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No coercive measures during the pendency of the case and Assessing Authority shall providing adequate opportunity to all parties involved: Patna High Court

During the pendency of the case, no coercive measures against the petitioner shall be taken, and The Assessing Authority shall pass a new order only after providing adequate opportunity to all parties involved is upheld by the High Court of Patna through the learned bench led by HONOURABLE THE CHIEF JUSTICE and HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE S. KUMAR in the case of Sujeet Kumar Vs. The State of Bihar (Civil Writ Jurisdiction Case No.4 of 2022)

Brief facts of the case are that the petitioner has requested that the judgement dated 15.07.2021 dismissing the appeal in limine solely on the basis of late filing be quashed. Further, the petitioner has requested that the respondent’s order dated 08.08.2019 cancelling registration under Section 29 of the Bihar Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 be quashed, and that respondent be directed to restore registration under Section 22 of the Act in order to file returns and pay taxes in accordance with it. The Assessing Officer, Respondent, Joint Commissioner of State Tax, Kishanganj, Purnea, Bihar, could not file the return for the year 2018-2019, prompting the Assessing Officer, Respondent, Joint Commissioner of State Tax, Kishanganj, Purnea, Bihar, to cancel the registration via the impugned order dated 8.8.2019. The Appellate Authority, Additional Commissioner of State Tax (Appeal), Purnea Division, Bihar, dismissed the petitioner’s appeal only on the basis of delay, in an order dated 15.07.2021.

The impugned order dated 8.8.2019 issued by Respondent, namely Joint Commissioner of State Tax, Kishanganj, Purnea, Bihar, and the order dated 15.07.2021 issued by the Appellate Authority, namely Additional Commissioner of State Tax (Appeal), Purnea Division, Bihar in Appeal, must be quashed and set aside in light of the provisions of Section 30 of the Bihar Goods and Service Tax Act, 2017. The Appellate Authority should have been lenient in tolerating the delay, especially given the present Pandemic Covid-19. In various orders, the Hon’ble Apex Court has extended the statute of limitations in order to comply with the legislative obligation of beginning proceedings before the judicial forum. This fact may have evaded the Appellate Authority’s notice. We also believe that, given the petitioner’s good faith, the Assessing Officer should have exercised his authority under Section 30 of the Act and, by withdrawing the order of cancellation of registration, provided the petitioner with an opportunity to comply with the statutory provisions not only by filing the returns, but also by depositing the amount in accordance with and under the provisions of the Act.

The petitioner’s good faith in doing so quickly, and learned counsel for the petitioner adds that the petitioner must file the returns within the next two weeks, deposit the tax component as well as any interest due thereon, and comply with the Assessing Officer’s order. The court dismiss the current writ petition, quash and set aside the impugned order dated 8.8.2019 issued by the Respondent, namely Joint Commissioner of State Tax, Kishanganj, Purnea, Bihar in Reference, as well as the order dated 15.07.2021 issued by the Appellate Authority, namely Additional Commissioner of State Tax (Appeal), Purnea Division, Bihar in Appeal.

Petitioner shall appear before the Assessing Officer on the 7th of February, 2022 at 10:30 a.m., before which date he shall fully comply with the provisions of law, and The Assessing Authority shall decide the case on the merits after adhering to the principles of natural justice, and Opportunity to place on record all essential documents and materials, if so required and desired, shall be afforded to the parties. During the pendency of the case, no coercive measures against the petitioner shall be taken, and The Assessing Authority shall pass a new order only after providing adequate opportunity to all parties involved, including the writ petitioner, and The Assessing Authority shall decide the case on the merits expeditiously, preferably within two months of the petitioner’s appearance, and The Assessing Authority shall pass a speaking order assigning reasons, copy of which shall be sent to the petitioner. When a petitioner seeks such remedies as are ordinarily available in law before the appropriate venue, the matter will be handled in conformity with the law and in a timely manner.

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Judgement reviewed by – Pooja Lakshmi

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