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Avoid litigation where duty involved is negligible: HC to Customs Dept
July, 26th 2010

To reduce burden on courts and revenue officials, the Bombay High Court has asked the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) to direct senior authorities to not to go for appeals and litigation where duty impact is not substantial. The high court has also asked the CBEC to consider the necessity of issuing circular to this extent.

A division bench of Justice V.C. Daga and Justice S.J. Kathawalla was hearing an appeal filed by the Central Excise Department to impose penalty on the duty of Rs 1.21 lakh recoverable from a drug manufacturing company.

The HC observed that a number of appeals are being filed before the court in which customs and central excise duty involved is negligible.

Sometimes the expenses incurred by the Revenue Department are disproportionate to the stakes involved in the appeal or petition filed by the department, the order said.

The order mentioned that most of the times the duty impact ranges between Rs 2 lakh to Rs 3 lakh; wherein, normally, senior advocates appear on behalf of Revenue Department assisted by two junior advocates.

The court said the adjournments taken during the case results in payment of heavy professional charges to the advocates.

The court observed that filing of appeals and litigation even where duty is not substantial, creates unnecessary burden on the infrastructure of the revenue department. The let the court to decide attitude needs to be given a go-by, the order said.

The court also mentioned that the Centre and the states have acquired the government is largest litigant tag accounting for 70 per cent of the 3 crore cases over 2.1 crore pending in various courts.

Now, the Central government has formulated a National Litigation Policy to shed the tag, the court said.

Thus, keeping in view the policy of the central government, the time has come to invite attention of the chairman of CBEC to consider the necessity of taking policy decision not to file cases; wherein the duty impact is negligible.

The order said that reducing litigation would help the officers to concentrate more on cases involving heavy stakes.

Eventually, litigation expenses, burden of the courts as well as that of revenue department to a considerable extent would get reduced, the order said.

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