Harsha Devani, J.
1. Rule. Ms. Maithili Mehta, learned Assistant Government Pleader, waives service of notice of rule on behalf of the respondent in each of the petitions. By these petitions, the petitioners have challenged the attachment of the petitioners' bank accounts and immovable property in the form of residential flat and office premises as per the details given in the petitions.
2. The facts stated briefly are that both the petitioners are carrying on business of dealing in cotton in the State of Gujarat as proprietary concerns. The Value Added Tax Department suspected illegal and fraudulent actions of one Sunil Shah, tax consultant in connection with which search was carried out at the premises of the petitioners and books of accounts and relevant documents came to be seized. In addition thereto, the respondents attached several bank accounts of the petitioners to the extent of Rs. 50 lakhs each by orders dated October 13, 2015. The respondents also attached a residential flat situated at Mahavir Hats valued by them at more than Rs. 1 crore as well as office situated at 205, Kalash Complex valued at more than Rs. 25 lakhs and directed that the same should not be disposed of without their permission. Being aggrieved, the petitioners have filed the present petitions.
3. Mr. Manish Kaji, learned advocate for the petitioners submitted that the respondents are not justified in attaching all the properties as well as bank accounts of the petitioners. It was submitted that the attachment orders qua each bank state that the petitioners have not paid value added tax of approximately Rs. 50 lakhs. It was submitted that in case the petitioners had sufficient funds in each of the bank accounts, the respondents would have succeeded in attaching Rs. 50 lakhs from each of the bank accounts maintained by the petitioners which would be running into several crores of rupees. It was submitted that having regard to the fact that the residential flat as well as office premises are valued by the respondents at more than Rs. 1 crore and more than Rs. 25 lakhs respectively, the amount of Rs. 50 lakhs which is the figure stated in the attachment orders in each petition is secured. Under the circumstances, the attachment of the bank accounts of the petitioners may be lifted so that the petitioners can continue to operate the same in connection with their business.
4. On the other hand, Ms. Maithili Mehta, learned Assistant Government Pleader, placed reliance upon the contents of the affidavits-in-reply filed in each of the petitions to submit that the petitioners are involved in fraudulent transactions to the tune of Rs. 3,50,00,000 which have been received by way of refund by M/s. Standard Textiles of which Chirag Patwa is an authorised signatory. It was submitted that, therefore, the amount which is likely to be recovered from the petitioners is not merely Rs. 50 lakhs each but would run into Rs. 3,50,00,000 or more. It was accordingly urged that no case has been made out for releasing the attachment of the bank accounts.
5. Having regard to the submissions advanced by the learned advocates for the respective parties and considering the material which have come on record, a perusal of the impugned notices under section 44 of the Gujarat Value Added Tax Act, 2003 (hereinafter referred to as "the Act") issued to the bank reveals that it has been stated that each of the petitioners has not paid value added tax approximately to the tune of Rs. 50 lakhs. In the attachment order made under section 45(1) of the Act also, the amount stated is more than Rs. 50 lakhs. Therefore, the respondents have assessed an amount of approximately Rs. 50 lakhs to be likely to be payable at the end of assessment proceedings. A perusal of the order made under sections 44 and 45(1) of the Act reveals that the respondents have valued the residential flat at more than Rs. 1 crore and the office premises at more than Rs. 25 lakhs. Therefore, in all, immovable properties worth more than Rs. 1,25,00,000 have been attached by the respondents. Having regard to the fact that the figure mentioned in the attachment orders is Rs. 50 lakhs each, in the opinion of this court, the Government revenue' is sufficiently secure in view of the attachment of the residential premises and office premises. Under the circumstances, the respondents do not appear to be justified in further attaching all the bank accounts of both the petitioners. In the opinion of this court, the attachment of the bank accounts must, in all probability, have brought the business of the petitioners to a standstill, inasmuch as, they would not be in a position to encash the cheques received by them nor make other payments by way of cheque. However, having regard to the submissions advanced by the learned Assistant Government Pleader, this court is of the view that while releasing the attachment of the bank accounts, the petitioners are required to be put to certain terms to maintain a particular balance in the bank accounts. For the foregoing reasons, the petitions succeed and are accordingly allowed to the following extent. While maintaining the order of attachment under section 45 of the Act qua the residential premises and the office premises, the attachment of the bank accounts made by the impugned orders (annexure A to the petitions) is hereby quashed and set aside. However, the petitioner in Special Civil Application No. 17805/2015 shall maintain a balance of Rs. 5,00,000 (
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rupees five lakhs only) in its Current Account No. 66000636954 maintained with the State Bank of India, Sahakar Niketan, Navrangpura Branch, Ahmedabad, whereas the petitioner in Special Civil Application No. 17806/2015 shall maintain a balance of Rs. 5,00,000 (rupees five lakhs only) in its Current Account No. 66000633330 maintained with the State Bank of India, Sahakar Niketan, Navrangpura Branch, Ahmedabad. The petitioners shall further duly co-operate in the assessment proceedings without seeking any undue adjournment. Rule is made absolute accordingly in each of the petitions with no order as to costs.