Tripura HC directed revenue to release vehicle detained due to expiry of E-way bill due to unforeseen circumstances

In NE Equipment Solutions Pvt. Ltd. Vs. The State of Tripura and others [WP(C) No. 577/2021] dated August 24, 2021 the Hon’ble Tripura High Court directed the Respondents to release the transport vehicle and machinery upon the Petitioner filing an undertaking that, if any tax or penalty liability is crystallized upon final assessment, the Petitioner shall deposit the same with the Government revenue.

Facts:

NE Equipment Solutions Pvt. Ltd. (“the Petitioner”) sold one TATA Hitachi Hydraulic Excavator Model No. EX 210 LC to one Satya Sundar Das of Khowai. The cost of machinery was Rs.49,66,102/- on which IGST of Rs.8,93,898/- was collected from the purchaser and duly declared in the sale invoices.

The machinery was being transported in a truck trailer and started its journey from Silchar. When the transport vehicle reached at Churaibari check post, the transport department of State of Tripura detained the vehicle on the ground that the excavator had no registration in the State of Tripura which was violative of Section 192A of the Motor Vehicles Act.

Tripura HC directed revenue to release vehicle detained due to expiry of E-way bill due to unforeseen circumstances

Eventually the transport authority released the order of detention against the Petitioner paying fine of Rs.10,000/-. In the meantime, however, the validity of the e-way bill had expired. The vehicle was now intercepted by the GST authorities at Churaibari check post on the ground that the driver did not have valid e-way bill.

The Superintendent of Taxes, Churaibari Enforcement Wing issued a show cause notice to the Petitioner under section 129(3) of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 calling upon the Petitioner as to why unpaid tax with penalty totaling to Rs.17,87,796/- should not be recovered from the Petitioner. At that stage, the Petitioner has approached the Hon’ble Tripura High Court primarily for release of the machinery.

Held:

The Hon’ble Tripura High Court in WP(C) No. 577/2021 dated August 24, 2021 directed the Respondents to release the transport vehicle and the machinery upon the Petitioner filing an undertaking before this Court to the effect that, if any tax or penalty liability is crystallized upon final assessment subject to right of appeal and further challenge, the Petitioner shall deposit the same with the Government revenue.

The above ruling was based on following observations:

  • The validity expired on account of unforeseen and unexpected delay in crossing the check post since the transport department stopped the movement of the vehicle on the ground that the machinery was not registered in the State of Tripura.
  • Allowing the department to detain the machinery would be wholly impermissible. The fault of the Petitioner if at all is rather technical.
  • The machinery costs nearly half a crore of rupees on which the Government revenue has already earned substantial tax. Detaining such machinery at the check post would expose it to deterioration particularly in the present season of heavy rainfall.
  • The Petitioner’s projects and works which must be in pipeline would also suffer.

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