Benefit offered under statutory provisions cannot be denied due to Circular
What is section 54 of the CGST act?
Section 54 deals with Refund of tax. As per section 54(1) Any person claiming refund of any tax and interest, if any, paid on such tax or any other amount paid by him, may make an application before the expiry of two years from the relevant date in such form and manner as may be prescribed:
Provided that a registered person, claiming refund of any balance in the electronic cash ledger in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (6) of section 49, may claim such refund in the return furnished under section 39 in such manner as may be prescribed.
As per section 54(2) A specialised agency of the United Nations Organisation or any Multilateral Financial Institution and Organisation notified under the United Nations
(Privileges and Immunities) Act, 1947, Consulate or Embassy of foreign countries or any other person or class of persons, as notified under section 55, entitled to a refund of tax paid by it on inward supplies of goods or services or both, may make an application for such refund, in such form and manner as may be prescribed, before the expiry of six months from the last day of the quarter in which such supply was received.
As per section 54(3) Subject to the provisions of sub-section (10), a registered person may claim refund of any unutilised input tax credit at the end of any tax period:
Provided that no refund of unutilised input tax credit shall be allowed in cases
(i) zero rated supplies made without payment of tax;
(ii) where the credit has accumulated on account of rate of tax on inputs being higher than the rate of tax on output supplies (other than nil rated or fully exempt supplies), except supplies of goods or services or both as may be notified by the Government on the recommendations of the Council:
Provided further that no refund of unutilised input tax credit shall be allowed in cases where the goods exported out of India are subjected to export duty:
Provided also that no refund of input tax credit shall be allowed, if the supplier of goods or services or both avails of drawback in respect of central tax or claims refund of the integrated tax paid on such supplies.
Fact and issue of the case
The petitioner is an exporter of tea and had engaged in export transactions without payment of Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST). According to the petitioner, export of goods and services are to be treated as zero rated supplies in terms of Section 16 of the Goods and Service Tax Act, 2017 (in short ‘Act’). A claim for draw back in terms of the provisions of the Customs Act, 1962 had been made. The claim was sanctioned and the petitioner has received the draw back. Despite the transactions being categorised as zero rated supplies, the petitioner remitted IGST, Central Goods and Service Tax (CGST) and State Goods and Service Tax (SGST) on the purchase of tea and such tax was credited in its electronic credit ledger. The petitioner thereafter filed an application for refund of the amounts taking advantage of Section 54 of the Act. 90% of the claim was sanctioned on a provisional basis, but was followed by a show cause notice dated 02.04.2018, since R1, the Assessing Authority, was of the view that the refund was liable to be rejected in entirety invoking the third proviso to Section 54(3) of the Act and on the basis that the petitioner had availed draw back at a higher rate than applicable. Thus the claim was proposed to be rejected in full and the amount provisionally sanctioned was proposed to be recovered as well. Despite replies of the petitioner contending otherwise, orders of rejection came to be passed, that have been confirmed vide the impugned appellate orders. In the course of the appeal hearing, the petitioner took an alternate plea before R2 for sanction of refund after setting off of the draw back already claimed. This was also rejected. Though second appeal is provided before the Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal, these Writ Petitions are maintainable for the reason that the Tribunal is yet to be constituted.
Observation of the court
It is clear from a reading of Section 54(3) that the petitioner is entitled to one or the other of two benefits, i) duty draw back or ii) Input Tax Credit. Thus, an option has been extended to an assessee engaged in zero rated sale to either claim the benefit of duty drawback or the benefit of refund of ITC. That is why, in the present case, the petitioner, for the month of July, 2017 has opted to stick with the claim of duty draw back seeing as the amount of drawback is higher than the ITC for the months of August and September, 2017. On a plain reading of Section 54 (3) I find the claim of refund to be in order. The orders of the appellate authority are set aside and the authority is directed to refund the sanctioned amounts within a period of six (6) weeks from today. In doing so, the contents of paragraph 2.5 of the Circular will not stand in the way since a circular cannot stand in the way of a benefit offered under a statutory scheme. Paragraph 2.5 of the circular, insofar as it is contrary to the statutory provisions of Section 54(3) is bad in law.
The court has directed that the orders of the appellate authority are set aside and the authority is directed to refund the sanctioned amounts within a period of six (6) weeks from today.
Read the full order from belowBenefit-offered-under-statutory-provisions-cannot-be-denied-due-to-Circular