In a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has directed its field offices for conducting hearings in customs, excise and service tax appeal cases via video conference with the consent of the appellant or respondent.
“While ensuring compliance with guidelines and instructions issued by the government and public health authorities, the Board has decided that personal hearing for any proceeding under Customs Act, 1962, given by authorities such as Commissioner (Appeals), Original adjudicating authorities and Compounding authority, may be conducted through video conferencing”, said a CBIC circular.
The new development comes at a time when the COVID-19 cases in India have surpassed the 29,000 mark, making the need for social distancing norms all the more significant in these dire circumstances. The personal hearings on virtual mode would be valid to cases under Central Excise Act 1944 and Chapter V of Finance Act 1994.
“This would also facilitate importers, exporters, passengers, advocates, tax practitioners and authorised representatives to maintain social distancing while performing their work at ease, from a place of their choice,” added CBIC.