Appellant’s attempt to obtain a direction from this Court, to have access to the GST common portal to enable him to upload the returns for the period from the date of implementation of the GST Act, and to get acceptance of the revised return from 2017 to enable filing of regular returns ended up in rejection through the impugned judgment of the learned Single Judge. He assails the said judgment, contending that, access to the electronic portal was not possible due to no fault of his, but due to the technical laches of the GST network of those responsible.
2. Appellant was a registered works contractor under the KVAT Act. With the commencement of GST Act, 2017, he automatically switched over to the GST regime, as evident from the registration certificate produced as Ext.P1 in the writ petition. It was contended that under the KVAT Act, being a works contractor, he had opted for the compounded rate of tax under Section 8 of the KVAT Act. However, with the advent of GST Act, he continued in the same style without realizing that composition was not available for works contractors and tried to file the return regularly from 1.7.2017 to 31.3.2018.
3. It is the case of the appellant that the common portal of the GST system was not accepting any return after 31.3.2018 and the same stood blocked for the appellant. According to him, he could not access the common portal due to which he was unable to upload the return for the subsequent years or even to rectify the mistakes for the period till 2018. Appellant thus sought for directions to accept his revised returns from 2017 onwards and to obtain access to GST portal for uploading the returns.
4. The respondents objected to the claim raised by the appellant and pointed out that after the coming into force of the GST regime, the appellant being a service provider as a works contractor, was not eligible to opt for composition under Section 10 of the CGST Act. The ‘common portal’, which is defined under Section 2(26) of the CGST Act, is notified under Section 146 of the CGST Act for the purpose of facilitating registration, payment of tax, furnishing of returns, computation, and settlement of integrated tax and for carrying out other functions. It was pointed out that if the appellant had any technical issues as alleged, it was open to him, as an aggrieved person, to raise such technical issues with the relevant screenshots and necessary documents in accordance with law. However, no such grievance was ever raised by the appellant and on the contrary the data revealed that appellant was accessing the common portal several times during the period in dispute.
5. The learned single Judge dismissed the writ petition holding that the appellant was not able to explain in any manner that he was unable to open the portal or the circumstances in which the returns filed by him could not have been accepted.
6. The learned counsel for the appellant vehemently submitted that the issue arose not on account of any mistake of the appellant but on account of a technical problem, due to which the appellant is being put to irreparable hardships.
7. We have considered the rival contentions. After the coming into force of the GST regime, the Government, on the basis of recommendations of the GST Council, notified that a Common Goods and Services Tax Electronic Portal be maintained. The said portal is maintained as www.gst.gov.in by the Goods and Services Tax Network, which is a company incorporated under the Companies Act, 2013. If the appellant had any grievance, nothing prevented him from taking up the issue in the appropriate manner with the IT Grievance Redressal Portal so as to avail the remedy from the Goods and Services Tax Network. He failed to raise any complaint with the IT Grievance Redressal Portal. In such circumstances, the appellant cannot seek the remedy of a writ of mandamus from this Court.
8. In this context, we are mindful of the submission of the learned counsel for the respondents that the appellant had been repeatedly accessing the portal for various purposes. However, he had never attempted to enter the portal for the purpose of filing the revised option.
9. In the absence of any attempt on the part of the appellant to seek recourse to the remedy available with the establishment that maintains the portal, we are of the firm view that the impugned judgment of the learned single Judge is perfectly justified and warrants no interference.
10. However, since the appellant can make an application in accordance with law before the authority concerned, we reserve the liberty of the appellant to make such an application as prescribed by law before the appropriate authority. Needless to say, if such an application is preferred by the appellant, the same shall be considered by the authority, concerned in accordance with law.
The writ appeal fails and is dismissed.