“Once the charge-sheet has been filed unless antecedents to the contrary can be demonstrated, the presence of the accused may not be required to take the prosecution to its logical conclusion.”, this remarkable stand was forwarded by Hon’ble Odisha High Court, in a single judge bench chaired by Hon’ble Justice Mr. S.K. Panigrahi, where a common judgment was advanced in the Bail Application case of Pramod Kumar Sahoo V. State of Odisha, [BLAPL No.4125 OF 2020].
The present petition arises out of a written arrest memo bearing No. 104/CT & GST issued by the Enforcement Unit Bhubaneswar dated 13.03.2020 U/s. 132(I)(b)(c)(i) of OGST Act 2017 where under the Petitioner has been arrested on 12.03.2020 and has since been in custody.
The allegation against the petitioner is that during the period between July 2017 & December 2019, the said firm has availed/utilized bogus input tax credit (ITC) of Rs. 2.48 crores on the strength of fake purchase invoices issued in the name of 21 fictitious entities. It has also been alleged that the Petitioner in collusion with others has been found to have created and operated 6 fictitious firms to avail/utilize bogus Input Tax Credit (ITC) of Rs.34.23 crores in their names on the strength of fake purchase invoices without physical receipt of goods and has passed on the same to recipients both within and outside the state. The petitioner has been in custody since the month of 12.3.2020 and in the meantime charge sheet has been filed on 07.05.2020 u/s 132(1)(b)(c)(i) of OGST Act 2017. The fact that an earlier bail application has been rejected by the learned Addl. Sessions Judge–cum–Special Judge CBI, Court No.1, BBSR vide its order dated 25.03.2020 has been brought on record.
After examining all the submissions, arguments and evidences forwarded by the councils, the Hon’ble HC observed that, “it is directed that the petitioner be released on bail on furnishing a bail bond of Rs.5,00,000/- (Rupees five lakhs) with one surety for the like amount to the satisfaction of the learned trial court with the following conditions: (i) The petitioner shall co-operate with the trial and shall not seek unnecessary adjournments on frivolous grounds to protract the trial; (ii) The petitioner shall not directly or indirectly allure or make any inducement, threat or promise to the prosecution witnesses so as to dissuade him from disclosing truth before the Court; (iii) The involvement of the petitioner in any other similar nature of offence under the GST Act would entail cancellation of bail; (iv) In case of his involvement in any other criminal activities or breach of any other aforesaid conditions, the bail granted in this case may also be cancelled. (v) The petitioner shall submit his passports, if any, before the learned trial court and shall not leave India without prior permission of this Court.”
The bench further added that, “It is also clarified that the discussions hereinabove, are only limited to the purpose of the instant application and that the assessment of the tax liability of the petitioner and his firm shall be carried out strictly in accordance with the applicable provisions of law, uninfluenced by the observations as aforesaid. It is further stipulated that in such matters the adjudicating authority shall do well to expeditiously complete the assessment process.”