Customs, Excise and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT): Ashok Jindal (Judicial Member) allowed an appeal which was filed against the impugned order rejecting the claim for interest on the refund from the date of deposit till its realization.

The appellant was manufacturer of zinc ingots, aluminum alloys ingots, lead ingots etc by using zinc scrap, aluminum scrap, ingots and lead scrap as their raw material. The Revenue was of the view that zinc skimming and zinc ash were final products and the appellant was liable to pay duty. The appellant paid an amount during the period 2008-09 and 2009-10 under protest to avoid interest liability. Later on, the matter was settled in favour of the appellant on the basis of CBEC’s circular in this regards wherein it was observed that no duty is payable on zinc skimming and zinc ash arising during the course of manufacturing of the final products. After which a refund claim was filed which was ultimately sanctioned, but no interest was given to the appellant from the date of deposit.

The Tribunal concluded that the facts of the case were not in dispute and that it was understanding of the appellant that they were liable to pay duty that’s why they paid the duty under protest. In these circumstances, the amount deposited under protest is not to take the benefit of time limit, but liability of duty as alleged.  The Tribunal was of the view that the AR failed to show that in case the amount deposited under protest was governed under Section 11AB of the Act for claims of interest.

The Tribunal finally relied on the judgment of the Allahabad High Court in EBIZ Com Pvt Ltd – 2017 (49) STR 389 (All.) where it was observed,

“23. It has been consistent view of various Courts that any amount, deposited during pendency of adjudication proceedings or investigation is in the nature of deposit made under protest or pre-deposit and, therefore, principles of unjust enrichment would not be attracted.

  1. The consensus of the authorities of various High Courts as well as Supreme Court is that any amount received by Revenue, as deposit or pre-deposit i.e. unauthorizedly or under mistaken notion, etc., cannot be retained by Revenue since it has no authority in law to retain such amount and it must be refunded with interest.”

The Tribunal allowed the appeal holding that the appellant was entitled to interest on delayed refund from the date of deposit till its realization @12% p.a.[Soorajmull Baijnath Industries (P) Ltd. v. Commr. Of CE &ST, 2021 SCC OnLine CESTAT 2545, decided on 27-08-2021]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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