Kerala HC: GST Assessment Order served by uploading it on web portal is valid

In the case of Pee Bee Enterprises V. Assistant Commissioner, SGST, Ernakulam, the petitioner approached the HC aggrieved by the assessment orders served on the petitioner through publication on the web portal. The Court vide its Judgment dated August 17th, 2020 held that the service of GST assessment order through the web portal for the purposes of filing the returns is a valid service as per GST regime.

Contention of the Petitioner:

The petitioner submitted that the assessments pertaining to the months April and May 2019 were completed under Section 62 of the SGST Act on best judgment basis, taking note of the non-filing of returns by the petitioner assessee.

While the assessment orders were dated August 20th, 2019, these orders were not served on him within 30 days after the date of receipt of the orders, he filed the returns as permitted under Section 62 of the SGST Act.

He contends, therefore, that the assessment orders have to be treated as withdrawn by virtue of the provisions of Section 62 of the Act. It is further contended that he did not receive the email but received only a copy of the or through registered post much later.

Contentions of the Respondent:

Respondents submit that since the petitioner did not file returns within 30 days of Assessment order, the then proper officer issued demand notice along with other requirements. The date of order: August 20th, 2019, has not changed but only the name of Proper officer was reflected, and the form had already sent through email on August 20th, 2019 itself, and for abundant caution its manual copy also served and acknowledged by the petitioner.

Observations/Findings of the Court:

The Court observed that the service of an order through the web portal is one of the methods of service statutorily prescribed under Section 161(1)(c) and (d) of the SGST Act. If that be so, then the petitioner cannot deny the fact of receipt of the order on September 28th, 2019 for the purposes of filing the returns as contemplated under Section 62 of the SGST Act with a view to getting the assessment order withdrawn.

The return filed by the petitioner for the period April and May 2019 was only on October 30th, 2019 i.e. 71 days after the date of service of the assessment order through the web portal and hence the petitioner cannot aspire to get the benefit of withdrawal of the assessment orders contemplated under Section 62 of the SGST Act.

The assessment orders would therefore have to be held valid and the remedy of the petitioner against the said assessment order can only be through an appeal before the appellate authority.

Read the full Judgment here.

- By Ronak Tyagi