The issue in these writ petitions is whether multi-function devices (MFDs) are covered under the term ‘printers’. This dispute has arisen in view of the document Annexure P-12 by a clarification which was issued by way of Circular No.1 of 2019 dated 2.5.2019 as per which it was ‘clarified’ that multi-function devices which are basically printers with additional features like photocopy, scan, fax etc. are covered within the ambit of ‘printers’. In this context learned Senior counsel for the petitioner has relied upon the judgment of the Andhra Pradesh High Court passed in WP No. 2728 of 2018 titled RR Marketing vs. Union of India decided on 6.4.2018. In that case two consignments of similar import of multi-function devices were ceased by the Custom Authorities and one of the contention of the learned counsel for the respondent therein was that multi-function devices were covered by Requirement for compulsory Registration Order(CRO)-2012. This contention was negativated by the Andhra Pradesh High Court which held as follows :-
“As regards the applicability of the Electronics and IT Goods (Requirement for compulsory Registration) Order (CRO), 2012, the communication dated 06.12.2016 makes it clear that only repaired/refurbished/second hand items, if notified, would require registration. The learned Assistant Solicitor General could not produce before us any notification issued there under relating to the MFD (Multi Function Devices) printers and photocopiers, whereby such registration would be a condition precedent prior to their import. In the absence of such a notification, it is not open to the Customs Authorities to blindly apply the directive of the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, under the letter dated 06.12.2016, to the petitioner firm’s goods.”
Aggrieved by the judgment passed in RR Marketing’s case (supra), the respondent approached the Supreme Court by filing SLP(c) No.17307 of 2019 which is now pending for 21.11.2019. As per the learned Senior counsel even in the present case one of the important issues is whether the MFDs are covered by CRO-2012 and it is his argument that in case they are not so covered then they could not be added by way of ‘clarification’.
Learned counsel for the respondent has argued that in fact multi-functional devices are basically printers which have certain add on features.
Be that as it may. We do not deem it appropriate to decide this question without waiting the decision of the Supreme Court in SLP (c)No.17307 of 2019.
In the circumstances, the matter is admitted.
To be heard after the decision of SLP (c) No.17307 of 2019.
In the meantime, let the goods be released subject to deposit of security (except bank guarantee) as per the revised value given by the Custom Authorities or any penalty etc. which they may have to incur in case petition is dismissed.
A photocopy of this order be placed on the files of the other connected case(s).