The Gujarat high court on Monday set fee a businessman who was arrested by the Goods and Service Tax (GST) officials for evasion of tax by raising fake bills worth several crores. Acting on a habeas corpus petition filed by the son of the businessman, a bench headed by Justice R M Chhaya held that the arrest of Suresh Gadhecha by GST officials was illegal. His presence was secured in the court from Sabarmati Central Jail. After holding the arrest illegal, the court set Gadhecha free from the courtroom only. Gadhecha along with few others was accused in a fake billing scam. He was summoned by GST officials on December 5. His interrogation lasted till next morning. He was arrested on December 6.
The concerned joint commissioner accorded the permission to arrest Gadhecha under the GST Act. The joint commissioner recorded his submission about Gadhecha’s involvement in availing illegal input tax credit using invoices issued by bogus entities without physical movement of goods and services and in issuing invoices or bills without supply of goods in violation of provisions of the GST Act and rules leading to evasion of tax, wrongfully availing of input tax credit. On the day Gadhecha was arrested, his son, Deep, filed a habeas corpus petition in the high court claiming that the arrest was illegal.
It was submitted that section 69 of the GST Act stipulates that the commissioner only has got power to frame a belief that a person has committed any offence. Here in this case, the joint commissioner has accorded the permission to arrest. The joint commissioner does not have power to do so. Since the joint commissioner does not have power to accord the arrest, Gadhecha’s arrest itself was illegal. Hence, his remaining in judicial custody in Sabarmati Central Jail is nothing but illegal detention on part of the authorities.