CBEC Guidelines for Arrest in Relation to the Offences Punishable in Relation to Offences Punishable under the Finance Act, 1994 and Central Excise Act, 1944 [Circular  No  201/11/2016-Service Tax F.No. 137/47/2013-Service Tax dated 30-09-2016]

As a consequence of these amendments, the power of arrest in Service Tax is available only if a person collects any amount as service tax but fails to paid the amount so collected to the credit of the Central Government beyond the period of six months from the date on which such payment becomes due and the amount exceeds Rs. 2 Crore.

It has been decided to revise the monetary limits for arrests and prosecution in Central Excise to maintain uniformity of practice in Central Excise and Service Tax. It is directed that henceforth arrest and prosecution of a person in relation to offences specified under clause (a) to (d) of sub-section (1) of section 9 of the Central Excise Act, 1944 may be considered only in cases where evasion of Central Excise duty or misuse of CENVAT Credit is equal to or more than rupees two crore. Central Excise Circular No. 974/08/2013-CX dated 17.09.2013 and 1009/16/2015-CX dated 23.10.2015 stand amended accordingly. Circular No. 1010/17/2015-CX dated 23.10.2015 is rescinded in view of the revision of monetary limits prescribed by this circular. It is again reiterated that arrest and prosecution should not be resorted to in cases of technical nature i.e. where the additional demand of duty/tax is based totally on a difference of opinion regarding interpretation of law.

Transitional provisions as prescribed in para 11 of the Circular No. 1009/16/2015-CX dated 23.10.2015 shall apply mutatis-mutandis i.e. all cases where sanction for prosecution is examined and accorded after the issue of this circular, shall be dealt in accordance with the provisions of this circular, irrespective of the date of the offence. Cases where prosecution was sanctioned but no complaint has been filed before the magistrate shall also be reviewed by the prosecution sanctioning authority in light of the enhanced monetary limit and sanction withdrawn for cases where evasion of Central Excise duty or misuse of CENVAT Credit is below the revised monetary limit of rupees two crore.

It is emphasized once again that since an arrest impinges on the personal liberty of an individual, this power should be exercised with great responsibility and caution and only after a careful examination of the legal and factual aspects indicated in the preceding paragraphs.

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