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The Central Excise Act, 1944

[Act No. 1 of 1944]

[24th February, 1944]

An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to Central Duties of Excise

Chapter V
Settlement of Cases

Section 31. Definitions. -

In this Chapter, unless the context otherwise requires, -

(a) "assessee" means any person who is liable for payment of excise duty assessed under this Act or any other Act and includes any producer or manufacturer of excisable goods or a registered person under the rules made under this Act, of a private warehouse in which excisable goods are stored;

(b) "Bench" means a Bench of the Settlement Commission;

(c) "case" means any proceeding under this Act or any other Act for the levy, assessment and collection of excise duty, pending before an adjudicating authority on the date on which an application under sub-section (1) of section 32E is made:

   Provided that when any proceeding is referred back [****] be, by any court, Appellate Tribunal or any other authority, to the adjudicating authority for a fresh adjudication or decision, as the case may be, then such proceeding shall not be deemed to be a proceeding pending within the meaning of this clause;

(d) "Chairman" means the Chairman of the Settlement Commission;

(e) "Commissioner (Investigation)" means an officer of the Customs or a Central Excise Officer appointed as such Commissioner to conduct inquiry or investigation for the purposes of this Chapter;

(f) "Member" means a Member of the Settlement Commission and includes the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman;

(g) "Settlement Commission" means the Customs and Central Excise and Service Tax Settlement Commission constituted under section 32; and

(h) "Vice-Chairman" means a Vice-Chairman of the Settlement Commission.

Section 32. Customs and Central Excise and Service tax Settlement Commission. -

(1) The Central Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute a Commission to be called the Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax Settlement Commission for the settlement of cases under this Chapter and Chapter XIVA of the Customs Act, 1962 (52 of 1962).

(2) The Settlement Commission shall consist of a Chairman and as many Vice-Chairmen and other Members as the Central Government thinks fit and shall function within the Department of the Central Government dealing with Customs and Central Excise matters.

(3) The Chairman, Vice-Chairman and other Members of the Settlement Commission shall be appointed by the Central Government from amongst persons of integrity and outstanding ability, having special knowledge of, and experience in, administration of customs and central excise laws:

[****]

Section 32A. Jurisdiction and powers of Settlement Commission

(1) Subject to the other provisions of this Chapter, the jurisdiction, powers and authority of the Settlement Commission may be exercised by Benches thereof.

(2) Subject to the other provisions of this section, a Bench shall be presided over by the Chairman or a Vice-Chairman and shall consist of two other Members.

(3) The Bench for which the Chairman is the presiding officer shall be the principal Bench and other Benches shall be known as additional Benches.

(4) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1) and sub-section (2), the Chairman may authorise the Vice-Chairman or other Member appointed to one Bench to discharge also the functions of the Vice-Chairman or, as the case may be, other Member of another Bench.

(5) The principal Bench shall sit at Delhi and the Central Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, establish additional Benches at such places as it considers necessary.

(6) Notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing provisions of this section, and subject to any rules that may be made in this behalf, when one of the persons constituting a Bench (whether such person be the presiding officer or other Member of the Bench) is unable to discharge his functions owing to absence, illness or any other cause or in the event of the occurrence of any vacancy either in the office of the presiding officer or in the office of one or the other Members of the Bench, the remaining Members may function as the Bench and if the presiding officer of the Bench is not one of the remaining Members, the senior among the remaining Members shall act as the presiding officer of the Bench :

Provided that if at any stage of the hearing of any such case or matter, it appears to the presiding officer that the case or matter is of such a nature that it ought to be heard of by a Bench consisting of three Members, the case or matter may be referred by the presiding officer of such Bench to the Chairman for transfer to such Bench as the Chairman may deem fit.

Provided further that at any stage of the hearing of any such case or matter, referred to in the first proviso, the Chairman may, if he thinks that the case or matter is of such a nature that it ought to be heard by a Bench consisting of three Members, constitute such Bench and if Vice-Chairman is not one of the Members, the senior among the Members shall act as the presiding officer of such Bench.

(7) Notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing provisions of this section, the Chairman may, for the disposal of any particular case, constitute a special Bench consisting of more than three Members.

(8) Subject to the other provisions of this Chapter, the special Bench shall sit at a place to be fixed by the Chairman.

Section 32B. Vice-Chairman to act as Chairman or to discharge his functions in certain circumstances. -

(1) In the event of the occurrence of any vacancy in the office of the Chairman by reason of his death, resignation or otherwise, the Vice-Chairman or, the member, as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, authorise in this behalf, shall act as the Chairman until the date on which a new Chairman, appointed in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter to fill such vacancy, enters upon his office.

