Craft Interiors Pvt. Ltd. Vs. Commissioner of Central Excise, Bangalore & Anr
 Insc 725 (31
Bhan & Markandey Katju Markandey Katju, J.
appeals have been filed under Section 35L(b) of the Central Excise Act, 1944
against the impugned order of the Customs Excise and Service Tax Appellate
Tribunal (hereinafter referred to as `The Tribunal'), South Zone Bench, Bangalore dated 10.5.2005.
learned counsel for the parties and perused the record.
appellant is a private limited company which undertakes various activities,
which includes civil works, painting, ceiling work, electrical work, laying of
vinyl flooring, tables, chairs, sofa sets, erection of immovable items viz.,
partitions (wooden/glass/aluminium/gypsum board), storages, workstations,
laying of wooden flooring, column cladding, skirting, mirror paneling, window
sill, wooden steps, doors, huge conference tables and huge reception tables
depending on the customer's requirements. The customer places a purchase order
to the appellants on a turn-key basis for the entire activity. The customer
usually gives a bare open floor which has an exterior wall and internal columns
to the appellants for undertaking the work.
pursuance of the above said activities, the appellant also manufactures
furniture as part of the above mentioned activities.
markings based on the drawings approved by the architect are first made on the
floor or the wall, as the case may be, depending on whether the item to be
erected is a storage unit, large conference table/reception table, running
counter etc. Various materials such as wood and plywood are procured from the
open market. Frames of the wood are cut to size and fixed to the wall or floor.
The plywood required is cut to size and fixed to the wall using screws and
nails. Skeletal boxes are then made and fixed on the wall on marked position.
Interior partitions and shelves are then made in the case of storage units,
running counters, rear unit etc. Once these activities are completed the whole
unit is laminated or veneered which would cover the screws and nails. In other
words, after these storage units, kitchen counters or conference
tables/reception tables are erected they cannot be removed as such and cannot
be moved from one place to another.
cannot be dismantled and removed in complete or semi knocked condition from one
place to another. It can only be cannibalized as a result of which it gets
reduced to broken pieces of wood, laminates etc.
Central Excise authorities issued various show cause notices to the appellants
alleging that the appellants had manufactured and assembled excisable goods
i.e. furniture and furniture parts falling under Chapter 9404 in the premises
of various customers. In response it was contended by the appellants that
activities undertaken by them i.e. erection of storage units, kitchen counters,
reception tables/conference tables etc. results in emergence of immovable
property and could not be considered as excisable goods.
Commissioner vide his order dated 24.9.2003 held that items like storage units,
running counters, large reception tables etc. are classifiable under Chapter
9403 as furniture and liable to excise duty. Aggrieved by the said order the
appellants filed an appeal to the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate
Tribunal, Bangalore which agreed with the findings of the Commissioner that
although these items emerge on a piece by piece fabrication, the commodity is
known in the market by name of table, storage counters etc. and as such are
classifiable as furniture under Sub- heading 9403 of the Central Excise Tariff
as furniture. Aggrieved, the appellants have filed the present appeal.
issue which arises for consideration in these appeals is whether storage
cabinets, kitchen counters, running counters, large reception/conference tables
etc. are excisable as furniture.
counsels for the appellants Shri Laxmikumaran and Shri Madhav Rao submitted
that these items are fixtures and not furniture, and hence were not subject to
the levy of excise duty.
this connection we may refer to Chapter Sub-heading 9403 of the Central Excise
Tariff Act, 1985 which reads as under:
furniture and parts thereof" Learned counsel for the appellants submits
that the word 'furniture' means objects which are moveable and are complete
before being placed either on the floor or the ground. Learned counsel also
submitted that the word 'furniture' does not cover items which emerge either as
part of an immoveable property or are erected stage by stage in its completion.
These, he submitted, were fixtures and not furniture. He submitted that several
of the items in question were erected piece by piece and fixed to the wall or
ground and as such are not moveable property. In other words, the same cannot
be removed without cannibalizing i.e. without reducing them into broken piece
of wood, laminates etc.
this connection we may refer to the definition of 'furniture' in various
dictionaries. The Concise Oxford English
Dictionary (Tenth Edn. Revised) defines 'furniture' as follows :
movable articles that are used to make a room or building suitable for living
or working in, such as tables, chairs, or desks".
Chambers English Dictionary defines 'furniture' as follows :
either for use or ornament, with which a house is equipped".
Webster's Dictionary defines 'furniture' as follows:
the movable articles, such as tables, chairs, desks, required for use or
ornament in a house or office" Thus, a perusal of the definitions given in
various dictionaries shows that ordinarily 'furniture' refers to movable items
such as desks, tables, chairs, required for use or ornamentation in a house or
office. Thus, ordinarily furniture is not something immovable or something
which is fixed in a position which can be removed only by cannibalizing. We
agree with learned counsel for the appellants that the latter are fixtures and
of the items in question in the present case e.g. kitchen overhead and below
counters, storage units are, in our opinion, clearly not 'furniture' and hence
not excisable under Sub- heading 9403 as furniture.
view of the above discussion, we are of the opinion that these appeals have to
be allowed. We hold that items which are ordinarily immovable or which
ordinarily cannot be removed without cannibalizing e.g. storage units, running
counters, over- head unit, rear and side unit, wall unit, pantry unit, kitchen
unit and other items which are ordinarily immovable or cannot be removed without
cannibalizing are not furniture. However, items like tables, desks, chairs etc.
are furniture and hence excisable.
add that sometimes chairs, beds, tables, desks, etc. are affixed to the ground,
but nevertheless they will still be called as furniture (one may recall the
fixed bed in Sherlock Holme's story `The Speckled Band'). This is because when
we interpret a word we should not only see the dictionary meaning but even more
the popular meaning which the word has acquired in common parlance. As stated
by K.L. Sarkar in his book "Mimansa Rules of Interpretation" (see
second edition published by Modern Law Publication, Allahabad), "the popular meaning
overpowers the etymological meaning." * To give an example, the word `pankaja'
literally means born in mud. The word `panka' means `mud', and the word `ja'
means `which is born in'. Hence the etymological meaning of the word `pankaja'
is that `which is born in mud'. Many things can be born in mud e.g. insects,
vegetation, water flowers, etc. However, by popular usage the word `pankaja'
has acquired a particular meaning in common parlance i.e. lotus. This meaning
will, therefore, prevail over the etymological meanings.
the word `furniture' has a meaning in common parlance which every layman
understands. It commonly refers to chairs, desks, tables, beds, etc. Hence we
should give it this popular meaning.
appeals are allowed. The impugned orders are set aside and the matter is
remitted to the Tribunal to pass a fresh order after hearing the parties
preferably within three months from the date of receipt of this order, in
accordance with law and in the light of the observations made above. No costs.