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Case Law Details

Case Name : In re Rashi Peripherals Limited (CAAR Mumbai)
Appeal Number : Ruling No. CAAR/Mum/ARC/34/2023
Date of Judgement/Order : 08/05/2023
Related Assessment Year :

In re Rashi Peripherals Limited (CAAR Mumbai)

On examining the functions of ‘Google Chromecast’ and ‘Chromecast with Google TV’ as stated in the aforesaid paras vis-a vis the material information available in the public domain, CAAR find that ‘Google Chromecast’ is a streaming device that enables casting videos, slideshows, music, or even screen mirror by wirelessly connecting the phone, tablet, or computer with an HD monitor that has an HDMI port and ‘Chromecast with Google TV’ is capable of casting content in exactly the same way by using the smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc., along with having its own dedicated interface and built-in selection of apps. Thus the main difference between Google Chromecast and Chromecast with Google TV is that Google Chromecast doesn’t have any apps, it just casts content, whereas Chromecast with Google TV is capable of casting and has an integrated interface with on-screen apps and remote. “Chromecast with Google TV” derives its functions from both the sources i.e. from the third equipment like smart phone or laptop and also directly functioning by using the device’s on­screen interface without using a third equipment in between. CAAR find that the subject goods are capable of performing both these functions and are only a mere improvement over the earlier model “Google Chromecast”, that is under legal dispute. I find that in the instant case the principal or primary function of `Chromecast with Google TV’ is not distinctly different from the functionality of `Google Chromecast’. Hence on this basis `Chromecast with Google TV’ device cannot be treated as an apparatus that is entirely different from `Google Chromecast’ the classification of which is under legal dispute over classification under Customs Tariff Act, 1975. As per the proviso to Section 28-1(2)(a)

(2) The Authority may, after examining the application and the records called for, by order, either allow or reject the application:

Provided that the Authority shall not allow the application where the question raised in the application is —

(a) already pending in the applicant’s case before any officer of customs, the Appellate Tribunal or any Court;

(b) same as in a matter already decided by the Appellate Tribunal or any Court:

Provided further that no application shall be rejected under this sub-section unless an opportunity has been given to the applicant of being heard:

Provided also that where the application is rejected, reasons for such rejection shall be given in the order.

By virtue of the foregoing discussion CAAR find that “Chromecast with Google TV” cannot be treated as an altogether generically different product qualifying for a different classification under Customs Tariff Act, 1975. Hence CAAR hold that, against the claim of the applicant, as declared at Sr. No. 11 of the CAAR-1 application, the matter of classification of their own similar device is pending decision before honourable Tribunal, CESTAT. Accordingly, in view of provisions of Section 28-I of the Customs Act, 1962, CAAR refrain from passing an order till the matter in dispute has been settled.

FULL TEXT OF THE ORDER OF CUSTOMS AUTHORITY OF ADVANCE RULING, MUMBAI

M/s. Rashi Peripherals Limited filed an application for advance ruling before the Customs Authority for Advance Rulings, Mumbai (CAAR), in terms of Section 28H (1) of the Customs Act, 1962 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Act’). The applicant, a registered private limited company engaged in distribution of IT & Mobility solutions in India, is seeking advance ruling on the classification of `Chromecast with Google TV’ (hereinafter referred to as ‘subject goods’).

2. The applicant has cited that Chromecast with Google TV is a streaming device that directly connects with the television set in the user’s home and streams media content directly to the users’ television set. The subject goods run on the Android TV operating system and features a brand-new user interface branded “Google TV” that is navigated using a Bluetooth remote control, which is supplied as a part of Chromecast with Google TV. It performs the function of streaming of contents by connecting to the internet through Wi-Fi and has media-applications that are pre-installed or can be downloaded and installed on the television or other display devices. Thus it can now be used to stream media, audio content through internet through apps like YouTube, Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV, Spotify, Disney, Hulu, ESPN, HBOMax etc. inbuilt into the device. Further, the subject goods can also be used to cast media from phone/tablet/laptop and watch it on the television set. It thus enables sharing video (or other online content) from a device like laptop/smartphone /tablet to the television unit with a supported app such as YouTube. Chromecast, unlike a television apparatus, does not use television terrestrial signals or cable TV signals of the local cable TV operator or for that matter, the DTH signal of any DTH service providers. It transforms the conventional television into a smart television by enabling inputs from internet sources. The applicant has contended that the above mentioned goods merit classification under sub-heading 8517 62 90 of Customs Tariff Act, 1975.

