Gujarat High Court: In a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, seeking a writ of mandamus to direct the respondents to grant benefit of the Vera Samadhan Yojana-2019 to the Planet Automotive Pvt. Ltd. (‘petitioner’), the division Bench of Biren Vaishnav and Bhargav D. Karia*, JJ. allowed the petition and directed the respondents to extend the benefit of the Vera Samadhan Yojana-2019 to the petitioner.
The State of Gujarat and respondent authorities had announced an amnesty scheme ‘Vera Samadhan Yojana-2019′ (‘scheme’) for settlement of the tax disputes. The scheme was amended on 06-12-2019, and the waiver of interest and penalty on payment of principal tax amount was admissible. In the matter at hand, the petitioner is a distributor of Hyundai Cars and a registered company under the Goods and Service Tax Act, 2017 (‘GST Act’). The petitioner’s case was that a total tax of Rs. 32,20,901/- was paid between the period 01-06-2017 – 30-06-2017, however it was noticed that there was an error in tax computation which has resulted in short payment of tax. The petitioner filed an application under the Scheme and received an online intimation regarding the amount payable by the petitioner to avail the benefit of the Scheme. The petitioner, therefore paid the amount of Rs. 1,48,54,834/- in installments from 13-03-2020 onwards till 31-01-2021. During the pendency of the application under the Scheme, the petitioner was assessed to tax and the liability. The petitioner paid the amounts identified under the tax assessment. However, the respondents vide letter dates 20-07-2022, rejected the petitioner’s application under the Scheme on the grounds that the petitioner did not pay full payment against the outstanding amount intimated to the petitioner.
The Court noted that the petitioner had paid the entire tax assessment amount in installments and deposited Rs. 1,31,643/- on 05-03-2021 after the assessment order was passed on 31-12-2020. The Court said that merely because there was an error before in the amount stated, which was corrected later, does not make the petitioner liable to make the payment of such amount to avail the benefit of the Scheme. Therefore, the Court said that the petitioner was entitled to the benefit of the Scheme. The Court also said that the said Scheme is a benevolent scheme floated by the State for the assessees so as to see that the principal amount of tax is recovered on waiver of interest and penalty, if any, so as to reduce the future litigation. The Court also said that merely because the amount in assessment order was changed or figure of payment to be made by the petitioner in the intimation letter as the figure shown in the intimation letter was erroneous, cannot come in the petitioner’s way to deny the benefit of the scheme.
Thus, the Court allowed the petition and directed the respondents to extend the benefit of the Scheme to the petitioner and pass consequential order within a period of eight weeks from the date of receipt of copy of the order. The Court also set aside the respondent authorities letter dated 20-07-2022.
[Planet Automotive Pvt. Ltd. v. State of Gujarat, 2023 SCC OnLine Guj 3070, Decided on: 01-09-2023]
*Judgment Authored by: Justice Bhargav D. Karia
*Deeksha Dabas, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.