Unsigned Order is Invalid: AP HC sets aside Demand Order issued u/s 73(9) of GST Act [Read Order]

The Andhra Pradesh High Court has invalidated a demand order issued under Section 73(9) of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Act, stating that the unsigned order holds no legal standing. The bench of Justice Ravi Nath Silhari and Justice A V Ravindra Babu, emphasised that an unsigned order is deemed nonexistent in the eyes of the law. The petitioner’s main contention was the absence of a signature on the order. The challenge was directed at the demand order issued by the Assistant Commissioner (ST) under Section 73(9) of the APGST/CGST Act, 2017.

The Government Pleader argued that while the order had been uploaded, signifying competence, the lack of a signature was acknowledged. Referring to Sections 160 and 169 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, the Government Pleader contended that mistakes or omissions in an order do not render it invalid if it aligns with the intent of the law. However, the bench concluded that Section 160 and 169 were not applicable in this case. It clarified that an unsigned order goes beyond the scope of “any mistake, defect, or omission” contemplated in Section 160, and it cannot be considered a valid order.

The bench noted that “Merely uploading of the unsigned order, may be by the Authority competent to pass the order, would, in our view, not cure the defect which goes to the very root of the matter i.e. validity of the order.” The court, therefore, allowed the petition partially, emphasising that the order’s lack of signatures is a fundamental flaw. The impugned order was set aside, and the Competent Authority was directed to issue a fresh order in accordance with the law, taking into account the petitioner’s already submitted reply and any additional response within a specified timeframe.

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