The Delhi High Court (HC) has on 3rd November, 20231 allowed consolidation of GST proceedings initiated by different authorities. This means that if two or more authorities are investigating the same taxpayer for GST violations, they can now combine their investigations into a single proceeding.
The issue in the present case was whether the investigation initiated by Jurisdictional Commissionerate can be transferred to Directorate General of Goods and Services Tax Intelligence (DGGI), where the latter had also commenced investigation on a different subject matter but had certain issues in common.
The key observations of the HC are:
- It is undisputable that both the authorities possess necessary jurisdiction to conduct investigations.
- The object of Section 6(2)(b) of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (CGST Act) is to ensure that cross empowerment of officers of central and state tax do not result in the taxpayer being subjected to parallel proceedings.
- Neither the above provision, nor does the Circular dated 5 October 2018 proscribe the transfer of investigations or proceedings merely because the authority that commences the investigation is also empowered to see it through various stages.
- In a case where investigations are commenced separately by two authorities and coincides at some stage, it cannot be implied that two authorities cannot consolidate the same.
- If the said provision is read in a restrictive manner, DGGI and Jurisdictional Commissionerate will still be able to pursue their investigations independently.
Accordingly, HC dismissed the writ petition filed by assessee.
The Delhi HC’s decision came in a case where the Directorate General of GST Intelligence (DGGI) had transferred an investigation to the jurisdictional Commissionerate. The taxpayer challenged the transfer on the grounds that it was illegal.
The Delhi HC dismissed the taxpayer’s challenge and held that the DGGI is empowered to transfer an investigation to the jurisdictional Commissionerate, even if the investigation has already begun. The HC also held that the consolidation of GST proceedings by different authorities is permissible.
The Delhi HC’s decision is a welcome development for taxpayers, as it will help to make GST investigations more efficient and transparent.
- Earlier, Calcutta HC had held that parallel proceedings cannot be initiated or conducted simultaneously by the different wings of the same department for the same period and on the same subject matter against the assessee [2022-TIOL-1305-HC-KOL-GST].
- While the provisions referred in the judgement pertained to cross empowerment of the officers of the State and Central tax authorities, in the present case both the authorities involved were under the Central Government
- TS-530-HC(DEL)-2023-GST ↩︎