08 January 2024

Reference to Larger Bench to be heard at instance of Intervener if appellant settles case

The Larger Bench of the CESTAT has held that the hearing and resolution of the issue referred to the Larger Bench is be continued at the instance of the Intervener even if the case of the appellant has been settled under Sabka Vishwas (Legacy Dispute Resolution) Scheme subsequent to the reference to the Larger Bench of the Tribunal.

The Bench thus rejected the contention of the Department that the Miscellaneous Application filed by the intervener was neither maintainable nor entertainable as the intervener was not aggrieved by the decision arising out of the Order-in-Appeal in question. The LB in this regard opined that to be an intervener, on a reference before a Larger Bench, it is not necessary to be an aggrieved party in the appeal from which reference is made.

The Tribunal in Ramco Cements Limited v. Commissioner [Decision dated 21 December 2023] also noted that in the present case the intervener had shown that it was an interested party to the reference, as the appeals involving similar issue are pending before the Principal Bench of the Tribunal at Delhi.

Holding that the hearing is be continued at instance of the Intervener and appeal need not be returned to the Referral Bench, the LB noted that the resolution of the reference by the Larger Bench would not be limited to the present appeal but would have implication on all pending appeals involving same issue and awaiting the outcome of the present reference.

Further, observing that the issue involved admissibility of Cenvat credit on the service tax paid on GTA (outward transportation of goods) service after delivery of the judgment of the Supreme Court in Ultra Tech Cement Ltd. and the CBIC Circular dated 8 June 2018, the Larger Bench held that the reference needs to be answered as the reference involves a substantial question of law having wide implication on the pending cases. Earlier LB decision in the case of Kafila Hospitality & Travels was relied upon.

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