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HC : Accords assessee opportunity to challenge 'pipeline laying' & 'construction' classification, exercising writ jurisdiction

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  • HC allows assessee’s writ petition challenging service tax classification of construction of pipeline / structure and laying of underground sewerage for Tamil Nadu Water and Drainage (TWAD) Board, remands matter for fresh consideration; Notes Revenue’s stand that activity of erection of structure and laying of pre-fabricated pipes, erection of other concrete structures, installation and commissioning of machinery, is aptly classifiable as “Erection, Commissioning and Installation Services” (ECIS) and not “Commercial & Industrial Construction Service” (CICS);
  • States, unfortunately, at the time of adjudication, assessee failed to place reliance on Division Bench decision in Indian Hume Pipes Co. and CESTAT Larger Bench ruling in Lanco Infratech Ltd. wherein similar activities were held to be part of construction, not commercial in nature and hence, exempt;
  • Accordingly, directs assessee to place matter before Assessing Officer citing two reasons: (i) to provide an opportunity without non suiting it on technical grounds, and (ii) adjudication order remained mere ‘paper order’ in view of stay granted till disposal of writ petition;
  • Also, dismisses Revenue’s objection that since dispute pertained to classification, same was not maintainable under a writ petition : Madras HC
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