Deferring to Covid-19 concerns, Kerala HC asks financial, tax authorities to defer recovery proceedings

KC Gopakumar Kochi | Updated on March 19, 2020

Observing that the present coronavirus outbreak is very ‘precarious and sensitive’, the Kerala High Court on Thursday directed banks, financial institutions, income tax department, and GST authorities to defer recovery proceedings or coercive measures till April six in the State

However, Justice Amit Rawal while issuing the order made it clear that the order would not be an impediment for any of the willing defaulters to avail the amnesty schemes as and when such schemes are promulgated or in vogue. Besides, the defaulters of GST, KVAT, Building Tax, Motor Vehicle Tax who are willing to pay the demanded amount subject to conditions fixed by the Department would not be bound by the order.

The court also restrained the adjudicating authorities from passing any adverse order till April 6 as there was a likelihood of the party not approaching them on the appointed date in view of the present situation.

The court -- which deals with cases pertaining to recovery of Income Tax dues, Kerala Value Added Tax, General Sale Tax, recovery of tax on vehicles under the Kerala Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, the recovery of property tax under Kerala Building Tax Act and proceedings under the Income Tax Act -- observed that handling of the files by the High Court staff as well as the Advocate General staff was done without proper precautions, as they were handled with bare hands instead of using gloves.

It was seen that the Advocate Commissioners appointed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate has been issuing notices to the defaulters and guarantors for taking possession of secured assets.

The court added that the entire world is facing the threat of Coronavirus and there have been a large number of cases in India including Kerala. People are requested to stay away from any potential source of the virus and since Kerala has 42 lakh people over the age of 60 and 5.4 lakh over 80, an unprecedented health crisis cannot be ruled out.

Published on March 19, 2020

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