The Delhi High Court has ordered the Centre to finish the process of appointing a Chairman and a Member to the Customs, Central Excise, and Service Tax Settlement Commission’s Principal Bench within six weeks.
It also stated that the process of appointing a Vice-Chairman and one member for the Commission’s additional bench in Mumbai should also be completed within six weeks.
Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla urged the central government to look into the issue of appointing Vice-Chairman and other members to the Settlement Commission’s benches in Chennai and Kolkata.
The court was hearing a plea filed by Yashpal Singh stating that the Centre has failed to designate members to the Settlement Commissions constituted under the Central Excise Act as required by law, causing cases to be pending.
The commission’s Principal Bench is in New Delhi, with three other benches in Chennai, Kolkata, and Mumbai, according to the petition.
The Settlement Commission is made up of one Chairman and two members in the Principal Bench in New Delhi, and one Vice Chairman and two members in each of the other three benches.
The petitioner learned that there was no quorum or, in fact, no member in any of the settlement commission benches over the last few months, according to lawyers Saurabh Kansal, Pallavi Sharma Kansal, and Ashu Chaudhary.
The government was ordered to fill the vacancies on the Settlement Commission as soon as possible so that no applicant suffers due to a lack of a member on the commission.
The main goal of the Settlement Commission, according to the plea, is to accelerate payments of customs and excise duties involved in disputes by avoiding a costly and time-consuming litigation procedure and to provide taxpayers who may have dodged duty payments an opportunity to come clean.
The High court directed the government to fill the vacancies within six weeks.
“We firstly directed that the process of appointment of Chairman and one Member for the Principal Bench at Delhi and appointment of Vice-Chairman and one Member for the Additional Bench at Mumbai be completed within six weeks”.
The bench further added that it hopes and expects the government to act in time so that, at the end of one year, “we are not faced with the same situation again, when the tenure of the new appointees expired in terms of the decision communicated vide letter dated April 29,2022 taken note of herein above.”