The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to examine the power of tax authorities to arrest individuals for evading the Goods and Services Tax, reported PTI. The court issued a notice to Centre and asked it to respond within four weeks. The vacation bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Aniruddha Bose said a three-judge bench should hear the matter.
The Centre had filed a plea seeking clarification regarding the power of tax officials under the Central Goods and Service Tax Act to arrest accused persons without filing a First Information Report. The Centre challenged the Bombay High Court’s orders that said an accused cannot be arrested without following the proper procedure, reported Bar and Bench.
“The UOI [Union of India] has observed that there is a growing tendency and a practice of short-circuiting the procedure established by law by individuals being investigated for economic offences by filing writ petitions, challenging the constitutional validity of each every provision, they being investigated under and seeking either regular bail or a custodial bail,” the Centre said in its plea.
The Centre also pointed out that High Courts had differed in their opinions on the matter. It cited an instance of the Telangana High Court upholding the authority of the GST commissioner to make such arrests. The Centre also argued that the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure would not apply to GST officers as these sections specifically use the word “police”. It said officers who come under the purview of the CGST Act are revenue department officials, and not police officers.