S.L. Peeran, Member (J)
1. Revenue has filed this reference application against final order No. 78/99, dated 08.01.1999 wherein the Tribunal confirmed the Commissioner (Appeals) order by following the ratio of the Tribunal judgments as noted below:-
Lakshmi Packaging Ltd. v. CCE, Coimbatore -1998 (98) E.L.T. 91 (T)
Sonia Engineering Works v. Collector, New Delhi -1998 (79) ECR 799 (T)
2. Revenue contends that by virtue of Section 76 of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1996, Sections 11AB and 11AC were inserted in the Central Excise Act, 1944 and came into effect from 28.09.1996. Therefore, the party was liable to pay penalty as confirmed under Sub-section 2(a) of Section 11A and also to pay penalty equal to the duty so determined. The period in question is April 1993 to March 1996 and therefore they contend that penalty imposed by the original authority ought to have been retained by the Commissioner as well as by the Tribunal. They seek for reference of the following questions to the High Court :-
“(i) Whether imposition of penalty under Section 11AC and demand of interest under Section 11AB in the Order-in-Original No. 12/97, dated 24.11.1997 in pursuance to the Show-cause Notice in O.R. No. 266/96-Adjn., dated 19.11.1996 is legal or not;
(ii) Since the provisions of Section 11A for demand of duty will always have retrospective effect for the period of six months or five years depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, invoking the provisions of Sections 11AB and 11AC of Central Excise Act, 1944, in a show cause notice issued after the enactment of Finance Bill, 1996 is well within the ambit of law or not;”
3. Heard Id. DR in the matter.
4. Respondents ate not present.
5. We are of the considered opinion that at the time when Section was promulgated, the offences had been committed. The period of offence was April 1993 to March 1996 during which time, there was no provision of law for imposing penalty or interest in the matter. The section has got prospective applicability as held by the Tribunal in the noted judgments. The issue being clearly settled one, hence the question of referring the same to High Court does not arise. There is no merit in the application and same is rejected.