%    |
|           |  |- Letterpress printing machinery,       |       |
|8443.21    |- |Reel fed                                |65%    |
|8443.29    |- |Other                                   |65%    |
|8443.30    |- |Flexographic printing machinery         |65%    |
|8443.40    |- |Gravure printing machinery              |65%    |
|8443.50    |- |Other printing machinery                |65%    |
|8443.60    |- |Machines for uses ancillary to printing |65%    |
|8443.90    |- |Parts                                   |65%    |

Sub-heading 84.72, on the other hand, deals  with  'Other  office  machines'
and includes duplicating machines.  Various entries under  this  sub-heading
read as under:

|84.72      |  |Other office machines (for example,     |       |
|           |  |hectograph or stencil duplicating       |       |
|           |  |machines, addressing machines, automatic|       |
|           |  |banknote dispensers, coin-sorting       |       |
|           |  |machines, coin-counting or wrapping     |       |
|           |  |machines, pencil-sharpening machines,   |       |
|           |  |perforating or stapling machines)       |       |
|           |  |                                        |       |
|8472.10    |- |Duplicating machines                    |65%    |
|8472.20    |- |Addressing machines and address plate   |65%    |
|           |  |embossing machines                      |       |
|8472.30    |- |Machines for sorting or folding mail or |65%    |
|           |  |for inserting mail in envelopes or      |       |
|           |  |bands, machines for opening, closing or |       |
|           |  |sealing mail and machines for affixing  |       |
|           |  |or cancelling postage stamps            |       |
|8472.90    |- |Other                                   |65%    |

As per the appellant-assessee,  Risograph  machine  is  a  printing  machine
which should be covered by  sub-heading  8443.50,  namely,  'other  printing
machinery'.  On  the  other  hand,  the  respondent-Revenue  has  taken  the
position that it is a specie of duplicating machine and falls under the sub-
heading 8472.90, viz. 'Other'.   Though  under  both  the  sub-headings  the
import duty is 65%, however, insofar as printing machinery is concerned,  by
virtue of Notification No. 59/94-CUS dated March 01,  1994,  which  includes
Chapter Heading 84.43, the duty is to be calculated at the rate  of  25%  ad
valorem.  That is the precise reason behind  the  present  lis  between  the

From the aforesaid, one thing is clear.  Risograph machine does not  fit  in
any of the specific descriptions contained either in  sub-heading  84.43  or
84.72.  Both the parties are trying to fit it  in  the  respective  residual
clauses viz. “Other printing machine” or “Other”  respectively.   Therefore,
what needs to be examined is as  to  whether  the  Risograph  machine  would
belong to the family of 'printing machinery' or it belongs to  the  clan  of
'duplicating machine'.  Right  from  the  Order-in-Original  passed  by  the
Adjudicating Authority, Commissioner of Customs  (Appeals)  to  the  Customs
Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT), the  view  taken  is  in
favour of the Revenue thereby holding the Risograph machine  to  be  in  the
nature of a duplicating machine, which does not qualify  to  be  a  printing
machine at all.  The Tribunal, while holding that it is to be classified  as
an office machine having duplicating function, has relied upon  its  earlier
judgment in the case of  Pioneer  International  v.  Collector  of  Customs,
Kandla[1].  The attempt on the part of the appellant to demonstrate that  it
does printing job and is improperly referred to  as  a  duplicating  machine
has not cut any ice with the Tribunal which has chosen  to  follow  its  own
decision in the case of Pioneer International.  In a  case  like  this,  the
first query of  the  Court  was  as  to  whether  in  the  case  of  Pioneer
International any appeal was preferred.  Answer given was in  the  negative,
which means that the correctness of the order of  the  Tribunal  in  Pioneer
International was not tested in this Court.

