The following report appeared in The Tribune of 30th May 2008:
Punjab VAT Tribunal put on notice
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, May 30
An inquiry conducted by chairman VAT Tribunal Punjab Justice M.M. Aggarwal (retired) into the conduct of two fellow members of the tribunal in a specific case has found both officials guilty of reversing their own orders with the presumption that the same has been done for “extraneous considerations”.
Following the submission of the inquiry report, the Department of Excise and Taxation has served a show-cause notice on the tribunal’s vice-chairman P.S. Bajaj and its member Kuldip Kumar.
Justice Aggarwal submitted his findings in the 12-page inquiry report to the Punjab government yesterday and has further recommended that the case in question in which the two officials “reversed their earlier order for some consideration” be handed over to the director, Vigilance Bureau, for further action.
Meanwhile, the department of excise and taxation, vide memo no 6/8/2008-ET-I (5) dated 29-5-2008, has served a show-cause notice on both vice-chairman Bajaj and Kuldip Kumar, asking them to furnish their reply within five days.
The two have been specifically charged for causing a loss of about Rs 1 crore to the state exchequer.
The show-cause notice served on the two has sought reasons “as to why you should not be removed from the office as vice-chairman /member”. Sources in the Excise and Taxation Department disclosed that after the irregularity in a particular appeal in a case M/S Shreyans Industries Ltd. Ahmedgarh District Sangrur Vs State of Punjab were detected, the case was referred to the office of the Advocate-General, Punjab.
Advocate-General Hardev Singh Mattewal was of the opinion that the chairman himself should conduct the inquiry, following which the Punjab Government marked the inquiry to Justice Aggarwal, asking him to conduct it expeditiously.
In the notice, the vice-chairman and the member have been told, “The state government has carefully pursued the aforesaid inquiry report and after due application has concluded that your acts have been such as to render you unfit to continue as vice-chairman/member of the tribunal.”
In the report, Justice Aggarwal has said, “P.S.Bajaj had been a Judicial Officer in the State of Punjab and Member Judicial, Customs, Excise and taxation and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal, Ministry of Finance, whereas Kuldip Kumar has been Additional Excise and Taxation Commissioner…both of them could very well know that order…. whereby rectification application was allowed and appeal accepted by recalling an earlier order was sitting in appeal over own judgement and setting aside own judgement under the garb of rectification was not permissible….. In this process, State has been put to a revenue loss of about Rs 1 crore.”
Justice Aggarwal goes on to say: “The ultimate conclusion can only be and is that the act of Bajaj and Kuldip Kumar in passing the order was doing it for some extraneous consideration whereby a loss of about Rs 1 crore has been caused to the state. When any individual passes such an order, there can always be presumption of extraneous consideration, which amounts to misconduct within the meaning of clause (d) of sub section 10 of Punjab VAT Act, 2005.”