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MP. Steel Corporation Versus Commissioner Of Central Excise

2015 (4) TMI 849 - SUPREME COURT

Condonation of delay - Power of Commissioner to condone delay beyond the period of 60 days plus 30days - Section 128 - Appeal was pursued before wrong forum - Held that:- On a plain reading of the provisions of the Limitation Act, it becomes clear that suits, appeals and applications are only to be considered (from the limitation point of view) if they are filed in courts and not in quasi-judicial bodies. - A number of decisions have established that the Limitation Act applies only to courts .....

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y construed to advance the cause of justice - see: Shakti Tubes Ltd. v. State of Bihar, [2008 (12) TMI 721 - SUPREME COURT OF INDIA] and the judgments cited therein. Obviously, the context of Section 14 would require that the term “court” be liberally construed to include within it quasi-judicial Tribunals as well. This is for the very good reason that the principle of Section 14 is that whenever a person bonafide prosecutes with due diligence another proceeding which proves to be abortive becau .....

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ity for the proposition that even where Section 14 may not apply, the principles on which Section 14 is based, being principles which advance the cause of justice, would nevertheless apply. We must never forget, as stated in Bhudan Singh & Anr. v. Nabi Bux & Anr., [1969 (8) TMI 83 - Supreme Court Of India], that justice and reason is at the heart of all legislation by Parliament. - Merely because Parson Tools also dealt with a provision in a tax statute does not make the ratio of the said d .....

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g delay. As has been pointed out in the said judgment, when a certain period is excluded by applying the principles contained in Section 14, there is no delay to be attributed to the appellant and the limitation period provided by the concerned statute continues to be the stated period and not more than the stated period. We conclude, therefore, that the principle of Section 14 which is a principle based on advancing the cause of justice would certainly apply to exclude time taken in prosecuting .....

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such a proceeding on the ninetieth day i.e. after three months are over. The said proceeding turns out to be abortive after it has gone through a chequered career in the appeal courts. The same plaintiff/applicant now files a fresh proceeding before a court of first instance having the necessary jurisdiction. So long as the said proceeding is filed within the remaining three month period, Section 14 will apply to exclude the entire time taken starting from the ninety first day till the final app .....

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shadow, a certain residuary period within which a proper appeal could be filed still remained. That period would continue to be within the period of 180 days notwithstanding the amendment made in 2001 as otherwise the right to appeal itself would vanish given the shorter period of limitation provided by Section 128 after 2001. - Matter remanded back - Decided in favour of assessee. - CIVIL APPEAL NO.4367 OF 2004 - Dated:- 23-4-2015 - A.K. Sikri And R.F. Nariman JJ. For the Appellant : Mr. S. R. .....

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el was 7009 metric tons. On 19.2.1992, the appellant was informed by the Superintendent of Customs and Central Excise Alang that the Light Displacement Tonnage of the ship is actually 8570 tons and that customs duty was to be levied on this tonnage. On 3.3.1992, the appellant cleared the vessel on payment of customs duty on the basis of 7009 metric tons and executed a bank guarantee for ₹ 19,90,275/- being the difference in customs duty on 1561 metric tons. On 25.3.1992, the Collector of C .....

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992 and the Collector s order dated 25.3.1992 before CEGAT. On 23.6.1998, the Appellate Tribunal allowed the appeal and set aside the order of the Collector dated 25.3.1992. In the year 2000, the Department preferred an appeal before this Court. On 12.3.2003, this Court allowed the appeal holding: This appeal is against a judgment dated 23.6.1998 passed by the Customs, Excise And Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal, West Regional Bench at Mumbai. Facts briefly stated are that the respondent filed .....

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k a policy decision on how LDT was to be calculated. The Collector conveyed this decision to the Assistant Collector by his letter dated 25.3.1992. Pursuant thereto the Superintendent of Customs and Central Excise passed an order dated 2nd April, 1992 in respect of vessel M.V. Olinda . Of course the order dated 2nd April, 1992 is based on the decision of the Collector. However, the order remains that of the Superintendent of Customs and Central Excise. The respondent filed an appeal directly bef .....

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e order by which respondent is aggrieved is the order passed by the Superintendent. An appeal against that order has to be filed before the Commissioner (Appeals) under Section 128. By virtue of Section 129-A, CEGAT has no jurisdiction to entertain such an appeal. It is clear that the impugned order is passed without any jurisdiction. Therefore, it cannot be sustained. We, thus, set aside the order. The appeal is accordingly allowed. There will be no order as to costs. We clarify that we have no .....

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y us within 60 days of the receipt of the certified true copy of the judgment of the Hon ble Supreme Court. It is our respectful submission that since the appeal was filed by us before the correct forum with due dispatch after receipt of the Supreme Court s judgment, there has been no delay in filing the appeal. It is well settled now that the time taken for pursuing a remedy before another appellate Forum is to be excluded for the purpose of computing the period for filing an appeal. (Union Car .....

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the period specified in Section 128. 4. Shri Viswanathan, learned senior advocate appearing on behalf of the appellant argued before us that the entire period starting from 25.3.1992 up till 12.3.2003 ought to be excluded by applying Section 14 of the Limitation Act. According to him, Section 14 of the Limitation Act would apply to exclude this period from the period of 90 days allowed in filing an appeal filed to the Collector (Appeals) inasmuch as vide Section 29 (2) of the Limitation Act Sect .....