Questioning the wisdom of the authorities below  with  the  contention  that
they have arrived at incorrect conclusion in this behalf, it was  argued  by
the learned counsel for the appellant that a detailed reply  dated  February
01, 1995 was filed to the show-cause notice dated January  13,  1995  issued
by the Assistant  Collector  of  Customs  contending  that  the  machine  is
classifiable under sub-heading 8443.50.  It was pointed out that in  support
of the aforesaid plea taken by the appellant it had enclosed  opinions  from
various customers who  were  using  the  Risograph  machine  as  a  printing
machine and  also  the  assessment  by  the  Japanese  Customs  specifically
classifying  the  machine  under   sub-heading   8443.50.    The   appellant
categorically brought to  the  notice  of  the  Assistant  Commissioner  the
following facts for the purpose of classification:
(a)   Riso Kagaku Corp, the  manufacturers  of  Risograph,  were  themselves
clearing  the  machine  under  sub-heading  8443.50  of  the  classification
without raising any objection;
(b)   test of  trade  parlance  was  in  favour  of  the  appellant  wherein
Risograph is  commercially  known  and  understood  as  a  digital  printing
machine in India as well as abroad, as evident from the declaration  of  the
(c)   the mere fact that Risograph starts  with  an  original  cannot  be  a
ground to say that it is not a printing  machine  when  all  other  printing
machines require an original in some form or the other, be it  in  the  form
of plates or digital images;
(d)   HSN Explanatory  Notes  clearly  support  the  classification  of  the
machine under Chapter Heading 84.43 wherein it  specifically  provides  that
in addition to normal type of printing machine Chapter  Heading  84.43  also
cover special machines such as small office printing machines which  operate
by means of printing type or by offset process,  and  which  are  improperly
referred to as 'duplicating machines'  because  their  operating  principles
and appearances are similar to  those  of  duplicating  machines,  no  doubt
referring to machines like Risograph;
(e)   even if principles of duplication are involved, Chapter Heading  84.72
would not be attracted because the HSN  Explanatory  Notes  clearly  provide
that the said heading specifically excludes small printing machines even  if
intended for office use; and
(f)   Risograph machine functions in the principles of printing machines  as
it uses ink drums and squeegee rollers therein to print  images  similar  to
the process of screen printing.
                  Besides  this,  the  appellant  explained  in  detail  the
technical specifications of a Risograph  machine  and  its  functioning  and
also explained that the principle of Risograph is akin  to  screen  printing
for which the appellant submitted  technical  literature.   Learned  counsel
for the appellant submitted that the aforesaid aspects are  totally  ignored
by the authorities below and insofar as the Tribunal is  concerned,  it  has
conveniently omitted to look into these aspects  by  blindly  following  its
decision in Pioneer International and has  erred  in  the  following  manner
(a)   The opinion rendered by the DGTD/Deputy Chief  Controller  of  Imports
and Exports is in favour that the Risograph is a printing machine  and  such
technical opinion has not been overcome by the impugned order.  There is  no
rebuttal to the opinions obtained from DGTD etc. by the Revenue.   A  number
of other buyers have certified that the machine is a  printing  machine  and
not rebutted by the Revenue.
(b)   The Japanese Customs have classified the Risograph only under  Chapter
Heading 84.43 and this position is not disputed even by the Indian Customs.
(c)   The scanner has been extensively used  in  the  printing  industry  to
transfer the image by utilising a thermal head  to  make  masters  used  for
printing, and hence the classification of the Risograph can  only  be  under
that Chapter Heading.
(d)   Risograph does not cut stencils but makes masters of the image  to  be
(e)   Chapter Heading 84.72 is a residuary entry and  the  HSN  specifically
rules out classification of the Risograph under that heading.
(f)   The bare literature of the Risograph Machine clearly  shows  that  the
machine is nothing but a printing machine.
(g)   The Tribunal in para of the order in Pioneer  International  has  held
that the Risograph is used  to  reproduce  copies  and  does  not  have  any
mechanism to print any original matter.  This is totally incorrect  inasmuch
as once the master is made then from the master, by the principle  principle
using ink, which flows through the pores of the paper/plastic master,  fresh
prints are taken out. There is no copying principle  as  in  a  photocopying
(h)   Operation Guide  itself  shows  how  the  master  is  first  made  and
thereafter prints are taken out and hence the Conclusion of the Tribunal  in
para 9 in Pioneer International is totally incorrect and perverse.
(i)   In the case of offset printing, as per the  Tribunal,  the  impression
is taken on a rubber roller and then on to the paper.  In other  words,  the
master is made which is transferred to the rubber rollers, which  thereafter
prints on the blank paper.  In the present case,  the  Risograph  makes  the
master and from the master prints are obtained and hence it is  nothing  but
a printing process.  The process of making master is akin  to  the  printing
plates made in the printing industry  and  there  is  no  escape  from  this
conclusion.  Moreover, the  inked  prints  obtained  as  per  the  technical
literature of the Risograph is the same as what is recorded in  para  10  of
the order in Pioneer International, that is 'offset printing  is  a  process
in which the inked impression is made on to the paper'.  In the case of  the
Risograph machine, ink goes through the pores of the long fibred paper  used
in the paper plastic master to make the prints.
(j)   The master made by the Risograph is not like the stencil  which  is  a
simple process in stencil duplicating machine, but  the  master  is  by  the
printing technology principles for making the master.  Such  stencil  making
process for printing is indeed  recognised  in  the  HSN  Explanatory  Notes
inasmuch as Heading 84.43 even  covers  screen  printing  machines  using  a
stencil screen band.  Thus, the Risograph, after making the  master,  prints
as in the case of an ordinary printing machine.  It is incorrect  to  equate
the Risograph master to an ordinary tencil cut out on a typewriter  for  use
in a stencil duplicating machine.

