Detention of goods due to expiry of E-Way Bill: Vehicle to be released as no fraudulent intention was established
Petitioner is a Private Limited Company. Petitioner No.2 is a transport authority, which is the name and style of “Shree Ram Road Carriers”.
It is before this Court seeking to question and challenge the authority of the respondent demanding the sum of Rs. 7,53,364/- as demand of tax and penalty dated 04.11.2022 under section 129(3) of the Central Goods & Services Tax Act, 2017 (“the Act” for short).
It is the grievance on the part of the petitioner that the truck had remained in non-motorable condition and thus, the goods which were to be delivered on or before 17.10.2022 could not be delivered in time and on 19.10.2022 at the time of inspection, because of the expiration of the e-Way bill number, it came to the notice of the officer that the entire truck along with the impugned goods has been seized. The petitioner has been issued GST Form MOV No.1,2,6 and 7 where he was called upon to remain present and eventually the order of 4.11.2022 was passed demanding the tax and penalty.
The petitioner has sought the following reliefs:
The petitioner therefore prays to this Hon’ble Court to:
a) Your lordship may be pleased toissue appropriate writ, order or direction in the nature of certiorari thereby quashing and setting aside the impugned order passed on 4/111/2022 by the respondent authoity thereby demanding the sum of Rs.7,53,364/- as tax and penalty u/s 129(3) of the CGST Act, 2017;
b) Your lordship may be pleased to issue appropriate writ, order or direction in the nature of certiorari thereby quashing and setting aside the order of detention under section 129(1) of the GST Act read with section 20 of the IGST Act, 2017, dated
19/10/2022 passed by the respondent authorities.
c) Your Lordship may be pleased to issue appropriate writ, order or direction in the natureo f Certiorari thereby quashing and setting aside the notice under section 129930 of the CGST Act, 2017 and section 20 of the IGST Act, 2017 issued on 19/10/2022 by the respondent authorities.
d) Your Lordship may be pleased to issue appropriate writ, order or direction in the nature of mandamus thereby ordering the release of goods and impugned vehicle bearing no.GJ- 12BW-8082;
e) Pending admission, hearing and final disposal of this petition, an ad interim relief may be granted in the favour of the present petitioners, for release of the impugned vehicle and goods with any conditions that the Hon’ble High Court may deem fit.
f) Such other and further relief/s as may be deemed just and necessary in the facts and circumstances of the present case may kindly be granted.”
On issuance of notice, learned Assistant Government Pleader appeared for the State, where it is attempted to justify the detaining of the goods bearing invoice value of Rs. 24,69,358/- along with Conveyance No.GJ-12- BW-8082 on the ground that e-Way bill had expired 41 hours before the time of interception. According to him, the period between the expiry of validity of e-Way bill and time of interception was not substantiated and no justification was offered by conveyance driver. There was no satisfactory reason for non-updation of the e-Way bill which was given.
Decision of High Court:
7. It is not in dispute that in the instant case, e-Way Bill had expired 41 hours before and the release of goods of conveyance and transit through the authority concerned.
8. We could notice that the detention is also on the ground that the goods are of expiration of the e- Way bill number, which had expired during the transit and the same cannot be the ground for detaining and seizure of M.S. Billet along with the vehicle truck.
9. This Court in Govind Tobacco Manufacturing Co. vs. State of U.P.,  140 taxmann.com 383 (Ahhahabad) has held that as there is expiry of e- Way bill on transit, the seizure of said vehicle and the goods is not permissible under the law. In the case before the High Court of Madhya Pradesh at Jabalpur in M/s. Daya Shaker Singh vs State of Madhya Pradesh passed in Writ Petition No.12324 of 2022 on 10.08.2022, where also the Court had intervened considering the fact that the respondent could not establish any element of evasion of tax with fraudulent intent or negligence on the part of the petitioner. Delay was of almost 4 ½ hours before the e-Way bill could expire. It appeared to be bona fide and without establishing any fraudulent intention. Here also what is found is that there is no fraudulent intention for this to happen.
10. Resultantly, present petition stands allowed. The impugned order dated 04.11.2022 demanding the sum of Rs.7,53,364/-is quashed and set aside. The order of detention dated 19.10.2022 as well as the notice issued under section 129(3) of the Act dated 19.10.2022 are also quashed and set aside.