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ply. According to him, Section 128 of the Customs Act before its amendment in 2001 would be attracted on the facts of this case giving him a period of 90 days plus an extended period of a further period of 90 days within which the present appeal could be filed. This being the case, on an application of Section 14, the appeal would be filed with no delay at all even if the period from 3.4.1992 to 22.6.1992 and 12.3.2003 to 23.5.2003 is to be taken into account, as that would be less than 180 days .....

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ecome time barred. In the present case, Section 128 as amended post 2001 would apply to the facts of this case and on the appellant s own showing the appeal is out of time by eleven and a half years. Section 128 only gives the appellant 60 days plus another 30 days which have long gone. He also argued that Section 14 of the Limitation Act would not apply to Tribunals but only to Courts, and the Collector (Appeals) was at best a quasi-judicial Tribunal. Further, according to him, no question of a .....

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on 14 of the Limitation Act reads as follows: 14. Exclusion of time of proceeding bona fide in court without jurisdiction.-(1) In computing the period of limitation for any suit the time during which the plaintiff has been prosecuting with due diligence another civil proceeding, whether in a court of first instance or of appeal or revision, against the defendant shall be excluded, where the proceeding relates to the same matter in issue and is prosecuted in good faith in a court which, from defe .....

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unable to entertain it. (3) Notwithstanding anything contained in Rule 2 of Order XXIII of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), the provisions of sub-section (1) shall apply in relation to a fresh suit instituted on permission granted by the court under Rule 1 of that Order, where such permission is granted on the ground that the first suit must fail by reason of a defect in the jurisdiction of the court or other cause of a like nature. Explanation.-For the purposes of this section,- .....

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t at no point of time has the appellant taken up a plea based on Section 14. Neither has the appellant met with any of the five conditions set out in paragraph 21 of Consolidated Engg. Enterprises v. Principal secy., Irrigation Deptt., (2008) 7 SCC 169, which reads as follows:- 21. Section 14 of the Limitation Act deals with exclusion of time of proceeding bona fide in a court without jurisdiction. On analysis of the said section, it becomes evident that the following conditions must be satisfie .....

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hri A.K. Sanghi, may be correct. However, in an application for condonation of delay the appellant pointed out that they were pursuing a remedy before another appellate forum which ought to be excluded. We deem this averment sufficient for the appellant to contend that Section 14 of the Limitation Act or principles laid down under it would be attracted to the facts of this case. We might also point out that conditions 1 to 4 mentioned in the Consolidated Engineering case have, in fact, been met .....

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the opposite party. On the facts of this case, as the earlier Supreme Court order dated 12.3.2003 itself points out, there was some confusion as to whether what was appealed against was the Superintendent s order or the Collector s order. The appellant bona fide believed that it was the Collector s order which was appealed against and hence an appeal to CEGAT would be maintainable. This contention, however, ran into rough weather in this Court. Further, the time taken between 3.4.1992 and 22.6. .....

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condition 4 is also met. Condition 5, however, has not been met as both the proceedings are before a quasi-judicial Tribunal and not in a Court. This, however, is not fatal to the present proceeding as what is being held by us in this judgment is that despite the fact that Section 14 of the Limitation Act may not apply, yet the principles of Section 14 will get attracted to the facts of the present case. It is in this way that we now proceed to consider the law on the subject. Whether the Limit .....

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he first division concerns itself with suits. Articles 1 to 113 all deal with suits . 9. Sections 2(a),(e) and (i) are material in that they define what is meant by an applicant, a plaintiff and a defendant. 2. Definitions.-In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,- (a) applicant includes- (i) a petitioner; (ii) any person from or through whom an applicant derives his right to apply; (iii) any person whose estate is represented by the applicant as executor, administrator or other repre .....

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For the purposes of this Act- (a)A suit is instituted- (i)In an ordinary case, when the plaint is presented to the proper officer; (ii)In the case of a pauper, when his application for leave to sue as a pauper is made; and (iii)In the case of a claim against a company which is being wound up by the court, when the claimant first sends in his claim to the official liquidator; (b) Any claim by way of a set off or a counter claim, shall be treated as a separate suit and shall be deemed to have been .....

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ond division concerns itself with appeals. These appeals under Articles 114 to 117, are either under the Civil Procedure Code, the Criminal Procedure Code, or intra-court appeals so far as the High Courts are concerned. These appeals again are only to Courts established under the Constitution. 13. Equally, in the third division, all applications that are referred to are under Articles 118 to 137 only to Courts , either under the Civil Procedure Code or under other enactments. 14. Sections 13, 21 .....

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for such leave shall be excluded, and the court may, on payment of the court fees prescribed for such suit or appeal, treat the suit or appeal as having the same force and effect as if the court fees had been paid in the first instance. 21. Effect of substituting or adding new plaintiff or defendant.-(1) Where after the institution of a suit, a new plaintiff or defendant is substituted or added, the suit shall, as regards him, be deemed to have been instituted when he was so made a party: Provi .....

