Decided on February 23,2015



R.K. Singh, Member (T) - (1.)THE appellants have sought condonation of delay of 650 days in filing the appeal against Order -in -Appeal No. IND/CEX/000/APP/43/2012, dated 06.02.2012 essentially on the grounds that (i) they are a public sector undertaking, (ii) the Accounts Officer of the appellants received the letter dated 12.02.2012 from office of Superintendent of Service Tax, Range -I, Gwalior demanding the payment as a consequence of said Order -in -Appeal and on receiving the said letter, they tried to ascertain whether there was any receipt of the impugned order and finding none, wrote to commissioner (Appeals) on 23.02.2013 stating that they were not aware of any such order passed. In response, the commissioner (Appeals) vide letter dated 22.03.2013 replied that the order had been issued on 06.08.2012 and the same was despatched to them. (iii) They again wrote on 30.12.2013 that they had not received any information from the postal department about the delivery of the order. (iv) During the period 18.10.2012 to 04.03.2014, the concerned authorities, i.e., Accounts Officer, Chief Accounts Officer and Junior Accounts Officer were changed and no one was aware of the facts of the case and the impugned order and that the appellant made efforts and received a copy of the order on 17.12.2014 and soon thereafter, they filed the appeal.
(2.)WE have considered the pleadings of the appellants. In the COD Application itself they have mentioned that during the correspondence, the Superintendent, Service Tax Range -I with his letter dated 03.02.2014 enclosed a letter dated 30.01.2014 from postal authorities, which confirmed that the speed post by which impugned order was sent on 22.02.2012 was delivered to General Manager, BSNL, Muraina on 24.02.2014. Thus there is documentary evidence of delivery of impugned order to the appellants. Further, it is seen that even after they came to know about the dues in pursuance of the impugned when they received the letter from Superintendent Range dated 12.12.2012, they did not take appropriate steps to ensure that no further undue delay occurred with regard to filing of appeal. Indeed even when the commissioner (Appeals) sent them a reply dated 25.03.2014 in response to their letter that the impugned order was passed on 08.10.2012 and was duly despatched, it took them almost another one year to file the appeal after obtaining the copy of the order. Even if some leniency is shown to the appellants for being a public sector undertaking, it is evident from the facts and circumstances narrated above that this is a clear case for gross negligence and inaction on their part which has resulted in such inordinate delay. In these circumstances, condoning such a long delay will be tantamount to exercising the judicial discretion grossly non -judiciously. Accordingly, the Miscellaneous Application for condonation of delay is rejected and as a consequence, the stay application and appeal also stand dismissed.

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