K.L. Rekhi, Member (T)
1. The facts of this case in brief are that Proviso (v) to Exemption Notification No. 226/77-CE, dated 15-7-77 fixed a concessional rate of duty for Drill as defined from time to time by the Textile Commissioner under the Cotton Textile (Control) Order, 1948 for which maximum ex-factory prices had not been specified by the Textile Commissioner under the said order. By the impugned order in appeal, the Central Board of Excise and Customs held that 4-harness Drill manufactured and cleared by the respondents was entitled to this concession. The Central Government was, however, of the view that the said Drill did not conform to the definition of Drill as laid down by the Textile Commissioner and, accordingly, issued the impugned show cause notice for revising the Boards' Order-in-appeal under the then Section 36(2) of the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944. The proceedings initiated by the said show cause notice are now before us as the subject appeal by the Department.
2. The Department's representative stated that during the material period (15-7-77 to 14-4-78), two Textile Control Orders were in force-one issued on 13-10-64 and the other on 2-5-68. The first order defined "Drill". The second Order defined "Controlled Drill". He invited our attention to the Textile Commissioners' Un-Official Note (U.O. Note) dated 21-9-1978 to the Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue to the effect that the definition of "Drill" even in the first order was intended for price control and was thus the definition of "Controlled Drill" and not otherwise. The Department's representative argued that in the light of this clarification, definitions of Drill in the two Orders of 1964 and 1968 were of Controlled Drill only and thus, by implication, the later Order of 1968 superseded the earlier Order of 1964 so far as the question of this definition is concerned. Proviso (v) to exemption notification No. 226/77-CE applied to Drill as defined by the Textile Commissioner and for which no maximum ex-factory prices had been specified. Since the Textile Control Order of 1968 defined only "Controlled Drill" for which maximum ex-factory prices had been specified, "Drill" for which maximum ex-factory prices had not been specified did not exist. The definition of "Controlled Drill" did not cover 4-harness Drill manufactured and cleared by the respondents and hence they were not entitled to the concession.
3. The respondents stated that during the material period proviso (v) to the exemption notification applied to "Drill" and not to "Controlled Drill", that it was not permissible to read words into the clause which did not exist there .or to fall back on some internal communication of the Textile Commissioner on the supposed intention of the Government (AIR 1952 SC 16 and AIR 1970 SC 755), that the Textile Control Order of 1.964 was specifically superseded on 17-12-79 and therefore, it could not be said that it stood superseded earlier on 2-5-68 and that since the definition of Drill for which no maximum ex-factory prices had been specified by the Textile Commissioner did exist during the material period in the Order of 1964 which covered the subject 4-harness Drill, the respondents were entitled to the concession.
4. We have carefully considered the matter. It is well settled that any interpretation which says that a piece of legislation was redundant or meaningless ought to be avoided. The Department's proposition that proviso (v) to the exemption notification applied to some product which did not exist is, therefore, not acceptable as it would render the said proviso meaningless. The respondents are correct in saying that during the material period, the Textile Control Order of 1964 defined "Drill" while the Textile Control Order of 1968 defined "Controlled Drill". The first Order remained in force till it was specifically superseded by another Order dated 17-12-1979. The proposition of implied supersession of the Order of 1964 on 2-5-1968 propounded by the Department's representative is also, therefore, not acceptable. Since the subject 4-harness Drill manufactured and cleared by the respondents satisfied both the conditions of proviso (v) -it conformed to the Textile Control Order definition of 1964 and no maximum ex-factory price for it was specified by the Textile Commissioner under the said Order-it was entitled to the concession given by the proviso. The impugned order of the Board is, therefore, correct and is upheld. The show cause notice issued by the Central Government is discharged.