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Issue of classification of 'Coconut Oil' to be placed before CJI : SC

April 16, 2018[2018] 92 taxmann.com 196 (SC)
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GST/Excise & Customs : Supreme Court delivers split judgment on classification of 'Coconut Oil' packed in small sachets / containers, as 'Coconut Oil' under Chapter Heading 1513 or as 'Hair Oil' under Chapter Heading 3305 of Central Excise Tariff Act

• Justice Gogoi holds that coconut oil in small packings is more appropriately classifiable under Chapter 15, Heading 37 1513 and not under Chapter 33, Heading 3305, while observing that merely because the product is packed in small containers and used by some sections of the customers as hair oil cannot be a valid basis for classification under Heading 3305. Issues of classification have to be resolved within the framework of the statutory provision. 'Coconut oil' packed in small packages/containers does not cease to be 'coconut oil' and become 'hair oil' though such 'coconut oil' may be capable of being used for both purposes. Further observes that only if the containers bear labels/literature indicating that it is meant for use on the hair that the coconut oil in dispute may merit classification under Chapter 33";

• Justice Banumathi records dissenting view, holding that 'Coconut Oil' packed in small sachets / containers, as they are suitable for use on hair, is classifiable under Chapter Heading 3305 and not Chapter 1513. He observes that after amendment to Central Excise Tariff Act with effect from 28-2-2005, what is relevant is 'suitability of the goods for being used as Hair Oil' and 'When a good is classifiable under tariff item 3305, by virtue of amended section Note 2 to section VI, no other classification is permissible. Consequently, he set aside CESTAT orders which held that Chapter 15 covers all varieties of 'Coconut Oil' both edible and non-edible.

• Thus, in view of difference of opinion, the appeals were to be placed before CJI for appropriate orders.

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