Quasi Judicial Authority Cannot Set Aside Own Order

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High Court Division :
(Special Statutory Jurisdiction)
Farah Mahbub J
SM Maniruzzaman J
 Commissioner, Customs, Excise and VAT Commissionerate…..Appellant
vs
Customs, Excise and VAT Appellate Tribunal and others. ……..Respondents
Judgment
March 12th, 2019
Value Added Tax Act (XXII of 1991)
Section 42(1)(ga)
It is well settled that a quasi judicial authority cannot set aside his own order. The authority has set aside his self same earlier adjudication order which is without jurisdiction being functus officio. If the Customs authority is aggrieved by the adjudication order he or they may prefer appeal before the Appellate Tribunal. .. …. (16)
Sk Rashedul Haque, Advocate-For the Respondent No.2.
Samarendra Nath Biswas DAG with Khairunnesa AAG with Shamsuddoha Talukder AAG with Md Abul Kalam Khan Daud, AAG and AHM Ziauddin, AAG-For the Appellant-Government.
Judgment
SM Maniruzzaman J : This Appeal, under Section 42(1)(Ga) of the VAT Act, 1991 (instead of Section 196D of the Customs Act, 1969) is directed against the order dated 10-8-2006 passed by the respondent No.1 in CEVT/ Case(VAT)-177 of 2015 allowing the appeal and thereby setting aside the adjudication order dated 9-4-2015 passed by the Commissioner, Customs, Excise and VAT Commissionerate, Jessore vide order No. 28/LC/Siz/Comi/14.
2. Facts, relevant for disposal of the appeal, in short, are that while a Petrol Team of 6 BGB, Chuadanga was conducting duty received a secret information that a truck being No. Jessore : Ta 11-2737 carrying smuggled goods was leading towards Dhaka from Chuadanga. Ultimately, said Petrol Team was able to detain the vehicle at Garulpara, Khuksha, Kushtia along with the smuggled goods and prepared a seizure list. However, the seized goods along with the truck was handed over to the authority of Customs godown, Darshana, Jessore for confiscation under the Customs Act, 1969 (in short, the Act, 1969). Subsequently the. respondent No. 2 filed a representation to the Commissioner, Customs, Excise and VAT Commissionerate, Jessore, appending relevant documents thereto in support of ownership of the truck with request to hand over the truck in his possession. However, the Commissioner issued a show cause notice on 27-1-2015 upon the said respondent to show cause as to why the truck being No. Jessore : Ta 11-2737 should not be confiscated in favour of the State under Clause 8 and 9 of the Table under Section 156(1) of the Act, 1969.
3. In response thereto, the respondent No. 2 submitted written reply stating, inter alia, that the truck in question was purchased by one Md Abdul Quddus from Nitol Motors Ltd. who later on sold the same in favour of the respondent No.2 on 9-10-2012. Since then he was carrying goods on rent by the truck. Accordingly, on 29-9-2014 while the driver was carrying the goods of Md Abul Hossain, Proprietor M/s Nazrul Enterprise with valid documents i.e. chalan, LC, invoice etc. on his truck which was loaded from Benapul and to be unloaded at Dhaka, the law enforcing agency had most illegally detained the said truck. Considering the facts, he requested to release the truck in his favour.
4. The appellant on receiving the aforesaid reply to the show cause notice and after hearing, confiscated the goods along with the truck in question in favour of the State under Clause 8 and 9 of the Table under Section 156(1) of the Act and Section 3(3) of the Import and Export (Control) Act, 1950 vide adjudication order dated 9-4-2015 with the following findings.
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5. Being aggrieved with the adjudication order dated 9-4-2015 the respondent No.2 as appellant preferred appeal before the Customs, Excise and VAT Appellate Tribunal, under section 196(A) of the Act. Upon hearing the parties, the Tribunal allowed the appeal setting aside the adjudication order vide dated 10-8-2006 with the following findings:
“???? ???? ??????? ??-???? ?????? ???? ???? ??? ???? ????????, ????? ???????, ???????, ??????? ? ????? ?????????, ???? ?????? ???, ???? ?? ???? ??-??/????/???/???/?? ???-?-?-?? ??????? ?? ????? ?? ????? ??? ?? ??? ?????? ?????? ?????? ????? ??-????-?-??-???? ????????? ???? ??????? ???? ???????? ???? ?????? ??? ??? ??? ???????? ?????? ????????? ???????? ?????? ??????????/???????????? ????? ??????? ???? ???????? ???? ????? ???? ?????? ??????? ????? ????? ???? ??? ????”
6. Challenging the order of the Appellate Tribunal dated 10-8-2016 the Commissioner, Customs, Excise and VAT, Commissonerate, Jessore as appellant has preferred the instant appeal under Section 42(1)(Ga) of the Value Added Tax Act, 1991 instead of Section 196 of the Customs Act, 1969 before this Division.
