Decided on May 15,1998

Pannalal Mahabir Prasad Appellant
I C T Chichira Check Post Respondents


D.Bhattacharyya (Technical Member). - (1.) IN this application under Section 8 of the West Bengal Taxation Tribunal Act, 1987, the applicant has challenged the seizure of goods under Section 70 and imposition of penalty under Section 71 of the West Bengal Sales Tax Act, 1994 (in short, "'the 1994 Act") at the Chichira check -post, Midnapore. Applicant No. 1 is a dealer registered under the 1994 Act and his business concerns dry fruits. His case is that a consignment of 451 bags of "wet dates" was despatched to him from Mumbai by road through M/s. North Eastern Carrying Corporation in vehicle No. MP23 DA 1954 which reached Chichira check -post on January 24, 1997 and was intercepted at 8 A.M. "Wet dates" being goods specified in Part A of Schedule -IV, permit in form 41 bearing No. 1442/96 -97 was taken on January 21, 1997 and was given to the transporter who on the next day sent it to their clearing agent Mr. Roshanlal Goel at Dharisol which is three (3) kilometers from the check -post. The transporter had instructed the driver, as usual, in writing to contact Mr. Goel before going to the check -post.
(2.) THE driver by mistake did not contact Mr. Goel but came directly to the check -post where the goods were intercepted at 8 A.M. and seized the same day at 10.30 A.M. A penalty proceeding was immediately started, notice of hearing in form 44 was issued on the same day, and the next day after hearing a penalty of Rs. 1,22,500 was imposed, even though the permit was produced at the time of hearing. Notice of demand in form 45 addressed to the applicant at Calcutta was given to the driver the same day. The respondents dispute this version of the events. According to them the driver, when asked by the patrolmen on duty at the check -post gate, refused to produce any documents and forcefully tried to drive away. The patrolmen on gate duty chased and stopped the vehicle. That is how the interception took place. The driver then produced some papers which did not include the permit in form 41.
(3.) MR . S.N. Bose, Advocate appearing for the applicant argues that there could arise no question of driving away from the check -post gate because the check -post drop gate always remains in closed position and is not lifted unless so directed by the Inspector of Commercial Taxes on duty. The officers at the check -post should have noticed, according to him, that the papers produced by the driver indicated that the driver should have met Mr. Roshanlal Goel before coming to the check -post and, on the basis of this, should have come to the conclusion that the driver came to the check -post without the permit by mistake. He submits that the seizure is bad in law because forty eight hours' time was not given after detention, or even interception. He contends that since the sales tax permit was produced at the time of hearing of penalty proceeding, Section 71 of the 1994 Act should not have been invoked. He further states that, in view of the applicant's submissions made with reference to the supporting documents including the permit, the imposition of the huge amount of penalty violates the principle of natural justice and should be set aside.;

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