Personal hearing via video conferencing now mandatory for GST-related appeals

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on August 23, 2020

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Custom (CBIC) has decided to make personal hearing through video conferencing mandatory in GST-related appeals along with Custom and excise duty related ones.

According to an instruction issued by the CBIC, it has been decided to make it mandatory for various authorities, such as Commissioner (Appeals), original adjudicating authorities, and Compounding Authority to conduct personal hearings, in respect of any proceeding under the Customs Act 1962, Central Excise Act, 1944 and Chapter V of Finance Act 1994 (matter related with Service tax) through video conferencing facility.

“This facility shall also be extended to proceedings under CGST Act 2017 and the IGST Act 2017,” the instruction said. In the previous instruction, GST related matter was not included. Now it has been said that new instruction will supersede instruction dated April 27.

The board feels that experience of personal hearing through video conferencing has been really encouraging. On the one hand, it helped in speeding up the passing of adjudication and appellate proceedings; on the other hand, it also helped in saving cost of travel and time as well as critically ensuring social distance in these challenging times. “This initiative would facilitate all stake holders such as suppliers under GST, importer, exporters, passengers, advocates, tax practitioners and authorised representatives,” the instruction mentioned.

According to the guidelines, the authority will mandatorily indicate that personal hearings would take place through video conferencing facility. The date and time of hearing, along with a link for the video conference, will then be shared. The party will not be allowed to share the link with anyone without prior approval. The assesses or authorised representative, appearing on behalf of party, should file his vakalatnama or authorisation letter, along with photo ID, to the adjudicating or appellate authority. “All persons participating in the video conference should be appropriately dressed and maintain the decorum required for such an occasion,” the Board has said.

The submissions made by the appellant through video conferencing will be reduced in writing and a statement of the same will be prepared, which will be known as ‘record of personal hearing.’ A soft copy of such record will be mailed to the appellant. There will be provision for modification. If the appellant does not re-send the email within three days of receipt, it will be presumed that he agrees with the e-mailed record. Accordingly, the matter will be taken forward for a decision. Additional documents can also be submitted within three days of the date of virtual hearing.

While the hearing through video conferencing has been made mandatory, there may be a situation or circumstances on the part of assesssee or his authorised representative, when it is not possible. This needs to be approved by the appellate authority.

Published on August 23, 2020

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