SGST High Court Cases

GST - Failure to produce e-way bill at the time of inspection – petitioner claims that due to technical glitches on e-Way Bill portal it failed to generate the e-Way Bill of the onset of transportation of goods and produce the same at the time of inspection – generation of e-way bill subsequent to detention of goods and before order imposing penalty was passed – Petitioner challenge levy of penalty under Section 129(3) of the CGST Act, 2017 in the absence of intent to evade tax – HELD - the goods were accompanied by the tax invoices which contained the details of the vehicle that was transporting the goods – while one e-Way Bill was generated before the detention and one subsequent to detention, but before passing of the order under Section 129(3) of the UPGST/CGST Act, 2017. Under these circumstances, there does not appear to be any intention to evade the tax - Further, the explanation given by the petitioner with regard to the delay in generation of the e-Way Bill due to the barrier imposed by the local administration has also not been taken into consideration by the authorities below. Finally, the authorities have failed to indicate any specific reason that would indicate an intention for evasion of tax - intention to evade tax is desideratum for the imposition of penalty. The authorities have acted beyond jurisdiction and imposed tax without there being any cogent reason for the same – the petitioner cannot be made to suffer due to mere technical mistakes that may have arisen, without there being any intention to evade tax - Once both the e-Way Bills were presented before passing of the penalty order, and all the documents including the tax invoices, were found to be in order, the Respondents had no sound rationale to pass the impugned order – Furthermore, the reasoning afforded by Appellate Authority to reject the statutory appeal records that while the provisions under the UPVAT Act, 2008 mandated establishing a prior intent to evade tax, there was no such provision in the CGST Act, 2017/UPGST Act, 2017. This reasoning is palpably erroneous - A penal action devoid of mens rea not only lacks a solid legal foundation but also raises concerns about the proportionality and reasonableness of the penalties imposed - Tax evasion is a serious allegation that necessitates a robust evidentiary basis to withstand legal scrutiny. The mere rejection of post-detention e-Way Bills, without a cogent nexus to intention to evade tax, is fallacious - Mere technical errors, without having any potential financial implications, should not be the grounds for imposition of penalties – the impugned orders are quashed and the Respondents are directed to refund the amount of tax and penalty deposited by the petitioner – the writ petition is allowed

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