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Commissioner of C. Ex., Cus. & S.T V/S Cochin Port Trust, Cochin

    Final Order Nos. ST/21819-21821/2017 in Appeal Nos. ST/56-58/2008-DB

    Decided On, 30 August 2017

    At, Customs Excise Service Tax Appellate Tribunal South Zonal Bench At Bangalore

    By, MEMBER

    For Petitioner: Parasivamurthy, AR And For Respondents: Ricab Chand and Anna Joseph, Advocates

Judgment Text

1. The Revenue has filed these three appeals against common Order-in-Appeal No. 55/2007, dated 22-11-2007 whereunder the demand of Service Tax against the respondent viz., M/s. Cochin Port Trust (CPT) has been dropped. Briefly the facts are that:

(i) The respondent, CPT is engaged in providing services classifiable under Port Services at Cochin Port Area to v

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arious persons.

(ii) The respondent, CPT is rendering various services on the fishing harbour located at Thoppumpady, Kochi, which is in the Port Area. The said Fishing Harbour is maintained and managed by CPT, Cochin.

(iii) CPT is rendering services to vessels (fishing vessels) in relation to fishing and other marine goods.

(iv) The Department (Revenue) issued show cause notices to CPT demanding Service Tax on the amounts collected for various services rendered at the Fishing Harbour, which had not been included in the taxable value realized during the period of July, 2001 to 31st March, 2006.

(v) The said show cause notices (SCNs) were adjudicated confirming the demand of Service Tax by the Joint Commissioner vide Order-in-Original dated 26-12-2006.

(vi) CPT went in appeal before Commissioner (A), who passed the impugned Order-in-Appeal dropping the demand against the respondent, CPT.

(vii) Therefore, the Revenue is in appeal against the said Order-in-Appeal dated 22-11-2007.

2. Both sides have been heard.

3. After having carefully considered the facts on record and the submissions of both sides, it appears that the Department has confirmed the demand of Service Tax against the respondent viz., CPT, whereas the service rendering entity is Cochin Fisheries Harbour (CFH), who is a separate legal entity and which has been administratively constituted under Ministry of Agriculture. The pleading of the Revenue is that subject services were rendered in the Port Area by CPT only, therefore CPT is liable for payment of Service Tax. However, we find that if there is involvement at all of the CPT in rendering subject services, it is on behalf of the CFH, who is a separate legal entity. Therefore, the demand of Service Tax has to be issued to CFH. In this regard, the impugned order has observed as under:

"I have carefully gone through the records of the case. Demand on Service Tax has been confirmed against Cochin Port Trust under the category of Tort Services'. It is being argued by the learned advocate that on the disputed service they have been paying duty under lease rentals' category since 1-6-2007. He argued that Cochin Fisheries Harbour is a separate legal entity. Only the Dy. Chairman of the Cochin Port Trust is a member of the Committee administering the Fisheries Harbour. Cochin Port Trust is a statutory authority constituted under major Port Trust Act, 1963. Cochin Fisheries Harbour was constituted under the auspicious of Ministry of Agriculture. I agree that Cochin Port Trust cannot be made liable to pay Service Tax for services rendered by Cochin Fisheries Harbour. Also, Ministry's letter F. No. B-II/2000-TRU, dated 9-7-2001 clarifies that estate rentals of the Port which is charged for renting of accommodation provided to outsiders and port leasers, lease rental for land etc., will not be liable to Service Tax, under Port Services as these are not services rendered in relation to goods or vessels. Its subsequent inclusion under another category is a different issue. I, therefore, find merit in the appeal and allow the same."
Considering our discussions above and the observations made in the impugned order, the impugned order along with reasons given therein is sustained and the Revenue's appeal is dismissed as without merits.


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