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plaintiff. Schedule 124. For a review of judgment by a court other than the Supreme Court. Thirty days The date of the decree or order. 130. For leave to appeal as a pauper - (a) to the High Court; Sixty days The date of decree appealed from. (b) to any other court. Thirty days The date of decree appealed from. 131. To any court for the exercise of its powers of revision under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), or the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (5 of 1898). Ninety days The dat .....

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od in the strict sense of being part of the Judicial Branch of the State. 15. Section 21 also makes it clear that the suit that the Limitation Act speaks of is instituted only by a plaintiff against a defendant. Both plaintiff and defendant have been defined as including persons through whom they derive their right to sue and include persons whose estate is represented by persons such as executors, administrators or other representatives. This again refers only to suits filed in courts as is und .....

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as a pauper again can be made either to the High Court or only to any other court vide Article 130. And by Article 131, a revision petition filed only before Courts under the Code of Civil Procedure Code or the Code of Criminal Procedure are referred to. On a plain reading of the provisions of the Limitation Act, it becomes clear that suits, appeals and applications are only to be considered (from the limitation point of view) if they are filed in courts and not in quasi-judicial bodies. 17. Now .....

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cision presupposes an existing dispute between two or more parties, and then involves four requisites: (1) The presentation (not necessarily orally) of their case by the parties to the dispute; (2) if the dispute between them is a question of fact, the ascertainment of the fact by means of evidence adduced by the parties to the dispute and often with the assistance of argument by or on behalf of the parties on the evidence; (3) if the dispute between them is a question of law, the submission of .....

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character of which is determined by the Minister's free choice. 18. Under our constitutional scheme of things, the judiciary is dealt with in Chapter IV of Part V and Chapter V of Part VI. Chapter IV of Part V deals with the Supreme Court and Chapter V of Part VI deals with the High Courts and courts subordinate thereto. When the Constitution uses the expression court , it refers to this Court system. As opposed to this court system is a system of quasi-judicial bodies called Tribunals. Thus .....

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what applications are covered under Article 137 of the Schedule to the Limitation Act. It was argued that an application made under the Industrial Disputes Act to a Labour Court was covered by the said Article. This Court negatived the said plea in the following terms:- 12. This point, in our opinion, may be looked at from another angle also. When this Court earlier held that all the articles in the third division to the schedule, including Article 181 of the Limitation Act of 1908, governed app .....

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lude some applications presented to courts governed by the Code of Criminal Procedure. One factor at least remains constant and that is that the applications must be to courts to be governed by the articles in this division. The scope of the various articles in this division cannot be held to have been so enlarged as to include within them applications to bodies other than courts, such as a quasi judicial tribunal, or even an executive authority. An Industrial Tribunal or a Labour Court dealing .....

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verned for purposes of limitation by Article 137. Similarly, in Nityananda, M. Joshi & Ors. v. Life Insurance Corporation & Ors., (1969) 2 SCC 199, this Court followed the judgment in Athani s case and turned down a plea that an application made to a Labour Court would be covered under Article 137 of the Limitation Act. This Court emphatically stated that Article 137 only contemplates applications to courts in the following terms: 3. In our view Article 137 only contemplates applications .....

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xpired if the court is satisfied that the applicant had sufficient cause for not preferring the application. It seems to us that the scheme of the Indian Limitation Act is that it only deals with applications to courts, and that the Labour Court is not a court within the Indian Limitation Act, 1963.' 20. In Kerala State Electricity Board v. T.P. Kunhaliumma, (1976) 4 SCC 634, a 3-Judge Bench of this Court followed the aforesaid two judgments and stated:- 22. The conclusion we reach is that A .....

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ontemplated by the Telegraph Act for judicial decision. The petition is an application falling within the scope of Article 137 of the 1963 Limitation Act. This judgment is an authoritative pronouncement by a 3-Judge Bench that the Limitation Act applies only to courts and not to quasi-judicial Tribunals. Athani s case was dissented from on a different proposition - that Article 137 is not confined to applications under the Code of Civil Procedure alone. So long as an application is made under an .....

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anis is right that this matter is no longer res Integra. In Shrimati Ujjam Bai v. State of U.P. [AIR 1962 SC 1621 : (1963) 1 SCR 778] Hidayatullah, J. (as he then was) speaking for the Court, observed: The Taxing authorities are instrumentalities of the State. They are not a part of the legislature, nor are they a part of the Judiciary. Their functions are the assessment and collection of taxes and in the process of assessing taxes, they follow a pattern of action which is considered judicial. T .....

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m certain quasi-judicial functions. The decision in Jagannath Prasad case it seems, was not brought to the notice of the High Court. In view of these pronouncements of this Court, there is no room for argument that the Appellate Authority and the Judge (Revisions) Sales tax exercising jurisdiction under the Sales Tax Act, are courts . They are merely Administrative Tribunals and not courts . Section 14, Limitation Act, therefore, does not, in terms apply to proceedings before such tribunals. It .....

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discretion to extend this period beyond a further period of six months, even on sufficient cause shown. As rightly pointed out in the minority judgment of the High Court, pendency of proceedings of the nature contemplated by Section 14(2) of the Limitation Act, may amount to a sufficient cause for condoning the delay and extending the limitation for filing a revision application, but Section 10(3-B) of the Sales Tax Act gives no jurisdiction to the revising authority to extend the limitation, ev .....

