CCE vs. Punjab Fibres (Supreme Court)

DATE: (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: February 19, 2008 (Date of publication)

In the context of s. 35 of the Excise Act, held (1) Where the statute confers on the authority concerned a limited power of condonation of delay or does not provide any such power, the authority has no power to condone delay beyond the prescribed period;

(2) unless a new statute expressly or by necessary implication says so, it will not be presumed that it deprives a person of an accrued right. On the other hand, a law which is procedural in nature, and does not affect the rights, is retrospectively applicable;

(3) a new law of limitation providing for a shorter period cannot extinguish a vested right of action;

(4) An amendment to the period of limitation for commencing a legal proceeding will apply to existing rights subject to the exceptions that (i) if under the amending Act the remedy suddenly stands barred as a result of a shorter period of limitation, the same cannot be held to govern the case as otherwise the result will be to deprive the suitor of an accrued right and (ii) where the amendment leaves the claimant with such a short period for commencing the legal proceeding so as to make it unpractical for him to avail of the remedy.

Note: s. 35 is pari materia to ss. 256 & 260A of the I. T. Act.

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