(1.) Petitioner has prayed for the following relief(s):
"a) For issuance of a writ in the nature of certiorari for quashing of the order dtd. 4/10/2021 and summary of demand issued in form GST APL- 04 dtd. 4/10/2021 by the respondent number 2 under Sec. 107 of the Bihar Goods And Services Tax Act, 2017 (hereinafter referred to as the "Bihar Act 2017" for short). b) For issuance of a writ in the nature of certiorari for quashing of the order dtd. 20/2/2020 and summary of order issued in form GST DRC - 07 dtd. 20/2/2020 passed by the respondent No. 3 under Sec. 73 of the Bihar Act 2017 for being in teeth of the principles of natural justice. c) For holding and a declaration that both the impugned orders dtd. 20/2/2020 and the order dtd. 4/10/2021 passed by the respondent No. 3 and 2 are highly cryptic, misconceived, nonspeaking and violative of principles of natural justice and as such unsustainable in the eye of law. d) For issuance of a writ or order or direction restraining the respondent no.3 from making any coercive recovery of the amount in demand (tax, interest and penalty) as contained in the order dtd. 20/2/2020 during the pendency of the present writ application.
e) For grant of any other relief or reliefs to which the petitioner is found entitled in the facts and circumstances of this case."
(2.) It is brought to our notice that vide impugned order dtd. 4/10/2021 passed by the Respondent No. 2 namely the Additional Commissioner of State Taxes (Appeals), Purnea Division, Purnea, in Appeal No. (ARN) AD1006210013127, the appeal of the petitioner against the order dtd. 20/2/2020 passed by Respondent No. 3, namely the A.C.S.T., Purnea in GSTIN 10AEXPA4269E1Z0, under Sec. 73 of BGST Act, 2017; and summary of order dtd. 20/2/2020 in Form GST DRC-07 for the month of November, 2018, has been rejected by a cryptic, misconceived and non-speaking order.
Learned counsel for the Revenue, states that he has no objection if the matter is remanded to the Assessing Authority for deciding the case afresh. Also, the case shall be decided on merits. Also, during pendency of the case, no coercive steps shall be taken against the petitioner. Statement accepted and taken on record. However, having heard learned counsel for the parties as also perused the record made available, we are of the considered view that this Court, notwithstanding the statutory remedy, is not precluded from interfering where, ex facie, we form an opinion that the order is bad in law. This we say so, for two reasons- (a) violation of principles of natural justice, i.e. Fair opportunity of hearing. No sufficient time was afforded to the petitioner to represent his case; (b) order passed ex parte in nature, does not assign any sufficient reasons even decipherable from the record, as to how the officer could determine the amount due and payable by the assessee. The order, ex parte in nature, passed in violation of the principles of natural justice, entails civil consequences; (c) We also find the authorities not to have adjudicated the matter on the attending facts and circumstances. All issues of fact and law ought to have been dealt with, even if the proceedings were ex parte in nature.
As such, on this short ground alone, we dispose of the present writ petition in the following mutually agreeable terms: (a) We quash and set aside the impugned order dtd. 4/10/2021 passed by the Respondent No. 2 namely the Additional Commissioner of State Taxes (Appeals), Purnea Division, Purnea, in Appeal No. (ARN) AD1006210013127, the order dtd. 20/2/2020 passed by Respondent No. 3, namely the A.C.S.T., Purnea in GSTIN 10AEXPA4269E1Z0, under Sec. 73 of BGST Act, 2017; and summary of order dtd. 20/2/2020 in Form GST DRC-07; (b) We accept the statement of the petitioner that ten per cent of the total amount, being condition prerequisite for hearing of the appeal, already stands deposited. If that were so, well and good. However, if the amount is not deposited for whatever reason(s), same shall be done before the next date; (c) Further the petitioner undertakes to additionally deposit ten per cent of the amount of the demand raised before the Assessing Officer. This shall be done within four weeks.
(d) This deposit shall be without prejudice to the respective rights and contention of the parties and subject to the order passed by the Assessing Officer. However, if it is ultimately found that the petitioner's deposit is in excess, the same shall be refunded within two months from the date of passing of the order; (e) We also direct for de-freezing/de-attaching of the bank account(s) of the writ-petitioner, if attached in reference to the proceedings, subject matter of present petition. This shall be done immediately. (f) Petitioner undertakes to appear before the Assessing Authority on 24/2/2022 at 10:30 A.M., if possible through digital mode; (g) The Assessing Authority shall decide the case on merits after complying with the principles of natural justice; (h) Opportunity of hearing shall be afforded to the parties to place on record all essential documents and materials, if so required and desired;
(i) During pendency of the case, no coercive steps shall be taken against the petitioner. (j) The Assessing Authority shall pass a fresh order only after affording adequate opportunity to all concerned, including the writ petitioner; (k) Petitioner through learned counsel undertakes to fully cooperate in such proceedings and not take unnecessary adjournment; (l) The Assessing Authority shall decide the case on merits expeditiously, preferably within a period of two months from the date of appearance of the petitioner; (m) The Assessing Authority shall pass a speaking order, assigning reasons, copy whereof shall be supplied to the parties; (n) Liberty reserved to the petitioner to challenge the order, if required and desired; (o) Equally, liberty reserved to the parties to take recourse to such other remedies as are otherwise available in accordance with law; (p) We are hopeful that as and when petitioner takes recourse to such remedies, before the appropriate forum, the same shall be dealt with, in accordance with law, with a reasonable dispatch;
(q) We have not expressed any opinion on merits and all issues are left open; (r) If possible, proceedings during the time of current Pandemic [Covid-19] be conducted through digital mode;
(3.) The instant petition sands disposed of in the aforesaid terms.
Interlocutory Application(s), if any, also stands disposed of. Learned counsel for the respondents undertakes to communicate the order to the appropriate authority through electronic mode. ;