1.1 Refund of any duty of excise is governed by Section 11B of the Central Excise Act, 1944. By definition, refund includes rebate of duty paid on goods exported out of India or on materials used in the manufacture of goods exported out of India. The refund claim can be filed within one year from the relevant date in the specified Form [for the time being the format R-1 specified under rule 173S of the erstwhile Central Excise Rules, 1944] by an assessee or even a person who has borne the duty incidence, to the Deputy/Assistant Commissioner of Central Excise having jurisdiction over the factory of manufacture.
1.2 The "relevant date" has been defined in the said section and refund of duty paid can be sought provided the manufacturer has not passed on the burden of duty. In case the burden of duty has been passed on, the refund can be claimed by the person who has actually paid the duty or, in the alternative, the amount can be deposited in the Consumer Welfare Fund created by the statute.
1.3 The Central Excise Act also provided for payment of interest on delayed payment of refund. As per Section 11BB, if any duty ordered to be refunded under Section 11B has not been refunded within three months from the date of receipt of the refund application in the prescribed manner and form along with the supporting documentary evidence as laid down in the relevant rules, interest at the rate notified by the Government shall have to be paid on such duty from the date immediately after the expiry of three months from the date of receipt of application till the date of refund of such duty.
2. Presentation of refund claim
2.1 Any person, who deems himself entitled to a refund of any duties of excise or other dues, or has been informed by the department that a refund is due to him shall present a claim in proper Form, along with all the relevant documents supporting his claim and also the copies of documents/records supporting his declaration that he has not passed on the duty incidence.
2.2 The claim will be filed with the Deputy/Assistant Commissioner of Central Excise with a copy to the Range Officer.
2.3 The claim shall be presented in duplicate and shall be duly signed by the claimant or by a duly authorised person on his behalf and shall be pre-receipted (with revenue stamp on original copy, where necessary).
2.4 It may not be possible to scrutinise the claim without the accompanying documents and decide about its admissibility. If the claim is filed without requisite documents, it may lead to delay in sanction of the refund. Moreover, the claimant of refund is entitled for interest in case refund is not given within three months of the filing of claim. Incomplete claim will not be in the interest of the Department. Consequently, submission of refund claim without supporting documents will not be allowed. Even if post or similar mode files the same, the claim should be rejected or returned with Query Memo (depending upon the nature/importance of document not filed). The claim shall be taken as filed only when all relevant documents are available. In case of non-availability of any document due to reasons for which the Central Excise or Customs Department is solely accountable, the claim may be admitted that the claimant in not in disadvantageous position with respect to limitation period.
3. Scrutiny of refund claim and sanction
3.1 The Range Officer will complete the scrutiny of the papers within 2 weeks from the date of receipt of the claim in the Range Office and send a report to their scrutiny to the Divisional Deputy/Assistant Commissioner of Central Excise.
3.2 The Divisional Office will scrutinise the claim, in consultation with Range, and check that the refund application is complete and is covered by all the requisite documents. This should be done, as far as possible, the moment refund claim is received and in case of any deficiency, the same should be pointed out to the applicant with a copy to the Range Officer within 15 days of receipt.
3.3 In the Divisional Offices, final processing of refund claims after the receipt of Range Officer’s report should be completed including the verification of the fact whether the assessee has passed on the duty incidence to their buyer (in cases where the refund claim is filed by a manufacturer or owner of warehoused goods). The types of cases to which this provision will not be attracted are already specified in section 11B itself. Where the duty incidence has been passes on, the duty refund, if otherwise admissible, will be ordered in file, but will also be ordered to be credited to the Consumer Welfare Fund. The burden of proving that the duty incidence has not been passes on, is on the claimant and the latter may be required to submit sufficient documentary proof for this purpose. It is clarified that the question of unjust enrichment has to be looked into case by case. There cannot be a general instruction indicating the documents and /or record, which the claimant should produce as a proof that he has not, passes on the duty incidence to any other person.
3.4 Claim for refund of less than Rs. 100 shall not entertained in respect of all excisable commodities.
4. Payment of refund
4.1 Where the claim has been admitted whether in part or in full, and claimant is eligible for refund, the Deputy/Assistant Commissioner of Central Excise should ensure that payment is made to the party within 3 days of the order passed after due audit, if any.
4.2 All claims shall be paid to the applicant by a cheque on the authorised bank with which the sanctioning authority maintains account.
4.3 On receipt of sanctioning claims from the dealing hands, the cheque shall be written out by the cashier (or his assistant) and simultaneously an entry made in the cash book. The Assistant Commissioner shall sign the cheque as well as the entry in the cashbook simultaneously. A receipt of the cheque should be obtained from the payee and placed on file.
4.4 After the cheque has been signed, it shall either be delivered to the claimant or his authorised representative personally when the next calls for it or sent to him by Registered Post ‘Acknowledgement Due’ at Government cost.
5. Post Audit
5.1 All refund claim papers should be sent by the Divisional Deputy/Assistant Commissioner to the Commissionerate Headquarters (to the Additional/Joint Commissioner–Audit) within a week after the payment thereof irrespective of the amount involved. At the Commissionerate Headquarters, a special cell comprising Deputy/Assistant Commissioner (Audit) – for immediate supervision – one superintendent, one Inspector and two Deputy Office Superintendents may be created out of the sanctioned strength of the audit staff in the Commissionerate for post -audit of these claims.
5.2 This cell may undertake examination on merits of each such claim where the amount of refund granted is Rs. 5 lakh or more. In regard to the remaining refund claims involving amounts below Rs. 5 lakh, post audit may be undertaken on the basis of random selection by the Deputy/Assistant Commissioner (Audit). This post audit may be completed before the expiry of three months from the date of payment and where ever the grant of refund is not found to be correct, action should be taken in terms of provisions contained in Section 35E of the Central Excises Act, 1944, this special Cell may work directly under the charge of Additional/Joint Commissioner (Audit).
6. Monitoring and control for timely disposal of refunds
6.1 The Commissioner of Central Excise should devise appropriate control to ensure that the refund/rebate claims are expeditiously sanctioned within the time limit stipulated above.