Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: While addressing the appeal against Telangana High Court’s order imposing costs of Rs. 10,000 on Asst. Commissioner of Sales Tax, the Division Bench of Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ., refused to interfere with well-considered and well-reasoned order of the High Court and instead proceeded to enhance the cost by Rs. 59000. The Bench remarked,

“…error, if any, on the part of the High Court, had been of imposing only nominal costs of Rs. 10,000 on the respondent…”

The Bench held that the attempted inference on the part of the respondent that the writ petitioner was evading tax because the e-way bill had expired a day earlier was not only baseless but also the intent behind the proceedings against the petitioner were questionable per se, particularly when it was found that the goods in question, after being detained were strangely kept in the house of a relative of the respondent for 16 days and not at any other designated place for their safe custody.

The respondent-petitioner, a Private Limited Company had made an intra-State supply of paper to M/s. Sri Ayappa Stationery and General Stores and had also generated an e-way bill dt.04-01-2020. The goods were delivered to a transporter for making delivery to the consignee by an auto trolley however, due to Anti CAA protest traffic was blocked and the auto trolley driver could not make the delivery, next day being Sunday the driver took the trolley for delivery on the next working day, i.e. 06-01-2020.

It was the case of the petitioner that the auto driver was wrongfully detained by the Deputy State Tax Officer alleging that the validity of the e-way bill had expired proposing to impose tax and penalty. The petitioner revealed that the paper boxes were unloaded by the appellant-respondent at a private premises in the house of respondent’s relative without tendering any acknowledgment of receipt of detention of the goods in his custody, and subsequently, the auto trolley driver was released.

Considering that there was no material before the appellant-respondent to come to the conclusion that there was evasion of tax by the petitioner merely on account of lapsing of time mentioned in the e-way bill because even the appellant-respondent did not say that there was any evidence of attempt to sell the goods to somebody else on 06.01.2020, the High Court had held that on account of non-extension of the validity of the e-way bill by petitioner or the auto trolley driver, no presumption could be drawn that there was an intention to evade tax.

The High Court had set aside the levy of tax and penalty of Rs. 69,000 and imposed costs of Rs. 10,000 on the appellant-respondent payable by the petitioner within four weeks. Deprecating the conduct of the appellant-respondent and blatant abuse of power in collecting from the petitioner tax and penalty both under the CGST and SGST and compelling the petitioner to pay Rs.69,000, the High Court remarked,

“We deprecate the conduct of respondent in not even adverting to the response given by petitioner to the Form GST MOV-07 in Form GST MOV-09 and his deliberate intention to treat the validity of the expiry on the e-way bill as amounting to evasion of tax without any evidence of such evasion of tax by the petitioner.”

Approving the reasoning of the High Court, the Bench said,

“The analysis and reasoning of the High Court commends to us, when it is noticed that the High Court has meticulously examined and correctly found that no fault or intent to evade tax could have been inferred against the writ petitioner.”

However, on the amount of costs the Bench opined that it was rather on the lower side considering the overall conduct of the respondent and the corresponding harassment faced by the writ petitioner. Accordingly, the Bench imposed a further sum of Rs. 59,000 on the appellant-respondent toward costs, to be paid to the writ petitioner over and above the sum of Rs. 10,000 already awarded by the High Court.

Lastly, opining that even the instant appeal was misconceived, the Bench made it clear that the State would be entitled to recover the amount of costs, after making payment to the writ petitioner, directly from the person/s responsible for the entirely unnecessary litigation.

[CST v. Satyam Shivam Papers (P) Ltd., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 115, decided on 12-01-2022]


Appearance by:

For Appellants: P. Venkat Reddy, Prashant Tyagi, P. Srinivas Reddy, Advocates and M/S. Venkat Palwai Law Associates, AOR


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has out this report together 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The State of Madhya Pradesh yet again irked the Court by filing a Special Leave Petition after a delay of 588 days, prompting the bench of SK Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ to say,

“The State of Madhya Pradesh continues to do the same thing again and again and the conduct seems to be incorrigible!”

Earlier, on October 15, 2020, in case of an inordinate delay of 663 days by the State of Madhya Pradesh in filing a Special Leave Petition, the bench of SK Kaul and Dinesh Maheshwari, JJ had said,

“it appears that all our counseling to Government and Government authorities have fallen on deaf ears i.e., the Supreme Court of India cannot be a place for the  Governments to walk in when they choose ignoring the period of limitation prescribed.”

