Kindle E-Book Reader Is Not A ‘Dictionary’, Not Exempted From Basic Customs Duty: Delhi HC [Read Judgment]

Kindle E-Book Reader Is Not A ‘Dictionary’, Not Exempted From Basic Customs Duty: Delhi HC [Read Judgment]

“No one purchases a Kindle device because it is a translator or device ‘with’ a dictionary function. EBook readers are purchased because a person wants to read e-books which are pre-loaded or can be downloaded from the internet.”

The Delhi High Court has held that e-book readers like Kindle cannot be called a ‘dictionary’ so as to exclude it from basic customs duty.

The court was considering the challenge against the Authority for Advance Rulings order that held that Kindle e-reading devices imported by M/s Amazon Seller Services Private Limited, being "electrical machines with translation or dictionary functions" were exempt from basic customs duty.

The bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Chander Shekhar held that in order to get exemption under category “ electrical machines with translation or dictionary functions", translation or dictionary function should be the primary and relevant function of the said machine for which they are purchased and used.

The high court judgment mostly deals with the interpretation of the term ‘with’ and observes that the word ‘with’ can have diverse and varied meaning depending upon the context in which it is used. “‘With’ is a chameleon which changes colour in the context in which it is used. The word "with" need not have a static and have a universal interpretation,” the bench added.

The court said though the e-book reader has an inbuilt dictionary feature, which is a secondary or additional feature, useful for the reader, it would not make it and qualify the e-reading machine as an "electrical machine with translation or dictionary function".

The court said: “Kindle device is an electronic device designed for use as an electronic book reader. As an electronic book reader, it has several e-books pre-installed in the device and other e-books can be downloaded. The product is developed and designed to function as an e-book reader and is sold and bought as an e-book reader and not as a translator or as a dictionary. The e-book reader has an inbuilt dictionary feature, which is a secondary or additional feature, useful for the reader. This secondary or additional feature would not make it and qualify the e-reading machine as an "electrical machine with translation or dictionary function".”

The bench said: “Primary function of kindle device is to enable the user to read e-books. It is an e-book reading device and not a translator, and is not procured or purchased to perform dictionary function. No one purchases a kindle device because it is a translator or device ‘with’ a dictionary function. E-book readers are purchased because a person wants to read e-books which are pre-loaded or can be downloaded from the internet. Dictionary in a Kindle device enables the reader to make use of the dictionary while reading the e-book. E-book reader as such is not a dictionary or translator device. E-book readers would be appropriately classified in ‘others’ as distinct from ‘electrical machines with translation and dictionary function’.”