Mr. K. Radhakrishnan, learned senior counsel appearing for the  Revenue,  on
the other  hand,  took  us  through  the  reasons  given  by  the  Assistant
Commissioner as well as the  Commissioner  (Appeals)  in  support  of  their
findings  and  also  relied  upon  the  Tribunal's   decision   in   Pioneer
International for the reasons given therein and submitted that the  impugned
order of the Tribunal does  not  call  for  any  interference.   He  further
submitted that Risograph machine is not a machine to print original  matter.
 Master board is only for reproduction.  Giving  details  of  the  Risograph
machine, he submitted that the Risograph works by the process  of  automatic
digital scanning, thermal  screening  duplicating  systems.   The  principal
operations involved in the Risograph printer are  screening,  master  making
and printing.  The printer's scanner consists of  photo  sensors  comprising
of light emitting devices and of photo detector.   The  light  emitted  from
the light emitting devices strikes the original.  The light is reflected  by
lighter/white area of the original, whereas the light falling on the  darker
area of the original is absorbed.  The photo detector detects the  reflected
light and reads white and black areas  of  the  original,  as  read  by  the
scanner.  The thermal head, which consists  of  hundreds  of  heat  emitting
elements, is used to make the  master  copy  on  the  basis  of  the  signal
received from the image scanner.  This master copy is exactly similar  to  a
stencil used in a duplicating machine, which is then loaded on to the  drum.
 The ink which is carried in the drum pieces through the micro-pores in  the
master on the paper when it is fed underneath the  rotating  drum.   It  is,
therefore, submitted that Risograph is nothing but a transformation  of  the
duplicator with certain additional functions.  The  afore-mentioned  process
clearly indicates that  there  are  no  principles  of  offset  printing  or
photocopying involved.  It is further submitted that the principal  function
is that of a duplicating machine and cannot be treated as a offset  printing

He also submitted that on February 02, 1993, the Conference of Collector  of
Customs examined under which chapter  tariff  heading  Risograph  should  be
classified.   The  Collectors'  Conference,  after  examining  the  detailed
catalogue and working of Risograph, came to the conclusion that the  machine
is a duplicating machine and, therefore,  appropriately  classifiable  under
Heading 84.72.  The Collectors' Conference  also  came  to  conclusion  that
Risograph is more appropriately classifiable under sub-heading 8472.10.

