The name of department of central excise, customs and service tax will be changed to department of GST and customs as the Centre plans to merge central excise, service tax and VAT segments once Goods and Service Tax (GST) system comes into force from April 2017.
For the first time, audit commissioners will be given powers to adjudicate cases under GST structure for which Central Board of Excise and Customs has issued orders recently.
The powers to adjudicate confiscation, penalty imposed on tax defaulters in cases involving sum of more than Rs 1.50 crore will rest with audit commissioners. The cases involving a sum below Rs 1.50 crore will be adjudicated by assistant commissioners.
“This implies that commissioners (audit) will be judge of their own actions which is against natural justice,” a department official said wishing anonymity.
Till now, audit commissioners raise objections, recommend penalty against businessmen who don’t pay full taxes. Under the new system, they will decide the appeals of businessmen against whom they had raised objection with regard to tax payment. “This will create crisis of confidence in parties (businessmen) as they will not expect a fair judgment while filing appeals,” official added.
Under the new system, audit commissioners will also adjudicate the show cause notices which are issued for “demanding duty short paid or non paid or erroneously refunded under Section 11A of Central Excise Act, 1944,” the official said.
The government’s move to grant adjudication powers to audit commissioners is aimed to expedite GST structure by reducing backlog of appeals pending with department’s other commissioners.
However, none from outside the government has objected to this move as GST is a new subject even for department officials who are awaiting centre’s directives on many issues under new tax structure, sources said.