Follow Us :

Case Law Details

Case Name : Ramani Suchit Malushte Vs Union of India (Bombay High Court)
Appeal Number : Writ Petition No. 9331 of 2022
Date of Judgement/Order : 21/09/2022
Related Assessment Year :

Ramani Suchit Malushte Vs Union of India (Bombay High Court)

The Hon’ble Bombay High Court in Ramani Suchit Malushtre v. Union of India & Ors. [Writ Petition No. 9331 of 2022 dated September 21, 2022] has held that unless signature is put on the order by the issuing authority, it will have no effect in the eyes of law therefore, the time to file appeal would begin from the date on which the signature of issuing authority was put on such order.

Facts:

This Petition has been filed by Ramani Suchit Malushtre (“the Petitioner”) challenging the Order dated August 2, 2021 (“the Impugned Order”) wherein, the Petitioner’s appeal against the Order-in-Original dated November 14, 2019 (“the OIO”) was dismissed, on the ground that appeal was not filed within a period of three months provided under Section 107(1) of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (“the CGST Act”).

The Petitioner contended that as per Rule 26(3) of the Central Goods and Services Tax Rules, 2017 (“the CGST Rules”), it is required that the orders issued under Chapter III of the CGST Rules needs to be authenticated by a digital signature certificate or by any other mode of signature or verification notified therefore, the Form GST-REG which was notified under the CGST Rules for the purpose of cancellation of registration requires signature of the officer passing the Impugned Order.

The Petitioner contended that, the OIO which was challenged in the appeal has not been digitally signed therefore, it was not issued in accordance with Rule 26 of the CGST Rules. Hence, the time limit for filing the appeal would begin only upon digitally signed order being made available.

Issue:

Whether the time limit to file an appeal begins after the order is authenticated by the issuing officer?

Held:

The Hon’ble Bombay High Court in Writ Petition No. 9331 of 2022 held as under:

  • Noted that, it is not denied by the Revenue Department (“the Respondent”) that the OIO was not digitally signed, therefore, the CGST Rules which prescribe specifically that digital signature has to be put will be rendered redundant.
  • Stated that, the time to file an appeal would commence from the date on which the signature of the Respondent, was put on the OIO.
  • Held that, unless digital signature is put by the issuing authority, such order will have no effect in the eyes of law.
  • Quashed and set aside the Impugned Order.
  • Directed the Respondent to restore and consider the appeal on merits and pass such order as deemed fit in accordance with law.

Relevant Provisions:

Rule 26 of the CGST Rules:

Method of authentication- 

(1) All applications, including reply, if any, to the notices, returns including the details of outward and inward supplies, appeals or any other document required to be submitted under the provisions of these rules shall be so submitted electronically with digital signature certificate or through e-signature as or through e-signature as specified under the provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (21 of 2000) or verified by any other mode of signature or verification as notified by the Board in this behalf. or verified by any other mode of signature or verification as notified by the Board in this behalf:

Provided that a registered person registered under the provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 (18 of 2013) shall furnish the documents or application verified through digital signature certificate.

Provided further that a registered person registered under the provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 (18 of 2013) shall, during the period from the 21st day of April, 2020 to the 30th day of September, 2020, also be allowed to furnish the return under section 39 in FORM GSTR-3B verified through electronic verification code (EVC).

Provided also that a registered person registered under the provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 (18 of 2013) shall, during the period from the 27th day of May, 2020 to the 30th day of September, 2020, also be allowed to furnish the details of outward supplies under section 37 in FORM GSTR-1 verified through electronic verification code (EVC).

Provided also that a registered person registered under the provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 (18 of 2013) shall, during the period from the 27th day of April, 2021 to the 31st day of October, 2021, also be allowed to furnish the return under section 39 in FORM GSTR-3B and the details of outward supplies under section 37 in FORM GSTR-1 or using invoice furnishing facility, verified through electronic verification code (EVC).

{Note:- w.e.f. 1.11.2021 all the proviso of this sub-section to be deleted:- Vide NOTIFICATION NO. 32/2021 – Central Tax dated 29-08-2021}

(2) Each document including the return furnished online shall be signed or verified through electronic verification code-

(a) in the case of an individual, by the individual himself or where he is absent from India, by some other person duly authorised by him in this behalf, and where the individual is mentally incapacitated from attending to his affairs, by his guardian or by any other person competent to act on his behalf;

(b) in the case of a Hindu Undivided Family, by a Karta and where the Karta is absent from India or is mentally incapacitated from attending to his affairs, by any other adult member of such family or by the authorised signatory of such Karta;

(c) in the case of a company, by the chief executive officer or authorised signatory thereof;

(d) in the case of a Government or any Governmental agency or local authority, by an officer authorised in this behalf;

(e) in the case of a firm, by any partner thereof, not being a minor or authorised signatory thereof;

(f) in the case of any other association, by any member of the association or persons or authorised signatory thereof;

(g) in the case of a trust, by the trustee or any trustee or authorised signatory thereof;

or

(h) in the case of any other person, by some person competent to act on his behalf, or by a person authorised in accordance with the provisions of section 48.