He,  thus,  summed  up  his  arguments  by  contending  that  printing   and
photocopying  were  somewhat  overlapping  in  the  instant  case.  However,
insofar as Risograph machine is concerned, unlike normal printing  machines,
original goes into the said machine and  master  copy  is  made  inside  the
machine and then copies are prepared/taken.  Simply because it  is  able  to
make 130 copies in one minute would not make it a printing machine,  but  it
was only a high quality photocopy machine with following features:
A.    The following three systems function in tandem to produce  130  copies
or so per minute:
|(a)  |Master making system   |: |High-speed Digital Scanning   |
|     |                       |  |and Thermal Screening system  |
|     |                       |  |                              |
|(b)  |Printing system        |: |Automatic Stencil Duplicating |
|     |                       |  |System                        |
|     |                       |  |                              |
|(c)  |Image scanning system  |: |Flat-bed scanner moving system|

            Thus, the specification itself  establishes  that  the  printing
system inside the Risograph is an Automatic Stencil Duplicating System.
B.    The input is the original and the output is the copy of the original.
C.    Technology in Risograph is simple,  highly  reliable,  speed-wise  far
more superior and cost-wise less expensive than a standard photocopier.
D.    Per contra, in printing there is no original.  The original has to  be
E.    The concepts of Common Parlance and  Principal  Function  ensure  that
the Risograph merits classification in sub-heading 8472.90.
            According to Mr. Radhakrishnan,  Common  Parlance  theory  shall
also apply in this case inasmuch  as  in  the  market  and  to  the  general
consumers of  this  product,  it  was  known  as  photocopying/  duplicating
machine only and not as printing machine, which was its principal function.

We have given our due consideration to  the  aforesaid  submissions  of  the
learned counsel for the parties and have also gone through the  material  as
well as literature produced by the  learned  counsel  in  support  of  their
respective submissions.  In a matter like this it is obvious  that  we  have
to understand what is duplicating machine and what is printing  machine  and
how they differ from each other.  Thereafter, we will have to take  note  of
the technical specifications and functioning of  the  machine  in  question,
namely, Risograph Machine, to enable us to find an answer as to  whether  it
fits the description of a duplicating machine or a  printing  machine.   For
better  understanding  of  the   matter   and   to   answer   the   question
appropriately, we  may  first  scan  through  certain  statutory  and  other
relevant provisions.

As already noted above, Chapter Heading  84.72,  applies  to  'Other  office
machines, includes duplicating machines'. HSN Explanatory Notes  to  Chapter
Heading 84.72 explains that the term 'office machine' is to be  taken  in  a
wide  general  sense  to  include  all  machines  used  in  offices,  shops,
factories, workshops, schools, railway stations,  hotels,  etc.,  for  doing
'office  work'  (i.e.  work  concerning  the  writing,  recording,  sorting,
filing,  etc.,  of  correspondence,  documents,  forms,  records,  accounts,
etc.).  It, thereafter,  gives  the  description  of  duplicating  machines,
which is included in the aforesaid Heading, as under:
“Duplicating machines  of  the  hectograph  type  (e.g.  gelatin  or  spirit
duplicators), and stencil duplicating  machines  which  operate  with  waxed
paper stencils previously cut by a stylus or on a typewriter.   The  heading
includes small presses designed for use with hectographic apparatus.

            But it  excludes  small  printing  machines  (e.g.  letterpress,
lithographic or offset printing machines) even if intended  for  office  us,
and duplicators using embossed  plastic  or  metal  sheets  (including  such
machines  which  can  also  operate  with  stencils)  (heading  84.43),  and
photocopying or thermocopying apparatus  and  microfilm  apparatus  (Chapter

The  HSN  Explanatory  Notes  makes  it  amply  clear  that  small  printing
machines, even if  intended  for  office  use  and  even  duplicators  using
embossed plastic or metal sheet, which can also operate with  stencils,  and
photocopying etc. are specifically excluded.  What follows  from  the  above
is that if there is a small printing machine like letterpress,  lithographic
or offset printing machine, which does the printing work and  also,  at  the
same time, performs duplicating work with stencils  or  otherwise  and  even
photocopying work, it would still be treated as a printing machine  and  not
duplicating machine.

This would lead us to the description of 'printing machinery'  as  given  in
HSN Explanatory Notes to Chapter Heading 84.43.  It is stated  therein  that
this heading covers all machines used for printing by  means  of  the  type,
printing books, plates or cylinders of the  previous  heading  and  excludes
the following:
“(a)   Office  hectograph  or  stencil  duplicating   machines,   addressing
machines and other office machines of headings 84.69 to 84.72.

