|Justice M.K. Sharma|
Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court in Commissioner of Customs Excise Vs. Living Media (India) Ltd. had the occasion to deal with the issue of the valuation of imported goods, when royalty is / was paid by the importer to the overseas supplier of such goods. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether such royalties are / were to be included in the transaction value of the imported goods, in the light of the Customs Valuation (Determination of Value of Imported Goods) Rules, 2007. The Supreme Court held as under;
24. In order to appreciate the contentions of the parties, we propose to extract the provisions of Section 14 of the Customs Act, 1962 which deals with valuation of goods for the purpose of assessment. The said section reads as follows:-
"14. Valuation of goods-
(1) For the purposes of the Customs Tariff Act, 1975 (51 of 1975), or any other law for the time being in force, the value of the imported goods and export goods shall be the transaction value of such goods, that is to say, the price actually paid or payable for the goods when sold for export to India for delivery at the time and place of importation, or as the case may be, for export from India for delivery at the time and place of exportation where the buyer and seller of the goods are not related and price is the sole consideration for the sale subject to such other conditions as may be specified in the rules made in this behalf; Provided that such transaction value in the case of imported goods shall include, in addition to the price as aforesaid, any amount paid or payable for costs and services, including commissions and brokerage, engineering, design work, royalties and licence fees, costs of transportation to the place of importation, insurance, loading, unloading and handling charges to the extent and in the manner specified in the rules made in this behalf: Provided further that the rules made in this behalf may provide for, -
(i) the circumstances in which the buyer and the seller shall be deemed to be related;
(ii) the manner of determination of value in respect of goods when there is no sale, or the buyer and the seller are related, or price is not the sole consideration for the sale or in any other case;
(iii) the manner of acceptance or rejection of value declared by the importer or exporter, as the case may be, where the proper officer has reason to doubt the truth or accuracy of such value, and determination of value for the purposes of this section:
Provided also that such price shall be calculated with reference to the rate of exchange as in force on the date on which a bill of entry is presented under section 46, or a shipping bill of export, as the case may be, is presented under section 50.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub- section (1), if the Board is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient so to do, it may, by notification in the Official Gazette, fix tariff values for any class of imported goods or export goods, having regard to the trend of value of such or like goods, and where any such tariff values are fixed, the duty shall be chargeable with reference to such tariff value."
25. In exercise of the power vested under the Customs Act, the Central Government has made Customs Valuation (Determination of Value of Imported Goods) Rules, 2007 (hereinafter for short called "the Rules").
26. Rule 2(f) of the Rules defines "transaction value" where it says that it means the value determined in accordance with rule 4 of the Rules. Rule 3 of the Rules deals with the determination of the method of valuation where it states as follows:-
"Determination of the method of valuation.- For the purpose of these rules –
(i) subject to rules 9 and 10-A the value of imported goods shall be the transaction value;
(ii) if the value cannot be determined under the provisions of Cl. (i) above, the value shall be determined by proceeding sequentially through rule 5 to 8 of these rules."
27. What is transaction value is stated in Rule 4 in the following manner:-
"4. Transaction value –
(1) The transaction value of imported goods shall be the price actually paid or payable for the goods when sold for export to India, adjusted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 9 of these rules."
28.Rule 9(1)(c) of the Rules states as follows:-
"9. Costs and services (1) In determining the transaction value, there shall be added to the price actually paid or payable for the imported goods –
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(c) - royalties and license fees related to the imported goods that the buyer is required to pay, directly or indirectly, as a condition of the sale of the goods being valued, to the extent that such royalties and fees are not included in the price actually paid or payable."
29. In the case of Commissioner of Customs Vs. Ferodo India Pvt. Ltd. reported in 2008 (4) SCC 563 this Court had occasion to analyze the aforesaid relevant provision of Rule 9(1)(c) with which we are also concerned in the present appeals. The relevant portion of which is extracted herebelow:
"16. Under Rule 9(1)(c), the cost of technical know- how and payment of royalty is includible in the price of the imported goods if the said payment constitutes a condition prerequisite for the supply of the imported goods by the foreign supplier. If such a condition exists then the payment made towards technical know-how and royalties has to be included in the price of the imported goods. On the other hand, if such payment has no nexus with the working of the imported goods then such payment was not includible in the price of the imported goods.
17. In Essar Gujarat Ltd. the condition prerequisite, referred to above, had direct nexus with the functioning of the imported plant and, therefore, it had to be loaded to the price thereof.
18. Royalties and license fees related to the imported goods is the cost which is incurred by the buyer in addition to the price which the buyer has to pay as consideration for the purchase of the imported goods. In other words, in addition to the price for the imported goods the buyer incurs costs on account of royalty and license fee which the buyer pays to the foreign supplier for using information, patent, trade mark and know how in the manufacture of the licensed product in India. Therefore, there are two concepts which operate simultaneously, namely, price for the imported goods and the royalties/license fees which are also paid to the foreign supplier.
