No recovery to be made at time of search – Guj HC Directs CBIC to issue guidelines

IN THE HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT AT AHMEDABAD

The Text of the Order as follows :

1. We have heard all the learned counsel appearing for the writapplicants. We have also heard Mr. Devang Vyas, the learned Additional Solicitor General of India appearing for the respondents.

2. The officers of the concerned department who were asked to join the video conference did join, but at a very later stage. They were unable to witness the discussion that took place between the Court and Mr. Vyas. We propose to pass an interim order issuing the following directions.

“The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs as well as the Chief Commissioner of Central/ State Tax of the State of Gujarat are hereby directed to issue the following guidelines by way of suitable circular/instructions:

(1) No recovery in any mode by cheque, cash, epayment or adjustment of input tax credit should be made at the time of search/inspection proceedings under Section 67 of the Central/Gujarat Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 under any circumstances.

(2) Even if the assessee comes forward to make voluntary payment by filing Form DRC03, the assessee should be asked/ advised to file such Form DRC03 on the next day after the end of search proceedings and after the officers of the visiting team have left the premises of the assessee.

(3) Facility of filing complaint/ grievance after the end of search proceedings should be made available to the assessee if the assessee was forced to make payment in any mode during the pendency of the search proceedings.

(4) If complaint/ grievance is filed by assessee and officer is found to have acted in defiance of the aforestated directions, then strict disciplinary action should be initiated against the concerned officer.”

3. Mr. Devang Vyas, the learned Additional Solicitor General of India has taken the pains to address this Court from the hospital room. Mr. Vyas is not well and has been hospitalized. Mr. Vyas may respond day after tomorrow to the aforesaid directions, which we propose to issue. We direct all officers to once again join the video conference dayafter tomorrow, but this time, they should join well in time.

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