Ahmedabad, October 29: The Gujarat High Court in a recent order has armed GST Commissioners with the power to authorise arrest of a person if he has reasons to believe that the person has committed a cognisable and bailable offence, and that the power can be exercised even before completion of assessment and determination of tax evaded.
The Gujarat High Court’s order has caused some concern among taxpayers, who have reasons to believe that the order would add to harassment of taxpayers at ground level, Business Today reported.
The High Court in its order has said: “We are of the opinion that the power to arrest as provided under section 69 of the CGST Act can be invoked if the Commissioner has reason to believe that the person has committed offences as provided under the clauses (a), (b), (c) or (d) of sub-section(1) of section 132 of the CGST Act without there being any adjudication for the assessment.”
The High Court further said in its order that the arrest order should be based on some credible materials or information and also should be supported by a supervening factor. “It is not any and every material, howsoever vague and indefinite or distant remote or far-fetching, which would warrant the formation of the belief,” it said.
While giving the order, the Gujarat High Court has disagreed with the High Courts of Delhi, Madras, Haryana and Punjab, which have in different instances maintained that the commissioner has no power to arrest in every case during the investigation and that too without determination of the tax evaded.
Tax and legal experts fear that the recent order would lead to brazen misuse by the tax authorities and lead to further harassment of taxpayers.