19. Rule 9(1)(c) stipulates that payments made towards technical know-how must be a condition prerequisite for the supply of imported goods by the foreign supplier and if such condition exists then such royalties and fees have to be included in the price of the imported goods. Under Rule 9(1)(c) the cost of technical know-how is included if the same is to be paid, directly or indirectly, as a condition of the sale of imported goods. At this stage, we would like to emphasize the word indirectly in Rule 9(1)(c). As stated above, the buyer/importer makes payment of the price of the imported goods. He also incurs the cost of technical know-how. Therefore, the Department in every case is not only required to look at T AA, it is also required to look at the pricing arrangement/agreement between the buyer and his foreign collaborator. For example, if on examination of the pricing arrangement in juxtaposition with TAA, the Department finds that the importer/buyer has misled the Department by adjusting the price of the imported item in guise of increased royalty/license fees then the adjudicating authority would be right in including the cost of royalty/license fees payment in the price of the imported goods. In such cases the principle of attribution of royalty/license fees to the price of imported goods would apply. This is because every importer/buyer is obliged to pay not only the price for the imported goods but he also incurs the cost of technical know-how which is paid to the foreign supplier. Therefore, such adjustments would certainly attract Rule 9(1))(c)."
30. While laying down the aforesaid proposition this Court has considered the case of Collector of Customs (Prev.), Ahmedabad Vs. Essar Gujarat Ltd. reported in 1996 88 ELT 609 (S.C.) to which also reference was made at the time of hearing of the appeals.
31. There is yet another decision on the aforesaid issue rendered by three Judges' Bench of this Court in the case of Associated Cement Companies Ltd. Vs. Commissioner of Customs reported in (2001) 4 SCC 593. Having referred to the case of Essar Gujarat (supra) and after having noted Rules 3, 4 and 9 of the Rules, this Court has stated thus in paragraph 42, 43 and 44 as follows:-
"42. .............................. Therefore, the intellectual input in such items greatly enhances the value of the paper and ink in the aforesaid examples. This means that the charge of a duty is on the final product, whether it be the encyclopaedia or the engineering or architectural drawings or any manual.
43. Similar would be the position in the case of a programme of any kind loaded on a disc or a floppy. For example in the case of music the value of a popular music cassette is several times more than the value of a blank cassette. However, if a pre-recorded music cassette or a popular film or a musical score is imported into India duty will necessarily have to be charged on the value of the final product.
44. It is a misconception to contend that what is being taxed is intellectual input. What is being taxed under the Customs Act read with the Customs Tariff Act and the Customs Valuation Rules is not the input alone but goods whose value has been enhanced by the said inputs. The final product at the time of import is either the magazine or the encyclopaedia or the engineering drawings as the case may be. There is no scope for splitting the engineering drawing or the encyclopaedia into intellectual input on the one hand and the paper on which it is scribed on the other. For example, paintings are also to be taxed. Valuable paintings are worth millions. A painting or a portrait may be specially commissioned or an article may be tailor-made. This aspect is irrelevant since what is taxed is the final product as defined and it will be an absurdity to contend that the value for the purposes of duty ought to be the cost of the canvas and the oil paint even though the composite product, i.e., the painting, is worth millions."
32. The issue that arises for our consideration is therefore appears to be answered by the aforesaid decision in Associated Cements Companies Ltd. (Supra). In the said decision this Court had stated clearly that if a pre-recorded music cassette or a popular film or musical score is imported into India, duty will necessarily have to be charged on the value of the final product. As per Rule 9, in determining the transaction value there has to be added to the price actually paid or payable for the imported goods, royalties and the license fees related to the imported goods that the buyer is required to pay, directly or indirectly, as a condition of sale of goods. Therefore, when pre-recorded music cassette is imported as against the blank cassette, definitely its value goes up in the market which is in addition to its value and therefore duty shall have to be charged on the value of the final product. Therefore, there can be no dispute with regard to the fact that value of the royalty paid is to be included in the transaction value.
33. In all these cases, there is no dispute that the cassettes under question are brought to India as pre-recorded cassettes which carry the music or song of an artist. There is an agreement existing in all the matters that royalty payment is towards money to be paid to artists and producers who had produced such cassettes. Such royalty becomes due and payable as soon as cassettes are distributed and sold and therefore, such royalty becomes payable on the entire records shipped less records returned. It could therefore, be concluded that the payment of royalty was a condition of sale. Counsel appearing for the Respondent relied upon the commentary on the GATT Customs Valuation Code. We failed to see as to how the aforesaid commentary on the GATT Customs Valuation Code could be said to be applicable to the facts of the present case. The specific sections and the rules quoted hereinbefore are themselves very clear and unambiguous.
We are required only to give interpretation of the same and apply the same to the facts of the present case.