Mohamed Imranullah S.

MADURAI: The Madras High Court Bench here has restrained the Union Government temporarily from collecting excise duty for ‘chemical dipped match splints’ manufactured by mechanised and semi-mechanised match industries.

The interim injunction was granted till January 27, 2010 following a writ petition filed by Tiruchirapalli Match Manufacturers’ Association which claimed that imposing duty on the sale of splints affected the business of non-mechanised sector.

Filing an affidavit on behalf of the Association, its president D. Bhaskaran said that the match industry was at present classified into two— mechanised/semi-mechanised units and non-mechanised units. The main ingredients for manufacture of matches were potassium chlorate and sulphur. Every entrepreneur who intends to manufacture matches has to obtain a license from the District Revenue Officer concerned, a quasi judicial authority.

The licence would be granted only on the basis of the reports given by the District Fire Officer and the Revenue authorities.

The applicant should also disclose the quantity of chemicals required for the whole year and the source of procurement.

As per law, the entire process of manufacturing match sticks, including packaging and bundling should be done in one place and no explosive substance should be transferred from one place to another under the pretext of semi-finished goods.

However, some of the mechanised and semi-mechanised units manufactured ‘chemical dipped match splints’ and transported them to handmade match manufacturing units for processing them further into safety matches, the petitioner association alleged. “The semi-mechanised sector is selling their chemical dipped match splints to the non mechanised sector only because the excise authorities are levying tax to the splints thereby making their illegal trade as a legal one,” Mr. Bhaskaran said. Claiming that this practice was causing huge financial loss to other non-mechanised units, he also said that transporting dipped loose splints was hazardous as they could easily catch fire and endanger lives.