(b)   Photocopying or thermocopying apparatus (e.g. for  the  production  of
blue prints, plans, etc., or for  the  reproduction  of  documents,  picture
postcards, etc.) (Chapter 90).”

            HSN  Explanatory  Notes  further  clarifies  that  this  Heading
includes the following:
“(1)  Machines for printing a  repetitive  design,  repetitive  wordings  or
overall colour on textiles,  wallpaper,  wrapping  paper,  rubber,  plastics
sheeting, linoleum, leather, etc.

(2)   Ancillary machinery (whether or  not  presented  separately)  such  as
feeders and folding  machines,  provided  they  are  specially  designed  as
ancillary machines to printing machines.”

Thereafter, description of 'printing machinery'  is  given  by  dividing  it
into three main categories, namely,  (i)  printing  presses,  (ii)  cylinder
printing machines, and (iii) Rotary presses.  Insofar  as  printing  presses
are concerned, the variety thereof is stated in the following manner:
“(i) Ordinary presses, used particularly for  printing  artists'  engravings
or proofs.   In  their  simplest  form  they  usually  consist  of  a  fixed
horizontal slab  (or  bed)  to  hold  the  forme,  cliché  or  plate  to  be
reproduced, and a movable plate which is pressed against the  bed  by  means
of a screw or lever mechanism; the paper  sheet  is  interposed  and  backed
with a special material (blanket) to distribute the pressure evenly;  inking
is done by hand or mechanically.

(ii)   Platen  presses;  these  are  much  more  powerful  but  similar   in
principle.  The movable pressure plate (or platen),  with  the  blanket  and
paper sheet is almost horizontal, and closes like a  jaw  against  the  type
matter held in position by the fixed vertical bed.  Normally,  such  presses
are equipped with a roller inking arrangement, but the group  also  includes
non-inking platen presses for dry relief printing.”

The aforesaid explanation acknowledges that this simplest form  of  printing
presses consists of a fixed slab (or bed)  to  hold  the  forme,  cliché  or
plate to be reproduced.  The ingredient of a plate from which there  can  be
reproduction is, thus, recognised as a process of printing.  It  would  also
be pertinent to mention that these very HSN Explanatory Notes  clarify  that
apart from  the  normal  types  of  printing  machines,  there  are  special
printing machines which are also covered by this  heading.   Examples  of  7
such machines are  specifically  given.   For  the  purpose  of  this  case,
printing machine described at serial No.7 would  be  pertinent.   Therefore,
we reproduce the said description hereunder:
“(vii)  Certain small office printing machines which  operate  by  means  of
printing type or by the offset process, and which are impropery referred  to
as “duplicating machines” because their operating principles and  papearance
are similar to those of duplicating machines.

            This group also  includes  colour  printing  machines,  used  to
colour, after they have been first printed in black and white,  special  art
editions,  playing  cards,  children's  illustrations,  etc.,  by  means  of
stencils or stencil-plates, the colour being applied by brushes, rollers  or
by spraying.”

What is significant is the recognition of  the  fact  that  there  are  many
special machines (obviously due to  advancement  of  technology)  which  are
small office printing machines and they operate by means  of  printing  type
or by the offset process.  It is also acknowledged  that  many  times  these
machines are confused with duplicating machines and improperly  referred  to
as such, primarily because of their appearance as duplicating  machines  and
similar operating principles.  Nevertheless, as per this Note these are  not
to be treated as duplicating machines,  but  printing  machines.  Underneath
the aforesaid special printing machines it is further mentioned  that  there
may be machines for printing a repetitive  design,  repetitive  words,  etc.
which would still qualify to be printing machines.   Example  of  four  such
machines are  given  in  this  inclusive  description  and  screen  printing
machines are specifically  included  therein.   The  aforesaid  aspects  are
demonstrated in the following specific words:
“Machines for printing a repetitive  design,  repetitive  words  or  overall
colour on textiles, wallpaper,  wrapping  paper,  linoleum,  leather,  etc.,

(1)  Block printing machines in  which  blocks  engraved  with  the  design,
generally in relief, are repeatedly pressed on the cloth,  wallpaper,  etc.,
as it passes through the machine, thus producing a  continuous  design;  the
same machines are also used for printing separate designs (e.g.  on  scarves
or handkerchiefs).

