SC dismissed SLP filed by the department for being a “certificate cases” filed only to save the skin of defaulting officers

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In Re Union of India vs Vishnu Aroma Pouching (P.) Ltd. [SLP (Civil) DIARY NO(S). 1434/2021 decided on June 29, 2021] the Hon’ble Supreme Court dismissed the Special Leave Petition by looking to the period of delay and the casual manner in which the application has been worded and imposed costs on the revenue Department (“the Petitioner”) of ₹ 25,000/- for wastage of judicial time.

Facts:

Vishnu Aroma Pouching (P.) Ltd. (“the Respondent”) discharged his tax liability for the month of August, 2017 partly by paying tax in cash and partly by utilisation of legally availed Input Tax Credit. For completing the transaction, a Unique Identification Number relating to discharge of any liability is to be indicated in the corresponding entry in the electronic liability register. This procedural requirement of Rule 88(2) of the Central Goods and Services Tax Rules, 2017 is, however not completed in the Respondent’s case because of a glitch and ultimate crashing down of the common portal system in September, 2017.

The Respondent informed the Department about the payment and discharging duty liability for August, 2017 and their inability to correct GSTR-3B return submitted on GST portal. Vide order dated May 07, 2019, the Respondent was allowed to file Form GSTR-3B for September, 2019 adding taxes payable details for August, 2017 as well.

The Respondent received notice from the Petitioner that they were liable to make payment of interest for the period between actual date of filing of return and date of filing of return of September, 2019.

The Hon’ble Gujarat High Court held that, the declaration submitted by the Respondent in October, 2019 along with the return of September, 2019 shall be treated as the Respondent having discharged its tax liability of August, 2017 within the period stipulated under the GST laws. The Respondent shall not be liable to pay any interest on such tax amount for the period from September 2017 to October, 2019.

Aggrieved with decision of Hon’ble Gujarat High Court, the Petitioner is before the Apex Court.

Held:

The Hon’ble Apex Court in [SLP (Civil) DIARY NO(S). 1434/2021 decided on June 29, 2021] observed that, Gujarat High Court judgment was pronounced on November 14, 2019. The proposal for filing the Special Leave Petition was sent after almost six months on May 20, 2020 and it took another three months to decide whether to file Special Leave Petition or not on August 25, 2020.

Further, noted that such kind of cases are categorized as “certificate cases” filed with the only object to obtain a quietus from the Hon’ble Supreme Court on the ground that nothing could be done because the highest Court has dismissed the appeal. The objective is to complete a mere formality and save the skin of the officers who may be in default in following the due process or may have done it deliberately.

Stated that the Court deprecates such practice and process and refuse to grant such certificates and if the Government/public authorities suffer losses, it is time when concerned officers responsible for the same, bear the consequences.

The Special Leave Petition is dismissed as time barred.

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