Shantanu Kemkar, J:
1. The petitioner, a Public Limited Company, was assessed vide order dated 22.06.2011 (Annexure P-1) by the first respondent for the period 01.04.2008 to 31.03.2009 under the Central Sales Tax Act and was assessed under the Madhya Pradesh Valued Added Tax Act, 2002, (For short VAT Act) for the same period vide order dated 22.06.2011 (Annexure P/2). In both the assessments, the petitioner was denied time to file F- Forms.
2. Aggrieved by the said assessment orders, the petitioner filed appeals under Section 46 of the VAT Act. The appeals were listed for hearing on 07.08.2012 before an Officer holding office at Bhopal and was given additional charge of Indore. On that day, petitioners Counsel could not attend hearing of the appeals because of his ailment. The appeals were, therefore, dismissed by the appellate authority for want of prosecution vide orders dated 07.08.2012 (Annexure P-5 and Annexure P-6). According to the petitioner, the said orders of dismissal of its appeals were not known to it, and therefore, its Counsel attended the office of the appellate authority at Indore on 17.08.2012 with written submissions, but he was informed that the files were taken by the Appellate Authority to Bhopal. On20.08.2012, petitioners Counsel requested the second respondent to inform the petitioner about the status of appeals, but no information was supplied to him. The petitioners Counsel went thrice to Bhopal to find out the status of appeals, but on that, he was informed that the files are not traceable. Lastly, the petitioner was served with orders dated 07.08.2012 for the first time on 18.03.2013.
3. On receipt of these ex-parte dismissal orders, the petitioner submitted applications on 16.04.2013 under Rule 61 (4) of the M.P. Value Added Rules, 2006 (For short VAT Rules 2006) for readmission/rehearing of appeals on the ground that his Counsel could not appear before the appellate authority on the date of hearing because of his ill health. The applications were supported by the affidavits and the medical certificate of the Counsel.
4. The appellate authority, without adverting to the contents of the applications filed by the petitioner under Rule 61 (4) of the VAT Rules, 2006 and without granting any opportunity of hearing to the petitioner, rejected the applications vide order dated 06.06.2013 (Annexure P-14) on the ground that under Section 46 (8A) of the VAT Act, the appeal is required to be disposed of by the appellate authority within a period of one year and that since the period was already over, the prayer for readmission of the appeal cannot be allowed. Feeling aggrieved by the order dated 06.06.2013 (Annexure P-14) the petitioner has filed this petition.
5. Shri Sumit Nema, learned counsel for the petitioner has argued that the learned appellate authority has committed error in not considering the provisions of Rule 61 (4) of the VAT Rules in its correct perspective. He argued that the time limit prescribed under Section 46 (8A) of the VAT Act is for deciding an appeal, whereas Rule 61 (4) of the VAT Rules, 2006, is a provision for readmission/rehearing of the appeal, which is dismissed or decided ex-parte under sub-rule (3) of Rule 61. In the circumstances while dealing with the application for readmission/rehearing the petitioners application could not have been dismissed on the ground of lapse of period fixed under Section 46 (8A) of the VAT Act, but was required to have been decided on its merits.
6. Shri Sudhanshu Vyas learned panel lawyer for the respondents, on the other hand, supported the impugned order of rejection of the petitioners applications for readmission/rehearing of the appeals.
7. Having considered the submissions made by the learned counsel for the parties, we are of the view that the impugned order dated 06.06.2013 (Annexure P-14) passed by the appellate authority cannot be sustained. Admittedly, the petitioners appeals were dismissed vide orders dated 07.08.2012 (Annexure P/5 and Annexure P/6) for want of prosecution. The petitioner, invoking the provisions of Rule 61 of the VAT Rules, 2006, had submitted applications for readmission/rehearing of the appeals. In the circumstance, it was necessary for the appellate authority to have decided the said applications filed under Rule 61 (4) of the VAT Rules 2006, on merits. However the appellate authority has wrongly applied the time limit fixed under Section 46 (8A) of the VAT Act for deciding the appeals. In our considered view, the time limit fixed under Section 46 (8A) of the VAT Act, will not override or curtail the right of the appellant to invoke provisions of readmission/rehearing of the appeal which suffered dismissal for want of prosecution under Rule 61 (4) of the VAT Rules, 2006. On invocation of the provision of Rule 61 (4) the appellate authority is duty bound to consider the prayer made in it irrespective of the expiry of time fixed under Section 46 (8A) for deciding the appeal as the both the provisions operate in different spheres. The view taken by the appellate authority if allowed to stand, would render provisions of Rule 61 (4) of the VAT Rules, 2006, to be redundant, as in the cases when the appeal is dismissed for want of prosecution just before expiry of 12 months, the restoration application which will naturally be filed after 12 months would not become maintainable, which in our considered vie
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w cannot be the intention of the legislature. 8. In the circumstances, we set-aside the impugned order dated 06.06.2013 (Annexure P-14) passed by the appellate authority and remand the matter to the appellate authority for deciding the petitioners prayer for readmission/rehearing of the appeal on merits, without being influenced by the fact that the period fixed under Section 46 (8A) of the VAT Act for deciding the appeal has expired. 9. With the aforesaid, writ petition stands allowed to the extent indicated above. C.C. within 3 days. Petition Allowed .