Monday, May 6, 2013

Prosecution in ST matters can’t be continued if assessee has been acquitted in adjudication proceedings on merit

If assessee has been exonerated on merits in adjudication proceedings from charge of misrepresentation and suppression, criminal prosecution on same set of facts and circumstances cannot be allowed to be continued

The Department initiated adjudication proceedings and criminal prosecution against the assessee alleging wilful misrepresentation and under-valuation. In adjudication proceedings, Tribunal held in favour of assessee on merits. The Assessee filed a writ petition challenging continuance of prosecution proceedings. Department made an application that assessee's writ petition was premature on ground that it had challenged order of Tribunal.

The High Court quashed the criminal proceeding against the assessee with the following observations:

1) Application filed by Department seeking rejection of writ petition on ground of being pre-mature was a gross abuse of the processes of law;

2) Although there is no automatic closure or quashing of the criminal complaint, in the event, there is a favourable verdict in the departmental or the adjudicatory proceedings in favour of an accused but in case the adjudicatory proceedings culminate into a favourable order in favour of the accused on merits and the criminal complaint is in sum and substance based on the same facts then, obviously, it would be a gross abuse of the processes of law to continue with the criminal complaint;

3) Mere contemplation by Department to assail the order of Tribunal before the Apex Court or before any other appellate forum where they have a right to do so, couldn’t result in deferring the decision in the present petition;

4) Since the assessee had been exonerated in the departmental adjudicatory proceedings regarding both the allegations of mis-declaration and under-valuation, there was no point in continuing with the criminal trial as it was resulting in abuse of the process of law - Dinesh Aggarwal v. DRI [2013] 32 337 (Delhi)

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