Introduction: In 2021, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) faced setbacks as 27 cases were dismissed by the Supreme Court due to delays in filing, resulting in costs imposed in three instances. The causes identified included late receipt of orders, misfiling, and procedural delays.

Reducing Delays in Litigation Management

By

Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC)

Timelines for filing Appeal in Supreme Court

Total time for filing in Court
Registry
Time given to
Commissionerate to send
proposal to Board
SLP Within 90 days from pronouncement of Order by High Court 20 days
CA Within 60 days from receipt of Order of CESTAT 15 days

Number of cases dismissed:

During year 2021, about 27 cases filed by the department have been dismissed by the Supreme Court due to delay in filing. In 3 cases, costs have been imposed.

Reasons for delay:

i. Late receipt of CESTAT / High Court orders

ii. Filing Appeal against CESTAT order in High Court instead of directly filing in Supreme Court.

iii. Procedural delays at various stages.

THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

in

CIVIL APPEAL No. 674/2021

in

Bilfinder Neo Structo Construction Ltd case observed delay of 536 days in filing Civil Appeal by the Department.

SUPREME COURT ORDER DATED 27.08.2021

In the aforesaid Civil Appeal No. 674/2021, the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 27.08.2021, approved OM dated 26.08.2021 issued by the Department of Revenue (DoR) for constitution of a Committee comprising of various stakeholders to adopt ICT (Information and Communication Technology) initiatives to streamline, monitor and provide seamless integration of all stages in government revenue litigation across the board.

Various Stakeholders of the Committee

i. Officers from CBIC, CBDT, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Law & Justice and NIC have been included in the Committee.

ii. The Revenue Secretary has been requested to periodically monitor the progress.

iii. The Solicitor General of India appeared in Court on behalf of the Government.

Mandate of the Committee

A. Guide the changes required in LIMBS to make it more effective for litigation management.

B. Ensure integration of LIMBS with the IT system of Courts, Tribunals etc. including e-Courts system of NIC.

C. Guide the process of integration of LIMBS with e-office.

D. Guide universal adoption of LIMBS and e-office in the relevant offices under Department of Revenue.

E. Suggest changes in the IT solutions adopted in the Courts/Tribunals etc. that could significantly improve litigation management for suggesting other measures to remove roadblocks in efficient litigation management.

F. To finalize and operationalize the effective system within three months from today and appraise the Hon’ble Supreme Court accordingly.

  • Comments were invited by DLA from all the field formations. A total of 25 suggestions were received from CBIC field formations which were considered by the Committee.\
  • A Progress Report was submitted by the Committee to the Supreme Court on 29.11.2021.

Recommendation 1: Guide the changes required in LIMBS Software to make it more effective for litigation management:

  • LIMBS portal has been re-designed and now the case data for SLP / CA initiation will be picked up from High Court / CESTAT entry in LIMBS.
  • Using CNR Number, LIMBS Portal will obtain orders/judgments and latest case status from High Court’s servers thus reducing the delay for SLP initiation for want of copies of judgments.
  • The LIMBS portal will automatically update High Court records from High Court database as and when hearing takes place in the High Court (using correct CNR No). This will result in minimum human intervention and cut down delay in having information and then updating on LIMBS portal.
  • Senior Officers in the field formation and Board will be alerted through SMS/E-mail on the countdown in days for submission of proposal.

Recommendation 2: Ensure integration of LIMBS with IT system of Courts, Tribunals including e-Courts system of NIC:

  • Integration of LIMBS with the servers of High Courts have been achieved for updating LIMBS data using CNR No. to access/download the copies of Orders and Judgments (except for a few High Courts which are not on National Judicial Data Grid). It will cut down delay in having Judgments for
    subsequent action.
  • Integration with CESTAT will also be implemented soon.

Recommendation 3: Guide the process of integration of LIMBS with e-office:

  • Integration of LIMBS with e-Office of CBIC, e-Office of DOLA/CAS has been / being achieved. Through this integration CBIC will be able to know the pending status of the e-File submitted from LIMBS to DOLA/CAS at a particular time.
  • It will cut down delay in sending files to DOLA/CAS and also help to monitor delays at different levels.

