BEST FOOTWEAR Vs. STATE OF ANDHRA PRADESH
SALES TAX TRIBUNAL
STATE OF ANDHRA PRADESH
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G. Venkateswarlu, Member (D) -
(1.) THIS is the first appeal filed against the revision orders of the Joint Commissioner of Commercial Taxes (Legal) A.P., at Hyderabad ('JC' for short) vide CCT's Reference No. LV(2)/2101/1998 -2 dated 26 -05 -2000 whereby the first appeal orders of the Appellate Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, Vijayawada ('ADC for short) vide his Appeal Nos.VJA/11/118 and 119 of 1996 -1997 dated 25 -11 -1996 were partly modified. These first appeals were preferred before the ADC against the penalty orders passed by the Commercial Tax Officer, Seetharamapuram Circle, Vijayawada ('CTO' for short) in G.I. No. Nil/1996 -1997/APGST dated 19 -08 -1996 under Section -15(4)(a) of the Act for the irregularity of belated filing of the monthly returns in Form A2 and for the belated payment of the taxes due thereon for the months of May and June, 1996.
The appellants are the sellers of footwear. They filed the monthly returns in Form -A2, inter alia, for May and June, 1996 belatedly, and paid the taxes due thereon also belatedly. The delay is not more than 10 -days. Hence, the penalty orders were passed by the CTO under Section 15(4)(a) of the Act levying penalty equivalent to the tax due as per returns concerned. He had levied penalty of Rs. 34,145 and Rs. 67,265 for the months of May and June, 1996 respectively. Aggrieved of these penalty orders passed by the CTO, the first appeals were preferred before the ADC, who had set aside the said levy partly and reduced the penalty to a sum of Rs. 1,000 in each case. These first appeal orders of the ADC were reviewed and modified by the JC under Section 20 of the Act duly enhancing penalty to 1/2 time of the taxes involved. Aggrieved of these revision orders of the JC, the present appeal is filed before us.
(2.) THE CTO had stated that the appellant had filed the returns in Form A2 for May and June, 1996 and paid the taxes due thereon belatedly and for this irregularity he proposed to levy penalty under Section 15(4)(a) of the Act by issuing a pre -penalty show -cause notice; that the appellant failed to file any objections against the said proposals made in the said pre -penalty show -cause notice; that the appellant failed to seek further time to file the objections against the said proposals made in the pre -penalty show -cause notice; and that the appellant is liable to be subjected to penalty under Section 15(4)(a) of the Act for the above irregularities @ 1 -time of the tax in the irregularity. The ADC had stated that the delay in filing the returns and in paying the taxes due thereon is less than a month; that the appellant was also subjected to interest under Section 16(3) of the Act; that in the light of the decision of this Tribunal in the case of Steel Crete Private Limited vs. State of A.P. : 23 APSTJ 172 the appellant is liable for penalty of only Rs. 1,000 in each case.
(3.) THE JC had contended that the authorities have no discretionary powers to levy penalty under Section 15(4)(a) of the Act; that the authorities have no discretion regarding the rate of penalty under Section 15(4)(a) of the Act; that the expression "not exceeding the amount equals to the tax" is not available in clause (a) to sub -section (4) of Section 15 of the Act as in the case of Section 15(4)(b) of the Act; that the ADC did not establish the bona fides of the appellant - dealer; that the financial stringency cannot be a ground for the appellant to withhold the taxes collected by him on behalf of the State; that the reduction of rate of penalty is not inconsonance with the provisions of Section 15(4) of the Act; and that the ends of justice would be met if the appellant is subjected to penalty only @ half of the amounts of taxes involved.;
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