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e financial stability of the State. Section 10 is therefore designed to ensure speedy and final determination of fiscal matters within a reasonably certain time-schedule. 14. It cannot be said that by excluding the unrestricted application of the principles of Sections 5 and 14 of the Limitation Act, the legislature has made the provisions of Section 10 unduly oppressive. In most cases, the discretion to extend limitation, on sufficient cause being shown for a further period of six months only, .....

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s Tax Act are not courts and thus, the Limitation Act will not apply to them. It also laid down that the language of Section 10 (3-B) of the U.P. Sales Tax Act made it clear that an unusually long period of limitation had been given for filing a revision application and therefore said that the said Section as construed by the Court would not be unduly oppressive. Most cases would, according to the Court, be filed within a maximum period of 18 months but even in cases, rare as they are, filed bey .....

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f the U.P. Sales Tax Act. In this judgment, another 3-Judge Bench in C.S.T. v. Madan Lal Das and Sons, 1976 (4) SCC 464, without adverting to either Parson Tools or the three other judgments mentioned hereinabove went on to apply Section 12 (2) of the Limitation Act to proceedings under the U.P. Sales Tax Act. None of the aforesaid four decisions were pointed out to the court and it was not argued that the Limitation Act applies only to courts and not to Sales Tax authorities who are quasi-judic .....

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he provisions of the Limitation Act would not apply. The court concluded, after adverting to some of the previous judgments of this Court as follows:- 18. Though hard it may be, in view of the specific limitation provided under proviso to Section 18(2) of the Act, we are of the considered view that sub-section (2) of Section 29 cannot be applied to the proviso to sub-section (2) of Section 18. The Collector/LAO, therefore, is not a court when he acts as a statutory authority under Section 18(1). .....

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nts of this Court need to be dealt with at this stage. In Mukri Gopalan v. Cheppilat Puthanpurayil Aboobacker, (1995) 5 SCC 5, a 2-Judge Bench of this Court held that the Limitation Act would apply to the appellate authority constituted under Section 13 of the Kerala Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act , 1965. This was done by applying the provision of Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act. Despite referring to various earlier judgments of this Court which held that the Limitation Act applies o .....

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es Tax Act Judge (Revisions) was not a court but it took the view that because of the express provision in Section 10(3) (B) applicability of Section 14(2) of the Sales Tax Act was ruled out. Implicit in this reasoning is the assumption that but for such an express conflict or contrary intention emanating from Section 10(3)(B) of the U.P. Sales Tax Act which was a special law, Section 29(2) would have brought in Section 14(2) of the Limitation Act even for governing period of limitation for such .....

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, Bareilly, (1976) 4 SCC 464 which, as has been pointed out earlier, is not an authority for the proposition that the Limitation Act would apply to Tribunals. In fact, Mukri Gopalan s case was distinguished in Om Prakash v. Ashwani Kumar Bassi, (2010) 9 SCC 183 at paragraph 22 as follows: 22. The decision in Mukri Gopalan case [(1995) 5 SCC 5] relied upon by Mr Ujjal Singh is distinguishable from the facts of this case. In the facts of the said case, it was the District Judges who were dischargi .....

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ation Act, 1963, as in the other case. The fact that the District Judge himself also happened to be the appellate authority under the Rent Act would have been sufficient on the facts of the case for the Limitation Act to apply without going into the proposition that the Limitation Act would apply to tribunals. 26. Quite apart from Mukri Gopalan s case being out of step with at least five earlier binding judgments of this Court, it does not square also with the subsequent judgment in Consolidated .....

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n 14 of the Limitation Act. On review of the provisions of the Act of 1996 this Court finds that there is no provision in the said Act which excludes the applicability of the provisions of Section 14 of the Limitation Act to an application submitted under Section 34 of the said Act. On the contrary, this Court finds that Section 43 makes the provisions of the Limitation Act, 1963 applicable to arbitration proceedings. The proceedings under Section 34 are for the purpose of challenging the award .....

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be excluded in computing the time prescribed by the Limitation Act, 1963, for the commencement of the proceedings with respect to the dispute so submitted. If the period between the commencement of the arbitration proceedings till the award is set aside by the court, has to be excluded in computing the period of limitation provided for any proceedings with respect to the dispute, there is no good reason as to why it should not be held that the provisions of Section 14 of the Limitation Act would .....

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tal period of four months within which an application, for setting aside an arbitral award, has to be made is not unusually long. Section 34 of the Act of 1996 would be unduly oppressive, if it is held that the provisions of Section 14 of the Limitation Act are not applicable to it, because cases are no doubt conceivable where an aggrieved party, despite exercise of due diligence and good faith, is unable to make an application within a period of four months. From the scheme and language of Sect .....

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4 of the Act of 1996 for setting aside an arbitral award. While discussing Parson Tools, this Court held: 25……In appeal, this Court held that (1) if the legislature in a special statute prescribes a certain period of limitation, then the Tribunal concerned has no jurisdiction to treat within limitation, an application, by excluding the time spent in prosecuting in good faith, on the analogy of Section 14(2) of the Limitation Act, and (2) the appellate authority and the revisional a .....

