Delhi High Court has denied relief to Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of online tutorial provider Byju's from appearing physically in Delhi to record statement in alleged GST evasion case.
Byju's is being investigated for evasion of GST by the Director General of GST Intelligence (DGGSTI). Byju's has been accused of evading GST on books/printed material being supplied by the company by mis-declaring such supplies under an exempted category.
A team of officers from DGGSTI had also raided the premises of the company in Bengaluru in this regard from 27 to 29 October 2020.
The DG GST Intelligence had summoned P V Rao, the CFO of the company, several times, requiring him to record his statement and present evidence at New Delhi. However, Rao had requested that owing to his ill health and the rising number of COVID-19 infections across the country, it was not safe for him to travel to New Delhi for recording of his statement, and requested that he be permitted to appear through video conference.
The DGGSTI had rejected Rao's request for recording statement through video conferencing, after which he moved high court seeking relief in this regard.
In High Court, while Rao's lawyers sought a relief from being physical present in Delhi for recording of statement owing to his poor health and COVID-19 situation, the DGGSTI's lawyers contended that Byju's CFO has been non-cooperative in the investigation and despite getting several opportunities to record the statement, even when the team of GST officers had gone to Byju's Bengaluru premise, he avoided giving statement on one or other pretext.
The lawyer representing DGGSTI also argued that since the investigations are at the initial stage, and documents and evidence are sensitive and incriminating in nature, detailed clarifications are needed from Rao, which is possible only when he is present physically.
The Delhi High Court in its order has said that the petitioner has not been convincingly able to prove that his health does not allow him to travel to Delhi for recording the statement. While rejecting the relief from appearing physically to record the statement, the court also kept in mind Rao's non-cooperative conduct during earlier attempts of the DGGSTI to record the statement.