Power to order Prov. Attachment of Property including Bank A/c is draconian in nature - SC
Facts of the case:
The Appellant challenged the orders issued on 28 October 2020 by the Joint Commissioner of State Taxes and Excise, provisionally attaching the appellant’s receivables from its customers. The provisional attachment was ordered while invoking Section 83 of the Himachal Pradesh Goods and Service Tax Act, 2017 and Rule 159 of Himachal Pradesh Goods and Service Tax Rules, 2017. While dismissing the writ petition on grounds of maintainability the High Court was of the view that the appellant had an ‘alternative and efficacious remedy’ of an appeal under Section 107 of the HPGST Act. The GST Department had moved the Apex Court against the ruling of a Division Bench of the High Court of Himachal Pradesh. The High Court dismissed the writ petition instituted under Article 226 of the Constitution challenging orders of provisional attachment on the ground that an alternate remedy is available. While dismissing the writ petition on grounds of maintainability, the High Court was of the view that the appellant had an ‘alternative and efficacious remedy’ of an appeal under State GST law. While dismissing the writ petition, the High Court held that it was undisputed that the third respondent and the Divisional Commissioner, who has been appointed as Commissioner (Appeals) under the GST Act, are constituted under the HPGST Act, and therefore, it is assumed that there is no illegal or irregular exercise of jurisdiction. The High Court further observed that even if there is some defect in the procedure followed during the hearing of the case, it does not follow that the authority acted without jurisdiction, and though the order may be irregular or defective, it cannot be a nullity so long it has been passed by the competent authority.
The Supreme Court has recently held that power to order a provisional attachment of the property of the taxable person including a bank account is draconian in nature and the conditions which are prescribed by the statute for a valid exercise of the power must be strictly fulfilled. The Court said that before passing an order of provisional attachment, it is necessary to adhere to the twin conditions: first, allowing the assessee to submit objections to the order of attachment on the ground that the property was or is not liable for attachment and second, give him opportunity to be heard before the order.
Radha Krishan Industries (Appellant) vs. State of Himachal Pradesh (Respondent) Supreme Court decided on 20.04.2021
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