3. The applicant has informed that the Delhi Zonal Unit of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence developed an intelligence that they had been importing media streaming device in the name of “Google Chromecast” and wrongly classifying the same under Tariff item 8517 69 60 of the First Schedule to the Customs Tariff Act, 1975. Subsequent to issue of demand cum show cause notice the departmental adjudicating authority issued Order-in-original no. 13/SA (13) ADG(ADJ.)/DRI, MUMBAI/2020-21 dated 11.05.2020, confirming classification of ‘Google Chromecast’ under heading 8528 71 00. The applicant has filed Appeal No. C/86387/20 before CESTAT Mumbai, against the Order passed and the same is pending final decision. The applicant has emphasized that the `Google Chromecast with TV’, covered under the present application, is a different product with advanced features and thus the aforesaid pending litigation will not have an impact on the present application. In short it is affirmed by them that no matter on the subject goods is pending in their case before any officer of Customs, Appellate Tribunal or any Court of Law.

4. On analysing the operational mechanism of `Google Chromecast’ I find that it is a thumb-sized media streaming device that plugs into the HDMI port on an HDMI compliance device like TV screen or Monitor or Projectors etc. This device enables streaming video, audio and other content straight from a computer, tablet or mobile phone to a big screen. It allows the user to cast any videos or contents available on the small screen devices i.e. mobile phone, Laptop or MacBook on a bigger screen or television. It also enables display of mirror image of a mobile phone, Mac book Laptop to a Television. The condition being that the input device and the receiving device should be connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

5. Personal hearing in the matter was conducted on 17.2.2023. The applicant was represented by Shri. T. Viswanathan, Advocate, Dhananjay S., Advocate, Riya Sinha, Advocate, Balram Khaitan, Representative and Ashok Goenka. They reiterated contents of CAAR-I application by taking recourse to grounds of the application, relevant extracts of the tariff, previous rulings and technical write-up. They produced the samples during hearing and distinguished them from previous Google Chromecast product for which a Show Cause Notice was issued. He finally requested to issue ruling in the present case based on the facts on record. No one represented the jurisdictional Commissionerates of Customs in the hearing, neither a response is received from the jurisdictional Customs Commissionerate.

6. On examining the functions of “Google Chromecast” and “Chromecast with Google TV” as stated in the aforesaid paras vis-a vis the material information available in the public domain, I find that “Google Chromecast” is a streaming device that enables casting videos, slideshows, music, or even screen mirror by wirelessly connecting the phone, tablet, or computer with an HD monitor that has an HDMI port and “Chromecast with Google TV” is capable of casting content in exactly the same way by using the smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc., along with having its own dedicated interface and built-in selection of apps. Thus the main difference between Google Chromecast and Chromecast with Google TV is that Google Chromecast doesn’t have any apps, it just casts content, whereas Chromecast with Google TV is capable of casting and has an integrated interface with on-screen apps and remote. “Chromecast with Google TV” derives its functions from both the sources i.e. from the third equipment like smart phone or laptop and also directly functioning by using the device’s on­screen interface without using a third equipment in between. I find that the subject goods are capable of performing both these functions and are only a mere improvement over the earlier model “Google Chromecast”, that is under legal dispute. I find that in the instant case the principal or primary function of `Chromecast with Google TV’ is not distinctly different from the functionality of `Google Chromecast’. Hence on this basis `Chromecast with Google TV’ device cannot be treated as an apparatus that is entirely different from `Google Chromecast’ the classification of which is under legal dispute over classification under Customs Tariff Act, 1975. As per the proviso to Section 28-1(2)(a)

(2) The Authority may, after examining the application and the records called for, by order, either allow or reject the application:

Provided that the Authority shall not allow the application where the question raised in the application is —

(a) already pending in the applicant’s case before any officer of customs, the Appellate Tribunal or any Court;

(b) same as in a matter already decided by the Appellate Tribunal or any Court:

Provided further that no application shall be rejected under this sub-section unless an opportunity has been given to the applicant of being heard:

Provided also that where the application is rejected, reasons for such rejection shall be given in the order.

7. By virtue of the foregoing discussion I find that “Chromecast with Google TV” cannot be treated as an altogether generically different product qualifying for a different classification under Customs Tariff Act, 1975. Hence I hold that, against the claim of the applicant, as declared at Sr. No. 11 of the CAAR-1 application, the matter of classification of their own similar device is pending decision before honourable Tribunal, CESTAT. Accordingly, in view of provisions of Section 28-I of the Customs Act, 1962, I refrain from passing an order till the matter in dispute has been settled.

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