In a recent judgment, the Patna High Court dismissed a writ petition challenging the cancellation of GST registration by the Union of India. The petitioner, Ramesh Radav, contended that the cancellation order, dated 20.01.2021, was based on a show-cause notice that directed appearance on 04.01.2021. The petitioner raised objections, including the discrepancy in dates and the lack of filing of returns for a continuous period of six months.
Here is an analysis of the key points from the judgment:
1. Delayed Appeal Filing: The petitioner had the option to appeal the cancellation order within three months, with an additional one month for delay condonation under Section 107 of the Bihar Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (BGST Act). The Supreme Court had granted a limitation saving between 15.03.2020 and 28.02.2022 due to the pandemic, allowing an appeal to be filed within ninety days from 01.03.2022. The petitioner filed the appeal on 29.10.2023, well beyond the stipulated time.
2. Alternative Remedies and Diligence: The court emphasized that the writ jurisdiction under Article 226 is not to be invoked when alternative remedies are available and the petitioner has not been diligent in availing such remedies within the stipulated time. The law is inclined towards those who are diligent and not those who are indolent.
3. Illegality in Show-Cause Notice: While acknowledging an illegality in the show-cause notice, which displayed a date prior to the notice for hearing, the court noted that the petitioner could have responded and requested a further date. The petitioner did not claim non-receipt of the notice, and the court highlighted the importance of timely responses to official communications.
4. Lack of Defense on Non-Filing of Returns: The petitioner did not assert that returns were, in fact, filed during the continuous period of six months mentioned in the show-cause notice. The absence of a response to the notice and the failure to contest the non-filing of returns weakened the petitioner’s case.
5. Dismissal of Writ Petition: Considering the delay in filing the appeal and the petitioner’s failure to diligently pursue alternative remedies, the court dismissed the writ petition.
Conclusion: The judgment reiterates the importance of timely and diligent action in matters related to GST registration cancellations. It underscores that the writ jurisdiction should not be used as a substitute for statutory remedies, especially when there is a lack of diligence in availing such remedies within the prescribed time frames.
FULL TEXT OF THE JUDGMENT/ORDER OF PATNA HIGH COURT
The petitioner is aggrieved with the cancellation of registration by Annexure-P/1 order passed on 20.01.2021. The vehement contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner is that the show-cause notice for cancellation of registration dated 06.01.2021 directed appearance on 04.01.2021 and the order of cancellation of registration was passed on 20.01.2021.
2. Admittedly, there is an appellate remedy which the petitioner availed with gross delay.
3. Section 107 of the Bihar Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (“BGST Act” hereafter) permits an appeal to be filed within three months and also apply for delay condonation with satisfactory reasons within a further period of one month. We have to take into account the saving of limitation granted by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Suo Motu Writ Petition (C) No. 3 of 2020, In Re: Cognizance For Extension of Limitation. Therein, due to the pandemic situation limitation was saved between 15.03.2020 till 28.02.2022. It was also directed that an appeal could be filed within ninety days from 01.03.2022. Here, the order impugned in the appeal was dated 20.01.2021. An appeal was to be filed on or before 30.06.2022 as permitted by the Hon’ble Supreme Court and if necessary with a delay condonation application within one month thereafter. The appeal is said to have been filed only on 29.10.2023, after about one year and three months from the date on which even the extended limitation period expired. In the above circumstances, we find no reason to invoke the extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226, especially since it is not a measure to be employed where there are alternate remedies available and the assessee has not been diligent in availing such alternate remedies within the stipulated time. The law favours the diligent and not the indolent.
4. True, there is an illegality in so far as the notice issued having shown a date prior to the date of the notice for hearing. However, the reply was directed to be submitted within seven days. The petitioner could have responded to the notice and asked for a further date which was not done by the petitioner. The petitioner does not have any case that the show-cause notice was not received by him. Further, it is also pertinent that the reason stated in the show-cause notice for cancellation of registration is that the petitioner has not filed returns for a continuous period of six months. The petitioner does not have a case that he had in fact filed a return in the continuous period of six months. The petitioner also did not file a reply to the show-cause notice.
5. The writ petition would stand dismissed.