Officials belonging to the G.S.T. Intelligence Department cannot resort to physical violence while conducting an interrogation of the petitioners and their employees
Section 67 of the CGST Act — Search and Seizure—Physical violence during interrogation – The petitioner sought relief as declaring the action of respondent nos.2 to 9 in harassing, manhandling and assaulting petitioner nos.2 to 4 purportedly conducted in furtherance of inquiry proceedings, as illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional; direct the 2nd respondent to transfer of conduct of enquiry to 10th respondent or any other unit / wing established under the CGST Act; direct the respondents to follow the due process of law and comply with the principles of natural justice, in initiating any further investigation. The respondent DGGI, New Delhi conducted simultaneous raids on business units of the 1st petitioner and the residential house of the 2nd petitioner. The petitioners submitted that the employees of the 1st petitioner and also 2nd and 3rd petitioners co-operated with the search operations. The respondents during the course of questioning, bused the petitioners in filthy language for not giving satisfactory replies and physically assaulted 4th petitioner repeatedly. The respondent nos.5 to 9 also physically assaulted petitioner nos.2 and 3 without any regard to their old age when they tried to stop the physical assault on the 4th petitioner after hearing his loud cries. The 3rd petitioner was unable to stand and with the help of employees of the 1st petitioner, he was rushed to the Sunshine Hospital as a Medico-Legal case. The petitioner also made police complaint. The 4th respondent issued summons dt.12.12.2019 at 00:00 hrs on 12.12.2019, for appearance of 2nd petitioner to appear in person at 00:30 hrs. The respondent denied allegations and submitted there is no bar in making enquiries under Section 70 of GST Act, 2017 in the night. The court observed that there is no provision under the Act, that the respondent are entitled to use physical violence against persons they suspect of being guilty of tax evasion while discharging their duties under the Act. Further, it was not disclosed by the respondents as what was so important to be recorded at such a time, which cannot wait till the morning of 12.12.2019. The report of Sunshine Hospital given at 7.45 pm after treatment of the 3rd petitioner by the emergency physician there on 11.12.2019 which stated that ‘assault today; injury to the left thigh; unable to walk and bear weight;.. blunt injury at left thigh” can not be denied. The court relied the decision of the Supreme court in D.K. Basu v. State of W.B (1997).
Held that:- The Hon’ble High Court allowed the writ Petition and directed the respondents shall not use any acts of violence or torture against petitioner nos.2 to 4 or their employees in furtherance of enquiry proceedings. The enquiry shall not be handled by the 5th respondent, and he shall not participate in such enquiry. Any interrogation of petitioner nos.2 to 4 or their employees shall be between 10:30 a.m. and 05:00 p.m. on week days in the visible range of an Advocate appointed by them, who shall not be in hearing range.