In the present case, the Court was told  that on 05.01.2019, the Government advocate was approached in respect of the judgment delivered on 13.11.2018 and the Law Department permitted filing of the SLP against the impugned order on 26.5.2020. Surprised at the fact that the Law Department took almost about 17 months’ time to decide whether the SLP had to be filed or not, the Court said,

“What greater certificate of incompetence would there be for the legal Department!”

The Court, hence, directed the Chief Secretary of the State of Madhya Pradesh to look into the aspect of revamping the legal Department as “it appears that the Department is unable to file appeals within any reasonable period of time much less within limitation.”

Looking to the period of delay and the casual manner in which the application has been worded, the wastage of judicial time involved, the Court imposed a cost of of Rs.35,000/- to be deposited with the Mediation and Conciliation Project Committee within four weeks. The amount be recovered from the officer(s) responsible for the delay in filing and sitting on the files and certificate of recovery of the said amount be also filed in this Court within the said period of time.

Deputy Advocate General has also been cautioned that for any successive matters of this kind the cost will keep on going up. The cost imposed in the October 15, 2020 order was Rs. 25, 000.

The Court concluded by stating that if the present order is not complied with, the Court will be constrained to initiate contempt proceedings against the Chief Secretary.

[State of Madhya Pradesh v. Chaitram Maywde, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 875, Order dated 27.10.2020]


Also read

Supreme Court of India cannot be a place for the Governments to walk in when they choose ignoring the period of limitation prescribed

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Irked by the inordinate delay of 663 days by the State of Madhya Pradesh in filing a Special Leave Petition, the bench of SK Kaul and Dinesh Maheshwari, JJ said,

“… it appears that all our counseling to Government and Government authorities have fallen on deaf ears i.e., the Supreme Court of India cannot be a place for the Governments to walk in when they choose ignoring the period of limitation prescribed.”

Sending a signal, the Court wrote that where there are such inordinate delays that the Government or State authorities must pay for wastage of judicial time which has its own value. Directing the State to deposit a cost of Rs. 25000 with the Mediation and Conciliation Project Committee within 4 weeks, the Court said that such costs can be recovered from the officers responsible.

The reason accorded for the delay by the State Government was “due to unavailability of the documents and the process of arranging the documents” and that “bureaucratic process works, it is inadvertent that delay occurs”.

The Court noticed that that in the present case a preposterous proposition was sought to be propounded that if there is some merit in the case, the period of delay is to be given a go-by.

“If a case is good on merits, it will succeed in any case. It is really a bar of limitation which can even shut out good cases. This does not, of course, take away the jurisdiction of the Court in an appropriate case to condone the delay.”

The Court further said that

“… if the Government machinery is so inefficient and incapable of filing appeals/petitions in time, the solution may lie in requesting the Legislature to expand the time period for filing limitation for Government authorities because of their gross incompetence. That is not so. Till the Statute subsists, the appeals/petitions have to be filed as per the Statues prescribed.”

Terming such cases as “Certificate Cases”, the Court said that the object of such cases appears to be to obtain a certificate of dismissal from the Supreme Court to put a quietus to the issue and thus, say that nothing could be done because the highest Court has dismissed the appeal. It is to complete this formality and save the skin of officers who may be at default that such a process is followed.

“The irony is that in none of the cases any action is taken against the officers, who sit on the files and do nothing. It is presumed that this Court will condone the delay and even in making submissions, straight away counsels appear to address on merits without referring even to the aspect of limitation as happened in this case till we pointed out to the counsel that he must first address us on the question of limitation.”

The Court concluded by stating that if the present order is not complied with, the Court will be constrained to initiate contempt proceedings against the Chief Secretary.

Earlier on July 27, 2020, in an application filed by State of Odisha, seeking condonation of delay of 587 days, the 3-judge bench of SK Kaul, Ajay Rastogi and Aniruddha Bose, JJ had imposed a cost of Rs. 50, 000 and directed that an enquiry be conducted and cost be recovered from the delinquent officer.

In Office of the Chief Post Master General v. Living Media India Ltd., (2012) 3 SCC 563, all the government bodies, their agencies and instrumentalities were informed that unless they have reasonable and acceptable explanation for the delay and there was bonafide effort, there is no need to accept the usual explanation that the file was kept pending for several months/years due to considerable degree of procedural redtape in the process. The government departments are under a special obligation to ensure that they perform their duties with diligence and commitment. Condonation of delay is an exception and should not be used as an anticipated benefit for government departments. The bench of P. Sathasivam and J. Chelameswar, JJ said,

“The law shelters everyone under the same light and should not be swirled for the benefit of a few.”

