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Dhruv Krishan Maggu vs. Principal Director General, DGGI - (High Court of Delhi) (12 Dec 2022)

'Documents or book or things' can be retained for a maximum period of four and half years, within which period the notice has to be issued

MANU/DE/5143/2022

Goods and Services Tax

The Petitioner in the present case seeks return of his laptop, computer, documents and other things which were seized by the Respondents / Directorate General of GST Intelligence (DGGI) in a search conducted on 28th August, 2019 vide panchnama dated 28th August, 2019.

A perusal of sub-section 67(2) of the CGST Act, 2017 makes it clear that whereas the first proviso would apply qua seizure of goods, the second proviso would apply in respect of documents or books or things. In the case of documents or books or things, the same can be retained by the officer for so long as it is required for examination and for inquiry of proceedings under the CGST Act, 2017. This is in contrast with Section 67(7) as per which when goods are seized, the said seized goods have to be returned to the person who whom they were seized within six months of the seizure of goods, unless and until, the proper officer, on sufficient cause, extends the same for a further period of not exceeding then six months.

Section 74 of the CGST Act, 2017 deals with wrong availment of Input Tax Credit on grounds of egregious nature such as fraud, wilful misstatement or suppression of facts. The present case would be governed by Section 74 owing to the nature of the seizure made, the facts revealed and the investigation currently being conducted. The proper officer under Section 74(2) has to issue a show-cause notice as per Section 74, at least six months prior to the time limit specified in Sub-section 74(10) for issuance of the order. Under Section 74(10) the proper officer has five years from the date of erroneous refund to pass the order in such cases. A conjoint reading of Section 74(2) and Section 74(10) would clearly show that the maximum period for issuance of the show-cause notice is six months prior to five years from the date of the erroneous refund.

As per Section 67(3), if the documents, books or things are not being relied upon for the issuance of notice under the CGST Act, 2017, the same are supposed to be returned within a period not exceeding thirty days from the issue of the said notice. Thus, by a conjoint reading of sections 67(2) second proviso, 67(3), 74(2), 74(10) the 'documents or book or things' can be retained for a maximum period of four and half years, within which period the notice has to be issued, plus thirty days from the date of erroneous refund. In the present case, the said period had not yet lapsed. Accordingly, at this stage, this Court does not deem it appropriate to direct release of the computer, laptop, documents and other things seized vide punchnama dated 28th August, 2019. Petitions dismissed.

Tags : GOODS   RELEASE   ENTITLEMENT  

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