The Supreme Court expunges personal remarks made against a Commercial Tax Assessing Officer by the Karnataka High Court Order
-Nazar Nawaz Abbasi
Supreme Court in Sujata K.C.(Petitioner) vs. M/S Kalyani Motors (PVT) Ltd expunged some personal remarks made against a Commercial Tax Assessing Officer by the Karnataka High Court.
An order of reassessment passed by the petitioner on 28 October 2016 in her capacity as Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes was challenged by the assessee. By the order, a demand was raised under the Karnataka Value Added Tax Act 2003. By an order dated 24 September 2018, the Single Judge of the High Court set aside the order of reassessment, holding that the order was not consistent with the provisions of a notification dated 31 March 2010.
The single judge of Karnataka High court had made observations against Sujatha K.C., who was Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes while disposing of a writ petition challenging an order of reassessment passes by her. However, the Single Judge, while setting aside the reassessment imposed costs of Rs 50,000 and directed that the costs be recovered from the petitioner from her personal resources. The single judge observed that the petitioner had passed an order which is, therefore, nothing less than suffering from malice-in-facts as well as malice-in-law. The petitioner challenged the order of the Single Judge insofar as it contained observations against her and the order of costs in an appeal before the Division Bench of the Karnataka High Court. The Division Bench confirmed the order of the Single Judge.
Perusing the records, the bench consists of Justices DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra observed that the single judge had no reasonable justification to hold that the petitioner had passed a whimsical order and that it suffered from malice in fact and in law.
The bench quoted- “ These observations were unnecessary for adjudication of the merits of the dispute raised by the assessee. The behavior of the petitioner was not in question. Even on assuming that an order passed by the assessing officer was erroneous, there was no reason for the HC to make such observations, which we have quoted earlier, and direct the imposition of costs against the petitioner. We therefore direct that the observations of the Single Judge as against the petitioner shall stand expunged. Similarly, the direction in of the order for recovery of costs from the personal resources of the petitioner shall stand set aside. While doing so, we clarify, at the cost of repetition, that the order of the learned Single Judge quashing the reassessment is not the subject matter of the present proceedings and nothing contained in this order shall amount to an expression of opinion on the correctness of that direction.”
The special leave petition accordingly disposed of.