Rule 97 of ‘Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) Rules 2017’: Consumer Welfare Fund
Provisions under Rule 97 of the Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) Rules, 2017 relating to “Consumer Welfare Fund”, as per CGST (2nd Amendment) Rules 2017 notified by CBEC on 28 June 2017, applicable w.e.f. 1 July 2017, are as under:
CGST Rule 97: Consumer Welfare Fund (Chapter-X: Refund)
(1) All credits to the Consumer Welfare Fund shall be made under sub-rule (5) of rule 92.
(2) Any amount, having been credited to the Fund, ordered or directed as payable to any claimant by orders of the proper officer, appellate authority or Appellate Tribunal or court, shall be paid from the Fund.
(3) Any utilisation of amount from the Consumer Welfare Fund under sub-section (1) of section 58 shall be made by debiting the Consumer Welfare Fund account and crediting the account to which the amount is transferred for utilisation.
(4) The Government shall, by an order, constitute a Standing Committee with a Chairman, a Vice-Chairman, a Member Secretary and such other Members as it may deem fit and the Committee shall make recommendations for proper utilisation of the money credited to the Consumer Welfare Fund for welfare of the consumers.
(5) The Committee shall meet as and when necessary, but not less than once in three months.
(6) Any agency or organisation engaged in consumer welfare activities for a period of three years registered under the provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 (18 of 2013) or under any other law for the time being in force, including village or mandal or samiti level cooperatives of consumers especially Women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, or any industry as defined in the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (14 of 1947) recommended by the Bureau of Indian Standards to be engaged for a period of five years in viable and useful research activity which has made, or is likely to make, significant contribution in formulation of standard mark of the products of mass consumption, the Central Government or the State Government may make an application for a grant from the Consumer Welfare Fund:
Provided that a consumer may make application for reimbursement of legal expenses incurred by him as a complainant in a consumer dispute, after its final adjudication.
(7) All applications for grant from the Consumer Welfare Fund shall be made by the applicant Member Secretary, but the Committee shall not consider an application, unless it has been inquired into in material details and recommended for consideration accordingly, by the Member Secretary.
(8) The Committee shall have powers –
a. to require any applicant to produce before it, or before a duly authorised Officer of the Government such books, accounts, documents, instruments, or commodities in custody and control of the applicant, as may be necessary for proper evaluation of the application;
b. to require any applicant to allow entry and inspection of any premises, from which activities claimed to be for the welfare of consumers are stated to be carried on, to a duly authorised officer of the Central Government or, as the case may be, State Government;
c. to get the accounts of the applicants audited, for ensuring proper utilisation of the grant;
d. to require any applicant, in case of any default, or suppression of material information on his part, to refund in lump-sum, the sanctioned grant to the Committee, and to be subject to prosecution under the Act;
e. to recover any sum due from any applicant in accordance with the provisions of the Act;
f. to require any applicant, or class of applicants to submit a periodical report, indicating proper utilisation of the grant;
g. to reject an application placed before it on account of factual inconsistency, or inaccuracy in material particulars;
h. to recommend minimum financial assistance, by way of grant to an applicant, having regard to his financial status, and importance and utility of nature of activity under pursuit, after ensuring that the financial assistance provided shall not be misutilised;
i. to identify beneficial and safe sectors, where investments out of Consumer Welfare Fund may be made and make recommendations, accordingly;
j. to relax the conditions required for the period of engagement in consumer welfare activities of an applicant;
k. to make guidelines for the management, administration and audit of the Consumer Welfare Fund.
(9) The Central Consumer Protection Council and the Bureau of Indian Standards shall recommend to the Goods and Services Tax Council, the broad guidelines for considering the projects or proposals for the purpose of incurring expenditure from the Consumer Welfare Fund.