Introduction: In a recent case, Ishaan Plastics Pvt. Ltd. challenged an order from the appellate authority under the WBGST Act, which confirmed the penalty imposed by the adjudicating authority for transporting a vehicle after the expiry of the e-way bill. The e-way bill had expired on 27th December 2022 at 11:59 p.m., and the vehicle in question was intercepted at 8:37 a.m. on 28th December 2022, creating a time gap of about 9 hours. The petitioner argued that there was no intention to evade tax.
1. Penalty Imposition: The impugned order of the appellate authority had upheld the penalty imposed by the adjudicating authority for transporting the vehicle after the e-way bill had expired. The e-way bill expired at 11:59 p.m. on 27th December 2022, while the vehicle was intercepted at 8:37 a.m. on 28th December 2022. This time gap of approximately 9 hours was at the center of the dispute.
2. Petitioner’s Argument: The petitioner contended that there was no deliberate intention to evade tax. They argued that the short time gap between the e-way bill’s expiry and the vehicle’s interception did not suggest any tax evasion motive. To support this argument, the petitioner relied on a previous order of the Court dated 1st March 2022 in WPA No. 11085 of 2021, involving Ashok Kumar Sureka, and a Division Bench decision dated 12th May 2022 in MAT No. 470 of 2022.
3. Lack of Tax Evasion Intent: The advocate representing the respondents failed to present a case against the petitioner, indicating any deliberate or willful intention to evade tax.
4. Court’s Decision: The Calcutta High Court considered the facts and circumstances of the case, the previous court orders, and the absence of evidence indicating tax evasion intent. In light of these factors, the court disposed of the writ petition (WPA 22612 of 2023) by setting aside the impugned order of the appellate authority and adjudicating authority. As a consequence, the petitioner was entitled to a refund of the penalty in question, subject to compliance with legal formalities.
Conclusion: The Calcutta High Court’s decision in the case of Ishaan Plastics Pvt. Ltd. highlights the importance of considering the intent behind actions when imposing penalties related to the expiry of e-way bills. In this case, the court noted a short time gap between the bill’s expiration and the vehicle’s interception, and found no evidence of deliberate tax evasion. As a result, the court ordered the refund of the penalty. This case underscores the need for a balanced and reasonable approach in tax-related matters to ensure that penalties are imposed with a clear understanding of the circumstances.
FULL TEXT OF THE JUDGMENT/ORDER OF CALCUTTA HIGH COUR
Heard learned advocates appearing for the parties.
By this writ petition, petitioner has challenged the impugned order of the appellate authority under WBGST Act confirming the order of the adjudicating authority imposing the penalty for transporting the vehicle in question after expiry of the e-way bill which was expired on 27.12.2022 at 11.59 p.m. and the vehicle in question was intercepted at 8.37 a.m. on 28.12.2022 that there is a time gap between the expiry of the bill and interception of the vehicle in question is about 9 hrs., which is less than a day and writ petitioner submits that there was no intention of any evasion of tax on the part of the petitioner.
9 Hour Gap between expiry of bill and interception of vehicle & no intention of any evasion of tax – HC deletes Penalty
Learned advocate appearing for the petitioner in support of his contention relies on an order of this Court dated 1st March, 2022 in WPA No. 11085 of 2021 in the case of Ashok Kumar Sureka – Vs – Assistant Commissioner, State Tax, Durgapur Range and also a Division Bench decision of this Court dated 12th May, 2022 in MAT No. 470 of 2022.
Learned advocate appearing for the respondents could not make out any case against the petitioner that there was any deliberate or willful intention of the petitioner to avoid and evade the tax.
In view of the facts and circumstances of the case which appears from record and considering the aforesaid two orders of this Court, this writ petition being WPA 22612 of 2023 is disposed of by setting aside the aforesaid impugned order of the appellate authority and adjudicating authority and as a consequence, petitioner will be entitled to get the refund of the penalty in question subject to compliance of legal formalities.
With this observation, this writ petition being WPA 22612 of 2023 stands disposed of.