Recently, Gujarat High Court gave an important judgment dated 10th October, 2019 related to the seizure and release of goods and conveyances in transit in case of Sitaram Roadways V. State of Gujarat.

The Competent Authority intercepted the conveyance of the assesse, a transporter, carrying goods. As the person in charge of the conveyance was not in a position to produce the mandatory documents in the nature of the invoice and e-way bill, the Competent Authority issued a notice for the confiscation of the goods and conveyance and levy of penalty under section 130.

In terms of the said notice, the assesse was directed to appear before the Competent Authority on 28-8-2019. Thereafter, without waiting for the assesse to appear before him, the Competent Authority passed an order dated 24-8-2019 of confiscation under section 130 computing the tax, penalty, fine in lieu of confiscation of goods and conveyance. After the conveyance with the goods came to be intercepted and detained, the assesse had deposited the amount of tax and penalty. 

HC held that the impugned order is in breach of the principles of natural justice on two counts. Firstly, the matter was kept for hearing on 28 August, 2019, the Competent Authority passed the order on 24 August, 2019 without affording any opportunity of hearing to the assesse. Secondly, the order is a totally non-speaking order, which does not reflect the reason as to why the Competent Authority has come to the conclusion that the goods and the conveyance are liable to be confiscated, which renders the order unsustainable.

Therefore, order deserves to be set aside and the matter is required to be remitted to the Competent Authority to decide the same afresh in accordance with the law, after affording reasonable opportunity of hearing to the assesse.