“Attorney-client communication is privileged”; Calcutta High Court upholds maintainability of third-party appeal in GST fraud investigation

calcutta high court

Calcutta High Court: A Division bench comprising of T. S. Sivagnanam, CJ., and Hiranmay Bhattacharyya, J., held that an appeal preferred, against the order in relation to GST fraud investigation, by the third party is maintainable. The Court also emphasised on the need for proper investigation in cases of revenue fraud rather than issuing standardized notices.

The instant case involved three separate matters, all stemming from an order dated 03-04-2023, passed by a single judge. The applicant filed the first application and sought leave to prefer an appeal against the impugned order, even though he was not a party to the original writ application. The applicant claimed that the order significantly impacted him. The Court granted leave to the applicant to proceed with his appeal against the impugned order dated 03-04-2023.

The appellants filed a second application requesting condonation of a 32-day delay in filing their appeal. The Court considered the explanation provided in the application and concluded that the delay was sufficiently justified and, therefore, condoned the delay and allowed the appeal.

The third application was an intra-court appeal filed by the petitioner, who was a practicing advocate and a third party to the writ proceedings, against the same impugned order dated 03-04-2023. The State objected to the maintainability of the appeal by a third party and contended that criminal proceedings had already been initiated based on the directions from the writ petition and, therefore, the appeal was not maintainable.

The Court considered the maintainability issue and concluded that the appeal by the third party was indeed maintainable. The Court cited the protection of attorney-client communications as a reason and noted that the police and GST departments had withdrawn notices sent to advocates calling for client information.

“A communication is privileged if it is made to a legal advisor by a client after the commission of a crime and with a view to his defence, but it is not privileged if it is made before the commission of the crime or wrong and for the purpose of being guided or assisted in furthering or committing it.”

The Court clarified that the impugned order’s directions were to investigate fake cases and the Anti-Fraud Department had misunderstood the scope of these directions. The Court emphasized the need for a proper investigation into specific cases rather than issuing standardized notices. The Court also stated that any conclusion of criminal activity should be based on thorough examination of documents and compliance with the law.

The Court directed the GST authorities to conduct a thorough study and investigation to determine any illegal GST claims. The Court instructed the appropriate investigation authorities to proceed according to the law, if they found criminal activity.

[Himangshu Kumar Ray v. State of W.B., 2023 SCC OnLine Cal 1745, order dated 14-06-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Vinay Kr. Shraff, Ms. Priya Sarah Paul, Counsel for the Appellant

Md. T.M. Siddiqui, Counsel for the Respondent/State

Must Watch

maintenance to second wife

bail in false pretext of marriage

right to procreate of convict

Criminology, Penology and Victimology book release

One comment

  • I thoroughly enjoyed reading this insightful article on attorney-client communication privilege. It provides a clear and concise overview of the recent Calcutta High Court decision, shedding light on the legal intricacies involved. The author’s analysis is both informative and well-reasoned, making it a valuable resource for anyone interested in legal matters. Kudos to the author and the SCC Online Blog for delivering such high-quality legal research and analysis!

Join the discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.