Monday, December 4, 2023

Allahabad High Court quashes the order issuing incomplete notices on GST portal, tells assistant commissioner to issue fresh notice with details

The Petition has Challenged to the summary order DRC-07 dated July 20, 2021 passed by the Assistant Commissioner, Commercial Tax, Sector-1 Kasganj, Aligarh.

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The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday quashed the order of issuing incomplete notices to the company on the GST portal and has given permission to the Assistant Commissioner, Commercial Tax, Kasganj, Aligarh  to issue a fresh notice with full details.

The Division Bench of Justice Naheed Ara Moonis and Justice Saumitra Dayal Singh passed this order while hearing a petition filed by M/S Dauji Ispat Private Limited. The petition has been filed challenging the summary order DRC-07 dated July 20, 2021 passed by the Assistant Commissioner, Commercial Tax, Sector-1 Kasganj, Aligarh.

The counsel for the Revenue Authority has raised a preliminary objection as to alternative remedy available to the petitioner to challenge the order.

The preliminary objection has been met by the counsel for the petitioner by submitting that the copy of the order uploaded on the GSTN portal does not mention/disclose the reasons to the petitioner.

Upon such submissions, by an earlier order, the Court had required the Standing Counsel to view the GSTN portal of the petitioner along with the counsel for the petitioner to ascertain if the complete copy of the order is visible and therefore available to the petitioner as may allow it to file the appeal against it.

The Court noted, “Manu Ghildiyal, Counsel for the Revenue Authority, states that due to some error the copy of the order visible to the petitioner on the GSTN portal is only that which has been annexed to the petition. Clearly that order does not contain any reason. On the other hand, the copy of the order to the personal affidavit of Reena Singh Assistant Commissioner, Commercial Tax, Sector-1 Kasganj, Aligarh does contain reasons for that order.

In view of such facts it has to be accepted in law that the order does not contain reasons. This conclusion is being drawn as unless the complete copy of the order containing the reasons is served on the petitioner/assessee, he may never have any right to challenge the same before any forum including the appellate forum. The fact that the Assessing Officer may have available to it another copy of the same order which may contain reasons therefore, may be of no help to the Revenue Authority as such copy of the order has not been served on the petitioner/assessee. Therefore, it cannot be relied upon to any extent.”

The Court observed that the order served on the petitioner and as has been impugned in the writ petition is wholly defective and lacking in vital aspects namely reasons for the conclusions drawn therein.

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The Court ordered,

“Accordingly the order DRC-07 dated July 20, 2021 passed by the Assistant Commissioner, Commercial Tax, Sector-1 Kasganj, Aligarh is set aside and the matter remitted to the Assessing Officer who shall now issue a fresh notice to the petitioner and supply all adverse material along with such notice. The petitioner shall thereafter be granted two weeks’ time to file his written reply thereto. The Assessing Officer shall thereafter fix the matter for hearing within a further period of two weeks and pass appropriate orders containing the reasons. Let a copy of the order be communicated to the respondents who may enquire into the exact reasons as to why and how an incomplete copy of the order impugned came to be uploaded on the GSTN portal.”

“It is further expected that the said respondent shall take all remedial action to ensure that complete copies of the orders are visible to the assessees and also it shall attempt to provide a verifiable means/electronic trail/audit etc. to ascertain (where required) how many pages of a document and how many characters were uploaded at any given point of time by any authority or the assessee on the GSTN portal.

“Such improvement/upgrade is necessary to be made since under the GST Act service of notices and filing of replies is primarily to be done through the GSTN portal through electronic means. Unless due verification can be made of notices issued and filings made, wholly avoidable litigations such as the present case are bound to come,” the Court said while allowing the writ petition.

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