Date of refund filed even though with wrong authority, has to be treated as relevant date for submission of refund application
Rathi Steel and Power Ltd. Vs. Commissioner of Central Excise, Ghaziabad [(2014)9 TMI 61-CESTAT New Delhi]
In the instant case, the goods imported by Rathi Steel and Power Ltd. (“the Appellant”) were confiscated. Proceedings were initiated against the Appellant with imposition of redemption fine and penalties. However, on appeal the Commissioner (Appeals) set aside the redemption fine and penalty vide his order dated May 30, 2011. Therefore, the Appellant became entitled to refund of fine and penalty deposited by them.
Accordingly, the Appellant filed refund application on January 9, 2012 with the Deputy Commissioner, Central Excise Division-IV, Ghaziabad. However, the said authority was not the concerned authority for filing of refund claim. Therefore, the concerned officer returned the said claim under the cover of his letter dated April 12, 2012 with the direction to file the same at ICD, Loni. The Appellant accordingly filed a refund claim with the concerned Deputy Commissioner (Customs), ICD, Loni on June 8, 2012.
The lower authorities rejected the refund claim on the point of time bar by observing that the order of Commissioner (Appeals) was passed on May 30, 2011but the refund applications was filed on June 8, 2012 i.e. beyond the period of one year. The Appellant filed an appeal before the Hon’ble Delhi CESTAT.
The Hon’ble CESTAT held that the Deputy Commissioner of Central Excise, Ghaziabad should not have kept the refund claim with him for 3 months if he knew that he was not the proper officer. It was further held that it is not possible for an assessee to find out as to who is the proper officer in the Revenue to deal with their refund claims. Accordingly, the date of refund application filed with the Deputy Commissioner of Central Excise, Ghaziabad, has to be taken as date of filing the refund application even though it was filed belated with the concerned Deputy Commissioner (Customs), ICD, Loni on June 8, 2012.
The Hon’ble CESTAT relied on the case of CCE Ahmedabad Vs. AIA Engineering Ltd. [2009 (248) ELT 826 (Tri.-Ahmd.)] upheld by the Hon’ble High Court of Gujarat inCCE Vs. AIA Engineering Ltd. [2011 (21) STR 367 (Guj.)] wherein it was held that the refund filed with the Department, though with the wrong authority has to be treated as having been filed on the first date. Accordingly, the case was decided in the favour of the Appellant and the contention of the Revenue was rejected.