What are the basic requirements to be observed during Search operations under GST Act?

The following principles should be observed during Search:

• No search of premises should be carried out without a valid search warrant issued by the proper officer.

• There should invariably be a lady officer accompanying the search team to residence.

• The officers before starting the search should disclose their identity by showing their identity cards to the person in-charge of the premises.

• The search warrant should be executed before the start of the search by showing the same to the person in-charge of the premises and his signature should be taken on the body of the search warrant in token of having seen the same. The signatures of at least two witnesses should also be taken on the body of the search warrant.

• The search should be made in the presence of at least two independent witnesses of the locality. If no such inhabitants are available /willing, the inhabitants of any other locality should be asked to be witness to the search. The witnesses should be briefed about the purpose of the search.

• Before the start of the search proceedings, the team of officers conducting the search and the accompanying witnesses should offer themselves for their personal search to the person in-charge of the premises being searched. Similarly, after the completion of search all the officers and the witnesses should again offer themselves for their personal search.

• A Panchnama / Mahazar of the proceedings of the search should necessarily be prepared on the spot. A list of all goods, documents recovered and seized/detained should be prepared and annexed to the Panchnama/Mahazar. The Panchnama / Mahazar and the list of goods/ documents seized/detained should invariably be signed by the witnesses , the in – charge/ owner of the premises before whom the search is conducted and also by the officer(s) duly authorized for conducting the search.

• After the search is over, the search warrant duly executed should be returned in original to the issuing officer with a report regarding the outcome of the search. The names of the officers who participated in the search may also be written on the reverse of the search warrant.

• The issuing authority of search warrant should maintain register of records of search warrant issued and returned and used search warrants should be kept in records.

• A copy of the Panchnama / Mahazar along with its annexure should be given to the person incharge/owner of the premises being searched under acknowledgement.