The Bombay High Court dismissed the plea of the Goods and Service Tax Practitioners’ Association’s plea for GSTR9/9C due date extension.
The petitioners, Goods and Service Tax Practitioners’ Association, Mumbai, and its President MR. Raj Pravin Shah preferred the writ petition for a direction to the respondents to extend the periodicity of filing of annual returns in the State of Maharashtra until complete lock-down is lifted or until the COVID-19 pandemic situation improves completely.
The petitioners further sought the direction to the respondents to extend periodicity of limitation of filing of annual returns for the year 2019-20 in the State of Maharashtra under section 44 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 read with Rule 80 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Rules, 2017 up to June 30, 2021.
It has been averred in the writ petition that the COVID-19 pandemic particularly in the State of Maharashtra is not yet over. Rather in recent days, there has been an increase in the number of cases of people being infected with covid-19. Lock-down imposed in the State of Maharashtra has not yet been completely withdrawn. As a matter of fact, several areas in the State of Maharashtra have seen fresh lock-downs in different forms in the recent past.
Mr. Joshi, learned counsel for the petitioners submits that following amendment to section 44 of the Maharashtra Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017, a proviso has been inserted therein as per which the Commissioner may on the recommendation of the GST Council and for reasons to be recorded in writing by a notification extend the time- limit for furnishing the annual return for such class of registered persons as may be specified therein. Further, any extension of the time-limit notified by the Commissioner of Central Tax shall be deemed to be notified by the Commissioner under the Maharashtra Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017.
He further submitted that there is no involvement of revenue in the matter as extension of time limit would not result in loss of any revenue. Looking into the genuine hardship faced by the members of petitioner and taxable persons, he submits that such discretionary power is required to be exercised by the Commissioner in the interest of justice.
He has also referred to section 168A of the Maharashtra Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 to contend that such extension of time-limit should be allowed if furnishing of annual returns within the extended time-limit upto February 28, 2021 cannot be completed or complied with due to force majeure, which has been explained to mean epidemic etc., in this case COVID-19.
“That apart, on going through the relevant provisions of the CGST Act, more particularly the provision of section 47(2) therefore, we do not find that non-extension of the time-limit beyond 28.02.2021 would lead to any extinguishment of right,” the court said.
“We find from the written instructions dated 25.02.2021 that vide notification No. 77 of 2020 – Central Tax dated 15.10.2020 filing of annual return in the prescribed form for businesses with annual turnover up to Rs.2 crores has been made optional for the financial years 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019- 20; and for businesses with annual turnover up to Rs.5 crores filing of the prescribed form for the financial years 2018-19 and 2019-20 has been waived off vide notification No. 79/2000 – Central Tax dated 15.10.2020. We also take note of the fact that it is the professional body of GST practitioners who are before us and not any individual taxable person expressing any difficulty in adhering to the extended timeline of 28.02.2021. In the circumstances, the Court is not inclined to entertain the writ petition,” the court while dismissing the writ petition ruled.