7. Mr Shamsuddoha Talukder, the learned Assistant Attorney-General appearing for the appellant submits that the Appellate Tribunal erred in law setting aside the adjudication order on surmise and conjecture without any basis on law and hence the impugned order of the Tribunal is liable to be set aside. He further submits that the truck in question was carrying smuggled goods which is a punishable offence under Section 157(2) of the. Act, 1969. Considering the facts, the adjudication authority has lawfully confiscated the truck in favour of the State, but the Appellate Tribunal without considering the facts of written statement and evidence on record of the appellant as well as law allowed the appeal setting aside the order of adjudication and, as such, the impugned order is liable to be set aside. I
8. On the other hand, Mr Sk Rashedul Haque, the learned Advocate appearing for the respondent No.2 after placing both the orders and relevant provisions of law submits that the present respondent preferred the instant appeal before the Customs, Excise and VAT Appellate Tribunal under Section 196A of the Act, 1969 and after hearing the Appellate Tribunal allowed the appeal setting aside the adjudication order under Section 196B of the Act, 1969. But, the Commissioner; Customs, Excise and VAT as appellant filed the instant appeal under Section 42(1)(Ga) of the VAT Act, 1991 instead of Section 196D of the Act, 1969 and accordingly, the appeal was registered as VAT Appeal No. 69 of 2006. As such since the appeal has been filed in wrong forum, thus the appeal is liable to be dismissed as being filed in wrong forum. He also goes to submit that the Tribunal considering the documents in respect of ownership of the truck and other relevant evidence in support of carrying goods allowed the appeal setting aside the adjudication order and, as such, the instant appeal is liable to be dismissed. He further goes to argue that the appellant passed the adjudication order confiscating the truck on 19-4-2015 after setting aside his earlier self same adjudication order dated 7-4-2015 which is absolutely without jurisdiction and the Appellate Tribunal legally set aside the adjudication order directing the Customs authority to return the bank guarantee in favour of the respondent No.2.
9. Heard the learned Assistant Attorney-General appearing for the appellant and the learned Advocate appearing for the respondent No.2; have gone through the memo of appeal, relevant materials on records and the provisions of law.
10. As it appears that the Commissioner, Customs, Excise and VAT, Commissionerate, Jessore passed the adjudication order confiscating the truck in question under the Clause 8 and 9 of the Table under Section 156(1) and 157 of the Act, 1969 and Section 3(3) of the Import and Export (Control) Act, 1950.
11. Being aggrieved by the such order, the respondent No.2 as appellant preferred appeal before the Customs, Excise and VAT, Appellate Tribunal under Section 196A of the Customs Act, 1969. Upon hearing, the Appellate Tribunal allowed the appeal and thereby setting aside the adjudication order dated 9-4-2015 passed by the Commissioner Customs, Excise and VAT, Commissionerate by its order dated 21-8-2004 under Section 196B of the Act, 1969. Against such order the forum available to the appellant is under Section 196D of the Act, 1969. Section 196D of the Customs Act, 1969 provides that-
“The Commissioner of Customs or the other party may, within [ninety] days of the date upon which he is served with notice of an order under Section 196B, by an application, prefer an appeal to the High Court Division against such order.”
12. But, the instant appeal has been preferred by the appellant under Section 42(1) (Ga) of the VAT Act, 1991 and accordingly it was registered as VAT appeal. In view of the above the instant appeal is liable to be dismissed for invoking wrong forum.
13. However, before passing the adjudication order, the Commissioner, Customs, Excise and VAT Commissionerate (present appellant) had framed a inquiry committee by two Revenue Officers and after holding inquiry said officers submitted a report before the Commissioner stating inter alia that-
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14. By filing affidavit dated 25-6-2018 the present respondent submitted original documents before this Court (as Additional evidence) and upon perusal of the documents it appears that the truck in question was originally belonged to Nitol Motors Ltd. by obtaining loan from United Commercial Bank Ltd. Mohakhali Branch, Dhaka. One Md Abdul Quddus purchased the truck being No. Jessore TA-1l-2737 from Nitol Motors Ltd. Subsequent to said purchase, he transferred the same to the respondent No. 2 and to that effect an agreement of sale was executed between them on 9-10-2012. As per agreement present respondent paid all installments to Nitol Motors Ltd. and accordingly, a certificate was issued certifying that Mr Amzad Hossain paid all installments to it. In support of ownership of the truck he also submitted tax token, fitness certificate, insurance certificate, chalan, payment receipts (Annexure- A series). We have noticed from Annexure-A series and it appears that the inquiry report so submitted by the two Revenue Officers relying on the materials on record. But, the adjudication authority without considering those documents and inquiry report confiscated the truck in favour of the State.
15. It appears from the adjudication order dated 9-4-2015 that
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16. It is well settled that a quasi judicial authority cannot set aside his own order. But, in the present case, the appellant authority has set aside his self same earlier adjudication order dated 7-4-2015 vide adjudication order dated 9-4-2015 which is without jurisdiction being functus officio. If the Customs authority is aggrieved by the adjudication order dated 7-4-2015 he or they may prefer appeal before the Appellate Tribunal under Section 196A of the Act, 1969.
17. In view of the facts and circumstances stated hereinabove we are of the view that the respondent No.1, the Appellant Tribunal in considering the facts and circumstances of the case and law passed the impugned order dated 10-8-2016 setting aside the adjudication order passed by the appellant dated 9-4-2015.
18. We find no legal and factual infirmity in the impugned order.
19. In the result, the appeal is dismissed without any order as to costs.
20. The impugned order dated 10.08.2006 passed by the respondent No.1 in CEVT /Case (VAT)-177 of 2015 allowing the appeal and thereby setting aside the adjudication order dated 9-4-2015 passed by the Commissioner, Customs, Excise and VAT Commissionerate, Jessore vide order No. 28/LC/Siz/Comi/14 is hereby uphold.
21. The Commissioner, Customs, Excise and VAT Commissionerate, Jessore, Bhola Tank Road, Jessore is hereby directed to return the truck being No. Jessore-TA-1l-2737 and Bank Guarantee furnished by the respondent No.2 within a period of 7 (seven) days from the date of receipt of the copy of judgment and order positively without fail.
22. Send down the lower Court’s record at once.
23. The office is hereby directed to return the original documents filed by the respondent No. 2 before this Court after replacing the same with photocopies thereof.