CESTAT, BANGALORE BENCH
Pricewaterhouse Coopers (P.) Ltd.
Commissioner of Service Tax, Hyderabad
FINAL ORDER NO. 760 of 2012
STAY ORDER NO. 1823 of 2012
MISC. ORDER NO. 783 of 2012
APPEAL NO. ST/COD/94 of 2012
st/stay/1164 of 2012
DECEMBER 20, 2012
1. This application seeks condonation of the delay involved in the filing of the appeal. It indicates a delay of 147 days which is today corrected at the bar as 145 days. The impugned order was received by the company, admittedly, on 25/10/2011. One Miss Aruna Shobha Regidi. Assistant Manager (Indirect Taxes) forwarded the order by e-mail to her senior, one Mr. P.V.V. Prasad, Manager. As apparently there was no response from the senior, Miss Aruna once again e-mailed the matter to Mr. Prasad on 5/12/2011. Miss Aruna was on medical leave from 26/12/2011 to the second week of March 2012. After her return to duty, Miss Aruna once again e-mailed Mr. Prasad on the above subject in the first week of April 2012. Even thereafter, there were no steps to file the appeal either by Miss Aruna or by Mr. Prasad. Apparently it was only when they were alerted by their Head Office they initiated steps and ultimately the appeal was filed on 18/6/2012. These are the facts and circumstances brought out in this application. This application is accompanied by two affidavits one by Miss Aruna and the other by Mr. Prasad. The facts stated by Miss Aruna are more or less the same which figure in the COD application. She has clearly stated that she e-mailed Mr. Prasad thrice on the subject. Mr. Prasad’s affidavit fairly concedes this and, further acknowledges the fact that Miss Aruna’s e-mail dated 5/12/2011, required follow-up. Both the deponents have, of course, also stated that the delay of the appeal is unintentional and not attributable to negligence of the appellant. On the strength of the averments contained in the COD application and the two affidavit, the iearned counsel prays for condonation of the above delay of the appeal.
2. The learned Dy. Commissioner (A.R.) has endeavoured to find pit falls in the explanation offered by the appellant.
3. After giving careful consideration to the submissions, we are not satisfied with the explanation offered by the appellant. Miss Aruna, Assistant Manager, appears to have earnestly taken up the matter with her senior Mr. Prasad, Manager. Repeated e-mail communications on the subject did not receive Mr. Prasad’s response even though he knew that he was required to follow up. It is not in dispute that Miss Aruna proceeded on medical leave, leaving all her functions to her senior. She was on continuous leave from 6/12/2011 to the second week of March 2012. It is again not in dispute that Mr. Prasad was in-charge during the tenure of her leave. However, Mr. Prasad did not move a little finger in the matter. When Miss Aruna returned to duty and she found that no action has been taken for filing appeal, she once again emailed her senior expecting his instructions in the matter. Mr. Prasad, however, continued to sleep over the matter. It is only when they were alerted by their Head Office that both the officials chose to go into action. Ultimately, the appeal was filed on 18/6/2012. Both the officials, in their affidavits, stated that the appeal could not be filed on time for bona fide reasons. An averment to the same effect is also found in the COD application. This claim is totally unacceptable inasmuch as it is evident from the above account of the conduct of the two officials that they chose not to take proper steps at appropriate stage for filing the appeal even though they knew that it was their duty to do so. We have also noted that Mr. Prasad is totally remorseless in his affidavit. If the company loses this case it is because of his inaction. We nave already borne on record that we are not satisfied with the explanation offered in the COD application and the accompanying affidavits. Heavy delay of the appeal cannot be said to have been satisfactorily explained, particularly the delay from the first week of April 2012. The COD application is dismissed. Consequently, the appeal also gets dismissed as time barred. The Stay application also stands dismissed.