Shyam Bihari Makharia Vs. Commissioner Central Goods & Service Tax, Bolpur and Ors. - (High Court of Calcutta) (23 Jul 2018)
Principles of natural justice brings within its wake a right to cross-examine a witness produced in a proceeding
The Petitioner assails an order in original dated February 13, 2018. The Petitioner submits that, the impugned order stands vitiated by breach of principles of natural justice. The Petitioner was not allowed to cross-examine three material witnesses. Therefore, the impugned order is required to be set aside. Learned advocate for the Respondents submits that, the witnesses sought to be cross- examined by the Petitioner had given statements under Section 14 of the Central Excise Act, 1944. Such persons need not be allowed to be cross-examined.
The authorities had initiated a show-cause cum demand notice dated February 23, 2017 against the petitioner. It appears that, the authorities had received intelligence with regard to manufacture of different sizes of different materials. Upon such intelligence being received, various search and seizures were carried out in which incriminating records were confiscated. A show-cause cum demand notice was issued. The petitioner had participated in such proceedings. The petitioner wanted to cross-examine three witnesses. In the impugned order, the request for cross-examination of the three witnesses is dealt with by saying that, the statements made by such three witnesses were recorded under Section 14 of the Central Excise Act, 1944 and that, such persons did not retract from such statements.
Principles of natural justice bring within its wake a right to cross-examine a witness produced in a proceeding. In the present case, three witnesses have relied upon by the authorities. They have been made statements under Section 14 of the Central Excise Act, 1944.
The impugned order is appealable. However, existence of a statutory alternative remedy, is not a complete bar to the Writ Court exercising jurisdiction in the event, it is substantiated, there is a breach of fundamental right or that the impugned order suffers from breach of principles of natural justice or that the impugned order was passed without jurisdiction.
In the present case, the impugned order stands vitiated by breach of principles of natural justice. Three witnesses of the prosecution were not allowed to be cross-examined by the adjudicating authority. The impugned order is set aside. The adjudicating authority will afford a reasonable opportunity to cross-examine the three prosecution witnesses, to the Petitioner herein.
Tags : NATURAL JUSTICE CROSS-EXAMINATION WITNESS