(2)  Roller  printing  machines,  usually  consisting  of  a  large  central
cylinder (pressure bowl) around the periphery of which is  placed  a  series
of engraved colour rollers, each with its colour trough,  furnisher  roller,
doctor blades, etc.

(3)  Screen printing machines.  The material to be  printed  passes  through
the machine together with a stencil-screen band, the  colour  being  applied
through the stencil.

(4)  Yarn printing machines.  These produce colour effects on the  yarn  (or
sometimes on the roving before it is spun into yarn).”

Thus, a fine distinction between the printing machine on the  one  hand  and
duplicating machine on the other has to  be  borne  in  mind  with  specific
understanding that in many cases there may be confusion between  duplicating
machine and specific form  of  printing  machine,  namely,  screen  printing
machine.  We may point out at  this  juncture  that  the  endeavour  of  the
appellant is to establish that  Risograph  machine  is  nothing  but  Screen
Printing Machine.

After taking note of the basic  features  which  distinguish  printing  from
duplicating, let us understand the process adopted in Risograph machine.

Risograph machine consists of an automatic digital scanner, a  thermal  head
and a printing station.  The prints of tex/images which can  be  taken  from
these Risographs can be suitably enlarged or reduced as per the  user.   The
scanner portion of the Risograph consists of a photo  sensor  comprising  of
light emitting diodes and photo detectors.  The  light  emitted  from  these
diodes strike the original. The light falling  on  the  dark  areas  of  the
original are absorbed.  The photo detector then detects the reflected  light
and reads the white and  black  area  of  the  original  as  read  by  image
scanner.  The image thus formed by the scanner is a digital  image  and  not
an optical image or continuous image.  From the scanner, image  signals  are
transferred to thermal head.  The  thermal  head  is  used  to  make  master
necessary for printing,  based  on  the  signals  received  from  the  image
scanner.  The thermal head carrying the signal  received  from  the  scanner
touches the plastic film portion of the master.   Since  the  film  is  heat
sensitive, the plastic film melts while the base paper  remains  unaffected,
thus, forming the image of the original documents on the base  paper.   This
constitutes the master used for subsequent printing.   The  master  material
consists of film based on polyester plastic material boded with  long  fibre
Japanese type paper (through which ink can penetrate).  The master  film  is
a few microns  in  thickness  and  is,  thus,  thin.   The  polyester  based
material  is  bonded  to  the  long  fibre  Japanese  type  paper   by   co-
polymerization.  The plastic film used is  heat  sensitive.   The  paper  is
basically cellulose  web  through  which  ink  can  penetrate.   The  master
material is in the form of a roll of paper.  The paper  is  drawn  from  the
roll and thermal head prepares the master.  The prepared head  is  cut  from
the master and wound on the drum.  The surface of the drum is  a  fine  mesh
of steel wire so as to allow ink to pass through the drum  as  well  as  the
master while printing.  A squeegee roller is fitted against the  drum.   Ink
gets filled between the squeegee roller and steel mesh of the drum.   During
printing the squeegee  roller  rotates  thereby  forcing  the  ink  to  pass
through first, the drum surface, then to the  master  and  then  on  to  the
paper to be printed.

From the aforesaid description of the process adopted in Risograph  machine,
it becomes apparent that Risograph printing process is more akin  to  screen
printing.  As  already  pointed  out  above,  the  screen  printing  process
requires a stencil and a screen, with the stencil carrying the design to  be
printed.  This stencil is mounted against the screen.  The  printing  itself
takes place when the ink is squeegeed through the stencil  onto  the  screen
and ultimately onto the paper.  It is  the  screen  which  holds  the  image
area,  which  can  carry  either  a  pictorial  or   typographic   material.
Similarly, in the case of a Risograph, the long fibre  Japanese  type  paper
is the master through which the ink is pressed to  reproduce  the  image  or
text.  The screen printing stencil prepared is  equivalent  to  the  plastic
film coating  on  the  cellulose  fibre  of  Risograph  master.   Thus,  the
principles adopted for printing in the Risograph is akin to  that  found  in
screen printing.

At this stage, let us embark on a brief journey of printing  from  Gutenberg
to date to see how it has evolved over a period of time  leading  to  screen
printing which is one of the most sophisticated form of printing.

Printing, today, has  become  one  of  the  most  important  means  of  mass
communication  though  with  the  advent  of   computers   and   e-form   of
communication, in recent years its  importance  is  somewhat  dented.   Fact
remains that even today it remains an important means of mass  communication
along with Radio, Television  and  Films.   In  or  around  the  year  1440,
Johannes Gutenberg invented  and  developed  the  printing  press.   It  was
'printing with movable type'.  Gutenberg made separate pieces of metal  type
for each character to be  printed.   With  movable  type,  a  printer  could
quickly make many identical copies of a book.  Using this process, the  same
pieces of type could be used over and over again – to print  many  different
books.   Over  a  period  of  time,  there  has  been  improvement  in   the
methodology of printing with the advancement of technology.

However,  there  are  certain  steps  which  are  common  to  all   printing
processes.  These steps  include:  (i)  typesetting,  (ii)  proofing,  (iii)
preparing illustrations for reproduction, and (iv) page makeup.  Typesetting
is the process of putting into type the words to be  printed.   It  is  also
called  composition.   Typesetting  can  be  classified  as  (1)   hot-metal
typesetting or (2) photocomposition. Hot-metal type  printing  is  now  done
mostly by machine, which was earlier done by hand.  There are two main  kind
of machines that set metal type – the line caster and the Monotype.

Photocomposition (which is also called phototypesetting) on the  other  hand
includes  all  type  setting  methods  that   do   not   set   metal   type.
Phototypesetting   machines   produce   images   of   type   characters   on
photosensitive film or paper.  It is this method which is  now  widely  used
and has replaced hot-metal composition for most printing.   Most  commercial
printing today is done by one of the three processes: (1)  relief  printing,
(2) offset lithography, or (3) gravure printing.  Each  of  these  processes
uses a different kind of image carrier (the printing  surface  that  carries
the images to be printed).  In relief  printing,  the  printing  surface  is
raised above the level of the non-printing surface.  In offset  lithography,
the printing surface and the non-printing surface are  on  the  same  level.
In  gravure  printing,  the  printing  surface  is  below  the  non-printing

In addition to the aforesaid three kinds of processes, many  other  printing
processes have also been developed.  Notable among  those  are:  (a)  screen
process printing, (b) collotype printing and (c) flexographic printing.
(a)   Screen process printing requires a stencil and a fine  cloth  or  wire
screen.  The stencil carries the design to  be  printed.   It  can  be  made
simply by cutting the design out of paper.  The stencil is  mounted  against
the screen.  Ink is squeezed through the stencil  onto  the  surface  to  be
printed.  The design can also be traced directly on the screen, and the non-
printing parts painted out.  Or the screen can be  given  a  light-sensitive
coating and the design put on it photographically.  Screen  process  can  be
used to print on paper, glass, cloth, wood, or almost  any  other  material.
It is used to print on objects of almost all  sizes  and  shapes,  including
draperies, banners, bottles,  toys,  and  furniture.   Most  screen  process
printing is done on automatic or hand-operated presses.  Screen  process  is
also called silk-screen printing.

