1. Originally preferred as a revision application before the Central Government, on transfer to this Tribunal, the matter is being treated as an appeal as provided in Section 35-P of the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944 (hereinafter to be referred to as Act). The present appeal is directed against the order dated 29-12-1980 passed by the Central Board of Excise and Customs (hereinafter to be referred to as Board).
2. By the impugned order, the Central Board of Excise and Customs rejected the appeal filed by the appellants before the said Board on the ground that the same had. been received after the expiry of statutory time limit of three ' months prescribed under Section 35 of the Act. Shri Ganesan, the learned counsel for the appellants accepted the position that the appeal before the Central Board of Excise and Customs was received by the said Board after the expiry of three months. The delay, according to the learned counsel, was only of one day. In this connection, Shri Ganesan made two legal submissions. The first submission is that the impugned order was passed by the Board.
Before the Tribunal carne into existence, a revision application against the order passed by the Board under its appellate jurisdiction was to be preferred before, the Central Government under Section 36 of the Act. The Central Government, while exercising their powers of revision, waived time limits in certain deserving cases. The Central Government did so in exercise of Government's inherent powers. The learned counsel's submission is that this Tribunal is equally competent to exercise its inherent powers and relax, in deserving cases, the provisions such as time bar. According to him, as the delay in preferring of the appeal before the Board was only of one day, the present was a fit case to condone one day's delay beyond the three months time limit stipulated under Section 35 of the Act, as it stood at the relevant time.
3. We have examined this contention of the learned counsel. It is not in dispute that the appeal preferred by the appellants before the Board was barred by limitation although the delay was only of one day. We put it to the learned counsel to cite before us any decision either of a High Court or of the Supreme Court to show that the Board or the Central Government were vested with powers to condone delays of time limits set out in the statute. The learned counsel was not in a position to cite any decision on this point. We are not aware under what circumstances the Central Government in exercise of powers under Section 36 of the Act, as it stood at the relevant time, had condoned delays with regard to statutory limitation. So far as this Tribunal is concerned, it is a creature of the statute itself and, therefore, it is not competent to condone any statutory provisions provided in the statute. We are, therefore, unable to accept the contention of the learned counsel in this behalf.
4. The alterative proposition made before us by the learned counsel is that the present appeal has come to us as a transferred appeal because originally it was preferred as a revision application before the Central Government. Accordingly, it was contended that this appeal is to be treated as if it had been filed before us under the provisions of Section 35-P(2) of the Act. Further, in terms of the said provision of law, we are empowered to extend the time limit or condone the delays which power was not vested in the Board. According to the learned counsel, in the interest of justice, the Tribunal should sympathetically consider technical delays of limitation and go into merits of the case.
5. Section 35-P(2) merely confers authority on the Tribunal to entertain as appeals what were preferred as revisions applications before the Central Government. We see no warrant for the interpretation placed by the learned counsel that the said section empowers us to condone a delay which had occurred at the earlier stage of these proceedings, namely, at the stage of filing of the appeal before the Board. Accordingly, we also see no force in the alternative contention of the learned counsel.