Bombay High Court prefers serving assessment order manually over through email
The Bombay High Court ruled that the assessment order under Maharashtra VAT Act must be served manually and not through email.
The Bombay High Court (HC) has ruled that serving the Manual Assessment Order under the Maharashtra VAT Act through email was not legally tenable if it was not communicated either directly or constructively.
The HC division bench of Justices Milind N. Jadhav and Ujjal Bhuyan ruled in favour of the petitioner Greatship (India) Ltd, a company incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 and engaged in the business of providing specialized services to persons involved in the exploration and production of oil and natural gas.
The petitioner had stated before the bench that it received copies of the impugned orders vide email dated 22 September 2020 while copies of the orders were shown as manually signed by the officer on 20 March 2020. Unlike the orders which were served upon the petitioner via email on 23 July 2020, the newly introduced order copies were accompanied by certain documents which encapsulated the reasoning underlying the impugned orders.
The orders emailed on 22 September 2020 appeared to be a mere printout of the orders served the next day which was now manually signed. Therefore, there existed no possibility that the orders served on 22 September 2020 were passed on or before 31 March 2020.
The respondents, on the other hand, explained that the petitioner was under an erroneous impression that the assessing authority had served two different assessment orders on two different occasions, though the assessment orders were the same which were already served on the petitioner on 23 July 2020, and which were passed on March 20, 2020.
The respondent further stated that the assessment orders were passed manually on 20 March 2020, which was well within the period of limitation. Thereafter those were uploaded on the SAP (System Applications and Products) system.
The division bench held that Manual Assessment Order under Maharashtra VAT Act for the Year 2015-16, purported to be passed on 20 March 2020 and served through email on 14 July 2020 held to be barred by limitation in absence of manual service in view of provisions under Maharashtra VAT Act.
The court while declaring it as non-est in the eyes of law said that Internal Circulars issued by the Commissioner of Sales Tax and the discrepancies found in the assessment record. The mere writing of the order and keeping it in the file for the record would be no order. The order must be communicated either directly or constructively.