CUSTOMS, EXCISE & SERVICE TAX APPELLATE TRIBUNAL
SOUTH ZONAL BENCH
Appeal Nos.ST/COD/40054 to 40073/2017 &
ST/40187 to 40206/2017
[Arising out of Order-in-Original No.13 to 17/2013-Commr. dt. 28.11.2013; OIO No.27/2014-Commr. dt.26.12.2014; OIO No.12& 13/2016- Commr. dt.31.3.2016 passed by the Commissioner of Central Excise, Coimbatore.
The Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation
Commissioner of Central Excise, Coimbatore
Shri S. Durairaj, Advocate For the Appellant
Shri L.Paneerselvam, AC (AR) For the Respondent
Honble Shri D.N. Panda, Judicial Member
Honble Shri Madhu Mohan Damodhar, Technical Member
Date of Hearing / decision :13.03.2017
FINAL ORDER No.40465-40484/2017
Per D.N. Panda
Ld. Advocate appearing in this batch of appeals submits that MAs have been filed explaining the delay of 1064 days in some appeals, 666 days in some other appeals and 199 days in few appeals. Appellant was handicapped to seek appellate remedy due to inadequacy of staff and even though the adjudication orders were passed at different points of time, in absence of proper legal advice it was not able to reach to a decision for ascertaining its service tax liability. However, on legal advice, appellant came to know that its liability may arise and was advised to file appeals. By the time, there was delay.
2. Apart from inadequacy of staff, there were also difficulties faced by the appellant due to deputation of its employees to make Aadhaar Card verification engaged in conduct of Assembly Election, Parliamentary Election and local body elections as well as preparation of voters list and verification thereof. So also they were engaged in Census work.
Ld. counsel filed unsworn affidavit of Asst.Municipal Commissioner, explaining the reasons of delay. On such grounds appellant's prayer is that occupation of the employees as above prevented it to seek appeal remedy. That caused delay in filing this batch of appeals.
3. It is further submitted by ld. Counsel that upon legal advice it has reconciled some of the facts and figures and discharged Rs.1.81 crores towards service tax liability. This aspect is agreed by Revenue. Ld. D.R says that appropriate liability can be determined only if these appeals go back to the adjudicating authority to make proper reconciliation of the facts and figures and determine tax and interest liability properly as well as to impose penalty.
5. Appellant being a Municipality and has enormous responsibilities of the nature aforesaid, if its appeal is thrown at the threshold without condonation of delay, the public body shall suffer and public interest would be hampered. Therefore the delay is condoned. Looking to the cause of the delay, length of the delay is considered to be immaterial, following the principle of law laid down by Apex Court in the case of N. BalakrishnanVs M. Krishnamurthy 2008 (228) ELT 162 (SC). Accordingly the delay is condoned and all the 20 MAs (COD) are allowed.
6. So far as the appeals are concerned, looking to the co-operative attitude of the appellant, it is considered proper to grant an opportunity to the appellant to reconcile the facts and figures for determination of appropriate liability so that Revenue's interest shall be protected. Therefore to complete this exercise, all these appeals are remanded to ld. Adjudicating Authority requesting him to readjudicate the matter by 30.06.2017. Appellant is directed to cooperate the Authority without seeking any adjournment. If the appellant seeks adjournment, appropriate orders may be passed. While passing a reasoned and speaking order, learned authority shall record the reason and also the pleadings, if any, of the appellant and apply proper law.
In the result, all the 20 appeals are remanded to the Adjudicating Authority.
(Dictated and pronounced in open court)
(Madhu Mohan Damodhar) (D.N. Panda)
Technical Member Judicial Member