COLLECTOR OF CENTRAL EXCISE Vs. S A I L ROURKELA STEEL PLANT
CUSTOMS EXCISE AND GOLD(CONTROL) APPELLATE TRIBUNAL
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K. Sankararaman, Member (T) -
(1.) 1 This is an appeal filed by Collector of Central Excise, Bhubaneswar, challenging the order-in-appeal dated 7-12-1989 passed by the Collector of Central Excise (Appeals), Calcutta, holding that in reckoning the time-limit for filing refund claim the date of payment of duty should be excluded and the period of limitation should start from the next day. For coming to the said conclusion the Collector had relied upon the decision of CEGAT, Special Bench 'C in the case of Punjab Breweries Ltd. v. Collector of Central Excise, Chandigarh, reported in 1985 (20) E.L.T. 420. On the basis of the said decision the Collector held that the refund claim filed by SAIL, Rourkela Steel Plant before the Assistant Collector of Central Excise, Rourkela Division was within time and he, therefore, allowed the appeal setting aside the order of the Assistant Collector dated 15-6-1989 whereby the latter had rejected the claim as time barred. When the appeal was posted for hearing, Shri M.N. Biswas, learned SDR appearing for the appellant Collector, referred to the submissions made in the appeal memorandum, which he adopted and pleaded that the appeal may be allowed.
(2.) Heard Shri N, Mookherjee, learned Counsel for the respondents who contended that the Collector (Appeals') order is correct and the appeal may be dismissed.
We have considered the arguments of both the sides. We find that the order of the Collector (Appeals) holding that the original refund claim was not hit by time bar is correct in law. In computing the time-limit the date of the event with reference to which time-limit is to be calculated is to be excluded. The Collector (Appeals) has relied upon the Tribunal decision which has been referred to above. In the said decision Section 12 of the Limitation Act has been relied upon. The said section lays down that in computing the period of limitation for any suit, appeal or application, the day from which such period is to be reckoned shall be excluded. Incidentally on this point he pointed out that this provision would apply only to suit or appeal or application and would not directly regulate the time-limit applicable for a refund claim filed under Section 11B of the Central Excises and Salt Act. Actually, the provisions of Section 9 of the General Clauses Act would squarely apply to the present type of case. Under the said provision, it has been laid down that any act or regulation made after the commencement of this Act, it shall be sufficient for the purpose of excluding the first in a series of dates or any other period of time, to use the word 'from'. Sub-section (2) of the said Section 9 lays down that this section applies also to all Central Acts made after the third day of January, 1868. In the book "Principles of Statutory Interpretation by Justice G.P. Singh (4th Edition,1988, page 579)" some cases have been cited which will illustrate the correct procedure to be applied in computing the time-limit. The same are as follows :- "The decisions in the early period were not quite uniform but ever since 1808 when Lester v. Garland was decided, the rule is well established that where an act is to be done within a specified time from a certain date, the day of that date is to be excluded. The powers of a company for compulsory purchase of lands which were to cease after expiration of 'three years from the passing of the Act', which was assented to on August 9,1899, were held not to cease until the midnight of August 9,1902. When a notice was required to be served within fourteen days from the commission of the offence, a notice served at 8 a.m. on January 25, was held to be valid even though the offence was committed at 7.15 a.m. on January 11."
(3.) IT has also been observed by the learned author that the General Rule of exclusion of the first day and the inclusion of the last day is subject to a contrary intention indicated in the statute. Applying the above principle we find that in Section 11B of the Central Excises and Salt Act relating to refund claims the relevant expression is that a person claiming refund may make an application for refund...before expiry of six months from the relevant date. In view of the clear position regarding the effect of the word 'from', the proper procedure would be to exclude the relevant date and start the period of limitation of six months from the following day. The point raised in the appeal before us that the date of computation can never be by excluding 29-2-1988, has got no legal basis. Similarly, nothing much turns on the argument that since the Act specifically provides the relevant date which in the present case is the date of payment of duty, i.e. date of debit in the P.L.A., the Limitation Act cannot be made applicable. The fact that the relevant date has been defined in the Central Excises and Salt Act does not affect a general principle as to how to compute the period of limitation. The provisions of the Limitation Act and the General Clauses Act are to be applied for interpreting certain general situations like the period of limitation prescribed under any act. In view of the above circumstances, the decision of the Collector of Central Excise (Appeals) cannot be faulted. We, therefore, uphold the same and dismiss the appeal.;
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