58. Electronic maintenance of record.

(1)  A person may electronically maintain or generate all or any of the records, returns and invoices prescribed under rules 53 to 57, using a computer, in electronically legible format after informing the Commissioner or the designated officer about the system to be followed. Whenever changes are made in the system, the person shall inform the Commissioner or the designated officer, as the case may be, within a period of fifteen days of such change.

(2)  The printouts (hard copies) of records and documents must be taken out at the end of each month and kept in bound folders, separately for each type of record, returns and invoices.

(3)  The person shall ensure that proper back–up records are also maintained and preserved so that in the event of destruction due to unavoidable accidents or natural causes, the information can be restored within a reasonable period of time from such accident or natural cause. All such records, returns, invoices and other documents (both electronic and hard copy, including back–ups) , shall be preserved and retained for a period of six years (counted from the first day of the financial year following the financial year to which a record, return or  invoice pertains ) or until the assessment becomes final, whichever is later.

It shall be incumbent upon the person, who maintains the electronic records, to produce on demand, the relevant records, in hard copy and/or in the electronically legible format along with the flow and treatment of the transactions through the accounting system, from the stage of initiation to closure and storage to the designated officer, or the audit parties, deputed by the competent authority.

(4)  The person shall also provide account of the audit trail and inter–linkages, whether paper or electronic, and the financial accounts record layout, data dictionary and total number of records in each field along with sample copies of such records.

(6)   In case, any person is found to be misusing this facility or not providing access to the information or if there are any other cogent reasons, the Commissioner or any other authorised officer, as the case may be, may, after recording such reasons and after taking into consideration the explanation tendered by the person regarding the discrepancies, if any, prohibit a person from electronically maintaining or generating any records, returns or invoices.