Heard Mr. Avinash Reddy, learned counsel for the petitioner; Mr. B.Mukherjee, learned counsel for respondents No.1 and 2; Mr. K.Raji Reddy, learned counsel for respondents No.4 and 5; Mr. A.Tulsi Raj Gokul, learned counsel for respondents No.8 to 10; and Mr. M.Sai Chandra Haas, learned counsel for respondent No.11.
2. The present writ petition in the form of public interest litigation was filed by N.Rama Rao, a resident of Wyra Municipality, Khammam District.
3. Reliefs sought for in the writ petition are as under:
“a) Declaring the inactions of the 4th and 5th respondents in not initiating actions against 6th to 11th respondents in demanding/recovering GST collected from the television subscribers/customers since the year 2017 till date.
b) Declaring the inactions of 4th and 5th respondents in not issuing appropriate notices to the 6th to 11th respondents calling upon them to register under the provisions of GST Act to carry out business activities legally.
c) Declaring the actions of 6th to 11th respondents businesses as illegal, illogical, arbitrary and unconstitutional and against principles of natural justice and to pass such other order as this Hon’ble court may deem fit and proper in the circumstances of the case.”
4. During the pendency of the present proceedings, learned counsel for the petitioner informed the Court that petitioner had expired and therefore, the present writ petition may be treated as a suo motu writ petition.
5. We find from the material papers that respondent No.5 has filed an affidavit.
6. We have perused the affidavit of respondent No.5, who is the State Tax Officer, Khammam, serving in the Office of the Assistant Commissioner (ST) No.II, Khammam and the Public Information Officer under the Right to Information Act, 2005. Responding to the grievance expressed in the writ petition, it is stated as under:
“5. I submit that by Act 23/2017, the Goods and Services Tax came to be introduced with effect from 01.07.2017, which is an indirect taxation in the place of Value Added Tax of 2005, throughout the territory of India including the State of Telangana. I submit that as per this Act, the supply of goods or the supply of services or both, are taxable as per the relevant provisions of the Act, subject to exceeding of turnover beyond Rs.20.00 lakhs per year in respect of registered dealers under the Act. I submit that as per the provisions of section 22 (1) of the said Act, every supplier making taxable supply of goods or services or both in the State of Telangana shall be liable to be registered under the Act, if his aggregate turnover in a financial year exceeds Rs.20.00 lakhs. Thus, if the taxable supply of goods or services or both exceeds the above turnover, such supplier of goods or services or both is liable for registration and liable to pay tax under the Act.
6. While such being the provision of law, I submit that the petitioner during his life time filed applications dated 11.12.2019, 18.12.2019 and 28.08.2020 under the RTI Act, 2005 seeking certain information about payment of GST Tax by Master Satellite Operators in short (MSOs) and Local Cable Operators in short (LCOs) in Khammam Town and about their registration, the notices issued by the department for the registration and action taken by the department about their non-payment of GST.
7. I respectfully submit that to the above application of Sri N.Rama Rao dated 11.12.2019, a letter in Rc. No.A1/RTI/2/2020 dated 16.01.2020 was issued by this respondent informing him about the above provision in Section 22 (1) of the GST Act, 2017. The above petitioner was also informed in the same letter by this respondent that 6 MSOs in Khammam Town were identified as unregistered persons and notices of assessments dated 30.12.2019 under Section 63 of the TSGST Act, 2017 (Telangana State Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017) issued to the above 6 MSOs viz 1) Act Chandra Reddy, VDOs Colony, 2) Bright Way Cable Operator, Proprietor Nageswara Rao, Khammam, 3) M/s Siti Digital, Telangana, Khammam, 4) M/s NXT Digital. Mayuri Center, Khammam, 5) Siti Cable (Andhra), Trunk Road, Khammam and 6) M/s Hatway Cable Operators, Khammam by the Assistant Commissioner (ST) No.II, Khammam, being the proper officer under the Act. The said proper officer also sought details of LCOs under the control of the above MSOs for considering assessments under Section 63 of the Act. For the sake of brevity, Section 63 of the Act is extracted hereunder for kind perusal of this Hon’ble Court.
Section 63: Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in section 73 or section 74, where a taxable person fails to obtain registration even though liable to do so or whose registration has been cancelled under sub section (2) of section 29 but who was liable to pay tax, the proper officer may proceed to assess the tax liability of such taxable person to the best of his judgment for the relevant tax periods and issue an assessment order within a period of five years from the date specified under section 44 for furnishing of the annual return for the financial year to which the tax not paid relates:
Provided that no such assessment order shall be passed without giving the person an opportunity of being heard.
8. I respectfully submit that in response to the above notice dated 30.12.2019 of the Assistant Commissioner (ST) No.II, Khammam, the above 5 unregistered persons and one registered person M/s Hathway Cable Operators, Khammam filed objections on various dates intimating the number of TV Cable connections they have, that their turnover is less than Rs.20.00 lakhs per year and as such they would not be exigible to payment of GST tax or liable for registration under the Act.
9. I submit that the above objections are under the consideration of the Assistant Commissioner (ST) No.II, Khammam being the proper officer under the Act for appropriate action under the provisions of the Act.”
7. Having regard to the stand taken by respondent No.5, we direct the Assistant Commissioner (ST) No.II, Khammam, being the proper officer under the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 as well as under the Telangana Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 to take an appropriate decision in the matter within a period of three months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.
8. Writ petition is disposed of accordingly. Miscellaneous applications pending, if any, shall stand closed. However, there shall be no order as to costs.