It is difficult  to  equate  Risograph  machine  with  duplicating  machine.
Duplicating, as opposed to  photocopying,  requires  the  preparation  of  a
master sheet which makes duplicates on a machine.  There are two main  types
of duplicating: stencil duplicating and spirit or hectographic  duplicating.
 Stencil duplicating is a technique which uses a master sheet  on  to  which
lettering is impressed as lines of perforations through  which  ink  can  be
squeezed  on  to  the  copy  paper.   Spirit  duplicating  (also  known   as
hectographic duplicating) is a  process/method  which  uses  strong  aniline
dye.  Originally the ink was transferred to a sheet of  gelatin  by  placing
the sheet of paper with the dye on it  in  a  shallow  tray.   The  moisture
retaining qualities of gelatin kept the ink moist, and the copy was made  by
pressing an ordinary sheet of paper on to the gelatin.  The modern  process,
which has replaced the aforesaid original  version,  was  developed  in  the
year 1923.  In this process, the master is in two parts, the lower one  like
a sheet of  carbon  paper  with  the  dye  on  the  top  side;  the  dye  is
transferred to the back of the top sheet when it is typed or  written  upon.
This sheet is then clipped to  a  revolving  drum,  and  the  sheets  to  be
printed are moistened with a volatile fluid which dissolves a thin layer  of
dye on  the  master,  thus  transferring  it  to  the  clean  paper.   In  a
duplicating machine, as provided for in the Customs Tariff Act, the  stencil
itself is made using a typewriter or stylus  i.e.  the  stencil  is  created
outside of the machine before the  same  is  fed  and  ink  directly  passed
through it.  The HSN Explanatory  Notes  to  Customs  Tariff  Heading  84.72
itself confirms this understanding wherein it  is  stated  that  duplicating
machines include the stencil duplicating machines which operate  with  waxed
paper stencils previously cut by a stylus or on a typewriter.

As pointed out above, the  Tribunal  has  simply  relied  upon  its  earlier
decision in Pioneer International.  We have gone through the said  judgment.
 In that case also the assessee had specifically argued  that  the  printing
was the principal function  of  the  Risograph  machine.   In  support,  the
assessee had relied upon the dictionary meaning assigned  to  the  'printing
machines' as well as 'duplicating machines' and it was argued  that  it  was
not a  duplicating  machine  or  a  photocopier.   It  was  emphasized  that
Risograph is a more sophisticated  machine  with  previously  unheard  print
quality; that the machine uses a method of scanning at  400  DPI  resolution
as used in Scanners in Printing Industry; that  instead  of  optical  system
(Lens & Mirror) as used in a photocopier, Risograph uses  a  charged  couple
device, as used in the scanners in printing industry;  that  the  method  is
digital only; that just like in Offset Printing which  uses  a  lithographic
plate made of aluminium or Zinc coated with photo  sensitive  material,  the
Risograph uses similar materials which are  heat  sensitive  called  master;
that a number of masters are  required  in  the  Risograph  for  multicolour
printing; that inversion of image is carried out during scanning and  master
making process itself; that all the facilities  available  in  printing  are
available in Risograph such as registering errors, adjustment of  margin  on
four sides of paper, margin for binding and fine tuning of  the  print.   It
was also  argued  that  the  process  of  scanning  and  master  making  are
ancillary to printing and are inbuilt in the machines; that  simply  because
certain processes are separately done in offset printing does not mean  that
where these processes are inbuilt  the  same  is  precluded  from  the  term
'printing machinery'.
                 However, the aforesaid  arguments  were  not  accepted  and
plea of the Department was acceded to with  the  solitary  observation  that
the Risograph machine is used only to reproduce copies  from  the  originals
and it does not have any  mechanism  to  print  in  original  matter.   This
observation, according to us, is contrary to plethora of material  produced,
coupled with the HSN Explanatory Notes, as noticed above, which  clinch  the
issue in favour of the assessee herein.  We are, therefore, of  the  opinion
that Pioneer International does not lay down the  law  correctly  and  over-
rule the said judgment.

The outcome of the  aforesaid  discussion  would  be  to  allow  the  appeal
holding that the Risograph machine is in the nature  of  a  screen  printing
machine and not duplicating machine.  It would, therefore, be covered  under
sub-heading 84.43 and not 84.72.

We, thus, allow the appeal and set aside the  orders  of  the  Tribunal  and
authorities below.  In the given  circumstances,  there  shall  not  be  any
order as to costs.

                                                                (A.K. SIKRI)

                                                     (ROHINTON FALI NARIMAN)

JULY 21, 2015
[1]   2000 (122) ELT 430 (Tri.)

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