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M/s. Gulf Oil Corporation Limited, (Earlier Known as M/s.Gulf Oil India Limited, Represented by its Chief Financial Officer-Lubes Business, Chennai v/s The Assistant Commissioner (CT) Nandanam Assessment Circle, Chennai & Others

    W.P.No. 12384 of 2013 & MP.No. 1 of 2013

    Decided On, 02 September 2020

    At, High Court of Judicature at Madras


    For the Petitioner: R.L. Ramani, Senior Counsel for Subramanian, Advocate. For the Respondents: ANR.Jayaprathap, (SGP) (T).

Judgment Text

(Prayer: Writ Petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, praying to issue a Writ of Certiorari, calling for the records of the impugned proceedings of the first respondent herein in CST.638587/1994-95 and to quash the order dated 11.03.2013 passed therein.)With the consent of both the parties, the present Writ Petition is heard through Video Conferencing on 18.08.2020.2. One of the issues involved in the Writ Petition is that the impugned proceeding is made on the basis of the Audit Reports/Inspection Proposals proceeded from the Enforement Wing or from ISIC Authorities. Among other grounds, the petitioner herein has raised a ground that the Assessing Officer, who is a Quasi Judicial Authority, has not independently applied his mind while dealing with the impugned proceedings, but had adopted the reports and proposals of the Enforcement Wing/ISIC Authorities, who are their higher authorities.3. This ground raised by the petitioner has been upheld by this Court in various Writ Petitions holding that the Assessing Officer cannot be solely guided by the proposal given by the Enforcement Wing Officers and that the Assessing Officer has to independently consider the same, without being influenced by such proposals of the higher officials. Some of the decisions in which such a view has been taken are in the cases of Madras Granites (P) Ltd., Vs. Commercial Tax Officer and Another reported in 2006 (146) STC 642 (MAD) and Narasus Roller Flour Mills Vs. Commercial Tax Office, (Enforcement Wing), Sankagiri and another reported in 2015 (81) VST 560 (MAD).4. Such a ratio laid down by this Court in all the above Writ Petitions stand good till date and in these background, the Commissioner of State Tax, Chennai had issued Circular No.3 dated 18.01.2019, empowering the Assessing Authority to deviate from the proposals, without seeking for approval from the Enforcement Wing/ISIC Authorities. The relevant portion of Circular No.3 dated 18.01.2019 reads thus:-“b) If the Assessing Authority is of the view that the Audit report or Inspection proposals received from Enforcement wing or proposals received from ISIC are not in conformity with the Law or the established principles set by various higher judicial Forums and if he wishes to deviate from the proposals either partly or wholly, he himself can finalize the assessment or revision of assessment without seeking approval from the Enforcement Wing/ISIC Authorities who had approved the proposals, and reasons for the same to be recorded.”Thus, the Circular has empowered the Assessing Officers to henceforth independently deal with the assessment without being influenced by the proposals of the higher officials.5. Apart from the aforesaid infirmity, it is seen that pursuant to the inspection conducted by the Enforcement Wing Officers, the petitioner company was assessed to the Best of Judgment for the Assessment Year 1994-95, as against which the petitioner had filed an appeal before the Tamil Nadu Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal and by an order dated 25.07.2011, the Tribunal had remitted back the entire assessment to the Assessing Officer for pre-determination. While doing so, one of the direction to the Assessing Officer was to examine each and every transactions of the Form-F Declaration filed by the Assessee as provided under Section 6 A(2) of the Central Sales Tax Act, 1956. However, in disregard of the Tribunal's order, the Assessing Officer had not gone into each and every transactions of the Form-F Declaration and on this ground also the impugned proceedings are liable to be set aside.6. For all the reasons stated above, the impugned proceedings of the first respondent in CST No.638587/1994-1995 dated 11.03.2013 stands quashed and the matter is remanded back to the first respondent herein for fresh consideration. While doing so, the first respondent herein shall adhere to

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the directions given by the Tamil Nadu Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal in TA.No.16/2011 dated 25.07.2011 and also afford due opportunity of personal hearing to the petitioner and thereafter pass appropriate orders in accordance with law, within a period of twelve weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.7. The Writ Petition stands allowed accordingly. Consequently, connected Miscellaneous Petition is closed. No costs.