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Case Law Details

Case Name : Raghava-HES-Navayauga (JV) Vs Additional Commissioner of Central Tax (Telangana High Court)
Appeal Number : W.P. No. 3353 of 2024
Date of Judgement/Order : 08/02/2024
Related Assessment Year :

Raghava-HES-Navayauga (JV) Vs Additional Commissioner of Central Tax (Telangana High Court)

The Hon’ble Telangana High Court in the case of M/s. Raghava-HES-Navayauga (JV) v. Additional Commissioner of Central Tax [Writ Petition No. 3353 of 2024 dated February 8, 2024], held that the Assessee must be granted an opportunity of a personal hearing even where the notices for personal hearing were sent to an unregistered e-mail id due to technical glitches.

Facts:

M/s. Raghava-HES-Navayauga (JV) (“the Petitioner”) received repeated intimations on August 9, 2023, August 31, 2023, and September 15, 2023, for a personal hearing. However, Notices issued in this regard were not received by the Petitioner. The Department (“the Respondent”) passed an Order-in-Original dated November 28, 2023 (“the Impugned Order”). The Respondent contended that the Petitioner was granted ample opportunity before the issuance of the Impugned Order. On verifying with the Petitioner learned that the intimations for the three dates were sent to a different email which was not registered.

Issue:
Could a Personal Hearing be granted if the Authority issued a Notice to an incorrect email address?

Held:

The Hon’ble Telangana High Court in Writ Petition No. 3353 of 2024 held as under:

  • Observed that, because of technicalities, the notices for personal hearing seem to have not been served upon the Petitioner and he has not been provided with a fair opportunity of personal hearing.
  • Held that, the Impugned Order was set aside is interfered with only on the ground of it being violative of principles of natural justice. The Petitioner is directed to enter an appearance before the Respondents on March 7, 2024, for a personal hearing. Thereafter, the Respondents shall proceed further and pass an appropriate fresh order in accordance with law. It is made clear that there shall be no necessity for the issuance of any further notice in this regard to the Petitioner by the Respondent.

Conclusion: The judgment in M/s. Raghava-HES-Navayauga (JV) vs. Additional Commissioner of Central Tax underscores the significance of upholding principles of natural justice, especially in administrative proceedings. It highlights the duty of authorities to ensure that parties are afforded a fair opportunity for a personal hearing, even in cases of technical errors such as incorrect email communication. This decision serves as a reminder of the judiciary’s commitment to safeguarding procedural fairness and protecting the rights of litigants.

FULL TEXT OF THE JUDGMENT/ORDER OF TELANGANA HIGH COURT

Heard Mr.Karan Talwar, learned counsel for the petitioner; Mr.Dominic Fernandez, learned Senior Standing Counsel for CBIC appearing for respondent Nos. 1 to 3; Ms.C.Rohini Smitha, learned Assistant Government Pleader for Commercial Taxes appearing for respondent No.4 and Mr.B.Mukerjee, learned counsel appearing on behalf of Mr.Gadi Praveen Kumar, learned Deputy Solicitor General of India appearing for respondent No.5. Perused the entire record.

2. The challenge in the present writ petition is to the Order-in‑Original No.73/GST/2023-24-Adjn.(ADC)-HYD-GST dated 28.11.2023, passed by respondent No.1.

3. Though there are various grounds raised by the petitioner assailing the impugned order, the preliminary ground which was highlighted by the learned counsel for the petitioner was that it violates principles of natural justice. According to the petitioner, he was deprived of the right of personal hearing which now has become part and parcel of the procedure to be adopted by the respondents before passing the Order-in-Original. In the instant case, learned counsel for the petitioner has contended that though the impugned order in paragraph No.14 refers to repeated intimations being sent to the petitioner on 09.08.2023, 3 1.08.2023 and 15.09.2023 for personal hearing, however, the notices issued in this regard were not served upon the petitioner. It is also the contention of the petitioner that upon the petitioner verifying the same from the Department, it has been learnt that the intimations for the aforementioned three dates of personal hearing sent were at a different email-id which was not the registered email-id of the petitioner. Therefore, the petitioner could not be served with those intimations which prevented him from availing the opportunity of personal hearing awarded by the Department.

4. Learned counsel for the Department, on the other hand, submits that it appears that the petitioner was granted ample opportunity prior to the passing of Order-in-Original, however, he did not avail the same and therefore, he cannot cry foul for not being given an opportunity of personal hearing.

5. Be that as it may, considering the contents of paragraph 14 of the impugned order, what primarily is reflected from the contents therein is that notices for personal hearing were issued to the petitioner on 09.08.2023, 31.08.2023 and 15.09.2023. However, those intimations were sent at  subbu_potula123rediffmail.com, whereas, the registered email-id of the petitioner is raghava.constructions@gmail.com. From the documents available, learned counsel for the Department does not dispute the fact that the petitioner had in fact much in advance brought to the notice of the Department so far as his registered email address being raghava.constructions@gmail.com is concerned. Given the said submission by the learned counsel for the Department, it appears that the notice for personal hearing has not been sent at raghava.constructions@gmail.com, but seems to have been inadvertently sent at the email reflected in the portal of the Department which is  subbu_potula123rediffmail.com.

6. Given the said circumstances of the case, we are of the considered opinion that it appears to be a case where because of technicalities, the notices for personal hearing seems to have not been served upon the petitioner and he has not been provided with a fair opportunity of personal hearing.

7. The Order-in-Original dated 28.11.2023, to the aforesaid extent deserves to be set aside and it is ordered accordingly. However, the impugned order is interfered with only on the ground of it being violative of principles of natural justice. The petitioner is directed to enter appearance before the authorities concerned on 07.03.2024 for personal hearing. Thereafter, the authorities concerned shall proceed further and pass appropriate fresh order in accordance with law. It is made clear that there shall be no necessity for issuance of any further notice in this regard to the petitioner by the Department.

8. The Writ Petition to the aforesaid extent stands allowed.

Consequently, miscellaneous petitions pending, if any, shall stand closed. No order as to costs.

 *****

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

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