The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) vide Circular No. 1077/01/2021 – CX dated January 19, 2021 issued instructions for strict compliance to limitation while filing Appeals/Petitions before Courts/Tribunal.
As per circular, Instructions have been issued from time to time regarding strict adherence to the time lines while filing appeals/petitions before High Courts and Supreme Court, the latest being the Instruction dated 23.12.2020 vide file of even no. (copy available on CBIC website). Despite the same, appeals/ petitions are being filed before High Courts and Supreme Court belatedly, highlighting no extra-ordinary circumstances while filing Condonation of Delay Applications.
In this regard, Hon’ble Supreme Court has been viewing practice of filing appeals after inordinate delay critically and consequently imposing costs on the Petitioners. In one such case of Union of India v. Jitendra in SLP (Crl.) Diary No. 24676/2020, Hon’ble Apex Court in judgment dated 08.01.2020 noted
“We have been repeatedly deprecating the practice of authorities coming before this Court after inordinate delays assuming as if the Law of Limitation does not apply to them. Repeatedly, reliance is placed on the judgments of vintage when technology was not easily available. No reference is made to the subsequent judgment in the Office of the Chief Post Master General & Ors. v. Living Media India Ltd. & Anr. – (2012) 3 SCC 563 which has dealt with the issue that consideration of the ability of the Government to file appeal in time would have to be dealt with in the context of the technology now available and merely shuffling files from one table to the other would no more be a sufficient reason.
“We have specified the object to file such cases to obtain a certificate of dismissal from the Supreme Court to put a quietus to the issue and thus, record that nothing could be done because the highest Court has dismissed the appeal. It is a completion of formality with endeavourer to save the skin of the officers who may be in default in following the appropriate legal process in time. The irony is that despite our repeated orders, very little is done at least in taking action against concerned officers who sit on files and do nothing. The presumption is as if this Court will condone the delay for the asking. We refuse to follow such a course.” (emphasis supplied) and imposed costs on the Petitioner.”
“The government departments are under a special obligation to ensure that they perform their duties with diligence and commitment. Condonation of delay is an exception and should not be used as an anticipated benefit for government departments. The law shelters everyone under the same light and should not be swirled for the benefit of a few. Considering the fact that there was no proper explanation offered by the Department for the delay except mentioning of various dates, according to us, the Department has miserably failed to give any acceptable and cogent reasons sufficient to condone such a huge delay.” Said in circular.