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e stark features of the revisional powers pointed out by the Court, showed that the legislature had deliberately excluded the application of the principles underlying Sections 5 and 14 of the Limitation Act. Here in this case, the Court is not called upon to examine scope of revisional powers. The Court in this case is dealing with Section 34 of the Act which confers powers on the court of the first instance to set aside an award rendered by an arbitrator on specified grounds. It is not the case .....

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of the Limitation Act are not applicable to an application submitted under Section 34 of the Act of 1996. In a separate concurring judgment Justice Raveendran specifically held: 44. It may be noticed at this juncture that the Schedule to the Limitation Act prescribes the period of limitation only to proceedings in courts and not to any proceeding before a tribunal or quasi-judicial authority. Consequently Sections 3 and 29(2) of the Limitation Act will not apply to proceedings before the tribuna .....

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t in prosecuting the application for setting aside the order of dismissal of appeals in default, could be excluded when computing the period of limitation for filing a revision under Section 10 of the said Act, by application of the principle underlying Section 14(2) of the Limitation Act. The minority view of the third Judge was that the revisional authority under Section 10 of the U.P. Sales Tax Act did not act as a court but only as a Revenue Tribunal and therefore the Limitation Act did not .....

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Section 10 of the U.P. Sales Tax Act was a tribunal and not a court, the Limitation Act was inapplicable. This Court further held that the period of pendency of proceedings before the wrong forum could not be excluded while computing the period of limitation by applying Section 14(2) of the Limitation Act. This Court, however, held that by applying the principle underlying Section 14(2), the period of pendency before the wrong forum may be considered as a sufficient cause for condoning the delay .....

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r Section 10(3-B) of the U.P. Sales Tax Act. These observations cannot be interpreted as laying down a proposition that even where Section 14(2) of the Limitation Act in terms applied and the period spent before wrong forum could therefore be excluded while computing the period of limitation, the pendency before the wrong forum should be considered only as a sufficient cause for extension of period of limitation and therefore, subjected to the ceiling relating to the extension of the period of l .....

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Court has unequivocally held that Parson Tools is an authority for the proposition that the Limitation Act will not apply to quasi-judicial bodies or Tribunals. To the extent that Mukri Gopalan is in conflict with the judgment in the Consolidated Engineering Enterprises case, it is no longer good law. 28. The sheet anchor in Mukri Gopalan was Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act. Section 29(2) states:- 29. Savings.- (2) Where any special or local law prescribes for any suit, appeal or application .....

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ading of this Section would show that the special or local law described therein should prescribe for any suit, appeal or application a period of limitation different from the period prescribed by the schedule. This would necessarily mean that such special or local law would have to lay down that the suit, appeal or application to be instituted under it should be a suit, appeal or application of the nature described in the schedule. We have already held that such suits, appeals or applications a .....

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ing in this Act shall apply to any suit or other proceeding under any such law. 29. When it comes to the law of marriage and divorce, the Section speaks not only of suits but other proceedings as well. Such proceedings may be proceedings which are neither appeals nor applications thus making it clear that the laws relating to marriage and divorce, unlike the law of limitation, may contain proceedings other than suits, appeals or applications filed in courts. This again is an important pointer to .....

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mitation Act inasmuch as the appellant in this case had been prosecuting with due diligence another civil proceeding before the appellate authority under the Tamil Nadu Shops and Establishment Act, which appeal was dismissed on the ground that the said Act was not applicable to nationalized banks and that, therefore, such appeal would not be maintainable. This Court made a distinction between Civil Court and court and expanded the scope of Section 14 stating that any authority or Tribunal having .....

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This judgment is in line with a large number of authorities which have held that Section 14 should be liberally construed to advance the cause of justice - see: Shakti Tubes Ltd. v. State of Bihar, (2009) 1 SCC 786 and the judgments cited therein. Obviously, the context of Section 14 would require that the term court be liberally construed to include within it quasi-judicial Tribunals as well. This is for the very good reason that the principle of Section 14 is that whenever a person bonafide p .....

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referred to by the Limitation Act are to be filed in courts. This has nothing to do with civil proceedings referred to in Section 14 which may be filed before other courts or authorities which ultimately do not answer the case before them on merits but throw the case out on some technical ground. Obviously the word court in Section 14 takes its colour from the preceding words civil proceedings . Civil proceedings are of many kinds and need not be confined to suits, appeals or applications which .....

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Customs may appeal to the Commissioner (Appeals) within [sixty days] from the date of the communication to him of such decision or order: [Provided that the Commissioner (Appeals) may, if he is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from presenting the appeal within the aforesaid period of sixty days, allow it to be presented within a further period of thirty days.] [(1-A) The Commissioner (Appeals) may, if sufficient cause is shown, at any stage of hearing of an appeal, .....

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.-(1) Any person aggrieved by any decision or order passed under this Act by an officer of customs lower in rank than a Collector of Customs may appeal to the Collector (Appeals) within three months from the date of the communication to him of such decision or order: Provided that the Collector (Appeals) may, if he is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from presenting the appeal within the aforesaid period of three months, allow it to be presented within a further per .....

