GST: Penalty cannot be imposed merely for the reason of Expiry of E-way Bill [Read HC Order]

The Allahabad High Court has held that Penalty cannot be imposed merely for the reason of Expiry of E-way Bill.

Penalty cannot be imposed on Expiry of E-way Bill

CA Pratibha Goyal | Feb 23, 2024 |

GST: Penalty cannot be imposed merely for the reason of Expiry of E-way Bill [Read HC Order]

GST: Penalty cannot be imposed merely for the reason of Expiry of E-way Bill [Read HC Order]

Facts of the Case and Submission of the Petitioner

The particular vehicle was accompanied by two e-Invoices and two E-Way Bills.

He further submitted that the goods matched the description in the e-invoices and the E-Way Bills.

The only discrepancy that was found at the time of detention was that one of the E-Way Bills had expired.

Apart from this discrepancy, there is no other finding with regard to the intention of the petitioner to evade tax.

The counsel of the petitioner relied upon the documents to indicate that the vehicle had broken down. The same is evidenced by the letter of the mechanic, who had repaired the particular vehicle. Furthermore, the movement of the goods has been traced by way of the ‘fast tag’ chart. The counsel of the petitioner further submits that none of these documents were considered by the authorities.

Penalty cannot be imposed merely for the reason that the said goods were not accompanied by requisite documents

Petitioner relies upon the judgments in M/s Pepsico India Holdings Limited Lucknow v. Commissioner of Trade Tax reported in 2003 U.P.T.C. 856 and Jain Shudh Vanaspati Limited Ghaziabad and Others v. State of U.P. and Others reported in 1983 U.P.T.C. 198 to buttress his arguments that the penalty cannot be imposed merely for the reason that the said goods were not accompanied by requisite documents.

Submission of the Department

Learned Additional Chief Standing Counsel submitted that the E-Way Bill is the necessary part of the documents and the expired E-Way Bill does not fulfil the requirements of the Rules. He further submitted that the authorities have considered the arguments raised by the petitioner and the orders indicate that the E-Way Bill has expired ten days before the date of detention. He further submitted that the petitioner could not explain the reason for not issuing a fresh E-Way Bill even though it was obvious that the petitioner was aware of the said expiry. He thus submitted that the penalty was in order.

Observations of the Court

Mens rea to evade tax is essential for the imposition of a penalty

The factual aspect of the present case did not indicate any intention whatsoever to evade tax. Furthermore, the documents that have been relied upon by the petitioner have not been considered by the authorities. The authorities have dealt with the issue with regard to the expiry of the E-Way Bill and held that no explanation was offered by the petitioner with regard to the fresh generation of the E-Way Bill, as the same had expired ten days before the detention. However, it is to be noted that the goods in the vehicle were for two e-invoices and two E-Way Bills and only one E-Way Bill had expired. There is no dispute with regard to the consignor and consignee nor any dispute with regard to the description of the goods in the vehicle. In relation to the e-invoices and the E-Way Bills, the authorities have not been able to indicate any intention whatsoever on behalf of the petitioner to evade tax. Indubitably, there is a technical violation that has been committed by the petitioner. However, the authorities have not been able to indicate in any manner that the E-Way Bill had been used repeatedly nor have they made out any case with regard to an intention to evade tax by the petitioner.

Accordingly, this Court is of the view that such a technical violation by itself without any intention to evade tax cannot lead to the imposition of penalty under Section 129(3) of the Act. This view is fortified by a catena of judgments as indicated above.

For Official Judgment Download PDF Given Below:

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