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Orissa High Court orders that “Tobacco & Tobacco Products” in the schedule to the Odisha Entry Tax Act include “Bidi”

In the case of M/s. Patel Brothers & Co., Sambalpur v. State of Odisha(Case No.: STREV No. 29 of 2012), bidi falls under the definition of “tobacco and tobacco products” as stated in Entry 16, Part I of the Schedule to the Odisha Entry Tax Act, 1999 (the “OET Act”), according to the Orissa High Court. Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice Radha Krishna Pattanaik’s division bench noted, “The Court is unable to agree with the learned counsel for the petitioner’s argument that Entrance 31’s definition of “cigarette and lighter” as a separate item makes it clear that the item is not subject to entry tax under the OET Act unless there is a separate entry for “bidi.” Tobacco and tobacco products are a broad enough category to encompass “bidi…”

Facts: Mr. S. Lal, the petitioner’s attorney, claimed that because the entry does not clearly say “bidi,” it does not fall under the purview of the aforementioned entry. In addition, he argued that Entrance 31 treats “cigarette and lighter” as a separate item, meaning that it is not subject to entry tax under the OET Act unless there is a separate entry for “bidi”. On the other hand, Senior Standing Counsel Mr. S. Mishra made the point that the term “tobacco goods” is broad enough to embrace “bidi,” which is simply tobacco put in Kendu leaves and smoked in rural areas.

Judgement: The following observations made by the Tribunal were repeated and supported by the Court. “It is widely established law that entries in the Schedule must be handled in accordance with their common business usage. The aforementioned bidi, sometimes known as a poor man’s cigarette, is made from kendu leaves with tobacco inserted. It is a type of handcrafted country cigarette made of tobacco and rolled Kendu leaves; the tobacco used in the aforementioned bidis is manufactured. Bidi is a tobacco product that is used in rural India, despite the fact that it is not directly listed in the O.E.T. Act’s Schedule. Therefore, bidi is a Scheduled Good under the O.E.T. Act and is eligible for 1% of entry tax, as determined by both lower forums, and this Tribunal need not intervene. Again, the Court categorically rejected the contention that, under Entrance 31, “cigarette and lighter” is a separate item and, as a result, would not be subject to entry tax under the OET Act unless there is a separate entry for “bidi”.According to the Court, the term “tobacco and tobacco products” is broad enough to include “bidi.” As a result, it determined that there was no error in the Tribunal’s decision to include bidi under the ambit of the aforementioned entry. As a result, it was confirmed that entry tax under the OET Act is applicable to bidi.

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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY SNIGDHA DUBEY

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