In a recent ruling, the Calcutta High Court has accepted the writ petition filed by L.G. Balakrishnan & Bros Limited against the Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax (ACIT), setting aside the previous order of the Appellate Authority under the West Bengal Goods and Service Tax (WBGST) Act, which had rejected their appeal due to a delay of 148 days in its submission.
In their argument, the Advocate for L.G. Balakrishnan & Bros Limited stated that although the appeal was filed manually on time, a technical glitch in the portal led to an electronic filing delay. However, no evidence was presented to support the claim of a technical glitch. Given these circumstances, the interest of natural justice, and the petitioner’s willingness to pay a cost of Rs.40,000/-, the court ruled in favor of the petitioner. The court directed the Appellate Authority to hear the appeal on merit, provided the petitioner pays the assigned cost to the WBGST Authority within ten days and files proof of the same.
The verdict by the Calcutta High Court in the case of L.G. Balakrishnan & Bros Ltd Vs ACIT underlines the court’s approach to uphold natural justice and their willingness to acknowledge technical difficulties faced by petitioners. The court’s decision to allow the appeal to be heard on merits, contingent upon payment of cost, indicates a balanced approach towards upholding statutory compliance while considering exceptional circumstances. The case outcome will be eagerly watched, as it might set a precedent for similar cases in the future.
FULL TEXT OF THE JUDGMENT/ORDER OF CALCUTTA HIGH COURT
Heard learned Advocates appearing for the parties. By this writ petition, petitioner challenged the impugned order of the Appellate Authority under the WBGST Act on the ground of delay of 148 days in filing the appeal in question.
Learned Advocate appearing for the petitioner summits that petitioner had filed the appeal manually within time and it could not file the appeal electronically due to technical snag in the portal but petitioner could not produce any piece of evidence to substantiate this plea of technical snag.
Considering the facts and circumstances of the case and submission of the parties and in the interest of natural justice and in view of the submission of the learned Advocate appearing for the petitioner that petitioner is ready and willing to pay a cost of Rs.40,000/-, if delay of 148 days in filing the appeal is condoned and the appeal is heard on merits, this writ petition being WPA 12417 of 2023 is disposed of by setting aside the impugned order of rejection of the appeal dated 26th March, 2023, with a direction upon the Appellate Authority concerned to hear the appeal on merits on condition that the petitioner will pay a cost of Rs.40,000/- to the WBGST Authority concerned, within a period of ten days from date and files proof of the same before the Appellate Authority concerned.
If petitioner pays the cost within the time stipulated herein, the appeal in question of the petitioner shall be heard and disposed of on merits within a period of 12 weeks from the date of filing of such proof of payment.
In case of default in making the payment as indicated hereinabove, this order will not have any force and the order of the Appellate Authority dated 26th March, 2023 would stands revived.