21 Aug 2022 12:53 PM GMT
The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has issued guidelines on the issuance of summons under section 70 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017. It has been brought to the Board's attention that summons under Section 70 of the CGST Act have been routinely issued by field formations to top senior officials of companies to request material evidence...
The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has issued guidelines on the issuance of summons under section 70 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017.
It has been brought to the Board's attention that summons under Section 70 of the CGST Act have been routinely issued by field formations to top senior officials of companies to request material evidence or documents. Besides, summons have also been issued to call for statutory records, viz. GSTR-3B, GSTR-1, etc., which are available online in the GST portal.
As per the guidelines, the powers to issue summons are generally exercised by Superintendents, though higher officers may also issue summons. Summons by Superintendents should be issued after obtaining prior written permission from an officer not below the rank of Deputy/Assistant Commissioner, with the reasons for the issuance of the summons to be recorded in writing.
Where, for operational reasons, it is not possible to obtain such prior written permission, oral/telephonic permission from an officer must be obtained and it should be reduced to writing and intimated to the officer according to permission at the earliest opportunity.
In all cases where summons are issued, the officer issuing the summons should record in the file the appearance or non-appearance of the summoned person and place a copy of the statement recorded in the file.
"Summons should normally indicate the name of the offender(s) against whom the case is being investigated, unless revelation of the offender's name is detrimental to the cause of investigation," the guidelines add.
The guidelines stated that issuance of summons may be avoided to call upon statutory documents which are digitally/ online available in the GST portal. Senior management officials such as CMD/MD/CEO/CFO/similar officers of any company or a PSU should not generally be issued summons in the first instance. They should be summoned when there are clear indications in the investigation of their involvement in the decision-making process that led to the loss of revenue.
The summoning officer must be present at the time and date for which summons are issued. In case of any exigency, the summoned person must be informed in advance in writing or orally. All those summoned are bound to appear before the officers concerned, the only exception being women, who by tradition do not appear in public or privileged persons. The exemption provided to these individuals under Sections 132 and 133 of the CPC may be taken into account while the case is being investigated.
Issuance of repeated summons without ensuring service of the summons must be avoided. It is possible that the summoned person will not attend investigations even after being summoned several times.In such cases, after giving reasonable opportunity, generally three summons at reasonable intervals, a complaint should be filed with the jurisdictional magistrate alleging that the accused has committed an offence under Sections 172 of the Indian Penal Code and/or 174 of the Indian Penal Code, as an inquiry under Section 70 of the CGST Act has been deemed to be a "judicial proceeding" within the meaning of Section 193 and Section 228 of the Indian Penal Code.
Before filing complaints, it must be ensured that summons have adequately been served upon the intended person in accordance with Section 169 of the CGST Act. However, this does not bar them from issuing further summons to the person under Section 70.
Instruction No. 03/2022-23
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