Decoding CBIC Instructions on Section 74(1) Post NOS Judgment

Decoding CBIC Instructions on Section 74(1) Post NOS Judgment


The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has issued Instruction No. 05/2023-GST on 13th December 2023, addressing the ramifications of the Hon’ble Supreme Court's landmark judgment dated 19th May 2022 in the case of CC, CE & ST, Bangalore (Adj.) etc. Vs. Northern Operating Systems Private Limited (NOS). This article delves into the key instructions provided by CBIC in relation to Section 74(1) of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (CGST Act).


1. Background of the NOS Judgment:

The focal point of CBIC's instruction lies in the aftermath of the NOS case, where the Supreme Court examined the nature of secondment of employees by overseas entities to Indian firms and its Service Tax implications. The judgment emphasized a nuanced examination based on the unique characteristics of each arrangement, rejecting a one-size-fits-all approach.


2. Nuances in Tax Implications:

2.1 The CBIC, after a meticulous examination, notes that the NOS judgment, while primarily focusing on Service Tax, has implications in the realm of GST. The court's emphasis on a nuanced examination implies that each case of secondment must be scrutinized based on its specific terms and conditions.


2.2 Citing the Hon'ble Supreme Court's observation in the Commissioner of Central Excise, Mumbai Vs. M/s Fiat India(P) Ltd, the CBIC underscores the need to avoid mechanical application of legal principles. Each case, as the court emphasized, depends on its unique facts, and a broad resemblance to another case is not decisive.


2.3 Considering the diverse nature of secondment arrangements, the CBIC clarifies that the NOS judgment should not be mechanically applied to all cases. Instead, the tax implications must be determined based on the distinct factual matrix, including the terms of the contract between the overseas company and the Indian entity.


3. Caution Against Mechanical Invocation of Section 74(1):

3.1 The CBIC addresses concerns raised by the industry regarding the mechanical invocation of the extended period of limitation under Section 74(1) of the CGST Act in cases involving secondment.


3.2 Section 74(1) reads, "Where it appears to the proper officer that any tax has not been paid or short paid or erroneously refunded or where input tax credit has been wrongly availed or utilized by reason of fraud, or any wilful-misstatement or suppression of facts to evade tax..."


3.3 The CBIC clarifies that Section 74(1) can only be invoked if there is evidence of fraud, wilful misstatement, or suppression of facts to evade tax. Mere non-payment of GST without these elements cannot trigger Section 74(1). The CBIC emphasizes that the provision should only be invoked when there is concrete evidence of fraudulent activities, and such evidence should be included in the show cause notice.


4. Recommendations for Investigation and Show Cause Notices:

In light of the above, the CBIC advises field formations to consider the unique aspects of each case involving secondment. Investigation should focus on the distinct factual matrix, terms of contracts, and evidence of fraud or wilful misstatement before invoking Section 74(1). The CBIC emphasizes the need for a meticulous examination, aligning with the principles laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the NOS case.



CBIC's Instruction No. 05/2023-GST serves as a guiding beacon for GST investigations concerning secondment in the post-NOS judgment era. The nuanced approach advocated by the CBIC aligns with the Supreme Court's emphasis on a case-specific examination. It also provides a cautionary note against the mechanical application of Section 74(1), ensuring that its invocation is warranted only in cases involving fraud or wilful misstatement. Field formations are encouraged to undertake thorough investigations, taking into account the unique facets of each secondment arrangement.

[ Published on: 17-12-2023 ]