1. M/s Gujarat State Fertilizers Co. Ltd. (hereinafter called the Respondents) imported a consignment of 2900 Kgs of Titanium pioxidc KRONOS-AVF and the same was assessed to Customs duty under heading 32.04/12 of the CTA 75 with levy of additional duty under heading 14 of the C.E.T. The duty was paid on 25-4-1981. After clearance of the goods, the respondents filed claim for refund of additional duty paid on the ground that the goods are exempt from payment of additional duty in terms of the Central Excise Notification No. 114/73. The refund application was rejected on the ground that Exemption Notification No.114/73 was not applicable in that case. However, the Collector of Customs (Appeals), Bombay, by his Order in Appeal No. S-49/624/84Clause dated 26-7-1984 accepted the appeal and allowed the benefit of Notification No. 114/73-CE to the respondents.
2. Being aggrieved with the order passed by the Collector of Customs (Appeals), the Collector of Customs, Bombay filed an appeal before this Tribunal which was received in the Registry of the Tribunal on 27-12-1984. As the appeal was filed beyond the limitation period, so an Application for Condonation of Delay was also filed with a request that the delay be condoned. The reason given is that the delay in filing the appeal is due to the time taken for consulting technical experts and obtaining their opinion.
5. In this case, the order appealed against was communicated on 8-8-1984 and the appeal was received in the Registry of the Tribunal on 27-12-1984. The limitation period for filing the appeal had expired on 8-11-1984. The 'Time Chart' produced by the Department to justify and explain the delay shows that unnecessary time has been taken by the authorities in filing the appeal. The time chart shows that the impugned order was received in the Refund Section on 8-8-1984 and it was sent to Group B for further necessary action on 9-8-1984. On 10-8-1984 it was marked to A.O. and A.O. submitted the same to the Assistant Collector Group B on 18-9-1984. This delay of 38 days cannot be said to be justified on any account. It is well-settled as has been laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of West Bengal v. Howrah Municipality (AIR 1972 Supreme Court 749) that the expression 'sufficient cause' cannot be construed too liberally merely because the party in default is the Government. Whether it is Government or a private party, the provisions of law applicable are the same unless statute itself makes any distinction. The law of limitation operates equally for or against a private individual as also a Government. No special indulgence can be shown to the Government which in similar circumstances is not to be shown to an individual suitor. No doubt, it is true that the Government has to take into consideration the public interest involved and so, long time may be required for inquiry and consideration before taking a final decision in the matter, but it must, at the same time be emphasised that the Government officers charged with the double duty of taking decisions and instituting the proceedings in the courts must not carry the impression that they can bank on the indulgence of courts even if they take their own time in processing the papers or making up their mind. The court would not certainly put up with any laches on the part of the Government officials in the matter of court proceedings just as it would not do in the case of a private litigant.
6. As the delay has not been properly explained and justified, so we don't find any ground in condoning this delay and, therefore, reject the application filed for condonation of delay.
7. As Application for Condonation of Delay has been rejected, so the main appeal is dismissed as barred by time under Section 129A of the Customs Act.