(1) All particulars contained in any statement made, return furnished or accounts or documents produced in accordance with the Act, or in any record of evidence given in the course of any proceedings under the Act (other than proceeding before a Criminal Court), or in any record of any proceedings under the Act shall, save as provided in subsection
(4), be treated as confidential;
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (1 of 1872), no Court shall save as aforesaid, be entitled to require any GST officer to produce before it or to give evidence before it in respect of particulars referred to in sub-section (1).
(3) Save as provided in sub-section (4), if any GST officer discloses any of the particulars referred to in sub-section (1), he shall, on conviction, be punished with imprisonment which may extend to six months or with fine or with both: Provided that, no prosecution shall be instituted under this section except with the previous sanction of the Central Government or the State Government, as the case may be.
(4) Nothing contained in this section shall apply to the disclosure of,-
(a) any such particulars in respect of any such statement, return, accounts, documents, evidence, affidavit or deposition, for the purpose of any prosecution under the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) or the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (49 of 1988), or the Act, or any other law for the time being in force; or
(b) any such particulars to the Central Government or the State Government or to any person acting in the execution of this Act, for verification of such particulars or for the purpose of carrying out the object of the Act; or
(c) any such particulars when such disclosure is occasioned by the lawful employment under the Act of any process for the service of any notice or the recovery of any demand; or
(d) any such particulars to a Civil Court or Tribunal constituted under any Central law in any suit or proceeding, to which the Government or any authority under the Act is a party, which relates to any matter arising out of any proceeding under the Act or under any other law for the time being in force authorising any such authority to exercise any powers thereunder; or
(e) any such particulars to any officer appointed for the purpose of audit of tax receipts or refunds of the tax imposed by the Act; or
(f) any such particulars where such particulars are relevant the purposes of any inquiry into the conduct of any GST officer, to any person or persons appointed as an inquiry officer under any relevant law; or
(g) such facts to an officer of the Central Government or any State Government as may be necessary for the purpose of enabling that Government to levy or realise any tax or duty imposed by it; or
(h) any such particulars, when such disclosure is occasioned by the lawful exercise by a public servant or any other statutory authority, of his or its powers under any law for the time being in force; or
(i) any such particulars relevant to any inquiry into a charge of misconduct in connection with any proceedings under the Act against a practising advocate, tax practitioner, a practising cost accountant, a practising chartered accountant, a practising company secretary to the authority empowered to take disciplinary action against the members practising the profession of a legal practitioner, cost accountant, chartered accountant or company secretary, as the case may be; or
(j) any such particulars to any agency appointed for the purposes of data entry on any automated system or for the purpose of operating, upgrading or maintaining any automated system where such agency is contractually bound not to use or disclose such particulars except for the aforesaid purposes; or
(k) any such particulars to an officer of the Central Government or any State Government as may be necessary for the purposes of any other law in force in India; and
(l) any information relating to any class of taxpayers or class of transactions for publication, if, in the opinion of the Competent authority, it is desirable in the public interest, to publish such information.