Two Tax lawyers, Medha Lila Gope and Nitu Hawelia approached the Gauhati High Court against the action of the officers of Bureau of Investigation of Economic Offences (BIEO).
The petitioners contented that the Officers unauthorizedly seized the goods of M/s Kumar Traders, M/s Kumar Enterprise and M/s Maa Karni Traders from their Amingaon godown.
They argued that the Union Finance Minister had already in his press release on July 9, 2017 announced that ‘no tax officer is authorized to visit the place of business of dealers during the transition period of GST unless otherwise authorized’. However, the BIEO officers in the State of Assam empowered under Assam Value Added Tax Act, 2003 have not been authorized to cause any search and seizure under GST as yet.
Justice Hrishikesh Roy admitted the case with a specific direction to the department that ‘apprise the Court as to under what capacity and provisions of law they have caused search and seizure for suspicion to evade tax when the Union Minister had already cautioned the officers by way of press release not to cause any search and seizure during the GST transition period’.
On a prayer by Gope the Court has further restricted the officers of the department not to put the dealers into any further harassment on account of the search and seizure made on July 27, 2017. Gope and Hawelia were assisted by advocate Namita Gogoi and others.
GST was implemented from 1st July 2017 all over India. After more than a month of GST rollout, this can be treated as the first case law under the Assam GST Act.
Read the full text of the Order below.