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Supreme Court: Mobile charger is not a part of cell phone

Sumit Grover 
on 18 December 2014

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Hon’ble Supreme Court has delivered a landmark verdict in the matter of STATE OF PUNJAB & ORS. v. NOKIA INDIA PVT. LTD. & pronounced that the mobile/cell phone charger is an accessory to cell phone and is not a part of the cell phone.

Brief facts of the case:

The matter pertains to the Punjab VAT Act, 2005 wherein the cellular telephones at allowed to be taxed at a concessional rate. M/s Nokia India Pvt. Ltd. deals in selling of mobile phones and mobile chargers. It paid concessional tax on chargers as well. The Assessing Authority held that the mobile chargers  are the accessories, hence full rate of tax was supposed to be levied thereupon. The matter went to appeal. The Deputy Commissioner(Appeals) as well as Tribunal upheld the stand taken by the assessing authority.

However, the P&H High Court took the contradictory view stating that battery charger is a part of the composite package of cell phone.

Aggrieved by the order of High Court, govt. filed an appeal before the Apex Court.

M/s Nokia contended that charger is an integral part of the cell phone and the cell phone cannot be operated without the charger and when any person comes for cell phone, he purchases the cell phone and then automatically takes away the charger for which no separate money is charged.

Conclusion:

The court held that battery charger cannot be held to be a composite part of the cell phone but is an independent product which can be sold separately, without selling the cell phone.

The said verdict may be accessed from the link hereinbelow:

http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgs1.aspx?filename=42202

Comment:

It will be a setback for the industry(especially operating in Punjab VAT). It would be interesting to note whether the said interpretation shall be referred to the Constitutional Bench at a later stage or not!


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