Excise-customs board announces steps to minimize litigation

The Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC), Ministry of Finance, has taken several measures to manage litigation and reduce disputes, the government said on Monday.

In a press release, the Ministry of Finance listed prominent initiatives regarding litigation management and dispute resolution. For the former, the threshold limit below which appeals are not to be filed by the department in Customs, Excise & Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (Cestat) and high courts have been raised to Rs 10 lakh and Rs 15 lakh, respectively.

Further, withdrawal of all cases in high court and Cestat where there is a precedent Supreme Court decision and against which no review is contemplated by the department. Chief Commissioners/Principal Commissioners have been directed to identify the cases fit for withdrawal among the cases pending in appeal before the Cestat and high courts.

In response, field formations have identified 2,051 and 5,261 cases which are fit for withdrawal from high courts and Cestat, respectively, as per the threshold monetary limits prescribed now, and have already filed withdrawal applications in 980 and 2,174 cases in high courts and Cestat, respectively. Out of this, the high court has allowed withdrawal in 250 cases and Cestat in 202 cases.

Regarding dispute resolution, Pre Show Cause notice consultation with the assessee at the level of Principal Commissioner/Commissioner has been made mandatory in all the cases where duty involved is above Rs 50 lakh.

Detailed instructions have been issued to all field formations regarding the manner. Chief Commissioners have been directed to do sample verification of records of such proceedings from time to time.

Training/workshops are being organized in zones to train officers to issue quality show-cause notices and judicious adjudication orders so that disputes and further litigation are minimized. This, the press release says, will assist ease of doing business.