COMMISSIONER OF COMMERCIAL TAXES, THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, KERALA Vs. M/S K.T.C. AUTOMOBILES
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: KERALA)
Commissioner Of Commercial Taxes, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
M/S K.T.C. Automobiles
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(1.) The Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala has preferred this appeal against judgment and order dated 20.3.2006 passed by the High Court of Kerala in MFA No. 1000 of 2002. The High Court exercising an appellate power allowed the appeal filed by M/s K.T.C. Automobiles, the respondent herein and set aside the original order passed by the Intelligence Officer under Section 45A of the Kerala General Sales Tax Act (for brevity 'KGST Act') imposing a penalty of Rs.86 lakhs upon the respondent dealer for the alleged non-maintenance of complete and true accounts during the period 1.4.1999 to 31.3.2000. The High Court also set aside the suo-motu order of Commissioner of Commercial Taxes dated 12.8.2002 passed under section 37 of the KGST Act whereby the Commissioner had set aside appellate order of the Deputy Commissioner dated 8.1.2002 and had restored the order of the Intelligence Officer.
(2.) The undisputed facts disclose that the respondent is in the business of purchase and sale of Hyundai cars manufactured by Hyundai Motors Limited, Chennai. As a dealer of said cars, both at Kozhikode (Calicut), Kerala where their head office is located and also at Mahe within the Union Territory of Pondicherry where they have a branch office, they are registered dealer and an assessee under the KGST Act, the Pondicherry Sales Tax Act as well as the Central Sales Tax Act. The dispute relates to assessment year 1999-2000. Its genesis is ingrained in the inspection of head office of the respondent on 1.6.2000 by the Intelligence Officer, IB, Kozhikode. After obtaining office copies of the sale invoices of M/s K.T.C. Automobiles, Mahe (branch office) for the relevant period as well as some additional period and also cash receipt books, cash book etc. maintained in the head office, he issued a show cause notice dated 10.8.2000 proposing to levy Rs.1 crore by way of penalty under Section 45A by the KGST Act on the alleged premise that the respondent had wrongly shown 263 number of cars as sold from its Mahe Branch, wrongly arranged for registration under the Motor Vehicles Act at Mahe and wrongly collected and remitted tax for those transactions under the provisions of Pondicherry Sales Tax Act. According to the Intelligence Officer, the sales were concluded at Kozhikode and hence the vehicles should have been registered within the State of Kerala. Therefore, by showing the sales at Mahe the respondent had failed to maintain true and complete accounts as an assessee under the KGST Act and had evaded payment of tax to the tune of Rs.86 lakhs and odd during the relevant period. The respondent submitted a detailed reply and denied the allegations and raised various objections to the proposed levy of penalty. The Intelligence Officer by his order dated 30.3.2001 stuck to his views in the show cause notice but instead of Rs.1 crore, he imposed a penalty of Rs.86 lakhs only.
(3.) The respondent appealed against that order. Their appeal was allowed by the Deputy Commissioner by a detailed order dated 8.1.2002 which has been noted and examined with meticulous care by the High Court in paragraphs 9 to 11 of the impugned judgment and later approved. Against the appellate order in favour of assessee, the Commissioner of Commercial Taxes initiated a suo-motu proceeding in exercise of power under Section 37 of the KGST Act and passed a final order on 12.8.2002 setting aside the appellate order and restoring the original order of penalty passed by the Intelligence officer. Against this suo-motu order the respondent preferred Miscellaneous First Appeal before the High Court of Kerala which was numbered as MFA No. 1000 of 2002 and ultimately allowed by the impugned order dated 20.3.2006.;
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