Battery charger is not a part of the mobile phone but an accessory thereof, hence liable to tax at general rate of 12.5%, even though battery is sold with the mobile handset
Nokia India Pvt. Ltd. (the Assessee) is a dealer registered under the Punjab Value Added Tax Act, 2005 (the Punjab VAT) engaged in selling mobile phones along with battery chargers and charges VAT at concessional rate of 4% on the sale value of battery chargers. The Assessee contended that battery chargers were being sold as mobile phone under a single solo pack unit and was covered under Entry No. 60 of Schedule ‘B’ of the Punjab VAT (Entry No.60).
The Assessing Authority held that the battery charger was an accessory to the mobile phone and was not a part of the mobile phone. Hence, it was liable to be taxed at general rate, i.e.12.5% and not at concessional rate applicable to the mobile phones. He further held that even
according to Entry No. 60, the product included was only the mobile phone and not accessories thereof. The Assessing Authority therefore, levied tax on the sale value of the battery chargers at the rate of 12.5%.
Being aggrieved, the Assessee preferred an appeal before the Value Added Tax, Tribunal, Chandigarh, Punjab (the Tribunal) which was dismissed on the premise that the battery charger is not a part of the mobile phone. Thereafter, on appeal being filed before the Hon’ble High Court of Punjab and Haryana, the Hon’ble High Court allowed the appeal in favour of the Assessee holding that the battery charger is a part of the composite package of mobile phone.
Aggrieved by the order of the Hon’ble High Court, the Department preferred an appeal before the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The Hon’ble Supreme Court relying upon the decision in the case of Annapurna Carbon Industries Co. Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh [(1976) 2 SCC 273] held as under:
Therefore, the Hon’ble Supreme Court allowed the appeal in favour of the Department and held that the battery charger was liable to be taxed at general rate of 12.5% and not at concessional rate of 4%, as it is only an accessory to mobile phone and not a part of the mobile phone.
Our Comments: It is quite interesting to wait and watch how Mobile Manufacturers industry reacts to this judgment. There is another view possible from concerned Industry whether charger as standalone accessory is of any use unless used exclusively for charging mobile phones though there are other options available for charging mobile phones.