Friday, 26 May 2017

HC : 'Settlement Commission' not an 'adjudicating authority', Writ jurisdiction cannot set-aside conditions imposed thereto

HC dismisses assessee’s writ, refuses to set aside order passed by Settlement Commission’s u/s 32E of Central Excise Act, 1944, which recorded certain findings about clandestine removal of goods, and accepted settlement application by imposing certain conditions; Rejected assessee’s submission that, Commission’s order was passed based on report of Jurisdictional
Commissioner (JC), copy of which was not furnished to assessee, thus amounting to violation of principles of 'natural justice'; Remarks that although order speaks of JC report, it also narrates the course of hearing of petition before Commission, further states that all contentions raised by assessee virtually challenge JC’s report; Commission is not an adjudication authority and its role is to arrive at an amicable settlement of dispute between parties, further observes that “if the Settlement Commission is also converted into an adjudicating body, then the very purpose of having a Commission will be lost… assessees who have excellent cases, may be entitled to fight out their cases in the normal channel of remedies available under the Act”; Holds that scope of writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of Constitution as against Orders-in-Original is circumscribed and is much more rigorous in respect of Commission’s orders, further, scope of jurisdiction to interfere with or set aside those conditions on ground of violation of 'natural justice' is extremely limited, and present case is not fit enough to undertake that exercise: Andhra Pradesh HC : Andhra Pradesh HC

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