J P Chawla & Co. LLP

Understanding Summons under the CGST Act 

Driving the elaborated corridors of legal intricacies in taxation, understanding the summoning powers under Section 70 of the CGST Act becomes paramount. This blog post explores the concept of summons under the Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) Act in India. We will delve into the legal provisions outlined in Section 70 of the Act, explaining when a person can be summoned and the consequences of non-compliance. 

Legal Provisions  

 Section 70. Power to summon people to give evidence and produce documents. – 

(1) The proper officer under this Act shall have power to summon any person whose attendance he considers necessary either to give evidence or to produce a document or any other thing in any inquiry in the same manner, as provided in the case of a civil court under the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908). 

(2) Every such inquiry referred to in sub-section (1) shall be deemed to be a “judicial proceeding” within the meaning of section 193 and section 228 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860). 

Meaning of Summon 

As mentioned in Section 70(1) of CGST Act- 

Summon may be issued by the proper officer to any person: 

  1. Whose attendance is necessary to give evidence or to produce a document. 
  1. In any other thing in any inquiry in the same manner. 

A person can be summoned for inquiry. In general terms inquiry means to investigate. The proper officer who has summoned the person should exercise his power judiciously. Officer should have proper document/evidence and statement evident the evasion of tax before summoned to such person. Officer should not summon anyone for routine enquiry, call for material/evidence documents and the records available on GST portal.  

Judicial proceedings 

Judicial proceedings shall be initiated under Section 193 and Section 228 of India Penal Code: 

Section 193: Punishment for false evidence 

Whoever intentionally gives false evidence in any stage of a judicial proceeding, or fabri­cates false evidence for the purpose of being used in any stage of a judicial proceeding, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine, and whoever intentionally gives or fabricates false evidence in any other case, shall be punished with imprisonment of either de­scription for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine 

Section 228: Punishment for intentional Insult and Interruption 

Intentional insult or interruption to public servant sitting in judicial proceeding.—Whoever intentionally offers any insult, or causes any interruption to any public servant, while such public servant is sitting in any stage of a judicial proceeding, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thou­sand rupees, or with both. 


A person can be penalized under Section 122(3)(d) of CGST Act up to rupees fifty thousand rupees if fails to appear before a CGST/SGST officer to give evidence or produced documents. 

  1. Guidelines for issuance of Summons under Section 70 of CGST Acts 

Instructions No. 03/2022-23 (GST Investigation Wing) dated 17th August 2022 issued to follow the guidelines for issuance of Summons under Section 70 of CGST Act 2017. 

Many instances were noticed by the board where GST officers were resorting Section 70 of CGST Act and issued summons to taxpayers for seeking details and documents like Form GSTR-1, Form GSTR-3B and other details which were easily accessible on GST portal. 

Summon is one of the important tools in the eyes of GST department for getting details and documentation from a person to find out his involvement in evasion of tax. Details of guidelines as follows need to be followed in relation to summons matters. 

  1. Officer not below the rank of Assistant/Deputy commissioner shall require a written permission from superintendent stating the reason of issuance of summons. When it is not possible to obtain written permission in that case telephone permission is sufficient to issue a summons. 
  1. The officer who has issued a summons shall prepare a file and record statement for appearance/non-appearance of summoned person in written. 
  1. A person can be summoned as accused, co-accused or as witness; the name of such person should indicate on summons to understand the reasons for which he has summoned. A person’s name cannot be revealed in cases where it is possible that said person may be detrimental to the cause of investigation. 
  1. Officer may avoid issuing summons to a person for the documents available online in GST portal. 
  1. Officers should avoid summoning directly to the senior management official such as CMD/MD/CEO/CFO unless there is clear indication that their involvement in investigations may lead to loss of revenue. 
  1. Officers should mention DIN (document identification number) on all communications made to taxable person or any concerned person summoned for investigation. Summoned should be in a prescribed format as refer in Circular No. 128/47/2019- GST dated 23rd December 2019. 
  1. The officer who has issued summons should be available on the stipulated date and time for which summons is issued. If he is not available on the appointed date, the summoned person must be informed in advance in writing or orally. 
  1. Person who do not response summoned timely and not present before the concerned officer, in that case CBIC officer may file a complaint with jurisdictional magistrate alleging that accused has committed an offence under Section 172 of India Penal Code (absconding to avoid service of summons or other proceedings) and/or Section 174 of India Penal Code (non-attendance in obedience to an order from public servant). 

Important Guidelines for CGST Officers 

We conclude by highlighting the crucial guidelines issued in August 2022 for using summons effectively. These guidelines ensure that the power to summon is exercised judiciously and focus on gathering evidence for potential tax evasion, not readily available information.