Registration for GST cancellation order uploaded without signature – Limitation begins after signature affixing
Facts and issues of the case
Petitioner is impugning an order passed on 2nd August 2021 but issued on 4th August 2021 by which petitioner’s appeal came to be dismissed on the ground that appeal was not filed within a period of three months provided under Section 107(1) of The Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (the CGST Act) and in any case the appeal was delayed more than one month provided under Sub Section 4 of Section 107 of the CGST Act.
Therefore, any person aggrieved by any decision or order passed under the Act may apply to the Appellate Authority within three months from the date on which such decision or order is communicated to such person.
Observation by the court
Rule 26(3) of the Central Goods and Services Tax Rules, 2017 (the CGST Rules) and it is pari materia with Maharashtra Goods and Services Tax Rules, 2017 requires orders issued under Chapter III of the rules to be authenticated by a digital signature certificate or through E- signature or by any other mode of signature or verification notified in that behalf. Form GST-REG which was notified under the Rules for the purpose of passing order for cancellation of registration specifically requires the signature of the officer passing the order. Respondent has not denied that any order passed by respondent requires to be digitally signed and certified.
It is petitioner’s case that the order in original dated 14th November 2019 which was impugned in the appeal filed before Respondent No.3 has not been digitally signed. Therefore, it was not issued in accordance with Rule 26 of the CGST Rules. Hence, the time limit for filing the appeal would begin only upon digitally signed order being made available.
In the affidavit in reply it is not denied that the order in original dated 14th November 2019 was not digitally signed. In the affidavit in reply it is specifically stated that the show cause notice was digitally signed by the issuing authority but when it refers to the order in original dated 14th November 2019 there is total silence about any digital signature being put by the issuing authority. Conveniently, respondent stated that petitioner cannot take stand of not receiving the signed copy because the unsigned order was admittedly received by petitioner electronically. However, if this stand of respondent has to be accepted, then the Rules which prescribe specifically that digital signature has to be put will be rendered redundant. In our view, unless digital signature is put by the issuing authority that order will have no effect in the eyes of law.
In the circumstances, court had to agree with petitioner’s stand that only on the date on which the signature of Respondent No.4 issuing authority was put on the order dated 14th November 2019 for the purpose of attestation, time to file appeal would commence.
In the circumstances, court hereby quash and set aside the impugned order. The appeal is restored to file of Respondent No.3 who shall consider the appeal on merits and pass such order as deemed fit in accordance with law. Before passing any order, personal hearing shall be given to petitioner with atleast seven working days advance notice. The order passed shall be a reasoned order.
Court clarify that court had not made any observations on the merits of the matter. Petition disposed.Ramani-Suchit-Malushte-Vs-Union-of-India-Bombay-High-Court..