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he principles on which Section 14 is based, being principles which advance the cause of justice, would nevertheless apply. We must never forget, as stated in Bhudan Singh & Anr. v. Nabi Bux & Anr., (1970) 2 SCR 10, that justice and reason is at the heart of all legislation by Parliament. This was put in very felicitous terms by Hegde,J. as follows: Before considering the meaning of the word "held" in Section 9, it is necessary to mention that it is proper to assume that the law .....

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rshly, ridiculously or in any other manner contrary to prevailing conceptions of justice and reason, in most instances, it would seem that the apparent or suggested meaning of the statute, was not the one intended by the law-makers. In the absence of some other indication that the harsh or ridiculous effect was actually intended by the legislature, there is little reason to believe that it represents the legislative intent. 32. This is why the principles of Section 14 were applied in J. Kumarada .....

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inciples akin thereto would not be applied. Otherwise, the provisions of Section 5 of the Limitation Act would apply. There cannot be any doubt whatsoever that the same would be applicable to a case of this nature. 17. There cannot furthermore be any doubt whatsoever that having regard to the definition of suit as contained in Section 2(l) of the Limitation Act, a revision application will not answer the said description. But, although the provisions of Section 14 of the Limitation Act per se ar .....

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whether it has the source to exercise such power or not. The court will not apply the beneficent provisions like Sections 5 and 14 of the Limitation Act in a pedantic manner. When the provisions are meant to apply and in fact found to be applicable to the facts and circumstances of a case, in our opinion, there is no reason as to why the court will refuse to apply the same only because a wrong provision has been mentioned. In a case of this nature, sub-section (2) of Section 14 of the Limitation .....

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tutes a proceeding which by reason of some technical defect cannot be decided on merits and is dismissed. While considering the provisions of Section 14 of the Limitation Act, proper approach will have to be adopted and the provisions will have to be interpreted so as to advance the cause of justice rather than abort the proceedings. It will be well to bear in mind that an element of mistake is inherent in the invocation of Section 14. In fact, the section is intended to provide relief against t .....

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but failing because the court is unable to give him such a trial, would not be applicable to an application filed under Section 34 of the Act of 1996. The principle is clearly applicable not only to a case in which a litigant brings his application in the court, that is, a court having no jurisdiction to entertain it but also where he brings the suit or the application in the wrong court in consequence of bona fide mistake or (sic of) law or defect of procedure. Having regard to the intention o .....

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for the execution of a decree is, at the time from which the prescribed period is to be reckoned, a minor or insane, or an idiot, he may institute the suit or make the application within the same period after the disability has ceased, as would otherwise have been allowed from the time specified therefor in the third column of the Schedule. (2) Where such person is, at the time from which the prescribed period is to be reckoned, affected by two such disabilities, or where, before his disability .....

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ive referred to in sub-section (3) is, at the date of the death of the person whom he represents, affected by any such disability, the rules contained in sub-sections (1) and (2) shall apply. (5) Where a person under disability dies after the disability ceases but within the period allowed to him under this section, his legal representative may institute the suit or make the application within the same period after the death, as would otherwise have been available to that person had he not died. .....

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rred by the period of limitation contained in the particular statute governing his rights. This Section again is a pointer to the fact that courts always lean in favour of advancing the cause of justice where a clear case is made out for so doing. 34. However, it remains to consider whether Shri Sanghi is right in stating that Section 128 is a complete code by itself which necessarily excludes the application of Section 14 of the Limitation Act. For this proposition he relied strongly on Parson .....

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lready been rejected, and not to a case of a first appeal as provided under Section 128 of the Customs Act. Another feature, which is of direct relevance in this case, is that for revision petitions filed under the U.P. Sales Tax Act a sufficiently long period of 18 months had been given beyond which it was the policy of the legislature not to extend limitation any further. This aspect of Parson Tools has been explained in Consolidated Engineering in some detail by both the main judgment as well .....

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n Section 14 would be unduly harsh and would not advance the cause of justice. It must not be forgotten as is pointed out in the concurring judgment in Consolidated Engineering that: Even when there is cause to apply Section 14, the limitation period continues to be three months and not more, but in computing the limitation period of three months for the application under Section 34(1) of the AC Act, the time during which the applicant was prosecuting such application before the wrong court is e .....

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g delay within the outer period prescribed for condonation but would apply de hors such period for the reason pointed out in Consolidated Engineering above, being the difference between exclusion of a certain period altogether under Section 14 principles and condoning delay. As has been pointed out in the said judgment, when a certain period is excluded by applying the principles contained in Section 14, there is no delay to be attributed to the appellant and the limitation period provided by th .....

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upon paragraph 14 of this judgment which reads as follows:- 14. It is a well-settled proposition of law that a fiscal legislation has to be construed strictly and one has to look merely at what is said in the relevant provision; there is nothing to be read in; nothing to be implied and there is no room for any intendment. (See Cape Brandy Syndicate v. IRC [(1921) 1 KB 64] and Ajmera Housing Corpn. v.CIT [(2010) 8 SCC 739] .) . 37. We do not see how this judgment furthers the argument of Shri San .....

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rred us to Sree Balaji Nagar Residential Assn. v. State of Tamil Nadu, (2015) 3 SCC 353 and read out paragraphs 10 and 11 from the said judgment. What was held by this Court in that case was that Section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 does not exclude any period during which a land acquisition proceeding which might have remain stayed on account of an injunction granted by any Court. This was so held by cont .....

