The Commissioner of CGST Thane, Mumbai vide F.No. V(Misc)/AdjudicationPH/Thane/2020 dated May 18, 2020, issued guidelines for conducting a personal hearing in the virtual mode in respect of pending show cause notice/ appeals etc. under the provisions of erstwhile the Central Excise Act, 1944, the Finance Act, 1994 & the Central Goods & Services Tax Act, 2017.
In the light of the situation arising and the Instruction under reference, it has been decided to conduct ‘Personal Hearing’ in respect of all demand notices through video conferencing. Till further arrangements are made, the mode adopted will be through some popular social media platform because of its huge reach amongst common people. WHATSAPP video conferencing has been considered as in such a suitable mode for video conferencing because it also has ‘end to end encryption’.
The standard procedure to be adopted is as under:-
- All notice(s), in their written submission, have to clearly indicate whether they are agreeable to conduct of a personal hearing in virtual mode, and, provide WHATSAPP number of their ‘authorized signatory’.
- The notice(s) will be provided with the WHATSAPP number through which personal hearing will be conducted on virtual mode with date and time.
- The notice(s), should confirm their availability by text message to the WHATSAPP number provided to them, at least one day prior to the scheduled hearing, giving reference of file number, name & designation of the persons likely to attend the hearing and WHATSAPP number of all such persons and also the name of the primary person to be contacted. Vakalatnama, authorization letters, etc, duly signed should be sent in PDF form on the WHATSAPP number provided for this purpose.
- The notice(s), should send a text message on the WHATSAPP number ’15’ minutes prior to the given time on the date of personal hearing that they with/ without their legal representative are ready for the hearing. The notice(s) should form a group constituting of all WHATSAPP numbers of persons appearing for the hearing and the office number provided to them for hearing.
- At scheduled time and date, the message would be sent to the primary contact person. The conference call/ video call for the conduct of the personal hearing is to be dialed by the primary contact person of the notice.
- On completion of personal hearing, the person hearing memo will be sent to the primary contact person in PDF form from the WHATSAPP number provided, who in turn has to confirm receipt of the message. The primary contact person will have to obtain the signature of all present for the personal hearing on a hard copy of the PH memo and send it back on the WHATSAPP number provided in PDF format, within 15 minutes of receipt of the memo. In case, all the people who had attended the personal hearing are at different locations, then they should individually sign on hard copy/ print out of the PH memo, send PDF to the primary contact person who will, in turn, send all such PDF to the WHATSAPP number provided.
This facility will remain in place till any other more secure or easier mode is not established.