Delhi HC allows Bharti Airtel to rectify GST returns of ₹923 crores

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The Delhi high court has allowed Bharti Airtel Ltd to rectify its Goods and Services Tax (GST) returns of 923 crores for July-September 2017. The government had said it did not permit rectification of the returns citing restrictions specified in a circular.

Bharti Airtel said in its plea, there had been excess payment of taxes mainly due to non-operationalization of certain GST return forms and system-related checks which could have forewarned the petitioner about the mistake. Since there were no checks on the Form GSTR-3B (summary of monthly transactions), which was manually filled up by the company, the excess payment of tax went unnoticed, it added.

The company had excess input tax credits at its disposal but could not utilize it in adjusting against the final tax liability due to regulatory and technology-related uncertainties at the time of India’s transition to the new indirect tax regime in 2017. The company wanted to correct its returns but said it was being prevented from doing so as there was no enabling statutory procedure from the government.

“…we allow the present petition and permit the petitioner to rectify Form GSTR-3B for the period to which the error relates, i.e. the relevant period from July 2017 to September 2017,” the court said in its order which was made available on the website last night. It also asked indirect tax authorities to verify the claim in two weeks.

The court said the circular issued by the central government cannot be contrary to the Central GST Act and that the government cannot impose conditions that go against the scheme of the statutory provisions in the law. The move offers relief to the telecom company at a time when the sector is reeling under mounting debt and is under pressure to pay up past dues.

The company said that there was no rationale for not allowing rectification in the month for which the statutory return has been filed. This is also totally contrary to the statutory scheme of the CGST Act which provides that the data filled by a registered person will be validated in that month itself, and thereafter any unmatched details are rectified in the month in which it is noticed.

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