Interest cannot be levied on Gross GST Liability before adjusting ITC

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Brief summary of the case

: Writ Petition Nos.23360 and 23361 of 2019 & WMP Nos.23106 and 23108 of 2019
Petitioner: M/s.Refex Industries Limited & M/s.Sherisha Technologies Pvt. Ltd
Respondent: The Assistant Commissioner of CGST & Central Excise
Date of decision: 06.01.2020
Judges: Ms Dr. Justice Anita Sumanth

According to the petitioners, Section 50 that provides for levy of interest on belated payments would apply only to payments of tax by cash, belatedly, and would not stand triggered in the case of available ITC, since such ITC represents credit due to an assessee by the Department held as such. The specific question for resolution before me is as to whether in a case such as the present, where credit is due to an assessee, payment by way of adjustment can still be termed ‘belated’ or ‘delayed’. The use of the word ‘delayed’ connotes a situation of deprival, where the State has been deprived of the funds representing tax component till such time the Return is filed accompanied by the remittance of tax. The availability of ITC runs counter to this, as it connotes the enrichment of the State, to this extent. Thus, Section 50 which is specifically intended to apply to a state of deprival cannot apply in a situation where the State is possessed of sufficient funds to the credit of the assessee. In my considered view, the proper application of Section 50 is one where interest is levied on a belated cash payment but not on ITC available all the while with the Department to the credit of the assessee. The latter being available with the Department is, in my view, neither belated nor delayed. The argument that ITC is liable to be reversed if it is found to have been erroneously claimed, and that it may be invalidated in some situations, does not militate with my conclusion as aforesaid. The availment and utilization of ITC are two separate events. Both are subject to the satisfaction of statutory conditions and it is always possible for an Officer to reverse the claim (of availment or utilization) if they are found untenable or not in line with the statutory prescription. Credit will be valid till such time it is invalidated by recourse to the mechanisms provided under the Statute and Rules.

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