At, High Court of Judicature at Allahabad
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE SUSHIL HARKAULI & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE PANKAJ MITHAL
For the Appearing Parties: Ajay Bhanot, Advocate.
We have heard learned counsel for the petitioner and Sri Ajay Bhanot for the respondents i.e. Union of India and the Central Excise Department and the Customs Department. It is not necessary to give notice to the respondent No. 2 i.e. ICICI Bank, as it has already issued certificates and no relief has been sought against the bank.
Certain exemptions under the Central Excise Act and the Customs Act have been granted to certain projects on the condition that the financing institution, which in this case is the ICICI Bank, issues certificate and the certificate is counter signed by an officer of the rank of not less than Joint Secretary in the "Line Ministry".
"Line Ministry" has been defined as the ministry in the Government of India, which has been so nominated with respect to a project by the Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance, Government of India.
According to the petitioner, it is entitled to the exemption and the certificates for the above purpose have been issued by the ICICI Bank. Pursuant to a direction issued by this Court by the order dated 6.4.2005 passed in an earlier writ petition being Writ Petition No. 578 of 2005, the Department of Economic Affairs aforesaid nominated the Ministry of Urban Development as the "Line Ministry". However, when the certificates were submitted in the 'Line Ministry" for counter signatures, the said "Line Ministry" by letter dated 29.8.2006 intimated the petitioner that the said ministry is not in a position to sign the documents with regard to the project. A copy of that order dated 20.8.2006 has been enclosed with this writ petition as Annexure 16. The letter does not mention any reason as to why the ministry is not in a position to sign or counter sign the certificates but the letter says that this decision has already been communicated to the aforesaid Department of Economic Affairs by the Ministry of Urban Development. That communication may contain reasons. However, at present it is not necessary to go into that aspect.
After receiving this letter dated 29.8.2006, the petitioner has approached the Department of Economic Affairs again but the grievance of the petitioner is that no action has been taken by the said Department of Economic Affairs. The immediate difficulty being faced by the petitioner is on account of notices issued by the department of Central Excise and the department of Customs on the ground that the counter signed certificates have not been submitted to the said department by the petitioner.
Although, the learned counsel for Union of India has prayed for time for instructions, but we are of the opinion that considering the immediate problem being faced by the petitioner, it would be appropriate in the interest of both parties to dispose of this writ petition with the following directions.
Within two weeks of the date on which certified copy of this order is presented before the Finance Secretary by the petitioner, the Department of Economic Affairs will nominate another "Line Ministry" after consulting the said "Line Ministry" so that the said ministry does not express the inability expressed by the Ministry of Urban Development. The nomination of the "Line Ministry" will be intimated to the petitioner immediately and upon submission of the certificates by the petitioner for counter signature, the "Line Ministry" so nominated after consultation, will either get the certificates counter signed by the proper officer and returned to the petitioner within one month of the date on which the certificates are received by the "Line Ministry" along with a certified copy of this order, or the "Line Ministry" or the proper officer of the "Line Ministry", no
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t below the rank of Joint Secretary, will pass a reasoned order for refusing to counter sign all the certificates or any of the certificates. For a period of three months from today, proceedings pursuant to the impugned notices issued by the Central Excise Department and Customs Department in this regard will remain stayed. With the aforesaid directions, this writ petition is disposed of.