Jyoti Balasundaram, Vice-President
1. I have heard the learned DR and perused the records as none appears for the respondents in spite of notice. The Commissioner (Appeals) has reduced the penalty imposed on both the respondents both under the provisions of Sections 76 and 78 of the Finance Act, 1994 by keeping in view the fact that the principal amount of ST has already been paid together with interest and therefore, a lenient view is required to be extended.
2. However, I find merit in Revenue’s submissions based on the language of Sections 76 and 78 that the penalty prescribed therein is the minimum penalty for the reasons that the words used in both the sections are that “the penalty imposed shall not be less than….” My view finds support from Tribunal’s order in Trans (India) Shipping Pvt. Ltd. v. CCE, Chennai-I .
3. Following the ratio of the above decision, and noting that the penalty imposed by the adjudicating authority has not exceeded the service tax payable by the respondents, I set aside the impugned order by restoring penalty to the level imposed by the adjudicating authority in both the cases and allow the appeals.
(Dictated and pronounced in the open Court)