1. The captioned appeal was initially filed as a Revision Application before the Central Government, which under Section 35-P of the Central Excises & Salt Act, 1944, has come as transferred proceedings to this Tribunal, for disposal as if it were an appeal filed before it.
2. At the outset Shri A.K. Jain, SDR, submitted that despite written and telephonic requests to the Collector, he has not received the relevant records and that a short adjournment of the hearing should be granted. Shri A.K.S. Bedi, Advocate for the Appellants, however, submitted that he would confine his arguments to what is available in the papers already furnished by him. After considering the matter we rejected Shri Jain's request for adjournment.
3. Shri Bedi submitted that in his Order-in-Review dated 2-5-1980, the Collector passed orders reviewing the Order-in Original bearing No.8/D/CE-79 dated 27-2-1979 passed by the Assistant Collector of Central Excise, Ludhiana. In para 4 of his order, the Collector had recorded a finding that, having regard to the territorial jurisdiction of the Assistant Collector the Asstt. Collector Ludhiana had no jurisdiction over the Unit of the appellants to pass the order on 27-2-1979. Shri Bedi submitted that in the light of this clear finding, the Collector should have quashed the Asstt. Collector's order and remitted the case to the Asstt. Collector having jurisdiction to adjudicate the case de-novo. Instead of doing so, the Collector in the operative part of the order contained in para 5 passed orders on merits, modifying the Asstt. Collector's order. Shri Bedi submitted that an order passed without jurisdiction was a nullity in the eyes of law and, therefore, the Collector should not have proceeded to modify it; he could have only quashed it. Shri Jain strenuously submitted that the Asstt.
Collector's jurisdiction was only on administrative matter which the Collector was competent to order. Further, the Asstt. Collector's order had merged in the order of the Collector, it had no separate existence as of date. He also urged that the appellants did not submit anything before the Collector on the issue of jurisdiction of the Asstt.
4. We have considered'' the submissions of both sides. It is very clear to US that the Collector, after baying recorded a finding that the Asstt. Collector, Ludhiana did not have jurisdiction to pass the Order-in-Original on 27-2-1979, could and should not have proceeded to modify the very same order. The only course open to him was to quash the order passed without jurisdiction which was a nullity in the eyes of law. He could have remitted the matter to the Assistant Collector haying jurisdiction for a de-novo adjudication. The Collector's order, in our opinion, is, therefore, neither legal nor proper. We are also not impressed with the SDR's submission on the footing that the appellants had not raised the issue of jurisdiction before the Collector. In our view, this was not necessary because jurisdiction is not matter of consent.
5. In the circumstances, we set aside the impugned order. The Asstt.
Collector haying jurisdiction over the appellants shall adjudicate the matter de-novo within a period of 4 months from the date of communication of this order.