E-Way Bills During Lockdown | 02 Apr 2020

Why in News

Recently, the transporters have raised concerns over potential penalties arising from expired electronic way (e-way) bills.

  • Since 15th March, 2020 when states started to lock their borders down culminating in a national lockdown announced by the Centre, hundreds of truckers have been stranded across the country.
  • In a petition to the Ministry of Finance, a group of truckers pointed out that the e-way bills could not be extended by the transporters on account of closure of offices, godowns and unavailability of staff.
  • Truckers requested for the issue of immediate directions/guidelines to GST Commissioners (all States/UTs) to allow the vehicles in transit and goods not delivered to be exempted from any scrutiny or penal provisions to reach their destination smoothly, even if the e-way bill had expired.

Electronic Way Bill

  • E-Way Bill is a compliance mechanism wherein by way of a digital interface the person causing the movement of goods uploads the relevant information prior to the commencement of movement of goods and generates a e-way bill on the GST portal.
  • An electronic way bill or ‘e-way bill’ system offers the technological framework to track intra-state as well as inter-state movements of goods of value exceeding Rs 50,000, for sales beyond 10 km in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime.
  • When an eway bill is generated, a unique E-way Bill Number (EBN) is allocated and is available to the supplier, recipient, and the transporter.
  • It was launched to
    • Facilitate faster movement of goods.
    • Improve the turnaround time of vehicles.
    • Help the logistics industry by increasing the average distances travelled and reducing the travel time as well as costs.

E-Way Bill Rules

  • According to notified e-way bill rules, every supplier requires prior online registration on the e-way bill portal for the movement of goods.
  • Tax officials have the power to scrutinise the e-way bill at any point during transit to check tax evasion.
  • Validity :
    • The rules also specify that the permits for conventional cargo (other than over-dimensional carve) are valid for one day for the movement of goods for 100 km, and in the same proportion for the following days.
    • In general, validity of the e-way bill cannot be extended but a commissioner may extend the validity period only through issuing notification for certain categories of goods.
  • Penalty for goods moved without generating a valid e-way bill:
    • A fine of Rs 10,000 or amount of tax sought to be evaded, whichever is higher, may be imposed by tax authorities.
    • In such a situation, goods, and the vehicle transporting them, can be detained or seized.
  • An e-way bill can be regenerated by the transporter before expiry, but, if the e-way bill has expired, the system won’t allow regeneration linked to the same invoice.

Source: IE