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Procedure to be followed by the Settlement Commission [Section 32F]

Procedure to be followed by the Settlement Commission [Section 32F] :

(1) The Settlement Commission shall issue a notice to the applicant within 7 days from the date of receipt of the application, to explain in writing as to why the application made by him should be allowed to be proceeded with. After taking into consideration the explanation provided by the applicant, the Settlement Commission shall, within a period of 14 days from the date of the notice, pass an order either allowing the application to be proceeded with, or rejecting the same. The proceedings before the Settlement Commission shall abate on the date of rejection.

However, where no notice has been issued or no order has been passed within the aforesaid period by the Settlement Commission, the application shall be deemed to have been allowed to be proceeded with.

(2) A copy of every order under sub-section (1), shall be sent to the applicant and to the Principal Commissioner/ Commissioner of Central Excise having jurisdiction.

(3) Where an application is allowed or deemed to have been allowed to be proceeded with under sub-section (1), the Settlement Commission shall, within 7 days from the date of order under sub-section (1), call for a report along with the relevant records from the Principal Commissioner/ Commissioner of Central Excise having jurisdiction. The Principal Commissioner/ Commissioner shall furnish the report within a period of 30 days from the date of the receipt of communication from the Settlement Commission.

However, where the Principal Commissioner/ Commissioner does not furnish the report within the aforesaid period of 30 days, the Settlement Commission shall proceed further in the matter without the report of the Principal Commissioner/ Commissioner.

(4) After examination of the report of the Principal Commissioner/ Commissioner submitted within time, if the Settlement Commission is of the opinion that any further enquiry or investigation in the matter is necessary, it may direct, for reasons to be recorded in writing, the Commissioner (Investigation) within 15 days of the receipt of the report, to make such further enquiry or investigation on the matters covered by the application and any other matter relating to the case. The Commissioner (Investigation) should furnish the report of such enquiry within a period of 90 days from the date of the receipt of the communication from the Settlement Commission.

However, where the Commissioner (Investigation) does not furnish the report within the aforesaid period, the Settlement Commission shall proceed to pass an order under subsection (5) without such report.

(5) The Settlement Commission may pass such order as it thinks fit on the matters covered by the application and any other matter relating to the case not covered by the application, but referred to in the report of the Principal Commissioner/ Commissioner of Central Excise and Commissioner (Investigation) after examination of the records, the report of the Principal Commissioner/ Commissioner of Central Excise and the report, if any, of the Commissioner (Investigation) of the Settlement Commission. An opportunity of being heard either in person or through a representative duly authorised in this behalf shall be given to the applicant and to the Principal Commissioner/ Commissioner of Central Excise having jurisdiction before passing of such order. The Commission shall also examine any further evidence as may be placed before it or obtained by it before passing the order.

(6) The order under sub-section (5) shall be passed within 9 months from the last day of the month in which the application was made. However, if the order is not passed within the stipulated time, the settlement proceedings shall abate and the adjudicating authority before whom the proceeding at the time of making the applicat ion was pending, shall dispose of the case in accordance with the provisions of this Act as if no application under section 32E had been made.

However, the aforesaid period may be extended, for reasons to be recorded in writing, by the Settlement Commission for a further period not exceeding three months.

(7) Subject to the provisions of section 32A, the materials brought on record before the Settlement Commission shall be considered by the Members of the concerned Bench before passing any order under sub-section (5). In relation to the passing of such order, the provisions of section 32D shall apply.

(8) The order passed under sub-section (5) shall provide for the terms of settlement including any demand by way of duty, penalty or interest, the manner in which any sums due under the settlement shall be paid and all other matters to make the settlement effective. However, in case of rejection the order shall contain the reasons therefor. The order shall also provide that the settlement shall be void if it is subsequently found by the Settlement Commission that it has been obtained by fraud or misrepresentation of facts.

The amount of settlement ordered by the Settlement Commission shall not be less than the duty liability admitted by the applicant under section 32E.

(9) The duty, interest, fine and penalty payable in pursuance of the order under sub-section (5) shall be paid by the assessee within 30 days of receipt of a copy of the order by him. If the assessee fails to do so the amount which remains unpaid shall be recovered along with interest due thereon as the sums due to the Central Government by the Central Excise Officer having jurisdiction over the assessee in accordance with the provisions of section 11.

(10) Where a settlement becomes void as provided under sub-section (8), the proceedings with respect to the matters covered by the settlement shall be deemed to have been revived from the stage at which the application was allowed to be proceeded with by the Settlement Commission. The Central Excise Officer having jurisdiction may, notwithstanding anything contained in any other provision of this Act, complete such proceedings at any time before the expiry of 2 years from the date of the receipt of communication that the settlement became void.

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