CESTAT Allahabad has held that exemption to GTA services for transportation of foodstuff will apply to biscuits as well. The Tribunal observed that the size and time of eating biscuits may change but nevertheless biscuit is a food item. Observing that the eatable biscuits would fall under the category of foodstuff, the Tribunal rejected the Revenue department’s contention that biscuits cannot be foodstuff since foodstuff is only relatable to those items which are to be further processed.
FULL TEXT OF THE CESTAT JUDGEMENT
Being aggrieved with the order passed by Commissioner (Appeals) revenue has preferred the present appeal. We have Heard the learned Authorised Representative Shri Shiv Pratap Singh, for the revenue. Nobody appeared on behalf of the respondent-assessee.
2. On going through the impugned order, we find that a short issue required to be decided is as to whether the GTA services used for transportation of foodstuff, which are exempted in terms of the mega notification, would apply vis-à-vis the transportation of the edible biscuits. For better appreciation of the dispute and reasoning adopted in the order passed by the Commissioner (Appeals), we reproduced para-6.1 of the impugned order:-
“6.1 I also find that the Notification grants exemption from payment of service tax on GTA for transportation of foodstuffs including flour, tea, coffee, jiggery, sugar, milk products, salt and edible oil, excluding alcoholic beverages. There is no doubt that Biscuits are consumed by human beings and even though they may not constitute as part of staple diet, they are used for snacking as well as for feeding infants and sick. Consumption of Biscuits satiates hunger and the same is therefore, covered under the category of foodstuff. Moreover, the exemption is to be allowed strictly on the basis of the contents of the exemption notification. The inclusive part of the entry extends exemption to varied materials which can be consumed by humans with or without further processing. It also includes Beverages like Tea and Coffee and raw-materials like flour, edible oil and salt which are used for preparation of foodstuff. Thus, it is clear that the entry is only illustrative and not exhaustive and the exemption is available to any material which can be consumed by human beings directly or by further processing. The reason advanced for concluding that the biscuits are not foodstuff for the said exemption notification is quite week and unsustainable.”
The revenue’s only contention is that biscuits cannot be held to be foodstuff. We really fail to appreciate the above contention of the revenue, inasmuch as, the biscuits in question are edible biscuits and not gold biscuits. The eatable biscuits would definitely fall under the category of foodstuff. Inasmuch as, the biscuits, as discussed by commissioner (Appeals), is nothing but food, the size and timing for eating the same may change but never the less biscuits remains food item only. No reason stands given by the revenue as to why the biscuits has to be held as different from the category of food. The only contention of the revenue is that foodstuff is relatable to only those items which can be further processed and the biscuits which are ready to use cannot be held to be foodstuff. We find no merits in the above stand of the revenue. The foodstuff is a clear, unambiguous word and there is nothing to indicate that the same would apply to transportation of the raw material etc. which have to be further converted into a final edible product.
4. In view of the foregoing, we find no merits in the revenue’s appeal and the same is accordingly rejected.
(Dictated and pronounced in open court)