(3) All notices, certificates and orders under the provisions of this Chapter shall be issued electronically by the proper officer or any other officer authorised to issue such notices or certificates or orders, through digital signature certificate specified under the provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (21 of 2000).”

Section 107 of the CGST Act:

“Appeals to Appellate Authority-

(1) Any person aggrieved by any decision or order passed under this Act or the State Goods and Services Tax Act or the Union Territory Goods and Services Tax Act by an adjudicating authority may appeal to such Appellate Authority as may be prescribed within three months from the date on which the said decision or order is communicated to such person.

(2) The Commissioner may, on his own motion, or upon request from the Commissioner of State tax or the Commissioner of Union territory tax, call for and examine the record of any proceedings in which an adjudicating authority has passed any decision or order under this Act or the State Goods and Services Tax Act or the Union Territory Goods and Services Tax Act, for the purpose of satisfying himself as to the legality or propriety of the said decision or order and may, by order, direct any officer subordinate to him to apply to the Appellate Authority within six months from the date of communication of the said decision or order for the determination of such points arising out of the said decision or order as may be specified by the Commissioner in his order.

(3) Where, in pursuance of an order under sub-section (2), the authorised officer makes an application to the Appellate Authority, such application shall be dealt with by the Appellate Authority as if it were an appeal made against the decision or order of the adjudicating authority and such authorised officer were an appellant and the provisions of this Act relating to appeals shall apply to such application.

(4) The Appellate Authority may, if he is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from presenting the appeal within the aforesaid period of three months or six months, as the case may be, allow it to be presented within a further period of one month.

(5) Every appeal under this section shall be in such form and shall be verified in such manner as may be prescribed.

(6) No appeal shall be filed under sub-section (1), unless the appellant has paid-

(a) in full, such part of the amount of tax, interest, fine, fee and penalty arising from the impugned order, as is admitted by him; and

(b) a sum equal to ten per cent. of the remaining amount of tax in dispute arising from the said order subject to a maximum of twenty-five crore rupees, in relation to which the appeal has been filed.

Provided that no appeal shall be filed against an order under sub-section (3) of section 129, unless a sum equal to twenty-five per cent. of the penalty has been paid by the appellant.

(7) Where the appellant has paid the amount under sub-section (6), the recovery proceedings for the balance amount shall be deemed to be stayed.

(8) The Appellate Authority shall give an opportunity to the appellant of being heard.

(9) The Appellate Authority may, if sufficient cause is shown at any stage of hearing of an appeal, grant time to the parties or any of them and adjourn the hearing of the appeal for reasons to be recorded in writing:

Provided that no such adjournment shall be granted more than three times to a party during hearing of the appeal.

(10) The Appellate Authority may, at the time of hearing of an appeal, allow an appellant to add any ground of appeal not specified in the grounds of appeal, if it is satisfied that the omission of that ground from the grounds of appeal was not wilful or unreasonable.

(11) The Appellate Authority shall, after making such further inquiry as may be necessary, pass such order, as it thinks just and proper, confirming, modifying or annulling the decision or order appealed against but shall not refer the case back to the adjudicating authority that passed the said decision or order:

Provided that an order enhancing any fee or penalty or fine in lieu of confiscation or confiscating goods of greater value or reducing the amount of refund or input tax credit shall not be passed unless the appellant has been given a reasonable opportunity of showing cause against the proposed order:

Provided further that where the Appellate Authority is of the opinion that any tax has not been paid or short-paid or erroneously refunded, or where input tax credit has been wrongly availed or utilised, no order requiring the appellant to pay such tax or input tax credit shall be passed unless the appellant is given notice to show cause against the proposed order and the order is passed within the time limit specified under section 73 or section 74.

(12) The order of the Appellate Authority disposing of the appeal shall be in writing and shall state the points for determination, the decision thereon and the reasons for such decision.

(13) The Appellate Authority shall, where it is possible to do so, hear and decide every appeal within a period of one year from the date on which it is filed:

Provided that where the issuance of order is stayed by an order of a court or Tribunal, the period of such stay shall be excluded in computing the period of one year.

(14) On disposal of the appeal, the Appellate Authority shall communicate the order passed by it to the appellant, respondent and to the adjudicating authority.

(15) A copy of the order passed by the Appellate Authority shall also be sent to the jurisdictional Commissioner or the authority designated by him in this behalf and the jurisdictional Commissioner of State tax or Commissioner of Union Territory Tax or an authority designated by him in this behalf.

(16) Every order passed under this section shall, subject to the provisions of section 108 or section 113 or section 117 or section 118 be final and binding on the parties.”

