HI TECH. vs. ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER STATE GST & ORS: High Court Directs Department to Rectify GSTR-1: A Taxpayer’s Struggle for Correction
In this case, a general works contractor applied for a writ of mandamus in the High Court. They sought the court’s intervention to compel the tax department to permit the correction of errors in their GSTR-1 form, either manually or through the online portal.
The applicant is a contractor engaged in various government infrastructure projects. Their client, Mackintosh Burn Limited (referred to as opponent no. 2), faced issues when submitting GST returns for November 2018 and August 2019. Mistakenly, they recorded outward supplies in the B2C column instead of B2B. As a result, opponent no. 2 could not locate these entries in their GSTR-2A, leading to an underpayment of taxes. They advised the applicant to rectify the GSTR-1 return, but the applicant encountered difficulties accessing the online portal for corrections. In response, the applicant made a representation on November 12, 2021, to the Assistant Commissioner GST (opponent no. 1) requesting rectification.
Is it justifiable for the Assistant Commissioner of GST, State, to deny rectification of the GSTR-1 return, even after receiving a reminder from the taxpayer?
The applicant argued that they had requested rectification of the GSTR-1 return from the Assistant Commissioner (opponent no. 1) and had even sent a reminder, but the department had not responded. They cited the case of Nodal Officer, GST Bhavan vs. M/s. Das Auto Centre as a precedent and requested permission to submit a fresh GSTR-1 return.
The Department acknowledged that no decision had been made regarding the applicant’s request and agreed to follow any directive from the court to allow the requested rectification.
Observation and Judgment:
After careful examination, the court disposed of the writ petition by instructing the department (Assistant Commissioner State, GST) to consider the representation submitted on November 12, 2021. They were directed to provide a proper and reasonable order, granting the applicant an opportunity for a hearing and communicate the decision to the applicant. During this hearing, the applicant was given the freedom to raise all relevant factual and legal issues and refer to any court decisions to support their case.
The court mandated that the department complete this process within four weeks of the court order and made no order regarding costs. The parties were entitled to receive urgent photostat copies of this order upon application and compliance with legal formalities.
The applicant, in their pursuit of rectifying their GSTR-1 return, faced significant hurdles, with the department failing to cooperate effectively. The High Court intervened to compel the department to take a proper and reasoned action. This involved communicating with the applicant, providing an opportunity for a hearing, and allowing the applicant to present all relevant issues and legal references. Ultimately, the court’s intervention was a case of “better late than never” for the applicant, ensuring their right to rectify the return was upheld.