In these Covid times when there is a restricted functioning of Courts and Tribunals in general, a more liberal approach is warranted in matters of condonation of delay, which cannot be said to be extraordinary. Accordingly, the order of the Appellate Authority rejecting the appeal on the ground of delay, is hereby set aside. The appeal is now restored.
Section 107 of the CGST Act, 2017— Appeal — The petitioner challenged the Appellate Authority order dated 10th March, 2021, on the grounds that the appeal was not presented within the time prescribed under law. The Adjudicating Authority passed the impugned order on 14th August, 2020 and uploaded it on the same day. Last date for the filing of the appeal against the said order was 17th November, 2020. The petitioner filed the appeal on 13th November, 2020 electronically, accompanied by a downloaded copy of the order appealed against. Rule 108 (3) states that the appeal had to be accompanied by a certified copy of the order appealed against. This had to be submitted within seven days of the filing of the appeal. The Petitioner could furnish a certified copy of the order of appealed against only on 9th March, 2021, i.e., more than three months and 25 days after the filing of the appeal. The Appellate Authority could not condone this delay, therefore, the appeal was dismissed as not having been preferred in time. The court observed that the explanation offered by the petitioner is a plausible and not an unreasonable one, especially in these Covid times, and further considering that a downloaded copy thereof was in fact submitted along with the appeal which was otherwise filed within time. Mere delay in enclosing a certified copy of order appealed against along with the appeal should not come in the way of the Petitioner’s appeal for being considered on merits by the Appellate Authority. The court further observed that in these Covid times when there is a restricted functioning of Courts and Tribunals in general, a more liberal approach is warranted in matters of condonation of delay, which cannot be said to be extraordinary.
Held that:- The Hon’ble High Court set aside the impugned order dated 10th March, 2021 of the Appellate Authority. The appeal is restored to the file of the respondent and is directed to be listed there for directions on 5th July, 2021. The Appellate Authority will proceed to decide the appeal on merits and endeavour to dispose it of by a reasoned order in accordance with law not later than 4th October, 2021.