Customs, Excise and VAT Appellate Tribunal

Customs, Excise and VAT Appellate Tribunal constituted in 1995 under the Customs Act 1969. Before it came into existence, the national board of revenue (NBR) was the highest appellate authority on matters of assessments of customs duty. Any person aggrieved by a decision or order passed by the Collector (now Commissioner) of customs has the right to appeal to the NBR within three months of the date of such decision or order. An appeal against any decision or order of any other officer of customs lay with the collector/ commissioner of customs and excises (appeal). Apart from the NBR, there is no forum for appeal except the High Court. But due to the heavy workload of normal executive functions in the NBR, the Customs, Excise and VAT Appellate Tribunal was a solution it to dispose of the appeal cases in time. The primary function of the Tribunal was to quickly resolve customs, excise and VAT disputes. After the establishment of the Tribunal, no customs, excise and VAT cases are admitted in courts of law before the verdict of the Tribunal.

The Tribunal consists of both technical and judicial members, one of whom is appointed by the government as the President of the Tribunal. The technical member must be a member of NBR or a Commissioner of Customs and Excise having at least two years of experience of holding the post of a Commissioner. The judicial member must be a person who has held for at least ten years a judicial office in the capacity of District and Session Judge, or who has been a member of the Bangladesh Civil Service (Judicial) and has held a judicial post for at least three years, or who has been an advocate for at least ten years in a court not lower than that of a district and session judge. The total number of workforce in the Tribunal is 32, of whom 5 are class-I personnel and 1 is class-II, 19 are class-III and 7 are class-IV employees.

The Tribunal is attached to the Appeal Commissionerate, Chittagong. The powers and functions of the Tribunal are exercised and discharged by benches constituted by the President and usually consist of one technical member and one judicial member. The decision of the bench is taken according to the opinion of the majority of the Tribunal members. The commissioner of customs or the taxpayer party can appeal to the High Court against the order of the Tribunal within sixty days of the date upon which he is served with a notice of the Tribunal order. [Swapan Kumar Bala]