Saturday, January 31, 2015

Aluminium dross and skimmings aren't manufactured goods; decision of larger bench of CESTAT reversed

Aluminium dross and skimmings and similar non-ferrous metal drosses and skimmings which arise as by-products in process of manufacture of aluminium/non-ferrous metal products are "not manufactured goods" and, hence, not liable to excise duty.


a)The assessee was a manufacturer of aluminium sheets and coils falling under heading 7607 1190 of the Central Excise Tariff Act using major raw material 'aluminium ingots'.

b)In the course of manufacture of aluminium sheets/coils, aluminium dross/skimmings emerge as by products. The assessee sold these by products on a regular basis.

c)The department raised demand of duty on "aluminium dross/skimmings" on ground that it was a manufactured product and liable to excise duty in view of Explanation to section 2(d) of the Central Excise Act, 1944. The Tribunal's Larger Bench held in favour of revenue.

d)Assessee argued that 'aluminium dross/skimmings' were not 'manufactured goods' and were not, therefore, liable to duty. It further argued that the Explanation was inserted in section 2(d) in order to clarify that the goods which could be bought and sold in the market were deemed to be marketable. The explanation deals only with the marketability aspect of the question and does not say that even non-manufactured goods are deemed to be manufactured goods.

The High Court held in favour of assessee as under:

1)In case of Indian Aluminium Co. Ltd. v. A. K. Bandyopadhyay 1980 (6) ELT 146 (Bom.), it was held that dross and skimmings are not manufactured goods.

2)In Union of India v. Indian Aluminium Co. Ltd. 1995 (77) ELT 268 (SC), the Supreme Court agreed with the reasons and conclusions of the Single Judge and confirmed the view taken in case of A.K. Bandyopadhyay (supra).

3)Further, the Supreme Court has held in Grasim Industries Ltd. v. Union of India 2011 (273) ELT 10(SC) that the conditions contemplated under section 2(d) and section 2(f) have to be satisfied conjunctively in order to entail imposition of excise duty under section 3 of the Act, therefore the impugned judgment of the Tribunal could not be agreed with. The larger Bench's decision did not take into account the fact that the authoritative pronouncement by the Supreme Court was binding on it.

4)Merely because the goods satisfying the test of being maerketable and saleable, it does not mean that the test of being manufactured in India has been satisfied. The Supreme Court had in aforesaid cases rejected argument of addition of dross, cinder, skimmings, etc. in the list of the items to the Schedule to the Central Excise Tariff and also held 'that is not safe to make it excisable as it has to pass further test of manufactured or produced in India.'

5)Fact that the revenue did not wish to abide by them would not mean that the Tribunal was justified in not following them. The issue stood completely covered by the Judgments of the Supreme Court and which had been totally disregarded by the Tribunal.

6)All Circulars impugned in this Writ Petition brought to the notice of this Court would not survive after the legal position had been set out as above – Hindalco Industries Ltd. v. Union of India (2015) 53 156 (Bombay).