HC Junks Appeal Over Interest Awarded to Sourav Ganguly on Brand Promotion Service Tax

The Calcutta High Court has dismissed an appeal by the Commissioner of Service Tax here against a tribunal order which awarded interest to former India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly on money wrongly levied on the sports icon on his brand promotion earnings.

The Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal, East Zonal Bench, Kolkata, on December 14, 2020, ordered refund of the demand amount and interest on it to Ganguly, former president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The revenue department made an appeal before the high court challenging the order.

Dismissing the appeal, a division bench comprising justices T S Sivagnanam and Hiranmay Bhattacharyya said that no question of law has arisen for consideration of this appeal.

The over-a-decade-long legal battle commenced with the issuance of a show cause notice dated September 26, 2011, demanding service tax from Ganguly for brand promotions made by him. In November 2012, the demand made by the show cause notice was confirmed in an adjudication by the Commissioner of Service Tax, Kolkata, along with a direction to pay interest and penalty.

Ganguly deposited the demand of Rs 1,51,66,500 on February 26, 2014, and Rs 50 lakh in March 2014 in compliance with an interim order of the high court.

On a petition by Ganguly, the high court had on June 30, 2016, said that he is entitled not only to a refund of Rs 1,51,66,500 and Rs 50 lakh paid in two trances, but also quantified the quantum of interest at the rate of 10 per cent.

As the revenue department challenged the order, a division bench in February 2017 held that Ganguly should challenge the correctness of the order of the adjudication before the tribunal, and that the single bench had committed a mistake in entertaining his petition.

Ganguly then moved the appeal before the tribunal.

The tribunal upheld Ganguly’s appeal, following which the refund along with interest was paid to him on February 9, 2021.

The revenue department also moved the division bench challenging the award of the interest to the former cricketer.

Dismissing the appeal, the division bench earlier this week said it is not clear why it was moved if the interest was already paid.

The tribunal had directed that interest was to be paid from the date on which the amount was deposited by Ganguly till it was deposited with the Registrar General of the high court by the department. The total interest which was sanctioned and refunded to Ganguly was Rs 59,85,338.

Ganguly was represented by JK Mittal for the law firm Sinha & Company while KK Maiti appeared for the Commissioner of Service Tax, Kolkata.

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