Kerala HC directs GST Dept. to Reconsider Plea Seeking Copies of Witness Statements as Application was refused without stating any Reasons
The Kerala High Court directed the GST Department to reconsider the plea seeking copies of witness statements as application was refused without stating any Reasons.
The Petitioner, Gee Yem Agro Mills has requested for transfer of files of enquiry to a place of petitioners’ choice and for grant of copy of statements recorded by respondents in the process of investigation into non-collection of tax for outward supply of rice, were not considered by the Proper Officer under the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017.
The four writ petitions are filed by respective taxpayers against whom summons have been issued relating to an investigation on supply of goods under the Act. When the petitioners were served with the summons, to give evidence in the enquiry, applications were filed seeking transfer of files to an officer in a jurisdiction near to the place of business of the petitioners, alleging the prevalent pandemic as a reason. A further request was made to furnish a copy of statements already given by other persons who were summoned as part of the enquiry.
The Proper Officer refused to consider the requests by a court replied “Now the case is being (sic) under investigation. At this juncture, the request for transferring the said file to the IB Unit, Kottayam and for issuing a copy of statements already obtained from Sri.Benny Joseph, Manager of the firm M/s. St. Marrys Paddy Processing and Sri.Melvin T.Mathew, S/o. Sri.Thomas Mathew, Director of the firm M/s.K.E.Agro Products Pvt. Ltd. cannot be considered.”
The single bench of Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas held that While refusing to consider the request of the petitioners, the Proper Officer failed to state any reason. The officer had not mentioned that giving a copy of the statements would cause prejudice to the investigation. The request of the petitioners for issuing copies of statements already recorded by the investigating officer, as mentioned earlier, was refused to be considered. There is a marked distinction between refusing to consider and rejecting an application for reasons.
“In view of the above deliberations, this Court is of the view that Ext.P10 order is liable to be set aside and the first respondent is directed to reconsider the application of the petitioners for giving a copy of the statements already obtained in the course of investigation and pass fresh orders,” the court observed.