Customs, Excise and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT): P. Dinesha (Judicial Member) allowed an appeal which was filed after being rejected by the Adjudicating Authority and First Appellate Authority in relation to refund claim in the chit fund business.

The appellant engaged in the chit fund business and after the introduction of negative taxation regime, they were compelled to pay Service Tax on the foreman charges collected for their chit fund activities for the period from 01-07-2012 to 31-05-2013.

The counsel for the appellant, Mr A. Niraikulam also submitted that in the case of Delhi High Court of Delhi Chit Fund Association v. Union of India, 2013 (30) S.T.R. 347 (Del.) it was ruled that Service Tax was not chargeable on the services rendered by the foreman in the chit fund business which was upheld by the Supreme Court by dismissing the Revenue’s Special Leave Petition as reported in 2015 (38) S.T.R. J202 (S.C.). The appellant had filed its refund claim and the Adjudicating Authority had rejected the refund claim as being hit by the limitation of time as prescribed under Section 11B of the Central Excise Act, 1944. On first appeal, the First Appellate Authority also having rejected the appellant’s appeal, the present appeal had been filed before this forum.

The Tribunal was of the opinion that the decision of the Supreme Court was the law of the land and therefore if it had held that when there was no question of liability to Service Tax, then, any amount collected under the guise of Service Tax becomes a collection of the said amount without the authority of law and the Revenue can never, therefore, claim any right over such amount; the same will have to be refunded forthwith to the concerned person.

The Tribunal held that the collection of amount, which according to the appellant was out of compulsion, being a collection without any authority of law, will have to be refunded. The Tribunal while allowing the appeal set aside the orders by the lower authorities. However. Tribunal was of the view that the application for refund was filed on 19-01-2018; the date of the judgement of the Supreme Court was 07-01-2014 so there was a clear four-year delay in filing the refund claim therefore appellant is not entitled to any interest for the delay caused by it as the appellant cannot take advantage of its own mistake of filing a delayed refund claim and thus cannot claim the interest for that delayed period during which time it slept over its rights.[Sivamurugan Chit Fund (P) Ltd. v. Commr. Of G.S.T. & CE, 2021 SCC OnLine CESTAT 371 , decided on 06-08-2021]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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