[State of Madhya Pradesh v. Bherulal, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 849, decided on 15.10.2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In an application filed by State of Odisha, seeking condonation of delay of 587 days, the 3-judge bench of SK Kaul, Ajay Rastogi and Aniruddha Bose, JJ imposed a cost of Rs. 50, 000 and directed that an enquiry be conducted and cost be recovered from the delinquent officer.

“The Department should hold an enquiry, fix responsibility and recover the cost from the delinquent officer and file the certificate of recovery in this Court. The needful be done within four weeks.”

The Court observed that the application for condonation of delay reflected a saga of movement of file from one department to the other with no cogent explanation why for months together files have been detained in the department.

“These are what we categorise as “certificate cases” filed by the departments to obtain an order of dismissal from the Supreme Court so that they can go back and say that they have made all endeavours to limit the loss to the State.”

The Court, hence, imposed a cost of Rs. 50,000/- to be deposited with the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Welfare Fund.

[State of Odisha v. Dilip Kumar Pratihari, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 603 , order dated 27.07.2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: While dismissing a writ petition that challenged a Central Information Commission order, a single-judge bench of Manmohan, J., held that the High Court is not an appellate Court of the CIC and thus technical and procedural arguments cannot be allowed to come in the way of substantial justice.

In the instant case, the petitioner have challenged an order whereby CIC, on an RTI application by an NLSIU student, has directed the petitioner to upload all the latest amended bare Acts and to examine the functionality of its e-mail ID and develop an appropriate RTI filing mechanism. It was contented by the petitioner that the respondent has never filed an RTI application in the prescribed form. Moreover, the respondent had not filed the first appeal and hence the second appeal could not have been entertained by the CIC. The Court observed that the order has been challenged on mere technical and procedural grounds and the directions given by the CIC are not only fair and reasonable but also promote the concept of rule of law.

The Court further noted that public can be expected to follow the law only if law is easily accessible and Section 4(1) of the RTI Act itself mandates the Government to place the bare acts in public domain. The CIC has also directed the petitioner to pay Rs.10,000/- under Section 19(8)(b) of the RTI Act to the library of NLSIU. The Court took notice of the fact that in challenging the imposition of costs of Rs.10,000/-, the petitioner would have spent more money in filing the present writ petition. Consequently, the costs of Rs.10,000/- was directed to be recovered from the salary of the Government officials who authorized the filing of the writ petition. [Union of India v. Vansh Sharad Gupta, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 3383, Decided on 24.05.2016]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench comprising of Madan B. Lokur and N.V. Ramana JJ came down heavily on Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) for venturing adventurist litigation has directed the Medical Council of India to restrain it from increasing the intake of students from 100 students to 150 students for the course for the academic year 2016-17 and 2017-2018.

The Court while imposing costs of Rs. 5 crores on KIMS for playing with the future of its students said that there is something rotten in the state of medical colleges unless the concerned Ministries in the Government of India take a far more proactive role in ensuring that medical colleges have all the necessary facilities. The Court also quoted that “Quality in medical education is equally important, if not more, than quantity.”

The Court further observed that the High Court should have been more circumspect in passing interim orders directing the admission of students by its order directing Central Government to grant provisional permission to KIMS to conduct the course for the additional 50 students in the academic year 2015-16. The Supreme Court quashing the order of High Court said that under no circumstance High Court should examine the report as an appellate body. In the present case there was no ground made out at law for setting aside the report of the Inspection Team.

While disposing off the appeal, the Court issued certain directions for KIMS on observation that for the fault of the KIMS, students should not suffer but KIMS should not get away Scot Free.

  • The admission granted to the 50 students pursuant to the order of the High Court and the provisional permission granted by the Central Government shall not be disturbed.
  • The MCI or the Central Government will proceed to take action against KIMS under Clause 8(3) of the Medical Council of India Establishment of Medical College Regulations, 1999 (as amended).

Observing that there is no fixed procedure prepared by the MCI for conducting an inspection, the Court further directed MCI and Central Government as follows:

  • MCI should in consultation with the Central Government prepare a Standard Operating Procedure for conducting an inspection.
  • To introduce transparency and accountability in the medical colleges, the report of the Inspection Team should be put up on the website of the concerned medical college as also on the website of the MCI. [Medical Council of India vs Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) 2016 SCC OnLine SC 439, decided on 06-5-2016]