(2) When the Chairman is unable to discharge his functions owing to absence, illness or any other cause, the Vice-Chairman or, the member, as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, authorise in this behalf, shall discharge the functions of the Chairman until the date on which the Chairman resumes his duties.

Section 32C.Power of Chairman to transfer cases from one Bench to another. -

On the application of the assessee or the Principal Chief Commissioner of Central Excise or Chief Commissioner of Central Excise or Principal Commissioner of Central Excise or Commissioner of Central Excise and after giving notice to them, and after hearing such of them as he may desire to be heard, or on his own motion without such notice, the Chairman may transfer any case pending before one Bench, for disposal, to another Bench.

Section 32D. Decision to be by majority. -

If the Members of a Bench differ in opinion on any point, the point shall be decided according to the opinion of the majority, if there is a majority, but if the members are equally divided, they shall state the point or points on which they differ, and make a reference to the Chairman who shall either hear the point or points himself or refer the case for hearing on such point or points by one or more of the other Members of the Settlement Commission and such point or points shall be decided according to the opinion of the majority of the Members of the Settlement Commission who have heard the case, including those who first heard it.

Section 32E. Application for settlement of cases. -

(1) An assessee may, in respect of a case relating to him, make an application, before adjudication, to the Settlement Commission to have the case settled, in such form and in such manner as may be prescribed and containing a full and true disclosure of his duty liability which has not been disclosed before the Central Excise Officer having jurisdiction, the manner in which such liability has been derived, the additional amount of excise duty accepted to be payable by him and such other particulars as may be prescribed including the particulars of such excisable goods in respect of which he admits short levy on account of misclassification, under-valuation, inapplicability of exemption notification or Cenvat credit or otherwise and any such application shall be disposed of in the manner hereinafter provided:

Provided that no such application shall be made unless, -

    (a) the applicant has filed returns showing production, clearance and Central excise duty paid in the prescribed manner;

    (b) a show cause notice for recovery of duty issued by the Central Excise Officer has been received by the applicant;

    (c) the additional amount of duty accepted by the applicant in his application exceeds three lakh rupees; and

    (d) the applicant has paid the additional amount of excise duty accepted by him along with interest due under section 11AA :

    Provided further that the Settlement Commission, if it is satisfied that the circumstances exist for not filing the returns referred to in clause (a) of the 1st proviso to sub-section (1), may after recording the reasons therefor, allow the application to may such application:

Provided also that no application shall be entertained by the Settlement Commission under this sub-section in cases which are pending with the Appellate Tribunal or any court:

Provided also that no application under this sub-section shall be made for the interpretation of the classification of excisable goods under the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985 (5 of 1986).

[(1A)****]

[(2)****]

(3) Every application made under sub-section (1) shall be accompanied by such fees as may be prescribed.

(4) An application made under sub-section (1) shall not be allowed to be withdrawn by the applicant.

Section 32F. Procedure on receipt of an application under section 32E. -

(1) On receipt of an application under sub-section (1) of section 32E, the Settlement Commission shall, within seven days from the date of receipt of the application, issue a notice to the applicant to explain in writing as to why the application made by him should be allowed to be proceeded with, and after taking into consideration the explanation provided by the applicant, the Settlement Commission, shall, within a period of fourteen days from the date of the notice, by an order, allow the application to be proceeded with, or reject the application as the case may be, and the proceedings before the Settlement Commission shall abate on the date of rejection :

Provided that where no notice has been issued or no order has been passed within the aforesaid period by the Settlement Commission, the application shall be deemed to have been allowed to be proceeded with.

(2) A copy of every order under sub-section (1), shall be sent to the applicant and to the Commissioner of Central Excise having jurisdiction.

(3) Where an application is allowed or deemed to have been allowed to be proceeded with under sub-section (1), the Settlement Commission shall, within seven days from the date of order under sub-section (1), call for a report along with the relevant records from the Principal Commissioner of Central Excise or Commissioner of Central Excise having jurisdiction and the Commissioner shall furnish the report within a period of thirty days of the receipt of communication from the Settlement Commission :

Provided that where the Commissioner does not furnish the report within the aforesaid period of thirty days, the Settlement Commission shall proceed further in the matter without the report of the Commissioner.

(4) Where a report of the Commissioner called for under sub-section (3) has been furnished within the period specified in that sub-section, the Settlement Commission may, after examination of such report, if it is of the opinion that any further enquiry or investigation in the matter is necessary, direct, for reasons to be recorded in writing, the Commissioner (Investigation) within fifteen days of the receipt of the report, to make or cause to be made such further enquiry or investigation and furnish a report within a period of ninety days of the receipt of the communication from the Settlement Commission, on the matters covered by the application and any other matter relating to the case :

Provided that where the Commissioner (Investigation) does not furnish the report within the aforesaid period, the Settlement Commission shall proceed to pass an order under sub-section (5) without such report.

