DEB KUMAR CHAKRABORTI,MEMBER (T) -
(1.) BY this petition filed under Section 8 of the West Bengal Taxation Tribunal Act, 1987, the petitioner has challenged the ex parte revisional order dated September 10, 2008 passed by the Additional Commissioner, Commercial Taxes, for four quarters ending on March 31, 2003, confirming the order dated April 4, 2006 passed by the Assistant Commissioner, Commercial Taxes, Burabazar Circle and also the assessment order dated June 30, 2005 passed by the Commercial Tax Officer, Strand Road Charge. The petitioner, M/s. Grain Processing Industries (India) Pvt. Ltd., is a company within the meaning of the Companies Act, 1956 having its registered office at 29, Strand Road, Kolkata 700 001. The factory of the petitioner is situated at Kantra, Domjur, Howrah. The petitioner is registered under the State and Central Sales Tax Acts as a manufacturer of "rice mill machinery parts". The assessment for four quarters ending on March 31, 2003 was completed on June 30, 2005. The assessing officer allowed the entire turnover of sales as assessable under the Central Sales Tax Act, 1956, but levied purchase tax at four per cent on Rs. 9,27,805.32 and at 10 per cent on Rs. 49,787.84, imposed penalty of Rs. 1,000 and interest was determined at Rs. 12,419. Against the total demand of Rs. 55,511, the petitioner filed appeal petition before the Assistant Commissioner, Commercial Taxes, Burabazar Circle (in short, "ACCT/BB"), respondent No. 2, disputing the purchase tax of Rs. 11,001, interest of Rs. 12,419.50 and penalty of Rs. 1,000. By an order dated April 25, 2006 respondent No. 2 modified the assessment order by reducing the levy of purchase tax at 10 per cent on Rs. 39,183 in lieu of Rs. 49,787. The petitioner again filed revision application before the Additional Commissioner, Commercial Taxes, West Bengal, respondent No. 3. By an ex parte order dated September 10, 2008 respondent No. 3 confirmed the order of the authority below. Being aggrieved the petitioner has filed this revision application before this Tribunal.
(2.) MR . S. K. Chakraborty, learned advocate for the petitioner has submitted that the admitted unregistered purchase is Rs. 7,77,260, but the estimation of 30 per cent of the expenses on printing and stationery, consumable stores and power and fuel is unreasonable and arbitrary. It is claimed that the expenses on printing and stationery covered the expenses of cost of xerox, cost of printing of letter heads, leaflets, visiting cards, etc., for which appropriate vouchers are maintained by the petitioner. It is further claimed that consumable stores, power and fuel are purchased from the registered dealers and hence estimation of 30 per cent of the expenses as unregistered purchase and reduction of the same to 20 per cent by respondent No. 2 has no basis. The learned advocate has alleged that due to ex parte order passed by respondent No. 3, the petitioner could not produce the supporting vouchers before him. It is pointed out that the last date of hearing was fixed on September 9, 2008. On that day, Mr. Indrajit Guha, learned advocate, attended a case at the Sales Tax Building at Salt Lake and thereafter went to the Beliaghata Building at 5 p. m. to appear before respondent No. 3. But unfortunately Mr. Guha could not meet him on that day since respondent No. 3 was not available after 5 p. m. Respondent No. 3 passed ex parte order on September 10, 2008. As a result, it is alleged that natural justice was denied to the petitioner -dealer. The learned advocate has prayed for setting aside the ex parte order of respondent No. 3 with a direction to allow one more opportunity of being heard.
(3.) MR . A. K. Nath, learned State Representative, has opposed the prayer of the learned advocate and has claimed that at least 4 (four) opportunities were allowed to the petitioner before passing ex parte order. Hence, it is argued that it cannot be said that reasonable opportunities were not allowed to the petitioner of being heard. We have perused the revisional case records produced by the learned State Representative. The petitioner filed the revision application on July 11, 2006 against the order of the ACCT/BB dated April 25, 2006. The hearing was initially fixed on August 31, 2007. Thereafter the hearing was adjourned to May 20, 2008, July 17, 2008 and finally to September 9, 2008. None appeared on September 9, 2008 and no petition for time was also filed. Mr. Chakraborty, learned advocate of the petitioner, has claimed that one Mr. Indrajit Guha, learned advocate after attending a case at Salt Lake Sales Tax Building went to the Sales Tax Building at Beliaghata to appear before respondent No. 3, but could not attend the officer concerned at about 5 p.m. This contention has not been denied by the learned State Representative. The learned State Representative has contended that at least 4 (four) opportunities were allowed to the petitioner. The basic question is not the number of times allowed to the petitioner for hearing. The question is whether on the last date of hearing the petitioner was reasonably prevented from appearing before the concerned officer or not. Undisputedly, in this case one Mr. Guha, learned advocate, was engaged in attending a case at the Sales Tax Building at Salt Lake and that is why he was late in attending the case before respondent No. 3 on September 9, 2008. As such, it is a fact that due to engagement in one case at Sales Tax Building at Salt Lake, the learned advocate of the petitioner could not appear before respondent No. 3 on September 9, 2008. There is no note in the record that none appeared for the petitioner during the office hour and hence the hearing was closed for passing order. Rather the order was actually passed on the following date, i.e., on September 10, 2008. As such, it would be fair and reasonable if the petitioner was allowed one more opportunity to appear before respondent No. 3 of being heard. Accordingly, we set aside the order dated September 10, 2008 of respondent No. 3 with a direction to allow the petitioner one more opportunity of being heard.;