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ion of a particular proceeding, time taken in steps taken for prosecuting such proceedings should also be excluded. In Tirumareddi Rajarao & Ors. v. The State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors., AIR 1965 A.P. 388, the Andhra Pradesh High Court held that the period taken for preparatory steps before instituting proceedings should also be excluded. It said: 13. We may now turn to the Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary for the meanings of the expression "to prosecute". It means: To follo .....

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ual period between the presentation of a proceedings and the disposal of that particular proceeding should be allowed under the sub-section. The time during which a party has been taking the indispensable and necessary steps preparatory to initiate the proceedings in a court should also be regarded as the time during which he has been prosecuting the civil proceeding. It is also to be borne in mind that sub-section (1) makes no reference to the pendency of the suit, appeal or other proceeding in .....

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ies of the judgment which is an essential requisite for the filing of an appeal or revision in the higher Court has to be disregarded for purposes of S. 14. We do not think that the legislature would have contemplated such a situation. It would certainly result in an anomaly to hold that the time covered by taking the steps absolutely necessary for initiating proceedings in a Court should be included in calculating the period of limitation while the time during which a former suit or application .....

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appeal? Certainly the time requisite for obtaining the certified copies under Section 12 of the Limitation Act would be included within the meaning of the section. Also the limitation prescribed for the filing of an appeal would be included, if the appeal be filed on the last day of limitation. But if the appeal be filed earlier, the time from the date of the order impugned upto the actual date of filing of the appeal would certainly be the time during which the plaintiff can be said to be pros .....

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h, in the case of a suit by a person against whom an order is passed on his objection in execution proceedings, fixes one year. The dates are as follows: the objection order was passed on 5-3-1928. The plaint was presented in one Court on 15-9-1928, of course in time. That was returned by that Court on 14-12-1928, for presentation to what that Court held to be the proper Court. The plaintiff challenging the correctness of that order appealed on 6-2-1929 and the appeal was dismissed on 2-9-1929, .....

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t was eventually filed in the correct Court, and if this is so taken into account the time that has expired is less than a year. The limitation point, therefore, in our opinion, fails." In the case of Abdul Sattar v. Abdul Husan, AIR 1936 Cal 400, the plaintiffs had applied for execution of their decree. The judgment-debtors raised objections to the execution on the ground of adjustment of the decree. The question of adjustment was fought in appeals upto the highest Court. Ultimately it was .....

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he period from 18-9-1948 to 15-12-1948. 41. The language of Section 14, construed in the light of the object for which the provision has been made, lends itself to such an interpretation. The object of Section 14 is that if its conditions are otherwise met, the plaintiff/applicant should be put in the same position as he was when he started an abortive proceeding. What is necessary is the absence of negligence or inaction. So long as the plaintiff or applicant is bonafide pursuing a legal remedy .....

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given state of facts, a defendant - appellant or other appellant takes six months more than the prescribed period for filing an appeal. The delay in filing the appeal is condoned. Under explanation (b) of Section 14, the plaintiff or the applicant resisting such an appeal shall be deemed to be prosecuting a proceeding. If the six month period together with the original period for filing the appeal is not to be excluded under Section 14, the plaintiff/applicant would not get a hearing on merits .....

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s. The plaintiff/applicant files such a proceeding on the ninetieth day i.e. after three months are over. The said proceeding turns out to be abortive after it has gone through a chequered career in the appeal courts. The same plaintiff/applicant now files a fresh proceeding before a court of first instance having the necessary jurisdiction. So long as the said proceeding is filed within the remaining three month period, Section 14 will apply to exclude the entire time taken starting from the ni .....

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West Coast Paper Mills Ltd., (2004) 3 SCC 458, this Court held: 14. … In the submission of the learned Senior Counsel, filing of civil writ petition claiming money relief cannot be said to be a proceeding instituted in good faith and secondly, dismissal of writ petition on the ground that it was not an appropriate remedy for seeking money relief cannot be said to be defect of jurisdiction or other cause of a like nature within the meaning of Section 14 of the Limitation Act. It is true t .....

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Singh Oberoi[(1975) 4 SCC 628] and it was held that Section 14 of the Limitation Act is wide enough to cover such cases where the defects are not merely jurisdictional strictly so called but others more or less neighbours to such deficiencies. Any circumstance, legal or factual, which inhibits entertainment or consideration by the court of the dispute on the merits comes within the scope of the section and a liberal touch must inform the interpretation of the Limitation Act which deprives the r .....

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s a conflict amongst the High Courts on the question whether misjoinder and non-joinder were defects which were covered by the words or other cause of a like nature . It was to set at rest this conflict that Explanation III was added. An extended meaning was thus given to these words. Strictly speaking misjoinder or non-joinder of parties could hardly be regarded as a defect of jurisdiction or something similar or analogous to it. 43. As has been already noticed, Sarathy s case i.e. (2000) 5 SCC .....

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ich a proceeding is instituted and the day on which it ends are also to be counted for the purposes of Section 14. This does not lead to the conclusion that the period from the cause of action to the institution of such proceeding should be left out. In fact, as has been noticed above, the explanation expands the scope of Section 14 by liberalizing it. Thus, under explanation (b) a person resisting an appeal is also deemed to be prosecuting a proceeding. But for explanation (b), on a literal rea .....

