Where Alternate Remedy is Available Judicial Prudence Demands that Constitutional Court Refrains from Exercising its Jurisdiction: Supreme Court

Recently, The Supreme Court ruled that where an alternate remedy is available judicial prudence demands that the court refrains from exercising its jurisdiction under constitutional provisions. 

The bench of Justices M.R. Shah and B.V. Nagarathna was dealing with the appeal challenging the order passed by the Bombay HC by which the High Court has set aside the assessment order passed by the assessing authority and also the belated notice of demand.

In this case, The writ petitioner submitted the required documents and also showed cause. The Assessing Officer was not available on the personal hearing and therefore no hearing took place. 

According to the writ petitioner, multiple telephone calls were made to the Assessing Officer for personal hearing, but no such hearing materialised. 

The Assessing Officer passed an order determining the tax liability along with interest and penalty under the MVAT Act and CST Act.

The respondent (assessee) filed a writ petition before the High Court challenging the assessment order passed under the provisions of the MVAT Act and CST Act.

The High Court has entertained the said writ petition against the assessment order under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and has passed the impugned judgment.

The issue for consideration before the bench was:

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Whether the order passed by the High Court is in accordance with the law or not?

The bench noted that “against the assessment order passed by the Assessing Officer under the provisions of the MVAT Act and CST Act, the assessee straightway preferred writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. It is not in dispute that the statutes provide for the right of appeal against the assessment order passed by the Assessing Officer and against the order passed by the first appellate authority, an appeal/revision before the Tribunal. In that view of the matter, the High Court ought not to have entertained the writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India challenging the assessment order in view of the availability of statutory remedy under the Act.”

Supreme Court opined that when there is an alternate remedy available, judicial prudence demands that the court refrains from exercising its jurisdiction under constitutional provisions. The High Court has seriously erred in entertaining the writ petition against the assessment order. The High Court ought to have relegated the writ petitioner – assessee to avail the statutory remedy of appeal and thereafter to avail other remedies provided under the statute.

In view of the above, the bench allowed the appeal.

Case Title: The State of Maharashtra and Others v. Greatship (India) Limited

Bench: Justices M.R. Shah and B.V. Nagarathna 

Case No.: CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4956 OF 2022

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