(5) After examination of the records and the report of Principal Commissioner of Central Excise or the Commissioner of Central Excise received under sub-section (3), and the report, if any, of the Commissioner (Investigation) of the Settlement Commission under sub-section (4), and after giving an opportunity to the applicant and to the Principal Commissioner of Central Excise or Commissioner of Central Excise having jurisdiction to be heard, either in person or through a representative duly authorised in this behalf, and after examining such further evidence as may be placed before it or obtained by it, the Settlement Commission may, in accordance with the provisions of this Act, pass such order as it thinks fit on the matters covered by the application and any other matter relating to the case not covered by the application, but referred to in the report of Principal Commissioner of Central Excise or the Commissioner of Central Excise and Commissioner (Investigation) under sub-section (3) or sub-section (4).

(6) An order under sub-section (5) shall not be passed in respect of an application filed [****] after nine months from the last day of the month in which the application was made, failing which the settlement proceedings shall abate, and the adjudicating authority before whom the proceeding at the time of making the application was pending, shall dispose of the case in accordance with the provisions of this Act as if no application under section 32E had been made.

Provided that the period specified under this sub- section may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, be extended by the Settlement Commission for a further period not exceeding three months.

(7) Subject to the provisions of section 32A, the materials brought on record before the Settlement Commission shall be considered by the Members of the concerned Bench before passing any order under sub-section (5) and, in relation to the passing of such order, the provisions of section 32D shall apply.

(8) The order passed under sub-section (5) shall provide for the terms of settlement including any demand by way of duty, penalty or interest, the manner in which any sums due under the settlement shall be paid and all other matters to make the settlement effective and in case of rejection contain the reasons therefore and it shall also provide that the settlement shall be void if it is subsequently found by the Settlement Commission that it has been obtained by fraud or misrepresentation of facts :

Provided that the amount of settlement ordered by the Settlement Commission shall not be less than the duty liability admitted by the applicant under section 32E.

(9) Where any duty, interest, fine and penalty payable in pursuance of an order under sub-section (5) is not paid by the assessee within thirty days of receipt of a copy of the order by him, the amount which remains unpaid, shall be recovered along with interest due thereon, as the sums due to the Central Government by the Central Excise Officer having jurisdiction over the assessee in accordance with the provisions of section 11.

(10) Where a settlement becomes void as provided under sub-section (8), the proceedings with respect to the matters covered by the settlement shall be deemed to have been revived from the stage at which the application was allowed to be proceeded with by the Settlement Commission and the Central Excise Officer having jurisdiction may, notwithstanding anything contained in any other provision of this Act, complete such proceedings at any time before the expiry of two years from the date of the receipt of communication that the settlement became void.

Section 32G. Power of Settlement Commission to order provisional attachment to protect revenue. -,

(1) Where during the pendency of any proceeding before it, the Settlement Commission is of the opinion that for the purpose of protecting the interests of revenue it is necessary so to do, it may, by order, attach provisionally any property belonging to the applicant in the manner as may be prescribed.

(2) Every provisional attachment made by the Settlement Commission under sub-section (1) shall cease to have effect from the date, the sums due to the Central Government for which such attachment is made are discharged by the applicant and evidence to that effect is submitted to the Settlement Commission.

[Section 32H. ****]

Section 32 I. Powers and procedure of Settlement Commissions. -

(1) In addition to the powers conferred on the Settlement Commission under this Chapter, it shall have all the powers which are vested in a Central Excise Officer under this Act or the rules made thereunder.

(2) Where an application made under section 32E has been allowed to be proceeded with under section 32F, the Settlement Commission shall, until an order is passed under sub-section [(5)] of section 32F, have, subject to the provisions of sub-section [(4)] of that section, exclusive jurisdiction to exercise the powers and perform the functions of any Central Excise Officer, under this Act in relation to the case.

(3) In the absence of any express direction by the Settlement Commission to the contrary, nothing in this Chapter shall affect the operation of the provisions of this Act in so far as they relate to any matters other than those before the Settlement Commission.

(4) The Settlement Commission shall, subject to the provisions of this Chapter, have power to regulate its own procedure and the procedure of Benches thereof in all matters arising out of the exercise of its powers, or of the discharge of its functions, including the places at which the Benches shall hold their sittings.

