For the first time ever, provisions of the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Act 2015 (GUJCTOC) have been invoked against 20 suspects in Gujarat for a GST scam, involving the illegal use of Aadhar cards to generate fake GSTIN numbers.

The SGST department officials on Tuesday said that an application, submitted by the local crime branch of the Bhavnagar police to the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate of Bhavnagar, seeking the incorporation of various clauses of GUJCTOC in the FIR against the 20 accused, received approval on February 17.

“The scam is believed to be over ₹15,000 crore. It has become a serious matter with potential angles of money being laundered through hawala. The 20 individuals booked have largely been found to be repeat offenders, and some of them have been released on bail,” stated a State government official probing the matter.

So far, 141 persons have been apprehended in the case where the accused lured unsuspecting people with the promise of government schemes. The victims’ Aadhar cards and biometrics were then used to create fake GSTIN numbers and PAN numbers. These details were subsequently used to generate fake GST bills and claim Input Tax Credit.

In the last one year, the SGST department has unearthed two large GST scams involving fake GSTIN and PAN numbers. According to the department, a total of 13,345 bogus GSTIN numbers have been identified so far, of which 4,306 GSTIN numbers are from Gujarat. The rest are in other States. “The accused used to use the documents collected from unsuspecting people like migrant labourers and used to generate GSTIN numbers in different States, including Gujarat, as per their requirement,” the official added.

The department is currently in the process of terminating the fake GSTIN numbers and is also trying to recover the money claimed as Input Tax credit.