15.05.2023: Limitation To Be Considered From The Date Of Online Filing Of Refund Application Not Manual Filing – Bombay High Court

The Hon’ble High Court of Bombay vide its order dated 12.04.2023 in the matter of Trafigura Global Services Pvt. Ltd. Vs. Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs and Another in Writ Petition No. – 3711 of 2022, held that the online filing of refund application would be considered for limitation purpose and not the date of physical/manual filing of application.

The Petitioner filed the writ petition before the Hon’ble High Court challenging the order passed by the Deputy Commissioner, Central Goods & Service Tax and Central Excise (CGST & C. Ex.), Division – IV, Mumbai (East) dated 27th May 2022 rejecting the Refund Application filed by the Petitioner.

Facts of the Case: –

  • The Petitioner is engaged in the business of rendering administrative and various support services to certain companies located abroad. The Petitioner provided various back-office support services without payment of integrated tax under Letter of Undertaking as per Section 16 of the Integrated Goods and Service Tax Act, 2017 (IGST Act), for which it was entitled for refund.
  • The Petitioner applied the refund on 5 March 2019. In pursuance of which, the Petitioner received a notice under Form GST-RFD-08 proposing to reject the Refund Application on the ground that it was barred by limitation of time.
  • The Petitioner duly replied to the said notice stating that it had submitted the application on common portal. However, the documents were submitted online and thereafter, the application was filed manually also.
  • The refund application was dismissed by the Ld. Commissioner referring to Circular No. 17/17/2017 dated 15 November 2017 on the ground that statutory limit of sixty days would be in the context of physical submission of the application.

On the behalf of the Petitioner, reliance was placed on the decision of Division Bench of Gujarat High Court in case of M/s Chromotab and Biotech Solutions Vs. Union Of India, to contend that the Division Bench has taken a view that the date on which the online application is filed should be taken into consideration and not the date of physical application.  It was further submitted on the behalf of the petitioner the Deputy Commissioner has rejected the Refund Application on the ground that the order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the Suo Moto Writ Petition (C) No. 3 of 2020 In Re. Cognizance for Extension of Limitation is not applicable in view of the Circular No. 17/17/2017-GST dated 15 November 2017, and this view has been held to be incorrect by the decision of this Court in the case of Saiher Supply Chain Consultant Pvt. Ltd. vs. Union of India 2022 (63) G.S.T.L. 415 (Bom.)Therefore, it was submitted that at least part of the refund should have been granted.

Held: –

  • The Hon’ble Court after considering the submissions, facts of the case & judgment relied upon, was of the opinion that the impugned order needs to be quashed and set aside.
  • It was found by the Hon’ble Court that even proceeding on the basis the decision of the Division Bench of Gujarat High Court is applicable, still the facts in the Petitioner’s case would have to be examined as to whether the Petitioner is entitled to the law laid down and this enquiry will have to be conducted by the Deputy Commissioner.
  • The refund application of the Petitioner be restored to file to be proceeded from the stage of issuance of Form GST-RFD-08.
  • The Deputy Commissioner will give opportunity of hearing to the Petitioner and thereafter proceed to pass appropriate order as per law after taking into consideration the observations made above.

The Hon’ble Court with the above observations disposed of the writ petition.

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