Chhattisgarh HC: Scheduling personal hearing before SCN-reply ‘superfluous’; Sets-aside Single Judge’s order in Mahindra’s case

Chhattisgarh HC raps Revenue authorities for scheduling Mahindra’s personal hearing even before filing a reply to SCN, observes that Section 75(4) of the CGST Act was completely shelved by Authorities before the order in dispute was passed, sets-aside the order of the learned Single Judge; Opining that, when the assessee is burdened with a tax liability, the intent and the object of the statute are strictly to be complied with, HC renders it to be against the normal procedure that personal hearing is preponed even before the filing of reply as it is not expected that before the reply is filed, an assessee can be heard and thereafter the reply is filed and hence such action is superfluous;  HC explains that as the opportunity of hearing when is contemplated under the statute, it has to be comprehensive and it cannot be short-circuited; Stringently puts forth that the Apex Court in number of occasions has held that the opportunity of hearing means granting real and meaningful opportunity and adequate time must given to prepare and present the defence, and that oral hearing has its own eminence in the adjudication process and is recognized as an important aspect of adjudication not only in India but across several jurisdictions; Thus, discerns, “The order if is allowed to be maintained, it would amount to allow a script with flaws”  accordingly, holds that the Assessee would be entitled to personal hearing according to mandate of sub-Sections (4) and (5) of Section 75 of the CGST Act