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Dhar Cement Limited v/s Cegat

    Writ Petition 751 of 1999
    Decided On, 07 September 1999
    At, High Court of Madhya Pradesh
    For the Appearing Parties: Ashutosh Upadhya, B.G. Neema, Advocates.

Judgment Text
(1.) PETITIONER claimed and took benefit of concessional excise duty under notification 23/89 as amended by notification 123/89. Later Revenue put the company on notice raising a demand of Rs. 45 lacs or so on the plea that the benefit was taken wrongly. Upon adjudication demand was 'educed to Rs. 21 lacs.

(2.) PETITIONER took appeal to Commissioner (A) who allowed the appeal and quashed the demand. Revenue took appeal against this to CEGAT which came up for consideration and disposal before it on 24-12-1998. But on this fateful day petitioner's counsel Mr. Ashutosh Upadhyay could not reach in time due to delay in the train arrival. He reached at 2. 00 PM and requested the Tribunal to hear him. But Tribunal declined on the ground that it had heard appellant (Revenue) counsel and allowed the appeal.

(3.) PETITIONER has filed this writ petition on the sole ground that Tribunal in the facts and circumstances of the case ought to have heard him in the matter before allowing tine appeal. L/c for petitioner Mr. Upadhyay placed reliance on 1996 (86) E. L. T. 472, a judgment of the Supreme Court laying down thus :

"if, in a given case, it is established that the respondent was unable to appear before it for no fault of his own, the ends of justice would clearly require that the ex park order against him should be set aside. No to do so on the ground of lack of power would be manifest injustice. Quite apart from the inherent power that every Tribunal and Court constituted to do justice has in his respect, CEGAT is clothed with express power under Rule 41 to make such order as is necessary to secure the ends of justice. CEGAT has, therefore, the power to set aside an order passed ex parte against the respondent before it if it is found that the respondent had, for sufficient cause, been unable to appear. "

(4.) THE plea raised stands already covered by the Supreme Court judgment supra and applies to the present case on all fours. As a matter of fact, petitioner's case stood at a higher pedestal because his counsel had appeared on the date fixed, though slightly late. He had prayed for hearing and shown sufficient cause of late arrival of Train. It is also not that Tribunal had rendered any on spot judgment in the matter but had reserved the case for orders pronounced a week later. So there was no justification for the Tribunal to deny him hearing. The sequence of events indicated that Tribunal had acted both arrogantly and arbitrarily and in disregard of norms of natural justice. It may not have changed the result and outcome of appeal, but petitioner was certainly entitled to be heard in the circumstances and could not be denied hearing which constitutes a heart and soul of any adjudication. The Tribunal or for that matter a Court could lose its judicial character by such an approach. It may be true that judicial Forums were not obliged to await appearance of parties or their counsel in certain cases but they could not shut the doors of hearing to a party/counsel who had shown sufficient cause of la

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te appearance or non-appearance on the date of hearing and before the passing of order/judgment. (5.) FOR all this impugned order dated 5-1-1999 passed by the Tribunal is quashed. Tribunal is directed to re-consider and dispose of the matter afresh after hearing the parties who are required to appear before it on 11th October, 1999.