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Power to levy cess on agricultural produce u/s 21 of the Assam Agricultural Produce Market Act after the enactment of the GST Act, 2017

Collection of cess— In the writ petition, it is projected that the petitioner is a proprietorship firm which is engaged in the business of “agricultural produce” like pulses, chana, etc. and for the said purpose, it brings raw materials from outside the State of Assam. In respect of the agricultural produce brought by the petitioner from outside to the State of Assam, the Board has been levying cess in purported exercise of the powers under Section 21 of the Act.

It has been contended that the levy of cess under Section 21 of the Act was challenged in a similar event before this Court and a Full Bench of this Court vide its judgment and order dated 04.04.2001 passed in Writ Appeal No. 392/1999 (Tinsukia Trading Co. vs. The State of Assam), reported in 2001 (1) GLT 520, has held that the respondent Board authorities under the Act, 1972 have no authority to collect cess for “agricultural produce”, which are transported into the notified market area in the State of Assam.

Held that— I am of the prima facie view that the extension of the interim order dated 26.02.2020 is not found expedient at this stage and accordingly, the same is not extended. It is, however, made clear that if the respondent Board collects cess in connection with the business of the petitioner and if the petitioner succeeds in the writ petition, the respondent Board authorities shall be liable to refund such cess collected from the petitioner during the pendency of the writ petition. This common order is passed both in respect of the present writ petition and the interlocutory application, I.A.(Civil) No. 938/2020. Consequently, the interlocutory application, I.A.(Civil) No. 938/2020 stands closed.

List the matter on 08.04.2020.—Bhatter Traders And Anr, Rajesh Bhatter Vs The State of Assam And 5 Ors., Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board, Assam State Marketing Committee, Chief Executing Officer, Sivasagar District Regulated Market Committee, Jorhat District Regulated Market Committee [2020] 22 TAXLOK.COM 118 (Gauhati)