Power to Summon persons to give Evidence and Produce Documents is a Statutory function: Bombay HC refuses to quash Summons [Read Judgment]

Power to summon persons - Bombay High Court - summons - Taxscan

The Bombay High Court while refusing to quash summons ruled that the power to summon persons to give evidence and produce documents is a statutory function.

The Petitioner, JSK Marketing Limited has been engaged in the business of trading in consumer goods, FMCG products, cameras, batteries, etc. for the last 34 years.

The Directorate General of GST Intelligence, Mumbai conducted a raid on the premises of the petitioner, and respondent authority seized several documents, books of accounts, hard disks, etc. for the purpose of GST investigation into alleged tax evasion.

The respondent, Directorate General of GST Intelligence, Mumbai Zonal Unit issued summons to the Director of the petitioner company seeking his attendance for giving evidence and/or producing documents or things from his possession and under his control.

However, the petitioners challenged the issuance of summons and seeking stay of proceedings or inquiry.

Mr. Mathew Nedumpara, counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioners, at the outset, submitted that the Director of the company expresses severe apprehension of arrest by the officers of the respondent for interrogation and inquiry in respect of alleged evasion of service tax / GST and has therefore approached the Court seeking protection.

The division bench of Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice Milind N.Jadhav clarified that Sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 14 of the Central Excise Act state that summons to produce documents or other things in the possession of or under the control of the person summoned can be issued by an officer duly empowered by the Central Government and all persons so summoned shall be bound to attend and state the truth upon any subject respecting which they are examined or make statements or to produce such documents and other things as may be called upon.

The court while dismissing the petition opined that there is no reason for the petitioners to apprehend arrest on presenting himself before the investigating officer in response to the summons which have been issued to the petitioners.

The court directed the petitioner to remain present before the concerned investigating officer or authority in the office of the Directorate General of GST Intelligence, Mumbai Zonal Unit on 1st March 2021 at 11:00 a.m. for the purpose of inquiry and thereafter as and when required. If the petitioners cooperate in the investigation, respondents shall not take any coercive steps against the petitioners.

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