Decided on March 19,2012

Dujodwala Resins And Terpenes Ltd Appellant


SUDHANSHU DHULIA, J. - (1.) THIS Court vide order dated 2.8.2011 had allowed the contention of the petitioners to the extent that no excise duty is liable to be charged on "raw pine resin". The operative portion of order dated 2.8.2011 reads as under: - "Therefore it is declared that the imposition of central excise duty on raw pine resin collected and sold by the Uttarakhand forest Department to the processing units is arbitrary and illegal. Consequently the respondents are restrained from demanding central excise duty."
(2.) IT is also an admitted position that the petitioners had been paying excise duty to the revenue although they have been contesting the matter before this Court that the said demand by the excise department is not authorized by law.
(3.) THE petitioners have now moved an application for reclaiming the excide duty, which has already been paid by them to the Excise Department, on the grounds that the said excise duty held to be unauthorized under the law. This claim of the petitioners though cannot be granted for the simple reason that this being the matter of indirect taxes and the presumption would lie against the petitioners that they already passed on the duty on consumer and consequently if the excise duty which has been given by the petitioner is returned to him it would be a case of unjust enrichment which cannot be allowed. In a Constitution Bench decision i.e. Mafatlal Industries Ltd. Vs. Union of India (1997) 5 SCC 536, Honble Mr. Justice B. P. Jeevan Reddy speaking for majority had observed thus: "108. (iii) "¦ The doctrine of unjust enrichment is a just and salutary doctrine. No person can seek to collect the duty from both ends. In other words, he cannot collect the duty from his purchaser at one end and also collect the same duty from the State on the ground that it has been collected from him contrary to law. The power of the court is not meant to be exercised for unjustly enriching a person. The doctrine of unjust enrichment is, however, inapplicable to the State. State represents the people of the country. No one can speak of the people being unjustly enriched.";

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