Prakhar Softech Services Ltd.

Supreme Court upholds the validity of section 54(3) of CGST Act and held that refund for unutilized input tax credit cannot be claimed on account of input services.

Factual background

Judgment dated 24 July 2020 in VKC Footsteps India Pvt. Ltd. v. Union of India, the Division Bench of the Gujarat High Court, held that:

“Explanation (a) to Rule 89(5) which denies the refund of “unutilised input tax” paid on “input services” as part of “input tax credit” accumulated on account of inverted duty structure is ultra vires the provision of Section 54(3) of the CGST Act, 2017.”

The High Court therefore directed the Union Government to allow the claim for refund made by the petitioners before it, considering unutilised ITC on input services as part of “Net ITC” for the purpose of calculating refund in terms of Rule 89(5), in furtherance of Section 54(3).

Judgment dated 21 September 2020, in Tvl. Transtonnelstroy Afcons Joint Venture v. Union of India and connected cases the Division Bench of the Madras High Court came to a contrary conclusion, after having noticed the view of the Gujarat High Court, which it has declined to follow. The Madras High Court has concluded that

(1) Section 54(3)(ii) does not infringe Article 14.

(2) Refund is a statutory right and the extension of the benefit of refund only to the unutilised credit that accumulates on account of the rate of tax on input goods being higher than the rate of tax on output supplies by excluding unutilised input tax credit that accumulated on account of input services is a valid classification and a valid exercise of legislative power.”

The apex court have come to the conclusion that the judgment of the Madras High Court needs to be affirmed by dismissing the appeals challenging that verdict while the appeals against the judgment of the Gujarat High Court by the Union of India should be allowed.

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