The advocate of the petitioners are to be allowed to be present during the interrogation of the petitioners if petitioners are apprehensive that coercive attempts may be made to extort confession from them
Section 70 of the CGST Act, 2017—Presence of Advocate during recording Statement – The petitioner submitted that they have received summons from respondent under Section 70 for appearance on 23.11.2020. The petitioner submitted that they are duty bound to join investigation but apprehend mischief on the part of the respondent. The Petitioners prayed for direction to the Respondent to allow his employees / representatives to have presence of their Advocate at a visible but not audible distance during the course of interrogation and / or recording of their statement; and conduct interrogation and record the statement during reasonable office hours. The petitioner relied upon the judgments of Vijay Sajnani Vs. Union of India, Birendra Kumar Pandey & Anr. Vs. Union of India & Anr. (Writ Petition (Crl.) No.28 of 2012, decided on 16/04/2012) and judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court dated 17/04/2020 in the case of Nilesh Parekh Vs. Union of India & Anr. (Writ Petition (Cr.) No.300/2019). Further, relied on the decision of the Division Bench of Bombay High Court in the case of Vikas Singh and Others Vs. The State of Maharashtra and Another (Writ Petition No.4205 of 2016) on 05/12/2016. The respondent counsel has not disputed the orders, however, has opposed the prayer made by the petitioners.
Held that:- The Hon’ble High Court allowed the petition and directed that the advocate of the petitioner should be allowed to be present during the interrogation of the petitioner. Further, he should be made to sit at a distance beyond hearing range, but within visible distance.