1. Appeal under Section 35B of the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944, praying that in the circumstances stated therein, the Tribunal will be pleased to order rebate of excise duty paid on excess production of sugar.
2. This appeal coming up for orders upon perusing the records and upon hearing the arguments of Shri V. Raghunathan, authorised representative of the appellants and upon hearing the arguments of Sri S.K. Choudhury, Senior Departmental Representative for the respondent, the Tribunal makes the following: 3. This petition has been filed before the Tribunal against the Order-in-Appeal No. 175/82(Md) dated 7.9.82 of the Appellate Collector of Central Excise, Madras passed under Section 35 of the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944, rejecting their appeal against letter N.Ref. I.C. No. 3351/81 dated 21.4.82 of the Assistant Collector of Central Excise, Madurai-II Division.
4. The appellants filed a claim for rebate of excise1 duty on excess sugar produced during the period 1.5.78 to 3.7.78 for a sum of Rs. 10,23,348.80 with the Superintendent of Central Excise, Mofussil Range, Madurai. On 6.11.79 the Superintendent allowed credit to the extent of Rs. 4,47,769.40 in settlement of the claim. In a revised order dated 25.1.80 he reduced this sum to Rs. 4,31,618.75. The appellants went on making representations to the Assistant Collector of Central Excise, Madurai II Division pressing their claim for the balance amount as well. On 21.4.82 the Assistant Collector informed the appellants by a letter that he was not the proper officer to hear an appeal against the order of the Superintendent. An appeal preferred on 30.6.82 against this letter was rejected by the Appellate Collector observing that the letter of the Assistant Collector is not a speaking order; the appeal is really directed against the assessment order of the Superintendent of Central Excise dated 25.1.80; such an appeal is barred by limitation under Section 35 of the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944. In the appeal before us, it was urged that the delay in the filing of the appeal with the Appellate Collector was due to ignorance of law and a part of the delay was caused due to non-reply from the Assistant Collector of Madurai II Division with whom the matter was being canvassed, though wrongly. Ignorance of law is no excuse. As an assessee dealing in excisable goods the appellants should have been aware of the provisions regarding the filing of an appeal and the proper officer before whom it is to be filed. The order of the Appellate Collector rejecting the appeal as barred by limitation under Section 35 of the Central Excises and Salt Act. 1944 is correct in law and based on facts. The present appeal is accordingly dismissed.