Allahabad HC upholds Penalty u/s 129(3) of GST Act for Late Production of E-Way Bill [Read Order]

The Allahabad High Court upheld the penalty under Section 129(3) of the Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 ( GST Act ) for late production of E-way bill. Shubham Agrawal, counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner has submitted that at the time of interception at 01:11 pm on March 10, 2019, the vehicle was parked at the godown for unloading and that the petitioner could not generate the e-way bill prior to the commencement of transportation because the computer operator, who was assigned the duty of generating the e-way bill, did not arrive earlier and the person looking after the dispatch inadvertently dispatched the goods on the belief that the e-way bill would be generated within a short while after the arrival of the computer operator who generates the e-way bill. It was also argued that Section 129 of the GST Act is applicable only when the consignment of goods are in transit and it does not apply to the present case since the vehicle was parked and was not in transit when it was intercepted by the respondent no.

2. The petitioner had submitted all the documents relating to the consignment of goods before the authorities much prior to the passing of seizure order. The counsel appearing on behalf of the respondent submitted that the provisions of Section 129 of the GST Act read with Rule 138 of the Uttar Pradesh Goods and Service Tax Rules, 2017 required that where any person transports any goods or stores any goods, while they are in transit, in contravention of the provisions of the Act or Rules made there under, all such goods and conveyance used as a means of transport for carrying the said goods and documents relating to such goods and conveyance shall be liable to detention or seizure and every registered person who causes movement of goods of consignment valuing exceeding fifty thousand rupees (i) in relation to supply or (ii) for reasons other than supply or (iii) due to inward supply from an unregistered person, shall before commencement of such movement, furnish information relating to the said goods as specified in Part ‘A’ of the e-way bill electronically.

A Single Bench of Justice Shekhar B. Saraf observed that “The petitioner, in the present case, could not explain the absence of invoice and e-way bill with a proper and reasonable explanation. Ergo, he has not been able to rebut the presumption of evasion of tax. Mere furnishing of the documents subsequent to the interception can not be a valid ground to show that there was no intention to evade tax. There must be some reasonable grounds to justify the non-production of documents at the proper time.” “The argument raised by the counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner that the vehicle was parked at the godown for unloading is not supported by the facts. The interception of the vehicle was in a place away from the godown and this entire argument is obviously an afterthought. Accordingly, the application of Section 129(3) of the GST Act by the authorities is valid and just in law” the Bench noted.

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