A claim for refund of deposits lying with the department falls beyond the scope ofSec.11B(1) of the Central Excise Act, says the Customs, Excise, and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal.
The observation was made by the Tribunal while considering the appeal filed by M/s.KEC International Ltd., aggrieved by the denial of its claim for refund of the unutilized balance of PLA accumulated till 30 June 2017. The claim made by the appellant of the Central Excise Act was rejected by the department on grounds of lapse of limitation period prescribed under Sec.11B(1) of the Central Excise Act. The rejection of the claim was justified by the Department by relying on the case of Collector of Central Excise, Chandigarh vs. M/s. Doaba Co-Operative Sugar Mills( 1988 (37) ELT 478 (S.C.)).
Analyzing the scope of power to grant a refund, the Tribunal observed that Section 11B of the Central Excise Act, is the only provision that empowers the Department to grant a refund, nevertheless, the same applies only in respect of duty or interest and not to deposits as claimed for by the Appellant. Accordingly, the Tribunal held that there was no infirmity in the order rejecting the claim for refund. Moreover, such rejection was justified as the application was barred by limitation. In holding so, the Tribunal observed:
“It has already been a settled law that in making claims for refund before the Departmental Authorities an assessee is bound within four corners of the statute and the period of limitation prescribed in Central Excise Act and Rules framed there-under must be adhered to”
However, the Tribunal further observed that the amount in respect of which refund is claimed, being neither duty nor interest, the appellant is entitled to refund as per principles of equity and since the Tribunal being a quasi-judicial authority lacks jurisdiction to appreciate principles of equity, the appellant shall exercise the alternative civil remedy or the remedy of writ jurisdiction.