The Excise and Taxation Department vide its notification No. S.O.93/P.A.8/2005/S.3/2013 Dated 16.10.2013 designated all the officers rank of Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioners of the Department to act as appellate authority u/s 62 of Punjab VAT Act, 2005, which mean that not only DETC(Appeals) but DETC(Admins) have also been authorized to act as appellate authority. Earlier only DETC(Appeals) were designated to act as appellate authority.
It is also worth noting here that DETC(Admins) have also been given powers of collector under the Punjab Land Revenue Act read with Punjab VAT Act, 2005 vide notification No. S.O.154/P.A.17/1887/S.27/2014 Dated 08.08.2014.
After the above said notifications DETCs(Admin) have been discharging dual functions of a revenue officer as well as first court of appeal.
Article 50 of our Constitution also states as follows:
50. Separation of judiciary from executive: The State shall take steps to separate the judiciary from the executive in the public services of the State.
It is settled law that no one should be a judge in his own cause. When an authority is working as a watchdog of the revenue, there were always chances that the interest of revenue will be favoured while making any decision by such authority and the result would always be biased in favour of the revenue. Hence the DETCs(Admin) would not be able to do justice to the appellants.
Moreover the judiciary and executive has to remain separate. The authority exercising executive functions cannot exercise the judicial functions. Thus the notification making the DETC(Admin) Collector as well as DETC(Appeals) is against the Article 50 of our Constitution.
(Author – Amit Bajaj Advocate, Bajaj & Bajaj Advocates, 128, Sangam complex, Milap chowk, Jalandhar City (Punjab), Email: firstname.lastname@example.org , M +919815243335)