24 January 2024

Front, middle and back cover of cellular phone are classifiable under TI 8517 70 90 – Classification cannot be decided by exemption notification

The CESTAT New Delhi has held that front cover, middle cover and back covers of cellular phones which house various components of the phone and also provide for dissipation of the heat, are classifiable under Tariff Item 8517 70 90 of the Customs Tariff Act, 1975 and not under TI 3920 99 99.

Considering the process of manufacture of the goods in question, the Tribunal was of the view that process of vapour deposition, being lamination, take the goods out of purview of Heading 3920. The Tribunal in this regard also observed that the processes of thermoforming and CNC milling being processes beyond cutting and surface working, take the goods out of the scope of Chapter Note 2(s) to Chapter 39.

Allowing assessee’s appeal, the Tribunal also held that classification cannot be decided by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, firstly because MeITY does not have power to assess under Section 17 of the Customs Act, 1962 or to modify assessment, and secondly because their orders, letters, notifications, etc., are executive actions and not quasi-judicial or appealable orders. The Tribunal thus held that any HSN Code indicated against any goods in the policy of MeITY or any other Ministry cannot determine classification of goods under the Customs Tariff.

Similarly, the Tribunal also held that exemption notifications issued under Section 25 of the Customs Act are not meant to determine classification of goods.

The Tribunal in Samsung India Electronics Pvt. Ltd. v. Principal Commissioner also held that classification of goods by the importer and claim for the benefit of an exemption notification by the importer, even if it is not in conformity with the reassessment by the proper office or even if it is held to be not correct in any appellate proceeding does not render the goods liable to confiscation and assessee-importer liable to penalty.

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