F No. 137/39/2007-CX-4
Ministry of Finance
Department of Revenue
Central Board of Excise and Customs
Dated : February 26, 2007
Subject : Issuance of summons in service tax matters-regarding
It has come to the notice of the Board that on many occasions, merely for obtaining information or documents pertaining to service tax cases/ matters, officers of field formations or intelligence agencies resort to issuance of summons (U/s 14 of the Central Excise Act, 1944 as is made applicable in service tax cases U/s 83 of the Finance Act, 1994) to either service taxpayers or to persons who are not registered with the department. From the nature of information / documents called for, it is clear that many times such information / documents can easily be obtained by making a telephonic request or writing a simple letter to the person concerned. Instead summons are issued in a routine manner, under the signature of superintendent or the senior intelligence officers. (SIOs). The harsh and legal language of the summons not only causes unnecessary metal stress & embarrassment and instills fear in the minds of the receiver but may also become a source of harassment or even unethical practices. Board has taken a serious note of this practice.
a) For calling for information / documents, normally the mode of communication should be either in the form of a telephone call or by way of sending a simple letter;
b) Issuance of summons should be resorted to, only when the above mentioned modes of communications are found to be ineffective or are likely to jeopardize revenue interest or when it is essential to ensure personal presence of the person concerned to tender evidence or record statement in connection with a service tax evasion case;
c) In cases mentioned under (b) above, the summons should be issued after obtaining prior written permission from an officer not below the rank of Deputy Commissioner with reasons for issuance of summons to be recorded in writing;
d) In case, for unavoidable operational reasons it is not possible to obtain such prior written permission, oral / telephonic permission from such officer must be obtained and the same should be reduced to writing and intimated to the officer according such permission at the earliest opportunity;
e) In all cases, where summons are issued, the officer issuing summons must submit a report on proceeding that took place during the presence of the taxpayer/person summoned, and the officer authorizing issuance of summons must satisfy himself that no harassment has been caused during the visit of the person summoned to the office.
Commissioner (Service Tax) CBEC, New Delhi