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2019 (12) TMI 95

..... e High Court in all such cases ought to have relegated the assessees before the appropriate Authority for complying with the procedure prescribed in Section 67 of the Act read with Rules as applicable for release (including provisional release) of seized goods. There is no reason why any other indulgence need be shown to the assessees, who happen to be the owners of the seized goods. They must take recourse to the mechanism already provided for in the Act and the Rules for release, on a provisional basis, upon execution of a bond and furnishing of a security, in such manner and of such quantum (even upto the total value of goods involved), respectively, as may be prescribed or on payment of applicable taxes, interest and penalty payable, as the case may be, as predicated in Section 67 (6) of the Act. The orders passed by the High Court which are contrary to the stated provisions shall not be given effect to by the authorities. Instead, the authorities shall process the claims of the concerned assessee afresh as per the express stipulations in Section 67 of the Act read with the relevant rules in that regard. In terms of this order, the competent authority shall call upon every asse .....

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..... f the interim order of the High Court. In the context of that grievance, this Court had to pass an order on 16.9.2019 which reads thus: Applications for exemption from filing certified copy of the impugned order and official translation are allowed. Issue notice on the special leave petition as also on the prayer for interim relief. Dasti allowed. Tag with Special Leave Petition (C) Diary No.24795 of 2019. Considering the fact that in the present case goods have already been released pursuant to the impugned order, no interim relief can be granted. However, our attention was invited to an order dated 31.01.2019 passed by the High Court in a similar matter i.e. Writ Tax No.141 of 2019 and couple of other case(s), wherein the High Court allowed the writ petitioner(s) to withdraw writ petition(s) after release of goods pursuant to the interim order, despite the fact that the interim order passed by it directing release of goods was subject matter of challenge pending before this Court. That cannot be countenanced. For, the claim of the State cannot be made faitaccompli in this manner. In future, if such occasion arises including in the case of writ petitioners in this case, it will be .....

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..... ted in the Act and the Rules for release and disposal of the seized goods and for which reason, the High Court ought to have been loathe to entertain the Writ Petitions questioning the seizure of goods and to issue directions for its release. In the second set of appeal filed by the assessee, the relief claimed by way of Writ Petitions before the High Court is as under: (a) issue a suitable writ, order or direction in the nature of certiorari quashing the seizure order dated 25.7.2019 passed by the respondent No.2 and 3 under Section 67(2) of the Act and the panchnamas dated 19.7.2019 (Annexure - 2 & 3) to the writ petition respectively. (b) issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of mandamus/prohibition declaring the search and seizure proceedings dated 25.7.2019, to be void and restraining the respondent authorities from taking any coercive action against the petitioner. (c) issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of mandamus commanding and directing the respondents to release the goods of the petitioner forthwith without demanding any security. (d) issue any such order and further orders which this Court may deem fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of .....

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..... ve on the owner or the custodian of the goods an order that he shall not remove, part with, or otherwise deal with the goods except with the previous permission of such officer: Provided further that the documents or books or things so seized shall be retained by such officer only for so long as may be necessary for their examination and for any inquiry or proceedings under this Act. (3) The documents, books or things referred to in sub-section (2) or any other documents, books or things produced by a taxable person or any other person, which have not been relied upon for the issue of notice under this Act or the rules made thereunder, shall be returned to such person within a period not exceeding thirty days of the issue of the said notice. (4) The officer authorized under subsection (2) shall have the power to seal or break open the door of any premises or to break open any almirah, electronic devices, box, receptacle in which any goods, accounts, registers or documents of the person are suspected to be concealed, where access to such premises, almirah, electronic devices, box or receptacle is denied. (5) The person from whose custody any documents are seized under subsection (2) .....

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..... oceedings under this Act or the rules made thereunder for prosecution. (12) The Commissioner or an officer authorized by him may cause purchase of any goods or services or both by any person authorized by him from the business premises of any taxable person, to check the issue of tax invoices or bills of supply by such taxable person, and on return of goods so purchased by such officer, such taxable person or any person in charge of the business premises shall refund the amount so paid towards the goods after cancelling any tax invoice or bill of supply issued earlier. (emphasis in italics supplied) The relevant rules for release of seized goods are Rules 140 and 141 and the same read thus: Rule 140 - Bond and security for release of seized goods (1) The seized goods may be released on a provisional basis upon execution of a bond for the value of the goods in FORM GST INR-04 and furnishing of a security in the form of a bank guarantee equivalent to the amount of applicable tax, interest and penalty payable. Explanation. For the purposes of the rules under the provisions of this Chapter, the applicable tax shall include Central Tax and State Tax or Central Tax and the Union Territor .....

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..... authority shall call upon every assessee to complete the formality strictly as per the requirements of the stated provisions disregarding the order passed by the High Court in his case, if the same deviates from the statutory compliances. That be done within four weeks without any exception. We reiterate that any order passed by the High Court which is contrary to the stated provisions need not be given effect to in respect of all the cases referred in the affidavit by the State Government before this Court and fresh cases which may have been filed or likely to be filed before the High Court in connection with the subject matter of these appeals, by all concerned and are deemed to have been set aside/modified in terms of this order. In view of this order, all the Writ Petitions pending before the High Court, list whereof has been furnished in the affidavit are deemed to have been disposed of accordingly. We have passed this common order to cover all cases of seizure during the relevant period, to obviate inconsistency in application of Law and also to do away with multiple appeals required to be filed by the State/ assessee to assail the unstatable orders/directions passed by the H .....

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