Vaseline Heel Guard is a medicament for the purposes of Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985

Supreme Court: While deciding that whether Vaseline Intensive Care Heel Guard is to be treated as a skin care preparation or as a medicament having curative properties, the Division Bench of A.K.Sikri and R.F Nariman, JJ., held that the decision of the Tribunal (CESTAT) in holding Vaseline to be a medicament falling under Chapter Heading 3003.10 of First Schedule to the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985, is justified and does not require any review.

Vaseline being a product having the qualities of both skin care and to cure skin disease, therefore the dispute arose. The Court referring to the principles laid down in Commissioner of Central Excise, Mumbai v. Ciens Laboratories, (2013) 14 SCC 133, observed that presence of small percentage of curative ingredients would not be a reason to conclude that pharmaceutical constituents are subsidiary in nature, and the function of the product is to be given more relevance. The Court agreeing with the observations of the Tribunal stated that, Vaseline has been marketed as a solution for cracked heels and the essential function of the product is treatment of heels and further protection from cracks in heels. The resultant smoothening of skin after the use of Vaseline is secondary in nature. The Court further observed that the Department adopted an erroneous approach in ignoring the basic features of the product and also did not discharge its burden of proof to provide evidences proving the product to be a skin care preparation. Commissioner of Central Excise v. Hindustan Lever Ltd. 2015 SCC OnLine SC 753 decided on 25-08-2015


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