Customs, Excise and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT): S.S. Garg (Judicial Member) partially allowed an appeal against the confirmation order of Commissioner (Appeals) whereby he had allowed Cenvat credit on various input services except on Hotel Inn, Guest House and Club Services, imposing penalty and interest therein.

The appellant was a wholly owned subsidiary of Honda Motor Company Pvt. Ltd., Japan and was engaged in the manufacture and sale of two-wheelers, it was registered with the Central Excise Department and undertook the manufacturing activity in its registered premises and availed various input services which aided in the manufacturing activity in one way or the other. The Department entertained the view that the appellant was not entitled to avail credit on certain input services as they did not qualify as input service as defined under Rule 2(l) of CCR, 2004.

The Department had issued a SCN dated 07-12-2016 for the period February 2013 to December 2015 demanding ineligible service tax credit availed on ineligible services to the tune of Rs.50,64,772/- in terms of Rule 14 of CCR read with Section 11A(1) and Section 11A(4) of the Central Excise Act, 1944 along with interest under Rule 14 of CCR, 2004 and for imposition of penalty under Rule 15(2) of CCR, 2004.

Counsel for the appellant, Ms. Sonal Singh submitted that the impugned order was passed without properly appreciating the definition of Input Service and the various judicial precedents on the disputed services.

The Tribunal after perusing all the records found that the appellants had availed the impugned services and use it in relation to manufacture and the appellant has been able to establish sufficient nexus with the manufacturing activity as far as cranes services are concerned which the Department has misunderstood as erection, commissioning and installation service. The Tribunal found that as far as Event Management Service was concerned, these services had been used for conducting the inaugural ceremony of the newly set up manufacturing unit where the management team traveled to the factory premises and it also involved advertisement, designing, promotional video and pandal services wherein not only the employees of the company but its customers also attended and this service had also been held to be Input Service. In relation to Management, Maintenance and Repair Service it was found that it was required for generation of electricity for carrying out the manufacturing activity and once the hiring of DG sets has been allowed by the Department then it is necessary to allow the credit of service tax paid on running expenses and maintenance charges as diesel is an input which is essential for the functioning of the DG sets hence this service also falls within the definition of Input Service. In relation to Auctioneering service it was found that service was availed for auctioning the scrap generated in the process of manufacture which was necessary, thus it was an input service.

As far as Outdoor Catering Service was concerned, the appellants said that they had engaged contractors who provided food for the guest and the dealers but this outdoor catering service had been subsequently excluded from the definition of Input Service w.e.f 01-04-2011 and the Larger Bench decision of the Tribunal in the case of Wipro Ltd. v. CCE, 2018-TIOL-3256- Tribunal (LB) wherein it had been exclusively held that CENVAT credit of outdoor catering service in view of the amended definition of Input Service w.e.f. 01-04-2011 is not available. The Tribunal while partly allowing the appeal held that the appellant was not entitled to CENVAT credit on Outdoor Catering Service.[Honda Motorcycle & Scooter (India) (P) Ltd. v. Commr. Of Central Tax, 2021 SCC OnLine CESTAT 166, decided on 25-03-2021]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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