Delay in R&C scrutiny of Returns under Central Excise

In central excise, all the Returns, except 5% of the total filed, are marked by Aces system, for electronic scrutiny by Range Superintendents, to be further accepted by the Asst.Commissioners of Division.

        Prior to launch of ACES in 2009, the system of all the Returns being sent to Asst. Commissioners was not in vogue. This major change, along with first-in-first-out basis of scrutiny made a long queuing up of Returns in both the screen/workflow of Asst.Commissioner and the Range Superintendent.

        Even an unimportant minor duty payable Return was held up on first-in-first-out basis if the previous Return was not accepted by Asst. Commissioner, for want of time or clarification or other reasons and this blocked scrutiny of all subsequent Returns by the Range Superintendent.

        Moreover, the system permitted the assesses, inspite of warning messages at every stage of filling up of Return, to file an erroneous Return and assesses deliberately allowed Returns to be filed with errors under the assumption that the Range Superintendent can correct/modify it.
        Further, the online scrutiny is not user-friendly and officers’ navigating between one page and the other page of the Return which has six pages, is cumbersome; this rendered the completion of scrutiny almost impossible without seeing a print-out copy of the Return.

        The disposal time for online scrutiny of electronic Return far out-weighed the quantum of time normally taken when it was scrutinized manually. This made the scrutiny highly time-consuming, further aggravated by frequent disturbance of internet connectivity  and the data-jam happening at the server-end owing to lot of transaction from active users.

        Owing to transfers of officers during annual general transfers, many trained officers were shifted out of the assessment duty and the new officers joining in their places required fresh training and this delayed the normal scrutiny process at least by 3 months every year.

        However, inspite of all the above odds, the officers ensured that at least the duty payable and paid were matching, immediately after filing of Returns; however other checks were initiated after fully scrutinizing the Returns as per the difficulties express above. If the above difficulties are removed and ACES is re-vamped to be less-time consuming and more user-friendly by: (1) preventing filing of erroneous Returns or (2) restricting number of Returns for scrutiny of Range Superintendent, the scrutiny process and speed can be multiplied.

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