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Section 67 of CGST Act Empowers Officer to Seize ‘Cash’ during a Search

The Hon’ble High Court of Madhya Pradesh in Smt. Kanishka Matta V. Union of India and Ors. [Writ Petition No. 8204/2020] held that S. 67(2) of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 empowers the competent officer to seize ‘cash’ as the same is included within the meaning of the term “things” appearing in Section 67 (2).

The division bench comprising of Hon’ble Justices S.C. Shukla and Shailendra Sharma noted that the word “things” keeping in view its dictionary meaning, includes cash/money and it is well settled preposition of law that in interpreting a statute the court must adopt that construction which suppresses the mischief and advances the remedy, it was observed that “This is a rule laid down in Heydon’s case, also known as the rule of purposive construction or mischief rule”

It was further observed by the Hon’ble court that “The core issue before this Court is that whether expression “things” covers within its meaning the cash or not. In the considered opinion of this Court, the CGST Act, 2017 has to be seen as a whole and the definition clauses are the keys to unlock the intent and purpose of the various sections and expressions used therein, where the said provisions are put to implementation. Section 2(17) defines “business” and Section 2(31) defines “consideration”. In the considered opinion of this Court a conjoint reading of Section 2(17), 2(31), 2(75) and 67(2) makes it clear that money can also be seized by authorized officer.”

The Hon’ble court expounded that “The word “things” appears in Section 67(2) of the CGST Act, 2017 is to be given wide meaning and as per Black’s Law Dictionary, 10th Edition, any subject matter of ownership within the spear of proprietary or valuable right, would come under the definition of “ thing” (page No.1707). Similarly, Wharton’s Law Lexicon at page No.1869 and 1870, the word “thing” has been defined and it includes “money”. It is a cardinal principle of interpretation of statute that unreasonable and inconvenient results are to be avoided, artificially and anomaly to be avoided and most importantly a statute is to be given interpretation which suppresses the mischief and advances the remedy (Interpretation of statute by Maxwel , 12th Edition, page No.199 to 205). The same preposition of law is propounded in Craies on Statute Law, 7th Edition, page No.94).”

While examining various judgements of Supreme Court and High Courts it was held by the Hon’ble Court that “Therefore, keeping in view the aforesaid interpretation of the word “thing” money has to be included and it cannot be excluded as prayed by the petitioner from Section 67(2).”

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