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Maharashtra: HC refuses to extend last date for GST returns

Date: 27-02-2021
Subject: Maharashtra: HC refuses to extend last date for GST returns
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Friday declined to extend the last date for filing annual returns of Goods and Services Tax(GST) for 2019-20 in Maharashtra till June 30. 

The last date is February 28. 

A bench of Justices Ujjal Bhuyan and Milind Jadhav heard a petition by the Goods and Services Tax Practitioners' Association to extend the period of filing in Maharashtra “until the period of lockdown is lifted or until the Covid-19 pandemic situation improves completely.” 

Under section 44 of Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 20-17, every registered person is required to file annual returns in the electronic form before December 31. 

For the financial year 2019-20, the date was December 31, 2020. 

It was extended till February 28, 2021. 

The association’s petition said Maharashtra is still the worst affected state and has seen a surge in cases. 

Even in Mumbai fresh guidelines are issued and there is fresh lockdown in some districts with sealing of buildings. 

Majority of traders and tax-practitioners have not started their day-to-day business and financial affairs due to non-availability of workforce and no relief in movement of local trains on which most depend for travel. 

The petition said along with the returns, assessees have to submit various details including audit reports, reconciliation statements, financial statements, etc and due to the situation, they are unable to comply. 

“The respondent has failed to look into such aspects while extending the periodicity of filing of annual returns,” it added. 

The association’s advocate P C Joshi argued that under section 44 considering the genuine hardship faced by the association’s members and taxable persons, the discretionary power to extend the time limit is required to be exercised by the state commissioner. 

Additional solicitor general Anil Singh submitted that there are 1.2 crore assessees registered under GST. 

He said considering the Covid-19 situation, the Centre had extended the last date from December 31, 2020 to February 28,2021. 

Singh said the Supreme Court in February 2020 had stayed that portion of Rajasthan high court’s order which had extended the deadline for submitting returns for 2017-18. 

Assistant government pleader Jyoti Chavan said extension cannot be granted only for Maharashtra “because it is one nation, one tax.” 

She said Section 44 states that the state commissioner can only extend on the recommendation of the GST Council. 

“On due consideration, we are not inclined to accede to the prayer made by the petitioners, that too, at this eleventh hour. It is not that the time-limit has not been extended," said the bench, adding that non-extension of time-limit will not lead to extinguishment of right. 

The judges also noted that it is a professional body of GST practitioners who are before us and not any individual taxable persons expressing any difficulty in adhering to the extended timeline of February 28, 2021. 

“In the circumstances, the court is not inclined to entertain the writ petition," said the judge, dismissing it. 


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