Powers of Commissioner (Appeals) to remand cases
Instructions F.No. 275/34/2006-CX.8A dated 18-2-2010
Section 35A(3) of the Central Excise Act, 1944 / Section 128A(3) of the Customs Act, 1962 as it existed before 11.5.2001 provided that Commissioner (Appeals) shall, after making such further enquiry as may be necessary, pass such order, as he thinks just and proper, confirming, modifying or annulling decision or order appealed against or may refer the case back to the adjudicating authority with such direction as he may think fit for a fresh adjudication or decision as the case may be, after taking additional evidence, if necessary.
2. An amendment was brought out in the aforesaid sections vide Finance Act, 2001 w.e.f. 11.5.2001 deleting the phrase as mentioned in bold above with an intention to withdraw the powers to Commissioner (Appeals) to remand the cases for fresh adjudication to the original adjudication authorities. After the amendment in 2001, the said Sections read as follows:-
"The Commissioner(Appeals) shall, after making such further enquiry as may be necessary, pass such order, as he thinks just and proper, confirming, modifying or annulling the decision or order appealed against."
3. The matter whether the Commissioner(Appeals) continues to have powers to remand beyond 11.5.2001 came up before the Gujarat High Court in the case of M/s. Medico Lab. The Hon'ble High Court of Gujarat, vide order dated21.9.2004 in the case of CCE, Ahmedabad-I Vs. Medico Lab, held that Commissioner(Appeals) continues to have the power to remand even after the amendment.
4. Hon'ble Punjab & Haryana High Court in the case of CC, Amritsar Vs. M/s. Enkay (India) Rubber Co. Pvt. Ltd. vide order dated 8.3.2007 and in the case of CCE, Jallandhar Vs. B.C. Kataria [2008(221) ELT.508 P&H] vide order dated 6.9.2007 had held that the Commissioner(Appeals) have been divested of the powers to remand the cases back to adjudicating authority after deletion of that power from Section 35A(3) of Central Excise Act vide amendment made in 2001. Hon'ble High Court has distinguished the judgement of the Gujarat High Court in the case of Medico Labs in this case and also stated that the reliance on the Hon'ble Supreme Court judgement in the case of Umesh Dhaimonde (1998(98) ELT 584 ) cannot be made as in that case Hon'ble Supreme Court was not dealing with the provisions where earlier power of remand was specifically conferred and subsequently taken away by amendment carried by Finance Act, 2001.
5. The Hon'ble Supreme Court in its judgement dated 1.3.2007 in Civil Appeal No. 6988/2005 in the case of MIL India Ltd. [2007(210) ELT.188(SC)] has observed that "in fact, the power of remand by the Commissioner(Appeals) has been taken away by amending Section 35A with effect from 11.5.2001 under the Finance Bill, 2001. Under the Notes to clause 122 of the said Bill it is stated that clause 122 seeks to amend Section 35A so as to withdraw the power of the Commissioner(A) to remand matters back to the adjudicating authority for fresh consideration." The said decision of the Supreme Court was brought to the notice of CESTAT in the case of CCE, Jallandhar Vs. Hawkins Cookers Ltd. reported in 2007(8)RLT.7, but the Tribunal held that the Supreme Court in the said case had only noted the provisions of amended law whereas the specific issue whether Commissioner(A) has power to remand after amendment to provisions of Section 35A has been considered by the Hon'ble Gujarat High Court in the case of Medico Lab and the High Court has held that the Commissioner (A) has power to remand under the amended provisions also. The appeal (CEA No.29/2008) filed by the Commissioner of Central Excise, Jallandhar against the said order in the Hawkins Cookers case stating that the said observations as quoted above are part of the ratio decidendi of the decision of the Hon'ble Supreme Court , has been allowed by the Punjab & Haryana High Court vide order dated 14.7.2008 relying upon its own judgement in the case of CCE, Jallandhar Vs. B.C. Kataria [2008(221)ELT.508].
6. In the light of the observations of Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of MIL India Ltd. and the judgement of Hon'ble High Court of Punjab & Haryana in the case of M/s. Enkay (India) Rubber Co. Pvt. Ltd., M/s. B.C. Kataria and M/s. Hawkins Cookers Ltd., you are requested to issue suitable instructions to the Commissioners(A) working under your jurisdiction to follow the said judgments strictly. It may also be brought to their notice that Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of MIL India Ltd., while noting that the powers of remand had been taken away, has also categorically stated that the Commissioner (A) continues to exercise the power of adjudicating authority in the matter of assessment and the Commissioner(A) can add or subtract certain items from the order of assessment made by the adjudicating authority and the order of Commissioner (A) could also be treated as an order of assessment. Board instructions dated 25.7.2008 (copy enclosed) may be referred in this regard.
7. The receipt of this instruction may please be acknowledged. A copy of the instruction issued to the Commissioners(Appeals) under your jurisdiction may also be endorsed to the Board. The issue may also be monitored at your level.
Procedure in Appeal under Sec. 35A of the Central Excise Act/Section 128A of Customs Act/Sec. 85 of the Finance Act, 1994 - reg.
Instruction F.No. 275/34/2006-CX.8A, dated 25-7-2008
Section 35A of the Central Excise Act, 1994 prescribes the procedure in appeal to be followed by Commissioner (Appeals) while deciding the appeals filed before him under Section 35/35E of the Central Excise Act 1944. Similar provisions exist under Section 128A of the Customs Act, 1962 and Section 85 of the Finance Act, 1994.
2. Sub-Section (3) of the Section 35A of Central Excise Act, 1994 reads as follows-
The Commissioners(Appeals) shall, after making such further enquiry as may be necessary, pass such order, as he thinks just and proper, confirming, modifying or annulling the decision or order appealed against;
3. The Board has noted that Commissioner (Appeals) do not resort to the mechanism of further enquiry as provided to them under the appeal procedure as above in such cases where it may be necessary before passing the order. Sub-Rule 4 of Rule 5 of Central Excise (Appeals) Rules, 2001 provides that nothing contained in said rule shall affect the power of the Commissioner (Appeals) to direct the production of any document, or the examination of any witness to enable him dispose of the appeal.
4. In the light of the provisions as contained in the statute and the rules made there under, I am directed to request you to advise Commissioners(Appeals) working in your jurisdiction to resort to enquiry in such appeals as may be necessary in the facts and circumstances of the case before passing a just and fair order in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
CA. V.M.V.SUBBA RAO