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Carpet Export Promotion Council. vs. Union of India and Ors. - (High Court of Delhi) (22 May 2023)

SVLDR Scheme is required to be interpreted liberally to further its object



The Petitioner has filed the present petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, 1950 impugning the decision of the concerned authority to reject the Petitioner's application under the Sabka Vishwas (Legacy Dispute Resolution) Scheme, 2019 ('the SVLDR Scheme'). The Petitioner had filed the said application online in the prescribed format - Form SVLDRS-I. The said application was rejected and the ground for rejection along with the remarks were communicated online. The Petitioner's application was rejected on the ground of "ineligibility" with the remarks, "incomplete and selective declaration".

In the present case, the Petitioner's application has been rejected in violation of the principles of natural justice. The Petitioner had already deposited the tax dues. It had also made a request for waiver of interest and penalty prior to the SVLDR Scheme coming into force. On Respondent no.2 pursuing the Petitioner to pay the interest and penalty, it had unequivocally expressed its intention to apply under the SVLDR Scheme. It had subsequently done so. Concededly, in terms of the SVLDR Scheme, the Petitioner would be entitled to the waiver of interest and penalty as it had paid the requisite tax prior to the stipulated date.

There is no dispute that the amount as estimated to be payable - that is, tax dues less relief - is nil. It is also not disputed that, the Petitioner would not have benefited in any manner by not disclosing the aforestated amounts. In the given circumstances, rejection of the Petitioner's application is arbitrary and unreasonable and, thus, offends Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

Given the nature of the SVLDR Scheme, the same is required to be interpreted liberally to further its object. In the aforesaid perspective, excluding a taxpayer merely because there were some obvious and not material errors in the quantum of the duty details filled in the form, although the correct amount of duty was deposited, would run contrary to the object of the SVLDR Scheme.

The impugned order rejecting the Petitioner's declaration under the SVLDR Scheme is set aside and the designated authority is directed to process the Petitioner's declaration in accordance with the SVLDR Scheme as expeditiously as possible. Petition allowed.


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