‘Alarming’, notes Delhi HC on vacancies in Central Excise Settlement Commission

The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought a status report from the Centre on a plea seeking directions for the appointment of members to the Settlement Commission under Central Excise, observing that the situation is “alarming.”

The observation of the division bench presided over by Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla came while the bench was dealing with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in which it was said that 193 applications are pending before the commission for settlement.

The PIL contended that all the four benches of the commission in four metros including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai are sitting without a complete coram which is two for almost over a year.

After the submissions, the court directed the Centre to respond within two weeks and slated the matter for further hearing on May 2.

“In our view, the situation is rather alarming and the Respondent should at the earliest take steps to make appointments to the four benches of the Settlement Commission. Let the status report be filed in 2 weeks.” the court said in the order.

The plea stated that since the positions are lying vacant before settlement commission for a long time and there is a possible scenario of applications abating for no fault of applicants, the present petition is filed in general interest seeking issuance of appropriate writ to Respondent to expeditiously fill the vacancies in the Settlement commission and ensure that no applicant suffers for want of member in the commission.

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