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Palm Oil Fruit is also Fruit: CESTAT allows GTA Exemption

Facts of the case:
• The appellants are engaged in manufacturing of crude palm oil by extracting the same from the fruits of the palm trees and which are their inputs.
• They are also availing GTA services for getting the above inputs.

Issue involved:
• The department said the appellant is required to take registration for discharging the liability on GTA being received.

Points to be considered:
• The assessee submitted that for transportation of palm oil fruit, the GTA services are exempt as per notification 33/2004-ST from the levy under GTA of transport of fruits.
• However, the exemption has been denied by tribunal on the ground that palm oil fruit is a “fruit” the same is not edible.
• As per department opinion, the palm oil is actually transported, which is not covered under the notification offered by assessee.
• Also, the fruit from which the oil is extracted is not edible.
Further, it has been observed by Tribunal that “the notification is silent about any definition or the classification of fruit and all other products mentioned therein”.

After considering many definitions of Fruit, it is concluded that
• “Anything which is not edible cannot be classified to be called as fruit.”
• “Any product of a tree which is the result of the ripened ovary, irrespective of nature of it is edible or not, amounts to fruit”.
Accordingly, the fruit in question has a wide coverage as per the notification.

Hence, the impugned order is set aside and the appeal is hereby allowed with consequential relief.

Conclusion : Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT), Hyderabad bench held that the palm oil fruit should also be treated as fruit for the purpose of availing the exemption for granting GTA exemption to palm oil manufacturers.

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