The Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) is headless for the last three-and-a-half months even as a large number of cases involving thousands of crores of government revenue keep piling up.
Apart from the vacancy of CESTAT president, four out of the total 18 posts of the tribunal’s members are also vacant.
On the administrative side, out of the total seven sanctioned posts of deputy registrars, four are lying vacant for over seven years.
In the absence of CESTAT president, no anti-dumping cases could be decided in view of Section 9C of the Customs Tariff Act, 1962 that mandated all anti-dumping appeals to be heard only by a bench headed by the tribunal’s head.
The situation has forced the CESTAT Bar Association to move the Supreme Court seeking direction to the government to fill the vacancies at the earliest.
The association alleged that the government was sitting over the names recommended by Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan for CESTAT president. The names were sent long back to the finance ministry and were pending with the Cabinet Secretariat, the petition said.
“There is likelihood of issuance of notification for parliamentary election and once it is issued then no appointment could be made by the Government,” the association said, adding that in such a situation the tribunal would remain headless for several more months.