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`Advocates can correspond with sales tax authority'
November, 08th 2006

An advocate enrolled under the Advocates Act, 1962 is entitled to appear before any authority, other than the Special Tribunal, under the Tamil Nadu General Sales Tax Act,1959, the Madras High Court has held.

This decision was delivered upon a writ petition by a trader challenging a communication dated October 10, 2005 by Commercial Tax Officer, Perundurai.

The communication said that a legal practitioner, who was authorised to appear before the sales tax authority as provided for under the TN General Sales Tax Act, could not correspond on behalf of the dealers, but could only appear before such an authority.

Mr Justice K. Chandru said that as an attorney the advocate could be authorised to do certain acts on behalf of the client, unless the statute specifically prohibited such a conduct by the advocate.

Section 52 of the Act, in fact provided for, in a wider context, where a relative or a full-time employee or an accountant of the dealer could even be authorised to represent his case before tax officers. It was not as if only advocates were given monopoly to appear.

When the intention of the Act was too wide, it was not proper for the respondent (Commercial Tax Officer, Perundurai, Erode Dist) to write to the dealer that he could not send proceedings through his lawyer.

In the absence of any prohibition under Sales Tax Act or Rules, it was open to the dealer to make his representation through his attorney by properly authorising the said attorney.

The petitioner, S.K. Trading Company, Uthukulli Road, Kunnathur, pleaded for quashing the communication of the CTO.

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