Satyam Shivam Papers Private Limited

Satyam Shivam Papers Pvt. Ltd- High Court of Telangana- Petition/Appeal No. Writ Petition No.9688 of 2020

The petitioner, M/S Satyam Shivam Papers Pvt. Ltd., made an intra-state supply dated 04.01.2020 which were being transported by auto trolley and was also supported with EWB generated on the same day. The road is blocked on the date of EWB generation due to rallies, trolley driver garaged the loaded vehicle at his residence and started the journey
on the next working day i.e., 06.01.2020. On said date, goods were intercepted by Deputy State Tax Officer who detained the goods on grounds that EWB has expired. Officer,
releasing the vehicle, unloaded the goods at a private premise of the officer’s relative claiming the day to be a rainy one and that the step was taken the safety of goods. Since goods were not being released, even after giving a proper explanation, the petitioner paid the tax and penalty dated 19.01.2020 to get the goods released (of which few boxes went missing). Petitioner claims that demand order was passed without considering its representation and the release order was passed by the assistant of Deputy State Tax
The officer has no authority under law to do so. Thus, the petitioner seeks relief from HC.

The Hon’ble High Court while admitting the petition held as:-

It was the duty of the officer to consider the explanation offered by the petitioner as to why the goods could not have been delivered during the validity of the e-way bill, and instead, he is harping on the fact that the e-way bill is not extended even four (04) hours before the expiry of four (04) hours after the expiry, which is untenable.
This is plainly arbitrary and illegal and violates Article 14 of the Constitution of India because there is no denial by the 2nd respondent of the traffic blockage at Basher Bagh
due to the anti CAA and NRC agitation on 4.1.2020 up to 8.30 pm preventing the movement of auto trolley for otherwise the goods would have been delivered on that day

On account of the non-extension of the validity of the e-way bill by the petitioner or the auto trolley driver, no presumption can be drawn that there was an intention to evade tax.
HC remarked “We deprecate the conduct of 2nd respondent is not even adverting to the response given by the petitioner to the Form GST MOV-07 in Form GST MOV – 09, and his deliberate intention to treat the validity of the expiry on the e-way bill as amounting to evasion of tax without any evidence of such evasion of tax by the petitioner.
Considering blatant abuse of power by officers, the cost of Rs. 10,000 was imposed on the officer and a refund of tax and penalty was allowed to the petitioner.

This is a welcome judgement by Hon’ble HC wherein it clearly highlighted that moving goods for custody in place other than the place designated by the state, passing a demand order without considering the representation of assessee, claiming assessee to have the intention to evade tax only on the grounds that EWB had expired and lastly delegating the authority to pass an order to its sub-ordinate in nothing but blatant abuse of power by the officer. Officers and taxpayers are equally accountable for their actions in the eyes of law, HC in the present case has rightly imposed cost on officer for passing an arbitrary order. Though section 129 does not require “intention to evade tax” for detaining goods, in substance, not all contraventions should be treated the same as unintentional human errors are inevitable in a business and the department should consider the representations of bonafide taxpayers