Amendment in section 51- Person incharge included transporters: Section 51 which relates to the road side checking law has been amendmed so as to provide that the person incharge of goods shall also include the carrier of goods or agent of transport company or booking agency or any other bailee for transportation and in-charge or owner of a bonded warehouse or of any other warehouse.
Heavy Penalty u/s 51 on the transporter as well: Sub-section 12-A of section 51 has been introduced providing for levy of additional penalty on the transporter as well if the same is found to be involved in committing the offence of transporting the goods on an escape route. The condition for levy of penalty on transporter is that penalty u/s 51(7)(c) exceeding Rs. 2 lacs has already been imposed.
Penalty leviable u/s 51(12-A) on transporter is leviable at the rate of 25000/- in case the offence is committed for the first time. However if the same vehicle is again found to be involved in the same like offence and a penalty exceeding two lacs is again imposed, then the goods vehicle shall be confiscated and sold in the public auction.
Heavy Penalty on for fraudulently claiming wrong refund: Section 56 has been amended so as to provide that a poerson who has availed of a refund under a star rating/fast track refund scheme, as may be prescribed, is subsequently found to have willfully or fraudulently claimed refund which was not due to him, he shall be liable to pay penalty subject to a maximum of five times the refund amount so claimed as may be prescribed the State Government, in addition to the payment of refund amount and interest payable thereon.
Attempt at ractification of the cases already decided by Tribunal: In a very derogatory amendment the provisions of section 66(2) of Punjab VAT Act which relates to ractification of mistakes by the Tribunal, has been amended whereby the period of ractification of mistakes apparent on record has been enhanced from 3 years to 6 years.
The most shocking amendment is in the explanation added to sectioon 66(2) which provides that "Error apparent from the record in an order shall include an order that has become erroneous as a result of amendment of this Act."
The implication of the amendment would be that an order which has been passed by the Tribunal on the basis of the law which stood at the time of passing of the order would be considered as an errorneous order as a result of amendments made in Punjab VAT (Second Amendment) Act, 2013.
That means the assessment orders which were quashed due to the fact that they were barred by limitation period of three years as provided in section 29(4) before the amendment, can be restored in the Tribunal by moving a ractification application by stating such quashing of orders as errorneous in view of the amendment in section 29(4) under which the period of assessment has been enhanced from 3 years to 6 years.
It seems very unfair if the orders which have attained finality, would be considered as errorneous after the amendment and would be open for ractification in view of the new amendment.
Amit Bajaj Advocate
Bajaj & Bajaj Advocates
128, Sangam Complex,
Milap Chowk, Jalandhar(Punjab)