In the case of M/s. National Aluminium Company Limited v. Commissioner of Central Excise & Service Tax [Excise Appeal No.52 of 2011 dated June 08, 2023], the CESTAT, Kolkata made a significant ruling regarding the amendment in Rule 14 of the CENVAT Credit Rules, 2004 (referred to as “the CC Rules”). The previous version of the rule stated ‘taken or utilized,’ but it was modified to ‘taken and utilized.’ This alteration in wording clearly indicates the legislative intent to exclude the imposition of interest when the credit has been taken but not utilized.
M/s. National Aluminium Company Limited (“the Appellant”) had inadvertently taken CENVAT credit twice in the month of August, 2007 due to a clerical error and on realizing the mistake the Appellant suo-moto reversed such credit excess credit in the month of April, 2008.
The Adjudicating Authority observed that although the Appellant has reversed the excess credit taken, it had utilized the same thus, failed to pay appropriate interest chargeable thereon.
Consequently, a Show Cause Notice dated April 21, 2009 (“the SCN”) ordering Appellant to show how the Appellant was not liable to pay interest on excess utilised credit.
Thereafter, the Adjudicating Authority vide the Order-in-Original dated May 31, 2010 confirmed the demand of interest, aggrieved by which the Appellant filed an appeal before the Commissioner, Customs & Service tax, Bhubaneswar (Appeals) who vide Order-in-Appeal No.17/CE/BBSR-I/2011 dated February 18, 2011 (“the Impugned Order”) confirmed the demand of interest Under Rule 14 of the CC Rules read with Section 11AB of the Central Excise Act, 1944 (“the CE Act”) on the amount of Cenvat credit taken inadvertently but not utilized.
It is to be noted that, the matter has travelled up to the High Court. The High Court set aside the order of the lower authorities vide its Order dated November 30,2022 and restored the case before the Tribunal for fresh hearing on merits.
Before the CESTAT the Appellant contended that it had sufficient balance of CENVAT Credit in its books of accounts and had not utilized the credit taken inadvertently, further submitted that Rule 14 of the CC Rules was amended vide Notification No. 18/2012 – CE (NT) dated March 17, 2012 and the entry was substituted to “taken and utilized wrongly” and it is a settled position of law that substitution leads to replacement of the old provision by a new provision. Hence, no interest was payable where CENVAT credit has been merely taken but not utilized.
The Revenue Department (“the Respondent”) submitted that the Appellant is liable to pay interest on credit taken on an irregular basis, even though the same was not utilized by them in terms of Rule 14 of the CC Rules.
Whether the Appellant was liable to pay interest on unutilized reversed CENVAT Credit?
The CESTAT, Kolkata in Excise Appeal No.52 of 2011 held as under:
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