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Supreme Court hears plea filed almost 18 months against CESTAT order

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The Supreme Court on Friday heard a petition against the order of the Customs Excise & Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT), which was filed after a delay of 536 days.

The Court had earlier expressed its anguish over the gross delay in filing of appeals in revenue matters involving indirect taxation.

A bench of Justices D. Y. Chandrachud and M. R. Shah noted the submissions made by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. “We have circulated a memorandum. We have constituted a committee yesterday, comprising of various stakeholders, including NIC, Ministry of Finance, Central Board of Direct Taxes and the Department of Revenue,” submitted Mr Mehta.

Justice Chandrachud replied, “I hope something good will come out. It will be beneficial for entire revenue litigation of the Government.”

The Court recorded the submissions and noted that the UOI formed a committee to ensure the new adoption of technology to streamline and monitor by seamless integration for the entire revenue litigation of the government of India.

During the hearing, the Solicitor General, on a lighter note, said, “I was looking at the definition of “Committee”. A committee is a horse! No No, a horse is a committee!! I am sorry, “Camel is a horse designed by committee.”

He then added,  “A committee is a group of people who individually can do nothing, but who, as a group, can meet and decide that nothing can be done. “

Justice Chandrachud applauded the light gesture by the Solicitor General and said, “Second one is better!!”

Also Read: SC hears plea of Parsi woman seeking declaration that it is discriminatory, unconstitutional to excommunicate Parsi women for marrying non-Parsi men

The bench adjourning the matter said, “Centre will apprise the court in the matter on the progress” and listed the matter after three months.

The Court in previous orders directed the Centre to work out modalities which will be followed for monitoring the litigation to which UOI is party in revenue matters, particularly with the aid of technology.

The same bench on August 20 had observed,

“The patience of this Court is now wearing thin by the failure of the Union Government to come forward with any concrete response. The proposal for adopting a technology based solution for monitoring revenue proceedings and litigation at all levels will ultimately subserve the legitimate interests of the Revenue. Hence, the delay in responding to the Court is beyond comprehension. We find the recalcitrance on the part of the Ministry of Finance in the Department of Revenue unacceptable. However, before we take the next step of issuing a contempt notice, we give a last and final opportunity to the Union Government to sort out the issue and come before this Court with a concrete plan of action, beyond circulars. We clarify that if, on the next date, no such proposal is forthcoming, the Court will be constrained to take recourse to the coercive arm of the law against the officers involved.”

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