Action initiated by State authorities under Section 67 against SEZ unit is not ultra vires to SEZ Act read with provisions of CGST/SGST Act, 2017

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Brief summary of the case

R/Special Civil Application Nos. 5978 to 5980 of 2023
Petitioner: RHC Global Exports Private Limited
Date of decision:
Honourable Mr. Justice Ashutosh Shastri And Honourable Mr. Justice J. C. Doshi

The petitioner in the instant case contended that since their business premises was situated in Special Economic Zone and as such, to be treated as foreign territory and not subjected to provisions whereby State authorities have no jurisdiction to carry out any search proceedings. at the premises of the petitioners.

High Court on perusal of Section 22 of SEZ Act read with Section 6 of the CGST Act, 2017 observed that State authorities are empowered to carry out proceedings in SEZ. Their jurisdiction was unquestionable as Central Government has already authorized officers by virtue of notification dated 5.8.2016 and by virtue of provisions of Subsection (2) of Section 6 of CGST Act, where any proper officer issues an order under this Act, he also issues an order under CGST Act as authorized by Act or under intimation to jurisdictional officer of Central Government and respondents were thus empowered to carry out search proceedings in SEZ. Further, by virtue of circular dated 05.07.2017, functions of proper officers under CGST Act are also defined. Thus the High Court held that once Central Government has notified the functions of proper officers, said functions shall also be applicable to be carried out by the officers under CGST Act and hence it cannot be: said that there was any lack of authority on the part of State Officers , as contended.

The high court further observed that SEZ units were not exempted from any investigation or inspection and if submission of petitioners was accepted that they are SEZ units and as such not subjected to such rigors of investigation or inspection, same would defeat the very purpose of the Act and apart from this, there appears to be no visible inconsistency in both the Acts i.e. SEZ Act 2005 or GST Act, 2017.

The High Court dismissed the petitions with costs of Rs. 10,000/- (Rupees Ten Thousand only) for each petitioners and further observing that
the wit petition were an attempt on the part of petitioners by find these kind of petitions to thwart and belay the legal proceedings which
were initiated by respondent authorities and as such this move of petitioners appeared to be an abuse of process of law looking to the
manner in which the irregularities alleged 1 have been committed.

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