The Supreme Court observed that, when an alternate remedy is available, a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution can be entertained by a High Court only in following exceptional circumstances:
(i) a breach of fundamental rights;
(ii) a violation of the principles of natural justice;
(iii) an excess of jurisdiction; or
(iv) a challenge to the vires of the statute or delegated legislation.
In this case, the Telangana High Court in the exercise of its writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution set aside the action of the Assistant Commissioner of State Tax in collecting an amount of Rs 4,16,447 from a proprietary concern towards tax and penalty under the Central Goods and Services Tax Act 2017 (CGST) and State Goods and Services Tax Act (SGST).
Before the Apex Court, the revenue, contended that the High Court was in error in entertaining the writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution, having regard to the statutory alternative remedy which is available under Section 107 of the CGST Act.
Agreeing with the said submission, the bench noted that the petitioner before the High court had a statutory remedy under section 107, but instead of availing of the remedy, it instituted a petition under Article 226.
"The existence of an alternate remedy is not an absolute bar to the maintainability of a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution. But a writ petition can be entertained in exceptional circumstances where there is: (i) a breach of fundamental rights; (ii) a violation of the principles of natural justice; (iii) an excess of jurisdiction; or (iv) a challenge to the vires of the statute or delegated legislation.", the bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli said.
In the present case, the court said that none of the above exceptions was established.
"There was, in fact, no violation of the principles of natural justice since a notice was served on the person in charge of the conveyance. In this backdrop, it was not appropriate for the High Court to entertain a writ petition. The assessment of facts would have to be carried out by the appellate authority. As a matter of fact, the High Court has while doing this exercise proceeded on the basis of surmises.", the court said while allowing the appeal.
Case: Assistant Commissioner of State Tax vs. Commercial Steel Limited ; CA 5121/2021
Coram: Justices DY Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli
Citation: LL 2021 SC 438
Counsel: Adv Prashant Tyagi for appellant, Adv Shaik Mohamad Haneef for respondent