Case Law Details

Case Name : Ramratna Wires Ltd. Vs State of Gujarat (Gujarat High Court)
Appeal Number : R/Special Civil Application No. 14819 of 2020
Date of Judgement/Order : 23/12/2020
Related Assessment Year :
Courts : All High Courts (6452) Gujarat High Court (658)

Ramratna Wires Ltd. Vs State of Gujarat (Gujarat High Court)

The issue raised in this writ application as regards the legality and validity of collecting the stamp duty on the Bills of Entry is no longer res-integra in view of the pronouncement of this Court in the case of State of Gujarat and others Vs. Reliance Industries Ltd. (Letters Patent Appeal No. 6 of 2011 and allied appeals) decided by a Division Bench of this Court vide judgment dated 08.09.2011, to which, one of us (J.B. Pardiwala, J.) was a party. In the said litigation also, the writ petitioners had challenged the notices issued by the authorities and the guidelines issued for charging the stamp duty on the Bills of Entry. The State of Gujarat lost before the learned Single Judge and accordingly, various appeals were filed.

The respondents are directed to refund the amount of Rs.22,41,866/- to the writ applicant No.1 (M/s. Ramratna Wires Ltd.) and Rs.1,18,47,859/- to the writ applicant No. 2 (M/s. R.R. Kabel Ltd.). These two amounts as referred to above were collected from the respective writ applicants as a stamp duty on the “Bills of Entry” filed for the goods imported by them, which otherwise could not have been recovered.

FULL TEXT OF THE HIGH COURT ORDER /JUDGEMENT

By this writ application under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the writ applicants have prayed for the following reliefs:

“[A] That Your Lordships may be pleased to issue a Writ of Mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order or direction thereby quashing and setting aside the decision of Respondent no.1 herein communicated vide letter No. Reference / Stamps/ Refund/ FA.06/20/27220 dated 25.8.2020 (Annexure -I) with a further direction to refund and restitute Rs.22,41,866/- to Petitioner no. 1 M/s. Ramratna Wires Ltd and Rs.1,18,47,859/-to Petitioner No.2 M/s. R.R. Kabel Ltd., which are the amounts collected from the Petitioners as stamp duty on Bills of Entry filed for the goods imported by them;

[B] That Your Lordships may be pleased to issue a writ of Mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order or direction thereby directing Respondent No. 1 herein to pay to the Petitioners interest @9% per annum (or at the rate that may be deemed fit by this Hon’ble Court) on the amounts of Rs.22,41,866/- and Rs. 1,18,47,859/- collected as stamp duty from the Petitioners for the period when the amounts were collected from the petitioners till actual refund/ restitution thereof;

[C] Pending hearing and final disposal of the present petition, Your Lordships may be pleased to direct the 1st respondent herein to forthwith return to the Petitioner Rs.22,41,866/- and Rs.1,18,47,859/- on the terms and conditions that may be deemed fit by this Hon’ble Court;

[D] An ex-parte ad-interim relief in terms of Para 14(C) above may kindly be granted

[E] Any other further relief that may be deemed fit in the facts and circumstances of the case may also please be granted”

2. It appears from the materials on record that the writ applicants are engaged in the business of manufacture of goods like various varieties of cables and wires. They have their manufacturing units at Silvassa, Dadra Nagar Haveli (Union Territory). For the purpose of manufacturing of goods, various types of raw materials like the Copper Wire Rod, PVC Resin, Plasticizer, Feelers etc. are being imported from various countries and the goods so imported are brought to the various Customs Stations. It is the case of the writ applicants that, in accordance with Section 46 of the Customs Act, 1962, they have been filing Bills of Entry before the respondents Nos.2 and 3. By filing the Bills of Entry, they declare all the details of the imported goods like the description of the goods, quantity, value of the goods, classification of the gods and applicable rates of custom duties etc. The writ applicants are here before this Court with a grievance that the respondent No. 2 has been levying and collecting stamp duty on the Bills of Entry, which they are otherwise not entitled to levy in law. The levy of stamp duty on the Bills of Entry is on the basis that the Bills of Entry under the Customs Act could be construed as a “”Delivery order in respect of goods” as contemplated under Article 24 of the Schedule-I to the Bombay Stamp Act. The difficulty, which the writ applicants are facing as on today is that the Custom Officer, upon instructions from the respondent No.1 have started denying the permission for the clearance of imported goods unless and until a document evidencing payment of stamp duty, is submitted before them with respect to the Bills of Entry.