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parties or a cause of action to be a cause of a like nature with defect of jurisdiction, expands the scope of the section. We have already noticed that the India Electric Works Ltd. judgment has held that strictly speaking misjoinder of parties or of causes of action can hardly be regarded as a defect of jurisdiction or something similar to it. Therefore properly construed, explanation (a) also confers a benefit and does not by a side wind seek to take away any other benefit that a purposive rea .....

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14 does not enable a litigant to get a benefit beyond what is contemplated by the Section - that is to put the litigant in the same position as if the abortive proceeding had never taken place. What applies to the facts of this case: the limitation period in Section 128 pre-amendment or post amendment 44. Shri A.K. Sanghi, learned senior counsel appearing on behalf of the revenue, has strongly contended before us that the present appeal must attract the limitation period as on the date of its f .....

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vely. This, however, is subject to a rider. In New India Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Shanti Misra, (1975) 2 SCC 840, this Court held: 5. On the plain language of Sections 110-A and 110-F there should be no difficulty in taking the view that the change in law was merely a change of forum i.e. a change of adjectival or procedural law and not of substantive law. It is a well-established proposition that such a change of law operates retrospectively and the person has to go to the new forum even if his ca .....

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e purpose of filing the application under Section 110-A did not start running before the constitution of the tribunal. Time had started running for the filing of the suit but before it had expired the forum was changed. And for the purpose of the changed forum, time could not be deemed to have started running before a remedy of going to the new forum is made available. (2) Even though by and large the law of limitation has been held to be a procedural law, there are exceptions to this principle. .....

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s true that the appellant earlier could file an application even more than six months after the expiry of the period of limitation, but can this be treated to be a right which the appellant had acquired. The answer is in the negative. The claim to compensation which the appellant was entitled to, by reason of the accident was certainly enforceable as a right. So far the period of limitation for commencing a legal proceeding is concerned, it is adjectival in nature, and has to be governed by the .....

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many cases and by way of illustration we would like to mention New India Insurance Co. Ltd. v.Smt Shanti Misra [(1975) 2 SCC 840 : (1976) 2 SCR 266] . The husband of the respondent in that case died in an accident in 1966. A period of two years was available to the respondent for instituting a suit for recovery of damages. In March, 1967 the Claims Tribunal under Section 110 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 was constituted, barring the jurisdiction of the civil court and prescribed 60 days as th .....

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me after the constitution of the Tribunal; and, that the time of about four months taken by the respondent in approaching the Tribunal after its constitution, could be held to be either reasonable time or the delay of about two months could be condoned under the proviso to Section 110-A(3). Both these judgments were referred to and followed in Union of India v. Harnam Singh, (1993) 2 SCC 162, see paragraph 12. 48. The aforesaid principle is also contained in Section 30(a) of the Limitation Act, .....

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, whichever period expires earlier: 49. The reason for the said principle is not far to seek. Though periods of limitation, being procedural law, are to be applied retrospectively, yet if a shorter period of limitation is provided by a later amendment to a statute, such period would render the vested right of action contained in the statute nugatory as such right of action would now become time barred under the amended provision. 50. This aspect of the matter is brought out rather well in Thirum .....

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f Section 52 of FERA or under the proviso to sub-section (2) of Section 19 of FEMA. For answering that question it is necessary to examine the law on the point. Substantive and procedural law 23. Substantive law refers to a body of rules that creates, defines and regulates rights and liabilities. Right conferred on a party to prefer an appeal against an order is a substantive right conferred by a statute which remains unaffected by subsequent changes in law, unless modified expressly or by neces .....

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ight, and an aggrieved person cannot claim any vested right claiming that he should be governed by the old provision pertaining to period of limitation. Procedural law is retrospective meaning thereby that it will apply even to acts or transactions under the repealed Act. 25. Law on the subject has also been elaborately dealt with by this Court in various decisions and reference may be made to a few of those decisions. This Court in Garikapati Veeraya v. N. Subbiah Choudhry [AIR 1957 SC 540] , N .....

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s held that the law relating to forum and limitation is procedural in nature whereas law relating to right of appeal even though remedial is substantive in nature. 26. Therefore, unless the language used plainly manifests in express terms or by necessary implication a contrary intention a statute divesting vested rights is to be construed as prospective, a statute merely procedural is to be construed as retrospective and a statute which while procedural in its character, affects vested rights ad .....

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ai case, it was held that the repealed provision contained in the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, namely, Section 52 would not apply to an appeal filed long after 1.6.2000 when the Foreign Exchange Management Act came into force, repealing the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act. It is significant to note that Section 52(2) of the repealed Act provided a period of limitation of 45 plus 45 days and no more whereas Section 19(2) of FEMA provided for 45 days with no cap thereafter provided sufficient .....

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in March- April, 1992. The present appeal was filed under Section 128, which Section continues on the statute book till date. Before its amendment in 2001, it provided a maximum period of 180 days within which an appeal could be filed. Time began to run on 3.4.1992 under Section 128 pre amendment when the appellant received the order of the Superintendent of Customs intimating it about an order passed by the Collector of Customs on 25.3.1992. Under Section 128 as it then stood a person aggrieved .....

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