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Salient features of Settlement Commission

Salient features of Settlement Commission :

1. Who can make an application for settlement? Can it be withdrawn?Section 32E states that an assessee may make a case for settlement. An assessee is defined in Section 31(a) as any person who is liable to pay excise duty assessed and includes any manufacturer/producer or a registered person of a private warehouse.

An application once made cannot be withdrawn [Section 32E(4)]

2. What is it that can be settled?A case can be settled. The case is defined in section 31(c) as any proceeding under this Act or any

other Act for the levy, assessment and collection of excise duty, pending before an adjudicating authority on the date on which an application under sub-section (1) of section 32E is made.

However, when any proceeding is referred back, by any court, Appellate Tribunal or any other authority, to the adjudicating authority for a fresh adjudication or decision, as the case may be, then such proceeding shall not be deemed to be a proceeding pending within the meaning of this clause.

Thus, Settlement Commission can only be approached when original adjudication is pending.

3. What categories of cases cannot be settled?See para 18.3 for such cases.
4. What is the procedure to be followed by the Settlement Commission on receipt of application?See para 18.4 for details.
5. Can Settlement Commission grant immunity from prosecution and penalty/ interest/ fine?The Commission can grant immunity under section 32K from prosecution only for any offence under the Central Excise Act and either wholly or in part from the imposition of penalty and fine if it is satisfied that the applicant has made full and true disclosure and cooperated with the Commission.

It may be noted that if prosecution is launched before receipt of application, immunity against such prosecution cannot be granted.

6. Can such immunity be withdrawn?Immunity can be withdrawn under section 32K only if the person fails to pay the sums due within the time specified in the settlement order or where the applicant has concealed any material to the settlement or given false evidence relating to the settlement.
7. Can the case be sent back by the Settlement Commission to the Central Excise officer?Under Section 32L, this can be done only where the Commission is satisfied that the person has not cooperated. The consequences of this are that it would be deemed that no application has been made before the Commission.
8. Can the Central Excise officer who received the case back use the materials produced before the Commission?Yes as per Section 32L.
9. Is the order of settlement final?As per section 32M, except as provided in Chapter V, the order is final and conclusive and shall not be re-opened in any proceeding under this Act or under any other law. For example, section 32F(8) provides that if the order was obtained by fraud or misrepresentation, it would become void.
10. What is the time limit for payment of amounts ordered by Settlement Commission?Under section 32F(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.
11. Can a completed proceeding be re-opened?No, the Settlement Commission cannot reopen the proceedings.
12. Is the proceeding before the Settlement Commission a judicial proceeding?Section 32P deems that the proceeding is a judicial proceeding within the meaning of sections 193 and 228 of the IPC.
13. Where are the Benches of Settlement Commission located?The principal Bench is at New Delhi with Additional Benches at Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai. The jurisdiction of the Bench is decided not by the place of business of the applicant but by the location of the headquarters of the Commissionerate passing the order.
14. What is the procedure to make an application and what are the fees?See Procedure below.
15. Can the applicant take legal assistance?Under section 32F(5), assistance of authorised representative can be taken.
16. Can the property of the applicant be attached?Provisional attachment by Settlement Commission is possible under section 32G.


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