State Of Gujarat vs Paresh Nathalal Chauhan 2024 INSC 277 – S 157 CGST Act – Good Faith Clause

Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017; Section 157 – Good Faith Clause – SC expunged the Gujarat HC observation that the protection contemplated under section 157 of the GST Act, which is in the nature of a good faith clause, “may not” be available to the officers of the State- A good faith clause, explained in the vocabulary of the rights and duties regime, can be said to be a provision of immunity to a statutory functionary. Such provisions are in recognition of public interest in protecting a statutory functionary against prosecution or legal proceedings. This immunity is limited. It is confined to acts done honestly and in furtherance of achieving the statutory purpose and objective. Section 3(22) of the General Clauses Act, 1897 best explains ‘good faith’ as an act done honestly, whether it is done negligently or not. 3Good faith clauses in statutes providing immunity against suits, prosecution or other legal proceedings against officials exercising statutory power are therefore limited by their very nature, that far, and no further – A good faith clause in a statute will therefore be a defense. If successfully pleaded, it not only legitimises the action but also protects the statutory functionary from any legal action. If a statutory functionary invokes the defence of good faith in a suit, prosecution or other legal proceedings initiated against him, it is for the court or a judicial body to consider, adjudicate, and determine whether the claim that the action was done in good faith is made out or not. Such a scrutiny, enquiry, or examination is done only in a proceeding against the statutory functionary -The scrutiny whether the act is done in good faith or not would depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case- A citizen of this country has a right of accountability, for which he is entitled to initiate and adopt such legal remedies as are available to him, and in such proceedings the statutory functionary is equally entitled to take a defense of good faith. It is for the court to adjudicate and decide.

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