HYDERABAD: A division bench of the Hyderabad High Court has paved the way for according powers to prohibition and excise commissioners of both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh states for condoning the delay in filing appeals before them by the aggrieved parties whose vehicles are seized by the excise authorities.
The bench comprising chief justice Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta and justice P V Sanjay Kumar has recently passed an order in this regard while dealing with an appeal filed by K Dinesh Kumar, a lorry owner from Mahbubnagar district, challenging the confiscation of his vehicle by the excise officials at Kodangal through an order issued by the deputy excise commissioner.
Dinesh Kumar’s counsel said that though an appeal was filed against the confiscation before the excise commissioner, the latter dismissed it saying that as per the provisions of AP Excise Act, the appeal should be filed before the expiry of 60 days. The Act did not confer any powers on the commissioner to condone the delay if the appeals are filed after 60 days, he added.
Earlier, a single judge of the high court also declined to interfere in this regard as the Act was silent on this aspect. An aggrieved petitioner then moved an appeal before a division bench which held that Section 46-C of the Excise Act needs to be amended. This section merely says that all those aggrieved by the orders of the deputy commissioner shall prefer an appeal before the commissioner within 60 days and it does not say anything about what the commissioner should do with those applications which are filed after passage of 60 days, the counsel pointed out.
After hearing the case, the bench in its order dated April 30, 2015 said that the Limitation Act says that the power to condone delay is inherent in all the appellate authorities and hence the same can be applied to the present case also. The bench, however, said that there is scope for abuse of such power by unscrupulous litigants.
At this stage, the Advocate Generals of both Telangana and AP states assured the division bench that they would strive to get the Section 46-C of the Excise Act amended to put in place a specific condonable period of delay at the disposal of their respective excise commissioners.
The bench then directed the appellant to file a fresh appeal under Section 5 of the Limitation Act. While disposing of the appeal, the bench directed the prohibition and excise commissioners concerned to first decide the delay petition. If the appellate authority is satisfied with the explanation for the delay, the same may be condoned and thereafter the appeal may be heard on merit, the bench said.