HC seeks Centre, DGGI reply on plea challenging constitutionality of sections of CGST Act : 11-12-2020

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has sought the Centre and DGGI’s reply on a plea challenging the constitutional validity of various provisions of the Central Goods and Service Tax (CGST) Act, relating to the power of arresting a person. A bench of Justices Manmohan and Sanjeev Narula issued notice to the central government and the Directorate General of GST Intelligence (DGGI) on the plea seeking to declare sections 69 and 132 of the CGST Act as unconstitutional, illegal, unenforceable and ultra vires to the Constitution.

Section 69 of the Act relates to power to arrest a person and section 132 deals with punishment of certain offences where a person commits or abets commission of an offence.

The court was hearing the petition by Arun Gupta, director of Transline Technologies Pvt Ltd, also seeking direction to the authorities to comply with the mandatory procedure under the CrPC for valid commencement of investigation into any offence qua him.

The DGGI has accused Gupta of issuing fake invoices without the supply of goods and having allegedly committed offences under the CGST Act amounting to Rs 13 crore.

Gupta has sought direction to the authorities that no coercive action be taken against him in relation to the investigation pending against Transline Technologies.

During the hearing, advocate Vijay Aggarwal, representing Gupta, showed a video clip to the court claiming that the DGGI, New Delhi, officials were allegedly slapping and manhandling the employee of the petitioner and an audio clip of the call recording was also played.

The high court directed the authorities not to arrest Gupta till the next date of hearing, December 22 and to de-seal his house and godown.

It also directed the petitioner to appear before the Deputy Director, DDGI, on December 11 for recording of statements and that he shall continue to appear and cooperate in investigation as and when directed by the officer.

“Keeping in view the peculiar facts of this case, in particular the audio visual tapes placed on record as well as the ‘no coercive steps’ orders passed by the Apex Court in…, this court directs that till the next date of hearing the petitioner shall not be arrested,” the high court said.

The petition, filed through advocates Yugant Sharma, Nagesh Behl and Deepanshu Choithani, challenged the investigation on the grounds that it was conducted by the GST officers in gross non-compliance of the ‘procedure established by law’ as contemplated under the Code of Criminal Procedure, claiming it to be in violation of Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution.

“The vires of sections 69 and 132 of the CGST Act, 2017 were also challenged on the ground that an arrest cannot be made under the said Act, as there is no constitutional backing to the same,” it said.

Source : PTI

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