How should a government department spend to recover Rs 11? Well, the Central Excise Department spent Rs 3,000 in an effort to extract the amount from an erring businessman in Aurangabad, 365 km from Mumbai.
The department had already got an order to levy a penalty of Rs 5,000 on Uma Precision Limited from the Commissioner (Appeals) in Aurangabad. But the department had earlier levied a penalty of Rs 5,011 and to recover the remaining amount of Rs 11, the authorities challenged the order of the Commissioner (Appeals) and approached the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) in Mumbai.
“A superintendent-level officer (from Aurangabad) would have visited Mumbai on at least two occasions – once while filing the case with CESTAT and the second time on the day of the hearing,” a department official said, requesting anonymity.
He said officer is entitled to IInd class AC train fare. He also gets a food allowance. “Besides, five sets of case papers have to be made. This also involves a lot of money,” the official said.
The entire exercise took nearly three years. But at the end of it all, the dogged department was in for a big disappointment.
“I am of the view that the prayer for enhancement of penalty by Rs 11 is not worth considering,” was what PG Chacko, Member (Judicial) of CESTAT had to say on January 6.
RK Jain, chief commissioner of central excise, Nagpur, who oversees the Aurangabad Excise Commissionerate, refused to comment, saying he has not received a copy of Chacko’s order. Excise officials said that more than the expenditure, valuable time is consumed, which could otherwise be used to crack other cases.