In the instant case, proceeding was initiated against Universal Paper Mills Ltd. (the Appellant) in respect of the goods cleared during the period August 1997 to December 2000 and April 2001 to June 2001 which were confirmed vide the Order-in-Original dated May 31, 2007. Being aggrieved the Appellant filed an appeal before the Ld. Commissioner (Appeals) along with Stay application. The Ld. Commissioner (Appeals) ordered pre-deposit of 10% of duty and penalty.
The Appellant against the order of pre deposit filed an appeal before the Hon’ble CESTAT, Kolkata which was dismissed. Further, due to non-compliance of the pre-deposit amount, the case was dismissed by the Ld. Commissioner (Appeals) vide Order dated October 12, 2009 (the Impugned Order).
The Impugned Order came to the knowledge of the Appellant in the second week of April, 2010, which was received by somebody else on behalf of the Appellant on October 29, 2009. The Appellant filed an appeal before the Hon’ble CESTAT, Kolkata along with a Stay application on May 26, 2010 seeking condonation of delay of about 117 days in filing of appeal. The Appellant submitted that since a group of shareholders had usurped the factory of the Appellant in the beginning of January, 2010 and as such, the office bearers were not in a position to take steps to prefer an appeal which led to delay.
The Hon’ble Tribunal denied condonation on ground that the Appellant could not explain what transpired during original period of limitation from October 29, 2009 to January 29, 2010.Being aggrieved, the Appellant filed an appeal before the Hon’ble High Court of Calcutta arguing that for seeking condonation of delay, Tribunal could not ask what transpired between time-limit allowed. The Tribunal can only seek explanation of delay from January 30, 2010 to May 26, 2010.
The Hon’ble High Court of Calcutta held that Tribunal had made a mistake while rejecting the application for condonation of delay on the ground that there was no explanation of the steps initiated by the Appellant between time-limit allowed as the Appellant was required to explain the delay from January 29, 2010 onwards and not from October 29, 2009 onwards. It was further held by the Hon’ble High Court that reasons advanced by the Appellant for delay should be bona fide/ sufficient to warrant condonation of delay in filing the appeal and the delay need not be explained date-wise. Hence, matter was remanded back to consider explanation of delay only from January 29, 2010 onwards.