Jharkhand High Court refuses relief to lawbreakers
The court ruled that anyone intentionally avoiding mandate in law is not entitled to any protection in law
The Jharkhand High Court directed the Directorate General of GST Intelligence to proceed in accordance with law by clarifying that anyone intentionally avoiding the mandate in law was not entitled to any protection in law.
Multiple contempt petitions were placed before a single-judge court of Justice Shree Chandrashekhar in the High Court of Jharkhand.
The Petitioner – Directorate General of GST Intelligence had filed these contempt petitions with reference to the order of this Court wherein the Respondents were directed to appear before the Senior Intelligence Officer who had issued summons to them. However, it was submitted by the Petitioner – Directorate that there had been a flagrant violation of the directions issued by this Court as the Respondents did not appear before the Senior Intelligence Officer and had failed to submit necessary documents and tender other evidence.
The original order of this Court had also directed that the Respondents would not be arrested on the first date of their appearance before the Senior Intelligence Officer. The Petitioner – Directorate General of GST Intelligence further submitted that this aforesaid direction made them reluctant to proceed against the Respondents.
The judge went through the original order of this Court and found that the Court had formed an opinion on a conjoint reading of Sections 69 and 70 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (CGST Act) that the Senior Intelligence Officer was not authorized to arrest an individual to whom he had issued a summon on the first date of his appearance.
The Court clarified the original opinion by stating that it was certainly not the import of Section 69 read with Section 70 of the CGST Act, that an individual who was avoiding appearance before the authority without any just excuse could claim that even if he appeared after a dozen summons, the authority could not take coercive action against him, including his arrest.
The Court opined that the Petitioner – Directorate General of GST Intelligence, had misread and misconstrued the observations of the original order. It further observed that it was well-settled in law that anyone intentionally avoiding the mandate in law was not entitled to any protection in law but, there should be a finding on the issue.
These contempt petitions were, therefore, disposed of with a direction that the Petitioner – Directorate could proceed in the matter in accordance with the law.