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M/S Raj Ratan Castings Private Limited Thru' Director v. Union Of India Thru' Commissioner Central Excise & Others - WRIT TAX No. 1419 of 2006 [2006] RD-AH 15951 (13 September 2006)


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Court No. 36

Civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 1419 of 2006

M/S Raj Ratan Castings Pvt. Ltd.   Vs Union of India & others

Hon'ble Sushil Harkauli, J.

Hon'ble Vikram Nath, J.

We have heard the learned counsel for the petitioner and Sri Ajai Bhanot, appearing for the respondents.

It is alleged by the Respondents that on receiving intelligence about suppression of production and clandestine removal of the produce from the factory premises without payment of CENVAT by the petitioner, the Preventive Officers, with two independent witnesses, carried out an inspection in which they found shortage of stocks.  The officers conducting the inspection examined a supervisor of the petitioner namely Sri Mewal Das who stated that he was not aware of any other place where stocks were kept except the places which he got inspected and accordingly he could not explain the shortage. Subsequently, the petitioner gave the defence that there were two other godowns, which were not inspected by the inspecting team.  It is alleged by the petitioner that thereupon the department re-examined Sri Mewal Das who stated before the departmental officers that he had got every place where stock was kept inspected by the inspecting team.  Thereafter, a show cause notice was issued to the petitioner to explain the shortage. The adjudication proceedings are going on.

         During the proceedings the petitioner moved an application for permission to cross-examine Sri Mewal Das. That application has been rejected by the impugned order dated 20.7.2006, Annexure-8 to this writ petition. The order says that the request for cross-examination has been turned down by the Commissioner Central Excise Kanpur, and the reasons for the same will be detailed in the adjudication order.

Either the evidence of Sri Mewal Das is relevant and important for adjudication, in which case cross-examination should normally have been permitted, and could be refused only on exceptionally strong reasons or circumstances. The other possibility is that the statement of Sri Mewal Das may only have been the basis for initiating the proceedings, and the statement may ultimately not be important for adjudication; and the petitioner may be required to prove by positive evidence of his own, that the alleged shortage did not exist or to prove the satisfactory valid reasons for the shortage.  In this latter event the cross-examination may not be very material.

However, we are unable to appreciate this stand of the Commissioner Central Excise Kanpur that even the brief reasons for rejecting such a simple prayer as cross-examination will be disclosed later. We think that we are entitled to assume that the Commissioner would have applied his mind to the request and would only have rejected it for proper reasons which must have struck his mind on the record available before him. Why then the Commissioner should shy of disclosing those reason is not understandable. But we refrain from saying anything further on this because the Commissioner has not had the opportunity to state his version or explanation before us by filing a counter affidavit.  

Having considered the matter we are of the opinion that it would not be desirable to decide, at this interlocutory stage, on this issue whether the statement of Sri Mewal Das will or will not ultimately be relevant and important for the adjudication which is to take place. The reason is that we are of the opinion that this rejection of the request for cross-examination is not final, and that as the matter proceeds further the department can reconsider the matter and allow this request. At interlocutory stage of inquiry proceedings interference under the extra-ordinary jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India should be made in extraordinary circumstances only.  

The writ petition is, therefore, dismissed.

Dated: 13.09.2006



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