3. We have heard Mr. Paresh Dave, the learned counsel appearing for the writ applicants and Mr. K.M, Antani, the learned AGP appearing for the State respondents.

4. The issue raised in this writ application as regards the legality and validity of collecting the stamp duty on the Bills of Entry is no longer res-integra in view of the pronouncement of this Court in the case of State of Gujarat and others Vs. Reliance Industries Ltd. (Letters Patent Appeal No. 6 of 2011 and allied appeals) decided by a Division Bench of this Court vide judgment dated 08.09.2011, to which, one of us (J.B. Pardiwala, J.) was a party. In the said litigation also, the writ petitioners had challenged the notices issued by the authorities and the guidelines issued for charging the stamp duty on the Bills of Entry. The State of Gujarat lost before the learned Single Judge and accordingly, various appeals were filed. While upholding the judgment of the learned Single Judge and dismissing all the appeals filed by the State of Gujarat, this Court observed as under :

76..We hereby hold that by presentation of ‘bill of entry’ merely on clearance of goods is given for home consumption or for warehousing, and is distinct and different from that of delivery of goods.

77.The function of the State requires creation or generation of documents such as [i] Intimation of arrival of ship issued/signed by Customs House Agent of the importer; [ii] Import General Manifest signed by the person in charge of the vessel declaring, inter alia, cargo and goods carried by the vessel; [iii] ‘Bill of entry’ signed by the importer/consignee declaring particulars in respect of goods, namely, the quantity, numbers of packages, value, vessel’s name, country of origin relevant heading of the Customs Tariff under which the goods are classifiable etc. and [iv] ‘Bill of lading’ or delivery order etc. But all of such documents will not be an instrument of delivery order for the purpose of Entry 24. The question whether ‘bill of lading’ is delivery order which is mentioned in one of the documents to be produced along with ‘bill of entry’ is not required to be answered in the present case, as admittedly, stamp duty is not charged on ‘bill of lading’ in view of exclusion under Sec. 2[l] of the Bombay Stamp Act. However, one cannot ignore the document to be produced along with the ‘bill of entry’ [Form Nos. 22 and 23 of Bill of Entry [Forms] Regulations, 1976], where under at sr. no. 5, it has been mentioned: ‘bill of lading’ or ‘delivery order’ to be enclosed.

78.We therefore, hold that on ‘bill of entry, the authorities cannot charge stamp duty under Art. 24.

5. Thus, in view of the aforesaid, the impugned communication vide letter dated 25.08.2020 (Annexure – I) is hereby quashed and set aside. The respondents are directed to refund the amount of Rs.22,41,866/- to the writ applicant No.1 (M/s. Ramratna Wires Ltd.) and Rs.1,18,47,859/- to the writ applicant No. 2 (M/s. R.R. Kabel Ltd.). These two amounts as referred to above were collected from the respective writ applicants as a stamp duty on the “Bills of Entry” filed for the goods imported by them, which otherwise could not have been recovered. The relief in terms of para-14(B) is not being pressed by Mr. Paresh Dave. However, we make it clear that the payment shall be made to the writ applicants within a period of 4 weeks from the date of receipt of writ of this order.

With the above, this writ application stands disposed of.

Download Judgment/Order

More Under Corporate Law

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Search Posts by Date

March 2021
M T W T F S S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031