The Central Government has clarified that a relief granted by the Supreme Court in April in the form of additional time for various legal proceedings in light of the pandemic was limited to filing appeals by parties and did not prevent officials from carrying out their quasi-judicial work.
In a circular released, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) stated that the Apex Court’s order does not apply to the compliance requirements of taxpayers or the routine decision-making of tax officials who undertake quasi-judicial duties.
On April 27, the Supreme Court ruled that the period beginning March 15, 2020, and ending at a time to be determined will not count toward the time restrictions for filing appeals or other proceedings under various laws and that it should be excluded.
Given the far-reaching nature of the Apex Court’s order, CBIC’s clarification is based on a legal opinion it has obtained.
The Tax authority said, “According to the clarification from the indirect tax body, the extension of timelines granted by the court is applicable to appeals required to be filed before joint or additional commissioner (appeals), commissioner (appeals), Appellate Authority for Advance Ruling, Tribunal and various Courts against any quasi-judicial order or were proceeding for revision or rectification of any order is required to be made. This extension of timeline is not applicable to any other proceeding under GST laws.”
“This clarification will restrict the blanket extension given by the Apex Court due to the pandemic, and now tax authorities will be in a rush to complete all the pending proceedings under the GST laws,” said Rajat Mohan, senior partner at chartered accountants firm AMRG & Associates.
The CBIC further stated that taxpayers’ compliance with the statutory obligations, as well as any extensions granted under such provisions, would continue to be regulated by those provisions. Various orders of the Supreme Court would not apply to these.
It further stated that where tax authorities are acting in the capacity of a quasi-judicial authority, they can continue to hear and decide cases. This covers the processing of refund applications, revocation of registration cancellation applications, and adjudication of demand notices. Appeals that have been filed and are pending can also be heard and decided.