Supreme Court: While dealing with a case where the Commissioner of Customs (Appeal) had referred to Wikipedia for coming to a conclusion in a case, the bench of Surya Kant* and Vikram Nath, JJ has cautioned the adjudicating authorities against completely relying on such online sources.

While the Court acknowledged the utility of these platforms which provide free access to knowledge across the globe, it also cautioned against using such sources for legal dispute resolution as despite being a treasure trove of knowledge, such resources are based on a crowd-sourced and user-generated editing model that is not completely dependable in terms of academic veracity and can promote misleading information as has been noted by this court on previous occasions also.

Hence, the courts and adjudicating authorities should rather make an endeavor to persuade the counsels to place reliance on more reliable and authentic sources.

The Court was deciding the correct classification of Automatic Data Processing Machines which are popularly known as ‘All-in-One Integrated Desktop Computer' under the First Schedule to the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985 and held that the same were not ‘portable' for the following reasons:

Firstly, the diagonal dimension of the Concerned Goods being minimum of the length of 18.5 inches and the same needs to be transported along with the power cable as well as the applicable stand in most cases if it is to be mounted and;

Secondly, there being no protective case designed by the markets for daily transport for these Concerned Goods. Such requirements make the Concerned Goods unable to be carried around easily during daily transit.

The Court also held that if the customs authorities wanted to classify the goods differently, the burden of proof to showcase the same was on them, which they failed to discharge.

[Hewlett Packard India Sales Pvt. Ltd v. Commissioner of Customs (Import), 2023 SCC OnLine SC 31, decided on 17.01.2023]

*Judgment authored by: Justice Surya Kant

Know Thy Judge | Justice Surya Kant


For appellants: Advocate V Lakshmikumaran

For Respondents: Senior Advocate Arjit Prasad

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