Printing and Supply of Textbook to JCERT is Supply of Goods: AAR [Read Order]

The West Bengal bench of the Authority for Advance Ruling ( AAR ) observed that printing and supply of textbook to Jharkhand Council of Educational Research and Training ( JCERT ) was supply of goods The issue to be decided was whether the items supplied will be considered as a supply of goods or services  The applicant Swapna Printing Works Pvt Ltd was stated to be engaged in the business of printing books and other items.

The applicant submitted that Jharkhand Council of Educational Research and Training, Ranchi ( JCERT ) has awarded contracts to him for printing and supply of textbooks under State Plan for academic session 2023- 24 on the basis of content provided by the JCERT, printing and supply of Atlas, Dictionary, Grammar and General Knowledge Book. It was submitted that the applicant will have temporary copyright over the content of the text books against consideration to be paid in the form of royalty. The applicant has also received contracts for printing and supply of Notebooks under School Kit Scheme of the State Government for 2023-24 and printing and supply of Bilingual Parental Calendar from Jharkhand Education Project Council. Another contract for printing and supply of Pupils Comprehensive Report Progress Card has been awarded to the applicant by the Office of the Mission Director, Axom Sarba Siksha Abhiyan Mission, Assam.

The applicant asserted that, responsible for printing educational materials for the Jharkhand Government curriculum, was intricately involved in the production and distribution of essential learning resources for students. Specifically, the applicant undertakes the printing of books commissioned by the Jharkhand Council of Educational Research and Training ( JCERT ), which are subsequently disbursed directly to students by the state government. Regarding notebooks, the applicant supplies two distinct categories: those designated for the Jharkhand government and those supplied to the Assam government. In both cases, the notebooks are essential elements of the respective government curricula, directly benefiting students. Noteworthy was the inclusion of official designs and logos of the Jharkhand and Assam governments, respectively, emphasizing their official status and endorsement.

Moreover, it was highlighted that the notebooks supplied bear the explicit designation “not for sale, indicating their exclusive intended use for students and precluding any commercial distribution in the open market. According to the agreement between the applicant and JCERT, the applicant have acquired the temporary copyright over the content of the books. By virtue of the copyright, the applicant shall be authorized to print and supply books meant for Free Distribution ( that will be purchased by JCERT under the contract ).

Further, in case of excess sale of books, additional amount of royalty will be deposited by the applicant The bench observed that the applicant, being engaged in printing of books, supplies such books to JCERT on his own account. Printing of books using the inputs purchased by the applicant and subsequent delivery of the same as involved in the instant case cannot be treated as supply of services on the ground that the applicant, for the stipulated period under the contract, also holds the copyright of the contents of the books. Therefore of the view that the instant supply was to be treated as supply of goods being “printed books”.  The applicant submitted that unlike printing of textbooks as in the case of JCERT, there is no transfer of temporary copyright on payment of royalty. The content is owned and supplied by the Government of Assam. In regard to taxability of such supply, the applicant has relied on the advance ruling given by the Telangana Authority for Advance Ruling in the case of M/s. Y S Hitech Secure Print Private Limited and submitted to consider this impugned supply to Assam Government as exempt from payment of GST as per Sr. No. 66(b)(iv) of Notification No. 12/2017-Central Tax ( Rate ) dated 28.06.2017.

The two member bench of the tribunal comprising Dr. Tanisha Dutta ( member ) and Joy Jit Banik ( member ) concluded that printing and supply of textbooks to JCERT shall be treated as supply of goods.

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