Introduction: In the case of Kottukappillil Geogy George vs. State Tax Officer, the petitioner challenged an assessment order (Ext.P3) and a demand notice (Ext.P4) dated September 24, 2022, and June 7, 2023, respectively, before the Kerala High Court. The primary contention in the writ petition was that the assessment order had been uploaded without a digital signature. This article provides a detailed analysis of the case and the Kerala High Court’s decision.
1. Background: The petitioner, Kottukappillil Geogy George, filed a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, contesting an assessment order (Ext.P3) and a demand notice (Ext.P4) issued on September 24, 2022, and June 7, 2023, respectively. The sole ground of contention in the petition was that the assessment order had been uploaded to the GST Portal without a digital signature.
2. Petitioner’s Argument: The petitioner’s counsel highlighted the absence of a digital signature on the impugned assessment order (Ext.P3) and asserted that this non-compliance rendered the order invalid. They argued that Section 169(d) of the CGST Act mandates that every order must be uploaded after being digitally signed. The petitioner also pointed out that they had obtained a copy of Ext.P3 before it was uploaded, but digitally signed copies were available on the website.
3. Government Pleader’s Response: The learned Government Pleader countered the petitioner’s argument by referring to Section 169(d) of the CGST Act. According to this provision, orders should be uploaded after being digitally signed. The Government Pleader clarified that digitally signed copies were indeed available on the website. Furthermore, the petitioner had obtained a copy of Ext.P3 before its digital signing and upload.
4. Kerala HC’s Decision: The Kerala High Court, after considering the submissions of both parties, found no merit in the writ petition. The Court noted that the provision in Section 169(d) of the CGST Act required orders to be uploaded after being digitally signed. In this case, digitally signed copies were available on the website, ensuring compliance with the law. Consequently, the writ petition was dismissed, with the petitioner retaining the liberty to pursue any other available legal remedies.
Conclusion: In the case of Kottukappillil Geogy George vs. State Tax Officer, the Kerala High Court dismissed the writ petition challenging an assessment order uploaded to the GST Portal without a digital signature. The Court’s decision emphasized the importance of digitally signed copies being available on the website, in compliance with Section 169(d) of the CGST Act. The petitioner was granted the liberty to explore alternative legal remedies if available.
With this ruling, the Court reaffirmed the significance of adhering to digital signing requirements in tax-related matters under the CGST Act.
The writ petition has been concluded with this dismissal, and the petitioner retains the option to pursue other lawful remedies if deemed appropriate.
FULL TEXT OF THE JUDGMENT/ORDER OF KERALA HIGH COURT
1. Heard Sri.Harisankar V.Menon, learned counsel for the petitioner as well as Ms.Reshmitha Ramachandran, learned Government Pleader appearing for the respondents.
2. This writ petition has been filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India impugning Ext.P3 assessment order and Ext.P4 demand notice dated 24.09.2022 and 07.06.2023 respectively. The only ground which has been urged in this writ petition is that the assessment order has been uploaded without being signed digitally. The learned counsel for the petitioner has drawn attention to the impugned assessment order Ext.P3. However, learned Government Pleader submits that as per Section 169(d) of the CGST Act, every order is to be uploaded after it is signed. There is provision for digital signing of the orders which have been uploaded. Learned Government Pleader also submits that the petitioner has obtained the copy of Ext.P3, before it was uploaded. However, on the website digitally signed copies are available.
3. Considering the aforesaid submission of learned Government Pleader, I find no substance in the present writ petition. Therefore, the writ petition is dismissed leaving open the liberty of the petitioner to avail any other alternate remedy, if it is available in accordance with law.