CESTAT, MUMBAI BENCH
VFS Global Services (P.) Ltd.
Commissioner of Service tax
ORDER NO. S/1016/2012/CSTB/C-I
Appln. NO. ST/S/510 OF 2011
APPEAL NO. ST/187 OF 2011
JULY 4, 2012
Ashok Jindal, Judicial Member
The appellant are in appeal along with an application for stay of the impugned demands confirmed by the impugned orders.
2. After hearing both sides, we find that the issue involved is being clarified by the Circular No. 137/6/2011-ST dated 20/04/2011, therefore we waive the requirement of pre-deposit of the impugned demands and taken up the appeal itself for disposal.
3. The brief facts of the case are that the appellants are in the activities of VISA facilitation and providing customer care services to the Diplomatic Mission Embassies/Consulates and the VISA applicants. During their activity, they provide facility to the applicants (who seeks VISA) for filling of application form for VISA and submitting the same with the respective Consulates. They also provide lounge services to the persons who has applied for VISA and charges for food items and beverages supplied to the VISA seekers.
4. The department is of the view that the activity undertaken by the appellant, i.e. filling of visa application form, collection of visa free, lounge facilities, they are liable to pay service tax under the category of business auxiliary service. Therefore, the appellant is liable to pay service tax under the category of business auxiliary service. Therefore, three show-cause notices were issued for the period 01/07/2003 to 31/03/2010 and by way of impugned order, demands proposed in the show-cause notice were confirmed along with interest and various penalties under the Finance Act, 1994.
5. Today, when the matter was called for stay, the Ld. Consultant appearing on behalf of the appellant submits that on 20/04/2011, the CBE&C has issued a Circular No. 137/6/2011-ST and clarified that the activity undertaken by the appellant does not fall under the taxable service. Therefore, they are not liable to pay service tax. In view of these submissions he prays that the impugned order be set aside and appeal be allowed.
6. Heard the Ld. Consultant and examined the Board’s Circular No. 137/6/2011-ST, dated 20/04/2011. Para 3 of the said Circular, which is reproduced as under:
“Visa facilitators, merely facilitate the procurement of visa and directly assist individuals who intend to travel abroad, to complete the immigration formalities. Visa facilitators collect certain statutory charges like visa fee, certification fee, attestation fee, emigration fee, etc. from the visa applicant, which are remitted to the respective authorities, and in addition collect service charges for themselves as remuneration for the assistance provided by them to obtain the visa. Such a service provided by a visa facilitator, in the form of assistance to individuals directly, to obtain a visa, does not fall under any of the taxable services under section 65(105) of the Finance Act, 1994. Hence service tax is not attracted.
7. On perusal of the said Circular, we find that the appellants are providing exactly the same services, which are discussed in para 3 of the said circular and as clarified by the CBE&C the activity undertaken by the appellants are not taxable under Section 65(105) of the Finance Act, 1994.
8. We have also seen that for the subsequent period for 2010-11, based on the above Circular, the Jt. Commissioner has already dropped the show-cause notice demanding service tax on the above activities.
9. In view of these observations, we waive the requirement of pre-deposit of impugned demands and taken up the appeal itself for disposal. As discussed, we hold that the appellants are not liable to pay service tax on the activity undertaken by them. Therefore, we set aside the impugned order and allow the appeal with consequential relied, if any.