Introduction: Pooppally Coir Mills has filed a petition against the State Tax Officer regarding the issuance of show cause notices (Exts.P3 and P4) alleging the wrongful availment of IGST refund. The petitioner contends that without access to the materials forming the basis of these notices, they cannot adequately respond to the allegations.
Detailed Analysis: The petitioner argues that the show cause notices do not provide sufficient information on the basis for the allegations, particularly referencing information from the Commissioner of Customs. Despite requests, the petitioner has not been provided with the materials or the referenced letter from the Commissioner of Customs.
The Government Pleader asserts that it is the petitioner’s responsibility to file proper replies and request necessary documents from the officer. However, the petitioner claims to have already requested certain details (Exts.P5 to P8) without success.
The court acknowledges the importance of the petitioner having access to the materials underlying the show cause notices to formulate a proper response. While directing the petitioner to appear before the officer on the designated date to show cause against the proposals, the court also orders the officer to provide the requested documents within a reasonable time. The petitioner is then granted two weeks to reply to the show cause notices before the matter is adjudicated.
Conclusion: The case highlights the petitioner’s entitlement to access materials forming the basis of show cause notices to effectively respond to allegations. The court’s directive ensures that the petitioner is afforded a fair opportunity to present their case before the competent officer.
FULL TEXT OF THE JUDGMENT/ORDER OF KERALA HIGH COURT
The petitioner has approached this Court being aggrieved by the fact that Exts.P3 and P4 notices have been issued to the petitioner alleging the wrong availment of IGST refund. It is the case of the petitioner that, from the details set out in Exts.P3 and P4, the petitioner is not able to ascertain with certainty the basis for the issuance of the show cause notices. It is submitted that there a reference in Ext.P3 and also in Ext.P4 to certain information provided to the department by the Commissioner of Customs, which seems to have concluded that the petitioner has wrongly availed the IGST refund. It is submitted that the materials, which form the basis of the show cause notices, have not been supplied to the petitioner. It is submitted that even the copy of the letter of the Commissioner of Customs, which is referred to in Exts.P3 and P4, has not been supplied to the petitioner, and yet the petitioner is called upon to file a reply to Exts.P3 and P4 and to appear before the officer for adjudication of the dispute on 30-01-2024.
2. Learned Government Pleader points out that Exts.P3 and P4 are only show cause notices and it is for the petitioner to file proper replies before the officer and to substantiate that there is no basis for issuing the notices to the petitioner. It is submitted that if the petitioner has a case that the materials, on the basis of which the show cause notices have been issued, have not been supplied to the petitioner, it is for the petitioner to make a request to the officer for the supply of those documents.
3. Learned counsel for the petitioner, in reply, would submit that Exts.P5 to P8 letters submitted by the petitioner would indicate that the petitioner has already requested for certain details and the same has not been provided to the petitioner.
5. Having heard the learned counsel for the petitioner and the learned Government Pleader, I am of the opinion that since Exts.P3 and P4 are only show cause notices, the petitioner must, at least at the first instance, appear before the officer and show cause against the proposals in Exts.P3 and P4. However, the learned counsel for the petitioner is right in contending that the petitioner is entitled to the materials on the basis of which the show cause notices have been issued to the petitioner and without such materials, it may not be possible for the petitioner to file a proper reply to the show cause notices.
Therefore, this writ petition will stand disposed of directing that, the petitioner or an authorized representative of the petitioner shall appear before the officer, who issued Exts.P3 and P4 show cause notices at the designated time on 30-01-2024. On that date, it is open to the petitioner to file a request detailing the documents that are required by the petitioner for the purposes of filing a proper reply to Exts.P3 and P4 notices. The officer shall consider the request for providing documents and shall provide such documents to the petitioner within a reasonable time. After serving the documents requested for, on the petitioner, the petitioner shall be given a further time of two weeks to reply to the show cause notices. Thereafter the matter shall be adjudicated by the competent officer in accordance with the law and after affording an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner.