R.K.DATTA CHAUDHURI, J. -
(1.) THIS application under section 8 of the West Bengal Taxation Tribunal Act, 1987, is directed against taking away of the purchase files of the petitioner in respect of the assessment years 2007 -08 and 2008 -09 by the officers of Purulia Range on December 28, 2008. The petitioner's case in short is this. He is a small grocer starting business in August, 2007. On December 26, 2008, he came to know that he incurred tax liability and that his liability could be reduced under the Amnesty Scheme expiring on December 31, 2008. On December 27, 2008, Saturday the Purulia charge office was closed. He learnt that there was a range office at a nearby place and it remained open round the clock. He went there and had advice to make the application on next Monday, i.e., December 29, 2008. But on December 28, 2008, Sunday at 9.30 am two Sales Tax Officers went to his place of business and asked for the purchase bill files for the years 2007 -08 and 2008 -09 to his elder brother present over there. Those purchase bills were delivered and the Sales Tax Officers obtained signatures of his brothers on blank papers. They also took stock inventory and left without supplying acknowledgement receipt for the purchase bill files. On December 29, 2008 he deposited tax under the Amnesty Scheme and applied for registration. In spite of his request, respondent No. 1 did not supply acknowledgement receipts for the purchase files. On refusal to receive the complaint by the local police station, he sent the same to the police station by the registered post on December 31, 2008. Subsequently on January 7, 2009 the registration certificate was issued. In the supplementary affidavit the petitioner stated that no criminal cases were registered on his complaint as aforesaid till February 17, 2009. He received a notice dated February 20, 2009 under memo No. 3288 issued by the STO, Purulia Range for attending hearing in respect to the notice vide memo No. 3089 dated January 19, 2009 but he had not received any notice under memo No. 3089 dated January 19, 2009. He prays for quashing the seizure of the purchase files and direction for return of these files. Respondent No. 2 contested the application by filing affidavit -in -opposition on May 7, 2009, denying the petitioner's assertion that he went to the Purulia Range offices, taking signatures on blank papers and in spite of the benefit of Amnesty Scheme under section 24A of the WB VAT Act, 2003.
(2.) The petitioner applied for registration certificate on December 29, 2008 suppressing the fact of seizure of the purchase bill files on December 28, 2008 under section 67 of the West Bengal Value Added Tax Act, 2003. The fact of the aforesaid seizure not having in the knowledge of the registration authority, the registration certificate was granted to the petitioner though he was not entitled to the grant thereof under section 24A of the WB VAT Act, 2003. As per the pre -seizure report the dealer disclosed annual turnover of Rs. 20 lakhs and as such he incurred liability to pay tax long before. Hence as there was ground to believe that the dealer tried to evade payment of tax and as such two files containing purchase bill, challan, etc., daily sales report, distributors profile and two pass books were seized. In the affidavit -in -reply the petitioner reiterated same fact what was stated in the application and supplementary affidavit and made some argumentative statement.
(3.) THE substance of the complaint that the files and other documents were seized and retained illegally. The section 67 of the WB VAT Act, 2003 provides, "if the Commissioner, a Special Commissioner, an Additional Commissioner or any person appointed under sub -section (1) of section 6 to assist the Commissioner, has reason to suspect, upon information or otherwise, that any dealer, casual dealer, or any other person, is evading any tax, or is attempting to evade payment of any tax, or has failed to deposit any tax, as the case may be, he may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, seize such accounts, registers or documents, including those in the form of electronic record, or any computer or electronic media of such dealer or casual dealer or person, as may be necessary, and shall grant such dealer or casual dealer or person, a receipt for such accounts, registers or documents, including those in the form of electronic record, or any computer or electronic media seized by him and shall retain all or any of them only for such period as may be necessary for examination thereof or for prosecution or for any other purpose of this Act : Provided that -
(a) the Commissioner or the Special Commissioner or the Additional Commissioner shall not retain any of the accounts, registers or documents, including those in the form of electronic record, or any computer or electronic media, seized under this section for a period exceeding one year from the date of the seizure unless he records in writing the reasons therefore, and
(b) any person appointed under sub -section (1) of section 6 to assist the Commissioner shall not retain any of the accounts, registers or documents, including those in the form of electronic record, or any computer or electronic media, seized under this section for a period exceeding one year from the date of the seizure unless he states the reason in writing therefore and obtains sanction of the Commissioner in writing in respect thereof.;