Govt’s Habitual Gross delay in Tax Litigations condemned by Supreme Court

1. The Supreme Court pulled up the Central Government its habitual gross delay in revenue matters involving indirect taxation. The Apex court noticed that there was a delay of 536 days in filing the appeal against the order of the Customs Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal.

“Repeatedly, it has come to the notice of this Court that appeals in revenue matters involving indirect taxation are being filed with a gross delay,” the court said.

2. Mr S A Haseeb, counsel for the department urged that there was some misapprehension on the part of the Commissionerate as a result of which the appeal was filed before the Gujarat High Court and after the appeal was dismissed, Supreme Court was moved.

3. The division bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice M.R. Shah said that the legal position that the appeal would lie before this Court cannot be a matter of doubt. Certainly, it would not be open to the Department to contend that they were unaware of the legal position. Such appeals are being filed with a gross delay.

4. In the event this Court does not allow the application for condonation of delay, the officers may seek to justify their inaction by contending that they had moved this Court with an application for condonation of delay which was not entertained.

5. The Union government, in the Department of Revenue, must find an answer to this state of affairs by ensuring that matters which are required to be litigated are litigated with all necessary dispatch and matters not worthy of being pursued are set to rest, the court added. The matter was listed on 15 February 2021 for the next hearing.

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