Section 32J. Inspection, etc. of reports. -

No person shall be entitled to inspect, or obtain copies of, any reports made by any Central Excise Officer to the Settlement Commission; but the Settlement Commission may, in its discretion furnish copies thereof to any such person on an application made to it in this behalf and on payment of the prescribed fee :

Provided that, for the purpose of enabling any person whose case is under consideration to rebut any evidence brought on record against him in any such report, the Settlement Commission shall, on an application made in this behalf, and on payment of the prescribed fee by such person, furnish him with a certified copy of any such report or part thereof relevant for the purpose.

Section 32K. Power of Settlement Commission to grant immunity from prosecution and penalty. -

(1) The Settlement Commission may, if it is satisfied that any person who made the application for settlement under section 32E has co-operated with the Settlement Commission in the proceedings before it and has made a full and true disclosure of his duty liability, grant to such person, subject to such conditions as it may think fit to impose, immunity from prosecution for any offence under this Act [and also either wholly or in part from the imposition of any penalty and fine] under this Act, with respect to the case covered by the settlement :

Provided that no such immunity shall be granted by the Settlement Commission in cases where the proceedings for the prosecution for any such offence have been instituted before the date of receipt of the application under section 32E.

[xxx]

(2) An immunity granted to a person under sub-section (1) shall stand withdrawn if such person fails to pay any sum specified in the order of the settlement passed under [sub-section (5) of section 32F within the time specified in such order] or fails to comply with any other condition subject to which the immunity was granted and thereupon the provisions of this Act shall apply as if such immunity had not been granted.

(3) An immunity granted to a person under sub-section (1) may, at any time, be withdrawn by the Settlement Commission, if it is satisfied that such person had, in the course of the settlement proceedings, concealed any particular material to the settlement or had given false evidence, and thereupon such person may be tried for the offence with respect to which the immunity was granted or for any other offence of which he appears to have been guilty in connection with the settlement and shall also become liable to the imposition of any penalty under this Act to which such person would have been liable, had no such immunity been granted.

Section 32L. Power of Settlement Commission to send a case back to the Central Excise Officer. -

(1) The Settlement Commission may, if it is of opinion that any person who made an application for settlement under section 32E has not co-operated with the Settlement Commission in the proceedings before it, send the case back to the Central Excise Officer having jurisdiction who shall thereupon dispose of the case in accordance with the provisions of this Act as if no application under section 32E had been made.

(2) For the purpose of sub-section (1), the Central Excise Officer shall be entitled to use all the materials and other information produced by the assessee before the Settlement Commission or the results of the inquiry held or evidence recorded by the Settlement Commission in the course of the proceedings before it as if such materials, information, inquiry and evidence had been produced before such Central Excise Officer or held or recorded by him in the course of the proceedings before him.

(3) For the purposes of the time limit under section 11A and for the purposes of interest under section 11BB, in a case referred to in sub-section (1), the period commencing on and from the date of the application to the Settlement Commission under section 32E and ending with the date of receipt by the Central Excise Officer of the order of the Settlement Commission sending the case back to the Central Excise Officer shall be excluded.

Section 32M. Order of settlement to be conclusive. -

Every order of settlement passed under sub-section [(5)] of section 32F shall be conclusive as to the matters stated therein and no matter covered by such order shall, save as otherwise provided in this Chapter, be reopened in any proceeding under this Act or under any other law for the time being in force.

Section 32N. Recovery of sums due under order of settlement. -

Any sum specified in an order of settlement passed under sub-section [(5)] of section 32F may, subject to such conditions if any, as may be specified therein, be recovered, and any penalty for default in making payment of such sum may be imposed and recovered as sums due to the Central Government in accordance with the provisions under section 11 by the Central Excise Officer having jurisdiction over the person who made the application for settlement under section 32E.

Section 32O. Bar on subsequent application for settlement in certain cases. -

(1) Where-

    (i) an order of settlement [xxxx] provides for the imposition of a penalty on the person who made the application under section 32E for settlement, on the ground of concealment of particulars of his duty liability; or

    Explanation - In this clause, the concealment of particulars of duty liability relates to any such concealment made from the Central Excise Officer.

    (ii) after the passing of an order of settlement [xxxx] in relation to a case, such person is convicted of any offence under this Act in relation to that case; or

    (iii) the case of such person is sent back to the Central Excise Officer having jurisdiction by the Settlement Commission under section 32L, then, he shall not be entitled to apply for settlement under section 32E in relation to any other matter.

(2) Omitted

Section 32P. Proceedings before Settlement Commission to be judicial proceedings. -

Any proceedings under this Chapter before the Settlement Commission shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding within the meaning of Sections 193 and 228, and for the purposes of Section 196 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).

Section 32PA. Omitted