Customs, Excise and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal

Customs, Excise and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT): The coram of Dilip Gupta (President) and P.V. Subba Rao (Technical Member) allowed the appeals which assailed from the demand and confirmed recovery of differential duty aggregating to Rs. 16.75 crores in addition to penalties in the matter of “works contract service”.

The appellant is engaged in the business of setting up stalls for various companies at exhibitions and had classified its services under the head of erection, commissioning and installation service and commercial or industrial construction service prior to 01-06-2007 and it has classified them as ‘works contract service’ after 01-06-2007 when Section 65(105)(zzzza) was introduced as a separate taxable service in the Finance Act, 1994. Show cause notices were issued by the Revenue covering the period 2006-2007, 2016-2017. All the show cause notices proposed classifying the appellant’s service under the head “Pandal and Shamiana” services and recover differential duty from the appellant.

Counsel for the appellant submitted that the appellant provides ‘works contract service’ by designing and constructing office interiors, customized exhibitions booths/stalls, television studios and retail fit outs. Its services include (a) lay out and designing of exhibition or interior space as per client’s design and (b) fabricating and installing interior projects as per client’s design. It had further been submitted by the Counsel that while passing the impugned order no efforts have been made to reconcile the information provided by the appellant.

The Tribunal after hearing both the parties clarified that the services provided by the appellant were on turnkey basis and a composite amount is charged by the appellant for its services and for the goods used in providing them. It is undisputed that the appellant treated this as works contract services and paid VAT to the respective State Governments as appropriate. The Tribunal further reproduced what was settled in case of Larsen & Toubro, 2015 (39) STR 913 (SC) stating that composite works contract services involving supply of goods/deemed supply of goods and rendering services are a separate species of contract known to commerce and must be treated as works contract services only. Such services become taxable under the head of works contract service under Section 65(105)(zzzza) of the Finance Act, 1994 with effect from 01-06-2007. Prior to this, there was no charge of service tax on works contract services.

Thus, the Tribunal finally held that since it is undisputed that the appellant’s contract involved provisions of services as well as supply/deemed supply of goods they can only be classified under the head “works contract services”. Such services could not have been charged with service tax under any other head either before or after 01-06-2007.

[Sconce Global (P) Ltd. v. Commr. of ST, 2022 SCC OnLine CESTAT 571, decided on 27-07-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

A.K. Sood & Madhumita, Advocates, for the Appellant;

Dr. Radhe Tallo, Authorised Representative ,Advocate ,for the Respondent.

*Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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