FULL TEXT OF THE JUDGMENT/ORDER OF BOMBAY HIGH COURT

1. Petitioner is impugning an order passed on 2nd August 2021 but issued on 4th August 2021 by which petitioner’s appeal came to be dismissed on the ground that appeal was not filed within a period of three months provided under Section 107(1) of The Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (the CGST Act) and in any case the appeal was delayed more than one month provided under Sub Section 4 of Section 107 of the CGST Act.

2. Section 107(1) and (4) of the CGST Act reads as under :

(1) Any person aggrieved by any decision or order passed under this Act or the State Goods and Services Tax Act or the Union Territory Goods and Services Tax Act by an adjudicating authority may appeal to such Appellate Authority as may be prescribed within three months from the date on which the said decision or order is communicated to such person.

X X X X X X X X X X

(4) The Appellate Authority may, if he is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from presenting the appeal within the aforesaid period of three months or six months, as the case may be, allow it to be presented within a further period of one month.

Therefore, any person aggrieved by any decision or order passed under the Act may apply to the Appellate Authority within three months from the date on which such decision or order is communicated to such person. Rule 26(3) of the Central Goods and Services Tax Rules, 2017 (the CGST Rules) and it is pari materia with Maharashtra Goods and Services Tax Rules, 2017 requires orders issued under Chapter III of the rules to be authenticated by a digital signature certificate or through E-signature or by any other mode of signature or verification notified in that behalf. Form GST-REG which was notified under the Rules for the purpose of passing order for cancellation of registration specifically requires the signature of the officer passing the order. Respondent has not denied that any order passed by respondent requires to be digitally signed and certified.

3. It is petitioner’s case that the order in original dated 14th November 2019 which was impugned in the appeal filed before Respondent No.3 has not been digitally signed. Therefore, it was not issued in accordance with Rule 26 of the CGST Rules. Hence, the time limit for filing the appeal would begin only upon digitally signed order being made available.

4. Averments in paragraph Nos.6, 7 and 8 of the petition reads as under :

6. With respect to the issue of limitation, the order which is appealed against, which is the Order for Cancellation of Registration dated 14 November 2019, is not signed by the Respondent No.4 who has issued the order. The said order is merely uploaded on the GST Portal without any signature. The signature was affixed for the first time only on 19 May 2021 when Petitioner had to get an attestation from Respondent No.4 for the purposes of filing appeal. This attestation was required precisely because the Order for Cancellation of Registration dated 14 November 2019 was not signed.

7. Rule 26(3) of the Central Goods and Services Tax Rules, 2017 and the pari materia Maharashtra Goods and Services Tax Rules, 2017 requires orders issued under Chapter III of the rules to be authenticated by a digital signature certificate or through E-signature or by any other mode of signature or verification notified in this behalf. The Form GST-REG 19 which was notified under the Rules for the purposes of passing order for cancellation of registration specifically requires the signature of the officer passing the order.

8. Thus, the limitation period for filing the appeal against the Order for Cancellation of Registration dated 14 November 2019 never began because the Order was not signed in accordance with the rules. Alternatively, the limitation period began only from 19 May 2021 which is the date on which the signature of the Respondent No.4 was put on the order for the purposes of “attestation”. The Order of Cancellation of Registration dated 14 November 2019 as well as the First Appeal Order dated 4 August 2021 are therefore liable to be quashed and set aside.

In the affidavit in reply it is not denied that the order in original dated 14th November 2019 was not digitally signed. In the affidavit in reply it is specifically stated that the show cause notice was digitally signed by the issuing authority but when it refers to the order in original dated 14th November 2019 there is total silence about any digital signature being put by the issuing authority. Conveniently, respondent stated that petitioner cannot take stand of not receiving the signed copy because the unsigned order was admittedly received by petitioner electronically. However, if this stand of respondent has to be accepted, then the Rules which prescribe specifically that digital signature has to be put will be rendered redundant. In our view, unless digital signature is put by the issuing authority that order will have no effect in the eyes of law.

5. In the circumstances, we have to agree with petitioner’s stand that only on the date on which the signature of Respondent No.4 issuing authority was put on the order dated 14th November 2019 for the purpose of attestation, time to file appeal would commence.

6. In the circumstances, we hereby quash and set aside the impugned order. The appeal is restored to file of Respondent No.3 who shall consider the appeal on merits and pass such order as deemed fit in accordance with law.

7. Before passing any order, personal hearing shall be given to petitioner with at least seven working days advance notice. The order passed shall be a reasoned order.

8. Petition disposed.

9. We clarify that we have not made any observations on the merits of the matter.

*****

(Author can be reached at info@a2ztaxcorp.com)

Join Taxguru’s Network for Latest updates on Income Tax, GST, Company Law, Corporate Laws and other related subjects.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Search Post by Date
April 2024
M T W T F S S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930