1. Appeal under Section 35-B of the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944 praying that in the circumstances stated therein, the Tribunal will be pleased to set aside the order No. 274 of 1982 dated 31-8-1982 passed by the Central Board of Excise and Customs and grant rebate of excise duty amounting to Rs. 32,706.62.
2. This appeal coming up for orders upon perusing the records and upon hearing the arguments of Shri R. Raghavan, employee of the appellants and upon hearing the arguments of Shri S.K. Choudhury, Senior Departmental Representative for the respondent, the Tribunal makes the following order :- 3. Eight claims for rebate under Rule 12 of the Central Excise Rules filed by the appellant-company with the Collector of Central Excise, Madras, were with the Collector of Central Excise, Madras, were rejected by him on the score that they had been preferred well after the period of six months prescribed under Section 11-B of the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944 vide order C. No. V/68/18/11/80-EC dated 9-3-82. An appeal against this order was rejected by the Central Board of Excise and Customs by its order referred to supra observing- "Moreover in this case though the appellants have contended that the delay in filing the claim was on account of the delayed endorsement by the Customs on the relevant AR 4A forms no evidence is forthcoming as to whether the delay was on account of Customs or because of deficiencies on the part of the appellants themselves.
There is also no explanation as to whether the claims could not be lodged in time followed up by duly endorsed AR 4A forms. Considering all these factors, the Board is unable to uphold the appellant's contention that the delay could be condoned by the Collector. The orders of the Collector are accordingly confirmed and the appeal is rejected." The appellants have come up before the Tribunal against this order of the Board.
4. Before us the representative of the appellant-company canvassed three points-(a) that in the past, delay in filing of claims had been condoned; after the first hearing of the case, a list of 4 cases which are said to have been condoned has been filed, and (b) that the delay in filing of the claims with the Collector of Central Excise was occasioned by non-receipt of buff copies of AR 4A forms from the Custom House, Madras, the goods having been exported through the Madras Port.
As in filing a claim, the Company's AR 4A form has also to be enclosed, this could not be filed earlier, (c) in any case, in terms of the proviso to Rule 12 of the Central Excise Rules, 1944, the Collector can condone the delay in the filing of claims.
5. On the first point, the matter was referred to the Senior Departmental Representative, who, after checking with the Department, has affirmed that two of the claims referred to by the appellant-company had been filed on 19-1-80 prior to the coming into force of Section 11-B of the Act. In respect of the remaining two, the claims had in fact been submitted within six months from the date of shipment.
6. A point was raised on behalf of the appellant-company that in terms of proviso to Rule 12 of Central Excise Rules, 1944, the Collector has powers to condone non-observance of any of the conditions laid down in any notification under Rule 12 and notification No. 197/62 dated 17-11-62, as amended, provided that a claim for rebate together with proof of exportation is lodged with the Assistant Collector of. Central Excise before expiry of the period specified in Section 11-B of the Act. As the filing of the claim within a period of six months referred to in Section 11-B is a condition incorporated in the notification, and any of the conditions laid down in the notification issued under Rule 12 can be waived by the Collector, the Collector can condone the delay in the present case. The prescription of a time-limit within which a claim for rebate has to be made is one under the Act itself. It cannot be the intention nor can the scope of Rule 12 be so construed as to find that the Collector can waive such a cardinal condition. The period prescribed under Section 11-B is one indicative of public policy in such matters and cannot be ignored by the Collector in exercising powers of relaxation under the proviso to Rule 12 of Central Excise Rules, 1944.
7. The delayed receipt of the buff copies of AR 4A forms cannot be a valid reason for waiver of the provisions of Section 11-B which, in any case, does not provide in terms, for any relaxation. Further, it was open to the appellant-company to have filed a provisional claim for rebate well within the period of six months with documentation showing proof of export, such as bills of lading, and followed it up with the necessary certification from the officers of Customs.
8. In the result, we find that the order of the Board rejecting the claims as barred by limitation under Section 11B of the Act is maintainable in law and on the facts of the case. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.