In a recent case, the Supreme Court declined to entertain a petition that challenged the constitutional validity of the Central Goods Service Tax Act’s specific provisions.
The Bench headed by Hon’ble Justice DY Chandrachud observed that the petitioner should file a petition under Article 226 so that the Supreme Court gets to know the High Court’s opinion.
Hon’ble Court further observed that even though the jurisdiction under Article 32 is a constitutional safeguard to protect the citizens’ fundamental rights, recourse under Article 32 should only be entertained in particular cases.
Mr Kapil Kumar (petitioner) contented that:-
- Section 132 and 62 of the GST Act are ultra vires to Article 21 of the Constitution.
- Section 70(1) is ultra vires to Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution.
- Section 69 and 67(1) of CGST Act are ultra vires and violate the principle of Natural Justice.
- Section 137 of CGST Act is contrary to settled law, according to which vicarious liability cannot be fastened in a criminal offence requiring mens rea if the prosecution is proving an active role.
- Another contention is that Section 135 of CGST Act is unconstitutional as it requires the accused to disprove the reverse burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Section 137 deals with offences committed by companies, the presumption of culpable mental state is covered in Section 135, Section 132 deals punishment for certain offences, Section 67 concerns the power of inspection, seizure and search, Section 69 deals in power to arrest and Section 70 deals with power to summon persons.
The Bench stated that the petitioners have the remedy to proceed under Article 226 and challenge the Acts’ provisions in question. This way the Apex Court would also get to know the view of the High Court
Hon’ble Court proceeded to dismiss the petition and stated that as it has been made clear that a constitutional challenge can be addressed to the High Court by petitioners, if there is any grievance against the investigation, then petitioners can approach the appropriate forum under Article 226 or relevant provision of the CrPC.
Title: Devendra Dwivedi vs Union of India
Case No.: WP (Crl.) 272 of 2020
Date of Order:07.01.2021
Coram: Hon’ble Justice DY Chandrachud, Hon’ble Justice Indira Banerjee and Hon’ble Justice Sanjiv Khanna