madras high court

Madras High Court: In a writ petition challenging the notice dated 29-07-2022 issued by the State Tax Officer seeking to recover a sum of Rs. 11,63,24,233/- from the petitioner for the assessment years 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 without even serving a copy of the assessment order, C. Saravanan, J. has directed the Commercial Tax Department to co-ordinate with the respondents and investigate the complaint of the petitioner within 18 months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.

Petitioner submitted that he was a dealer engaged in the business of outward supply of curtains, mattresses and pillows and was carrying on the business for almost 28 years and filed manual returns under the provisions of erstwhile Tamil Nadu General Sales Tax Act, 1959 (‘TNGST Act’), and electronically under the provisions of Tamil Nadu Value Added Tax Act, 2006 (‘TNVAT Act’) for the Assessment Year 2009-2010.

The petitioner further submitted that from January 2014, he was unable to login and file a return in the portal, as his attempt to login was declined on the screen as ‘invalid login account’. The petitioner has therefore filed returns manually and had escalated the issue with Assistant Commissioner on 06-02-2014, 22-12-2014, 09-02-2015 and 02-07-2015. It has been reiterated by the petitioner regarding the alleged misuse of his login ID and Password, because of which, huge transaction has been shown to be made by a person using the petitioner’s TIN number.

The respondent submitted that the petitioner has suffered an assessment order dated 09-11-2021 which preceded a notice prior to passing of the said order. However, the petitioner failed to participate in the assessment proceedings. It submitted that after the order was passed on 09-11-2021, several attempts were also made to serve a copy of the order on the petitioner. However, the assessment order was returned with an endorsement ‘no such company in this address’. It was further submitted that after the GST Act came into force, the petitioner started carrying on business with a new ID and closed the business in the year 2018.

The Court noted that the petitioner has also filed a complaint before Cyber Crime Cell for the alleged misuse of his login ID from 01-01-2014 to 31-08-2015. The status of the investigation pursuant to the above FIR registered based on the complaint of the petitioner is not known. Thus, the Court impleaded Inspector of Police, Cyber Crime Cell as respondent 4 to carryout thorough investigation on the complaint filed by the petitioner as to whether the complaint filed by him was genuine or not or whether the petitioner was facilitating a third party to use his login ID to evade tax and to pass an ineligible Input Tax credit to unknown persons or whether the petitioner was himself masquerading as an unknown person to evade tax.

The Court directed the Commercial Tax Department to co-ordinate with the respondents and investigate the complaint of the petitioner within a period of 18 months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.

The Court suspended all revenue recovery proceedings against the petitioner till such investigation is completed. Further, it was said that if the complaint of the petitioner turns out to be untrue or was intended to facilitate fraud being committed using the login ID of the petitioner, the assets of the petitioner shall be brought to sale.

[Shewil Trading Company v Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, 2023 SCC OnLine Mad 6974, Order dated 02-11-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Petitioner: Advocate Hari Radhakrishnan

For Respondents: Government Advocate K. Vasanthamala

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