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February 15, 2021

Physical assault and mental torture to Gujarat based traders by GST officials

by CA Shivam Jaiswal in GST

Physical assault and mental torture to Gujarat based traders by GST officials

Copy of Letter to FM from Confederation of All India Traders stating physical assault and mental torture of traders of Vapi in Gujarat by concerned high officials of GST Department

We invoke your kind and immediate attention to an ugly incident of physical assault and mental torture of traders of Vapi in Gujarat by concerned high officials of GST Department which needs strong condemnation.

We urge you to take immediate cognisance of this grave matter and order for a thorough probe of the unwarranted and undue harassment and physical violence with the traders and mentally torturing them. Meanwhile, you are requested that to meet the end of justice the respective officials who were indulged in raging the modesty of the traders should be suspended. It is to be noteworthy to mention that the Gujarat High Court has taken a strong cognisance of the matter and has ordered the high officials to present at the Court through video conferencing on 16th February when the matter will be heard by the Hon’ble Court.

We are respectable traders of the Country and not unwanted vagabonds, collecting revenue for the Government without any remuneration and do have self esteem which can not be compromised under any circumstances. Such ugly incident will not be taken so kindly by the trading community of the Country such an incident so kindly.

It is most astonishing that such an incident has happened in Gujarat, the home state of Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. It is the High Court of Gujarat who takes up the matter seriously that this ugly incident has come to limelight and anticipating such incidents due to arbitrary and unfettered powers given to Tax officials. The bureaucracy seems to have become unbridled across the country and the seeds of dictatorship have sprouted in them.

It is to be noted that the Gujarat High Court on February so has directed Directorate General of GST Intelligence (DGGI) officials to appear before it through video conferencing, after receiving several petitions from businessmen, mostly from Vapi, alleging “undue harassment” and “coercion” by intelligence officers of DGGI during search proceedings. Vapi industrial estate (GIDC, Vapi)-based chemical manufacturer  Hemani Intermediates Pvt Ltd, Ideal Dye Chem Industries and its proprietor Premji Hemani was assualted physically and torture by the tax officials.

The search proceedings  at GIDC Vapi units lasted from 11 am on January 20 until 9 am of January 21. DGGI I additional director and senior intelligence officer resorted to “physical violence and torture on the employees” of Hemani Intermediates Pvt Ltd.

The tax authorities had also forced the employees to switch off CCTV cameras of the office premises and statements of all persons during the search proceedings were taken under coercion, putting them under “immense mental stress and depression.” The panch witnesses of the search proceedings  also attested to the allegation in an affidavit filed in the Court. The owners of the company were “forced” to make the payment of tax, interest and penalty at midnight. Two other cases of chemical manufacturers at Vapi GIDC alleging harassment of similar nature, too have been reported, which the Gujarat High Court will hear on 16th February.

We regret to inform that in the same manner Kanubhai Patel, proprietor of Vapi industrial estate-located Bharat Acid and Chemicals also faced undue harassment and he was detained for 33 hours and forced to deposit Rs. 9 crore rupees before being released. It is reported that a search was conducted on January 20 and 21 and when nothing was found, Patel was called at the GST office and kept in confinement for upto around 33 hours. In another case Vapi GIDC-based Apurva Chemicals Private Limited through partner Kevinkumar Desai had to face grave harassment, coercion, threats, etc. by GST officials and was forced and threatened him to transfer an amount of Rs 2.68 crore.

The main issue remains that there has to be a distinction between dealing with billing transaction cases and genuine businesspersons. The CAIT does not stand with people who are pursuing unfair practices and there should be stringent and exemplary punishment for them since their mis-deeds creates an uneven level playing in the market and the honest and tax compliance traders have to bear the brunt. However, any kind of harassment, physical assault, physical and mental torture is not allowed under any law and therefore such incidents should be taken seriously and strict action must be taken against erring officials.

We are sure that it will receive your kind attention and you will take necessary actions.

National Secretary General Confederation of All India Traders

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