Detention of Vehicle and Arrest of Driver: Bokaro Transport Company vs. State of Jharkhand – A Quest for Procedural Justice”
In the legal battle between the Bokaro Transport Company and the State of Jharkhand, a pivotal issue arises concerning the simultaneous detention of a vehicle and the arrest of its driver on the very day a tax and penalty order was imposed under the JGST Act. This case sheds light on the pursuit of procedural justice and the role of the court in resolving a complex dispute.
Facts of the Case:
The Bokaro Transport Company, engaged in transportation, found itself entangled in a legal tangle with the State of Jharkhand. The state initiated and concluded proceedings against the company, culminating in the imposition of tax and penalties. Remarkably, on the same fateful day, the company’s driver was arrested, and their vehicle was detained under the JGST Act.
The Core Issue:
The central question at hand revolves around the legality of the State’s actions, specifically, whether it was justifiable to detain the vehicle and keep the driver under arrest without the issuance of Form GST DRC-07.
The transport company contended that while a detention order under Section 129(1) in Form GST MOV-06 was issued, and a show-cause notice in Form GST MOV-07 was served upon the driver, the State had failed to provide a summary of the order in Form GST DRC-07, impeding the appellant’s ability to pursue an appeal. Furthermore, the absence of this order forced the applicant to seek immediate relief from the High Court, citing violations of natural justice.
Resolution and Judgment:
Both parties referenced pertinent circulars issued by the Ministry of Finance, GST Policy Wing, New Delhi, and the Commercial Taxes Department. The State’s stance was that the GSTIN number, along with the required identification and password, could be obtained by the applicant by approaching the Deputy Commissioner of State Taxes, Dumka Circle, Dumka. The State suggested that the appellant should avail themselves of the remedy of appeal under Section 107 of the JGST Act, 2017, and secure the release of their vehicle by providing a bond and bank guarantee equivalent to the liability indicated in Form GST MOV-07. The appellant was notified on June 17, 2022, to appear before the appellate authority, a directive with which they concurred.
In this case, the court acted as a mediator rather than delving deeply into the case’s particulars. The Bokaro Transport Company found itself disadvantaged due to the State’s exertion of excessive power. While the company was willing to comply with the State’s directives, the protracted closure of the appellate office prompted the appellant to seek immediate relief from the High Court for the release of their vehicle and driver. This strategic move by Bokaro Motors led to the court’s intervention, resulting in directions for the appeal process.
This case underscores the significance of procedural justice and the court’s role in facilitating the pursuit of legal remedies in the face of administrative complexities.