Recommendation 4: Guide universal adoption of LIMBS and e-office in the relevant offices under Department of Revenue:

  • LIMBS and e-Office are being used by all field formations in CBIC.
  • The necessary integration between e-Office systems of CBIC, MoF and DOLA/CAS have been established for having e-office to e-office advice file movement within CBIC and finally with DOLA/CAS.
  • The LIMBS login IDs of concerned officers can be created online with online approval of DLA.
  • The e-Office login IDs of CBIC field formations are created by DGPM

Recommendation 5: Suggest changes in the IT solutions adopted in the Courts/Tribunals etc. that could significantly improve litigation management for suggesting other measures to remove roadblocks in efficient litigation management:

  • Universal Codification of Ministries, Departments and Sub-Departments has been recommended, so that the provision of entering such codes at the filing levels be undertaken for the Government cases at Tribunals and Hon’ble High Courts / Supreme Court.
  • Necessary changes in the software of Tribunals, High Court and Hon’ble Supreme Court be undertaken incorporating such codes.
  • Through this exercise CBIC will be able to receive certified and uncertified copies of Judgments and Orders within the fastest time possible and directly into the email account of the concerned stake holders thus helping cut down the delay in receiving such Orders/Judgments and acting on these for seeking advice from DOLA/CAS.

Recommendation 5: Suggest changes in the IT solutions adopted in the Courts/Tribunals etc. that could significantly improve litigation management for suggesting other measures to remove roadblocks in efficient litigation management:

  • Certain High Court are not on NJDG (National Judicial Data Grid) so cannot update the records of the cases falling in those High Courts on the LIMBS portal. Need to have all the High Court’s data on NJDG.
  • Also API from SC needs to be arranged soon for post SLP/Appeal information.

Recommendation 6: “The LIMBS SLP software modules have been developed and rolled out for different stake holders.”:

Further Action Required

  • All SLP/CA proposals from field formations to Legal / Judicial Cells of CBIC must now be only through LIMBS / e-Office.
  • Revenue Secretary will hold meeting in January 2022.
  • Next Hearing in Supreme Court – 07.03.2022.

CNR Updation:

As on date, various Courts registered on e-Courts including all High Courts (other than Delhi High Court) are linked with LIMBS application.

  • The CNR (Case Record Number) of a case can be found from (ecourts.gov.in).
  • The CNR must be updated in the LIMBS database for all High Court matters.
  • There is no CNR for CESTAT / Supreme Court matters.

Progress of CNR feeding by CBIC Field Formation

Date No. of cases in which
CNR entered in LIMBS
Total Cases
04.10.2021 5620
20.10.2021 8260
22.11.2021 10926 25430
13.12.2021 11457 25460

Initiation of Special Leave Petitions (SLP) / Civil Appeals (CA)

  • Before using this facility, we have to ensure that

* The High Court case, against which SLP is proposed must be there in LIMBS data.

* The CESTAT case, against which Civil Appeal is proposed, must be there in LIMBS data.

  • Immediately on receipt of High Court / CESTAT order, entry in LIMBS under ‘SLP for Higher Court’ should be done.
  • The system will automatically start monitoring the delay.
  • The E-mail/SMS alerts to senior officers may also be automatically generated.

Initiation of Special Leave Petition (SLP) / Civil Appeal (CA)

  • If it is decided by the competent authority in field formations to propose to the Board filing of SLP / CA, the proposal will be forwarded through e-Office.
  • For this purpose, necessary integration between LIMBS and CBIC e-Office has been done.
  • From CBIC, e-Office (used by field formations), the proposal will be forwarded to MoF e-Office (used by Legal Cell, Judicial Cell, Member (Legal), CBIC).
  • From CBIC , the proposal will be further forwarded to DOLA, CAS of Ministry of Law & Justice using e-Office.

D.O. dated 02.12.2021 of Member (Legal), CBIC to all Pr. CC/CC / Pr. DG / DG.

A copy of D.O. dated 30.11.2021 issued by Secretary, Department of Justice, Ministry of Law & Justice, Government of India has been circulated for strict compliance regarding e-filing of Appeals or Writ Petitions by the Government before the Hon’ble Supreme Court and the Hon’ble High Courts mandatory
from 01.01.2022.

D.O. No. 12012/992020-eCourts dated 30.11.2021 of Secretary of Ministry of Law & Justice

Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Judge of Supreme Court and Chairperson of e-Committee vide letter dated 09.10.2021 to all Chief Justices of the High Courts has asked them to ensure that e-filing of cases/petitions by the Government in all matters is made mandatory from 1st January, 2022 and that there should be no physical filing of cases by the Government in any matter thereafter.

As part of the e-Courts Project, the system of e-filing and online payment of fees is being done for digital and paperless courts.

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