1. The captioned appeal was initially filed as a Revision Application before the Central Government which under Section 35-P of the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944, has come as transferred proceedings to this Tribunal for disposal as if it were an appeal filed before it.
2. The dispute before us has had a long and chequered career spanning a period of nearly a decade and a half and has run the gamut of a claim, appeal, revision application, a Writ petition in the Madras High Court seeking a Writ of Mandamus, Asstt. Collector's order in pursuance of the Court's decision, appeal and revision petition. It is the last mentioned matter that has come up before us as transferred proceedings in terms of Section 35-P of the Central Excises and Salt Act.
3. The dispute was in respect of levy of excise duty on a product called "Tread Gum" manufactured by the appellants during the period 6-8-1962 to 3-1-1971. The appellants (MRF, for short) centended that the product was not chargeable with excise duty during the said period.
This protest was made by MRF on 22-5-1968. The dispute travelled all the way upto the Central Government by way of the first revision petition dated 29-1-1969 which the revisional authority disposed of in MRF's favour by a short order (dated 2-11-1970) reading as follows :- "Having regard to all the facts and circumstances of the case, the Government of India are pleased to allow the revision application and direct that consequential relief be granted to the petitioner." 4. On receipt of the aforesaid order, MRF approached the Asstt.
Collector with 3 claims in July and August, 1971. Not finding a response, MRF filed a Writ Petition (No. 5197 of 1973) in the Madras High Court seeking a Writ of Mandamus compelling the Respondent to dispose of the 3 refund claims filed by MRF pursuant to the Government's order-in-revision. While declining to issue a Writ of Mandamus, the Court, by its order of 11-9-1973, directed the Asstt.
Collector or any other statutory authority empowered under the Act to deal with the refund application within 3 months from the date of receipt of the Court's order.
5. Now, the scene of action shifts to the Assistant Collector. He allowed on 6-11-1973 one of the refund claims dated 5-8-1971 for Rs. 42,472.99. As regards the other two claims, one dated 26-7-1971 for Rs. 1,62,948.30 and the other dated 26-7-1971 for Rs. 53,309.26, the Assistant Collector allowed the claims partially for the sum of Rs. 66,754.38 and Rs. 10,091.95. In so far as the balance amounts were concerned, the Asstt. Collector held that since they pertained to a period anterior to the 3 months period (provided in Central Excise Rule 11), they were hit by limitation and hence he rejected the claims. The Appellate Collector upheld this rejection order. It was against this order that MRF filed the second revision application dated 12-7-1977 which is now before us as appeal.
6. The appeal was heard no 30-8-1983. Shri Ignatius, representing MRF, strenuously urged before us that the order-in-revision dated 2-11-1970 passed by the Government of India was unqualified and unconditional and that the lower authorities had no jurisdiction to interpret the expression "consequential relief" used in the order-in-revision in the manner they have done. All aspects of the claim including the period of the payment of duty amount, the date of protest, etc. were before the Government and should be deemed to have been fully taken into account by the revisional authority.
7. Smt. Vijay Zutshi, appearing for the Respondent, equally strenuously defended the order of the lower authorities.
8. We have considered the submissions of both sides. Having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case and the unqualified and unconditional nature of the order-in-revision, we are of the considered view that it was not open to the lower authorities to interpret and implement the said order in the manner they have done. There is nothing in the order to show that Government had not taken into consideration any aspect of the case before them. The lower authorities had, in our opinion, no jurisdiction to examine the refund claims afresh with reference to Rule 11.
9. In the above view of the matter, we direct that the concerned Asstt.
Collector of Central Excise shall pass the remaining part of the 3 refund claims of MRF and make payments to them, within 3 months from the date of communication of this order.
10. We trust that with this order, the curtain will be finally rung down upon this long and tortuous story.