GST officers have no power to seize cash during search operations
According to Mr. Harpreet Singh, knowledgeable counsel representing respondents nos. 2 through 6, an investigation into the actions of Superintendent Sh. Vinod Prakash Sharma and Sh. Sandeep Dhama was carried out in accordance with the court’s directions.
The Enquiry Report and the WhatsApp conversations that were attached to the case as evidence show that the petitioner and Shri Vinod Prakash Sharma exchanged the communications. Shri Sharma wrote “tomorrow at the same venue nd time” in a WhatsApp message on December 12, 2020. Hello Sir, please advise the most convenient time to talk. This message was sent in response to the petitioner’s message at 17:33. My best to Arvind Goyal. It is acknowledged that the meeting took place in a public park, and that petitioner and Sh. Vinod Prakash Sharma had made the appointment together. It is also acknowledged that he has previously done so.
According to Sh. Vinod Prakash Sharma, he used to play volleyball in a park close to the petitioner’s home and frequently requested the person to meet him there. The petitioner also affirms this.
It is necessary to stop the officers of the Department from seeing people they have raided in a public park by setting up appointments and doing so. This behaviour gives rise to legitimate grounds for suspicion regarding the petitioner’s interactions with the relevant officer. Any officer’s actions should not include this. The texts also show that the petitioner was repeatedly called on his mobile phone by the concerned officer, but he did not respond to the calls. Additionally, there is no plausible explanation for the repeated calls. The investigation officer has adopted a very lenient stance in favour of Mr. Vinod Prakash Sharma.
Nevertheless, we believe it is appropriate to let the Department handle any necessary corrective action to ensure that its house is in order.
In the ruling of January 9, 2023, this court had taken into account the substantive requests made in the petition. The petitioner’s complaint has been resolved in that the money that was taken from his or her property has been restored to him or her with interest.
Since the currency was not confiscated, it is acknowledged that the involved Departmental employees lacked any jurisdiction to depossess the petitioner of it. However, it was taken from the petitioner’s property.
As a result, we believe it is appropriate to dismiss the current case by ordering the Department to pay 225,000 in costs to the Delhi High Court Legal Services Committee within two weeks of today. The Department will be free to pursue legal means of recovering the money from the affected personnel.
The aforementioned teens decide on the petition.