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AUTHORITY FOR ADVANCE RULINGS
(CENTRAL EXCISE, CUSTOMS & SERVICE TAX)
Hon'ble Mr.Justice Syed Shah Mohammad Quadri (Chairman)
Mr.Somnath Pal (Member)
Ruling No. AAR/01(Cus)/2006
R U L I N G
( By Mr. Somnath Pal, Member )
In this application the following question has been posed by the applicant under section 28H of the Customs Act, 1962 for an advance ruling:-
"Whether Remote Optically pumped Amplifier Jointing Box Housing proposed to be imported into India, is classifiable under Heading No. 8517 50 99 of the First Schedule of the Customs Tariff Act, 1975" .
2. In the Annexure-II to the application and in the Customs Technical Document submitted by the applicant, it has been stated that the goods in question are for use with telecommunications systems utilizing submerged equipment. The Joint Box Housing is designed to allow laying, recovery and re-laying in a submerged environment with no degradation in mechanical, optical and electrical performance. This Housing can terminate all lightweight and armoured cable designs, with load transfer through a flexible coupling. It has been further stated that the Alcatel submerged remote optical pumped amplifier (ROPA) is a hybrid of optical, electronic and mechanical systems that forms part of a submerged telecommunication system for use in transmission of aggregate data. The ROPA is of an Alcatel generic design and includes features that allow the configuration of the ROPA to suit a given system. ROPA is inserted into an un-repeatered telecommunication system to maximise the operating distance across which the telecommunication cable can function without the need for submerged repeater units. The ROPA is placed close to the receiving terminal to optimize through pre-amplification the aggregate data signal ahead of the receiver in the terminal station. The underwater jointing box housing and cable terminating arrangements can accommodate amplifier modules up to eight traffic-carrying fibre pairs, and are compatible with all types of Alcatel cable. The internal assembly of the Housing includes a tray assembly housing Erbium doped fibes, isolators and excess fibre length as necessary to realize the connections to the line cable. In addition, provision can be made to ensure additional "by-pass" fibre storage. Transmission (optical amplification) is provided by a single mode fibre, the core of which is doped with erbium. As the aggregate data signal propagates through the erbium-doped fibre, amplification is optimized prior to arrival at the receiving terminal. The ROPA amplifier module consists of a length of erbium-doped fibre, and an isolator that is necessary to prevent potential self oscillation from optical feedback. In use, optical pump power is transmitted from the terminal along the cable signal path to pump the erbium-doped fibre in a counter direction to the traffic signal.
3. The Commissioner in his initial comments contended that the Alcatel Remote Optically pumped Amplifier Jointing Box Housing is an amplifier having an independent function. It is not covered more specifically by a heading of any other Chapter of the nomenclature, not excluded by the operation of a legal note to section XVI or to Chapter 85 and accordingly the goods in question merit classification under tariff heading 8543 89 79 as high or intermediate frequency amplifiers as mentioned at Sl. No. 9 of the items included in the heading as stated in Explanatory Notes, volume 4, section XVI-XXI, Chapter 85-97 (page 1519). The Commissioner had also referred to Rule 3(c) of the General Rules for the Interpretation of First Schedule to further support his stand that the tariff heading 8543 will be more appropriate classification than tariff heading 8517 since it occurs later in numerical order even in case it is found that they equally merit consideration.
4. In the hearing before us the Learned Representatives of the applicant reiterated their stand that the goods in question are part of a submerged telecommunication system and though its basic function is optical amplification, it is not comparable with types of amplifiers which are covered under tariff heading 8543. Reliance was placed on Rule 1 of the General Interpretative Rules which, they contended, is quite clear to decide the classification and there is no need to go to Rule 3 as stated by the Commissioner. The ROPA jointing box housing - item in question - contain other components as well like isolators, excess fibre length and also has the provision to ensure additional by-pass fibre storage. It cannot therefore be equated in any case with an electrical apparatus "having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere" in Chapter 85 of the Customs Tariff Act 1975 to merit classification under tariff heading 8543. It is more appropriately covered under tariff heading 8517 as an apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems, they submitted.
5. The Learned Joint CDR representing the Commissioner conceded during the hearing that having regard to the technical information furnished by the applicant and as further elaborated and explained by their representatives, the goods in question would more appropriately fall under tariff item 8517 50 99. He also cited in this context the recent rulings of the Authority given in the applicant's case in regard to classification of 'Equalisers' and 'Repeaters' which have been held to be falling under tariff heading 8517 50 99.
6. Having carefully considered the nature and the function of the goods in question as could be seen from the technical information furnished by the applicant and as further explained by them before us, we are satisfied that they are more appropriately classifiable as an apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems falling under tariff heading 8517. We have already examined the scope of the tariff heading 8543 in details in our Ruling No. AAR/14(Cus)/2005 dated 24.11.2005 in the applicant's case on the question of classification of submerged repeaters, including the HSN Explanatory Note to heading 85.17 indicating the coverage of the category "other apparatus, for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems". In our view, the tariff heading 8543 will not cover the product under consideration. In their final submission the Ld. Joint CDR representing the Commissioner has also agreed that the proper classification would be 8517 50 99 and not 8543 89 79 as originally contended.
7. In view of the above, we rule on the question raised in this application that 'Remote Optically pumped Amplifier Jointing Box Housing' is classifiable under tariff item 8517 50 99 of the First Schedule of the Customs Tariff Act, 1975.
Pronounced in the open Court of the Authority on this 5th day of January, 2006.
Sd/- Sd/- Sd/-
(B.A.Agrawal) (Justice S.S.M.Quadri) (Somnath Pal)
Member Chairman Member