Libertatem Magazine

Gujarat HC: The Court Holds in Favour of the Subsidiary Company of a Renowned French Company in the Dispute with the Collector of Electricity Duty

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The Air Liquide India Holding Private (Petitioner) had challenged the impugned order (2016) passed by Collector of Electricity Duty (Second Respondent) at Gandhinagar, where an exemption from payment of electricity duty under the Gujarat Electricity Duty Act, 1958 (here­in­after “the Act”) to the petitioner has been denied.

The Petitioner is a company incorporated under the Companies Act 1956, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of a French company and a world leader in extraction, production and supply of gases for industry, etc. The petitioner was earlier engaged in providing facilitation for manufacturing of nitrogen gas in the State of Gujarat. In the year 2009, petitioner decided to establish its own independent industrial undertaking for carrying out various activities and the sanction was obtained. However, the Second Respondent in an order in 2010, rejected the application of the petitioner to grant exemption from the electricity duty by considering the independent unit of the petitioner as a new industrial undertaking within the purview of the Act. The petitioner being aggrieved by this preferred an appeal before the Appellate Authority under the Act but they dismissed it. The petitioner thereafter preferred, Special Civil Application before the HC wherein ad interim relief restraining the respondents from initiating coercive recovery of electricity duty from the petitioner was granted by order in 2013. This Court by judgment and order in 2015 ordered to set aside the order passed by the appellate authority in 2013 on the ground that said order was thoroughly non-speaking and unreasoned and remanded the matter back to the original authority (Second Respondent) to ascertain certain limited factual aspects.

Arguments before the Court

The advocate for the petitioner contended that the Petitioner had established that the unit is set up by purchasing new plant and machinery and the plant and machinery at any of the sites of its clients i.e. the plant and machinery previously used at the site other companies are not used in setting up this unit. Per contra, the advocate for the Respondents argued that the petitioner was in the business of manufacture and supply of industrial gases in the State of Gujarat and therefore, the petitioner would not be eligible for exemption from the electricity duty, with other similar arguments.

Decision of the Court

The Court held that the petition succeeds. That the Impugned order of 2016 passed by the Collector of Electricity Duty, Gandhinagar is hereby quashed and set aside. The petitioner is entitled to exemption from payment/levy of electricity duty for five years from 2009 to 2014 and the respondents are hereby directed to refund the amount of electricity duty paid by the petitioner for a period of exemption for industrial consumption of energy under the Act.

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