1. American Refrigerator Co. Ltd., Block 'A', Hide Road, Calcut-ta-43 has filed an appeal being aggrieved from the Order No. 717/Cal./83, dated 14th July, 1983 passed by the Collector (Appeals) Central Excise, Calcutta.
2. Shri A.K. Thakurta, Officer-in-Charge, Central Excise & Transportation, of the appellant-company has appeared on behalf of the appellant and has submitted that the appeal relates to the refund of duty of Rs. 8,436/- paid in excess for the period 2nd March 1977 to 20th July 1977. The appellant's claim was rejected by the Assistant Collector without hearing and being aggrieved from the aforesaid order the appellant had filed an appeal before the Collector (Appeals) and the said appeal was also dismissed by the Collector (Appeals) without granting a hearing to the appellant. He has pleaded that there is a complete denial of principles of natural justice. The Collector (Appeals) had dismissed the appeal on the point of limitation i.e., the appeal was filed late before the Collector (Appeals) after the expiry of three months but within six months. The learned authorised representative has pleaded that even if the Collector (Appeals) was not to exercise discretion as to the condonation of delay in his favour the principles of natural justice demand that the appellant should have been afforded with an opportunity of hearing. He has pleaded that in Para 8(i) of the Memorandum of Appeal which forms Annexure 'D' along with the appeal filed before this Court, the appellant had made a prayer for personal hearing as under :- (i) that the records may be called for and on hearing your petitioner and on examining necessary papers, the order of the Assistant Collector, may be set aside;" He has pleaded that a personal hearing should have been granted whereas the Collector (Appeals) had rejected the appeal being time barred under Section 35 of the Central Excises and Salt Act, 1944 without going into the merits of the case.
3. Shri A.K. Saha, Sr. D.R. has appeared on behalf of the Respondent and has conceded to the fact that a prayer in Para 8(i) of the Memorandum of Appeal filed before the Collector (Appeals) was there wherein the appellant had requested for the personal hearing.
4. After hearing both the sides and going through the facts and circumstances of the case, I, feel that the Collector (Appeals) should have granted a personal hearing to the appellant in the interests of justice. Even if the appeal is barred by time, a proper opportunity should have been given to the appellant for explaining his case. I, therefore, remand the case to the Collector (Appeals) Central Excise, Calcutta to look afresh into the matter on the point of limitation as well as merits. For statistical purposes, the appeal is allowed.