The demand for a Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) Bench in the state is gaining momentum with the Union Government deciding to set up six more regional Benches in the country. The exim business fraternity in Ernakulam has pointed out that the Bench is essential for Kochi.
The Union Cabinet had on October 17 decided to set up six additional CESTAT Benches in Chandigarh, Allahabad and Hyderabad and at the existing locations in New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. The Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) office-bearers, while welcoming the Union Cabinet decision to set up six additional CESTAT Benches, expressed their disappointment that Kochi was deprived of a Bench to hear the cases arising from the state despite that fact that there was an initiative to start a new CESTAT bench in Kochi earlier.
“There has been a long-pending demand for setting up a CESTAT Bench in Kochi. It was in April that the government approved a proposal for setting up 10 more CESTAT Benches across the country, and Kochi was included in the list. However, when the Union Government took a decision on the matter, Kochi was ignored,” said CCCI president C P Mammen.
CESTAT was constituted as an independent forum to hear appeals against orders and decisions passed under the Customs Act 1962, Central Excise Act 1944, as amended from time to time, and Gold (Control) Act 1968. It considers appeals under the Service Tax also, and the Tribunal has now been renamed as the Customs Excise & Service Tax Appellate Tribunal. “The existing Benches are overburdened with lot of appeals and final hearings in Excise Appeals filed even in 2007 are pending. At present, service tax assessees in Kerala have to appear before the CESTAT at Bangalore Bench which is already overloaded with cases from, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh too.It will be beneficial to the service providers of the state to have a separate Bench in Kochi which deals with the cases registered here, he added.