LUCKNOW In a case pertaining to wrongful seizure of a trader’s consignment by commercial tax department, the Allahabad high court has passed severe strictures against authorities for harassing traders and also awarded a cost to be recovered from the official concerned, people in the know of things said.

Pronouncing its order on January 6 on a writ petition, the court observed that the state government has tried to create an atmosphere for free flow of trade and commerce so that a good business environment could be developed in the state of Uttar Pradesh. “But the state authorities are bent upon harassing the trading community of the state,” Justice Piyush Agrawal said in the order.

The court allowed the petition with a cost of Rs. 20,000 payable to the petitioner. “The cost shall be paid within a period of one month from today. The respondents are at liberty to recover the said cost from the erring officer,” the order said.

“This is the second instance where the department has got a rap for harassing traders within a period of less than a month,” said a senior commercial tax official.

Petitioner, Surya Traders, a registered dealer engaged in the business of selling Uncle (Sweet Supari) and Varanasi Ashik (Betel Nut Product) stated in the petition that in the normal course of business, 90 bags of betel nut product sold to two different registered dealers by issuing two tax invoices, were being transported along with tax invoice and e-way bill to its destination.

The said goods were intercepted by commercial tax department officials on 9.10.2019 in Varanasi. On physical verification, three bags of betel nut product were found without tax invoice and a show-cause notice was issued to the petitioner. In reply to the show-cause notice, the petitioner submitted tax invoice issued in the name of M/s Lal Ji Pan Bhandar, Tikona Park, Nawabganj, Gonda. He further submitted that the said tax invoice was handed over to the transporter but he left it behind by mistake.

The petitioner submitted that since the value of the goods was less than 50,000, the e-way bill was not generated. He argued that as far as the consignment of 87 bags sold to M/s Karuna Nidhan Agency was concerned, it had all requisite papers and the said goods should have not been seized, and if any discrepancy could be attributed it should be with regard to three bags only.

Standing counsel Jagdish Prasad Mishra, who represented the department. sought to justify the impugned order with his arguments that the court refused by buy.

The court ruled that the authorities were not justified in detaining/seizing goods and demanding security as documents accompanying the goods as well as submitted along with the reply fully covered the transaction in question and by no stretch of imagination it could be attributed any contravention of the provisions of UP GST Act or any other rule.

“So far as the consignment of 87 bags are concerned, it was duly accompanied with all proper documents as prescribed under the Act/Rule and the authorities were not justified in seizing and demanding security for release of the same,” the court observed.

Last month also the high court order pulled up the department for arbitrarily cancelling a trader’s application seeking registration for his firm.

Passing an order in the writ petition Ranjana Singh vs commissioner state tax, the Allahabad high court questioned how the petitioner’s application for registration could be cancelled on the ground that he did not submit a legible copy of electricity bill of his business premise despite his attaching all other documents like copy of his Aadhaar card, PAN card etc.

The court not only awarded cost against the official concerned but also directed the department to pass an appropriate order in the matter within a week of the court ruling.

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