Judgement on E-Way Bill – Orders Suffering from Procedural Infirmities and Lack of Proper Opportunity were Set Aside
The E-Way bill had expired at 11.59 p.m. on September 17, 2021, and the vehicle bearing was intercepted at 8:20 a.m. on September 18, 2021, resulting in the alleged violation of Section 129 of the CGST Act, 2017 read with Rule 68. But the whole process, starting with the vehicle’s detention via the issuance of Form GST MOV-06, the show-cause notice in Form GST MOV-07, and the adjudication order in Form GST MOV-09, all took place on the same day, which was September 20, 2021. The petitioner went on appeal before the Joint Commissioner (Appeals) but the appeal was dismissed. The petitioner received the vehicle’s release on September 21st, 2021, after making a full payment with interest.
Therefore, the e-way bill‘s expiration was the reason for the detention. The petitioner argued that the adjudication order and show cause notices were issued on the same day. The entire hearing was held on camera. The petitioner and his driver did not receive a fair opportunity to respond or to be heard. The petitioner submitted that the entire proceedings were held ex parte. Neither the petitioner nor his driver was accorded the proper opportunity of furnishing a reply or hearing. There was no intention to evade tax. The vehicle was seized in the teeth of Section 129(1) of the CGST Act.
The authorised representative of the company was served with a notice on September 20, 2021, according to the department. He was asked to appear before the court at 11:30 a.m. on that day, but he failed to do so. The vehicle was released at the taxpayer’s request following the payment of tax and interest because they did not want to submit any documentation regarding the matter. As a result, the case was decided ex parte. The vehicle has been released.
The department argued that the provisions of Section 129 do not contemplate the requirement of an intention to evade tax for imposing liability for tax, interest, and penalty. Therefore, the adjudication order dated September 20, 2021, and the appellate order dated February 17, 2022, do not suffer from any legal infirmity. The proceedings were expedited at the request of the taxpayer himself.
The court ruled that there is no evidence to support the respondent’s learned counsel’s assertion that the taxpayer requested that the proceedings be expedited on the same date. As a result, the appellate order and the contested adjudication order both contain procedural errors that deny the petitioner or the person transporting a fair opportunity to raise an objection. The contested orders are revoked, and the respondents are free to choose again following the Act’s requirement that they give the petitioner a fair chance.
A person transporting goods must first be served with a detention or seizure order, according to the Jharkhand High Court, before they can be held or seized. According to the division bench of Justice Aparesh Kumar Singh and Justice Deepak Roshan, both the adjudication order and the appellate order had procedural flaws and did not give the person transported an appropriate opportunity to defend himself.
According to the court, the proceedings began on the same date and ended on the same date. The order dated September 20, 2021, issued on Form GST MOV-09, and the appellate order dated February 17, 2022, were set aside.