The concept of balance of convenience, therefore, cannot be tilted in favour of the Petitioner to be allowed to appear through video conferencing, merely because travelling from Bengaluru to New Delhi would be a risk factor for the Petitioner of contracting COVID-19.
Section 70 of the CGST Act, 2017 — Summons-- The petitioner sought a direction to the Respondent to allow him to tender his statement and adduce evidence through video conferencing, in relation to summon issued under Section 70 of the Act. The respondent DGGSTI carried out an investigation under Section 67 in relation to evasion of GST on books/printed material being supplied by the Company, by mis-declaring such supplies under an exempted category. The Petitioner’s statement was recorded on 28th October, 2020 from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. However, due to his ill health, he was prescribed medication and advised rest for a period of three days. The Petitioner requested the respondent that owing to his ill health and COVID situation, he be permitted to appear through video conference. His request was declined. The respondent contended that the Petitioner was not cooperating in the investigation. The Court observed that the past non cooperative conduct of the Petitioner, and the apprehension of contracting the COVID-19 infection, they are not inclined to interfere in the investigation process.
Held that:-The Hon’ble Court dismissed the writ and directed the respondent that while recording the statement of the Petitioner, as and when he appears, all safety measures and protocols would be in place, and that his statement would be recorded and concluded on day-to-day basis so that he would have to travel to Delhi only once.