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PIL filed for Constitution of GST Appellate Tribunal

Ashish M. Shaji

| Updated: Aug 05, 2021 | Category: GST Advisory

PIL filed for Constitution of GST Appellate Tribunal

Recently a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Supreme Court of India, which sought for constitution of GST Appellate Tribunal. The petitioner stated that the Central Goods and Services Tax Act came into force 4 years ago in 2017, but the GST Appellate Tribunal mandated under Section 109 of the Act is yet to be established. Let’s discuss more on this development.

Section 109 of the CGST Act 2017 – Constitution of GST Appellate Tribunal

Firstly we need to understand what section 109 says about the constitution of an Appellate Tribunal.

This section contains the provision for constitution of Appellate Tribunal and benches thereof. It states that the Central Government would form a GST Appellate Tribunal with an aim to hear appeals against the orders gone by the Appellate authority or revisional authority.

Further, the powers of the appellate tribunal would be exercisable by the National Bench or regional benches, state bench and area benches. Additionally, no act or proceedings of the Appellate tribunal will be questioned or will be invalid merely because of the presence of any vacancy or defect in the constitution of the Appellate Tribunal.

PIL filed in the Supreme Court

Advocate Amit Sahni filed the PIL seeking the constitution of Appellate Tribunal. The plea enumerates that the constitution of national and other benches of Appellate Tribunal under section 109 of the CGST Act has become necessary and that the respondents can’t drag its constitution for indefinite time period.

The advocate in his plea also contended that aggrieved litigants are constrained to go to their High Courts under writ jurisdiction against orders passed by the Appellate or Revisional Authority in the absence of an appellate tribunal thus, it aggravates the case load of different high courts.

Facts presented by the petitioner

The petitioner mentioned the following facts:

  • Pursuant to the CGST Act 2017[1], if a person is aggrieved by an order passed by the Appellate Authority (Section 107) or by the Revisional Authority (Section 108), may appeal to the Appellate Tribunal in Section 112 within three months after such an order is passed. In spite of this legislative mandate under the CGST Act, no steps have been taken by the centre to constitute a national bench or other benches of the Appellate Tribunal.
  • Further, the Department of Revenue specified in response to various representations filed by aggrieved litigants that the reason behind the delay in constitution of a appellate tribunal was because the Madras High Court had directed the Central Government, in the case of Revenue Bar Association vs. Union of India, to amend the CGST Act and consider advocates with over 10 years of experience to be appointed as the Judicial members of the national bench and other benches of the tribunal.
  • The plea also refers to different administrative orders passed by the Central Government on the GST councils’ recommendation. An administrative order had extended the limitation period to file the appeal before the tribunal from the statutory period of 3 months to an indefinite period (till the President/State President of the Appellate tribunal enters office).
  • Further, the petitioner argued that no steps were taken to constitute the Tribunal due to which the right of access of justice under Article 21 of the Constitution was violated.
  • The plea observed that administrative orders couldn’t survive forever to fill the vacuum created by a statutory provision therefore, an amendment should be made to the statutory provision in order to fill the gap within the reasonable time.

Need for GST Appellate Tribunal

The petitioner emphasised on the need for the speedy delivery of justice. He said that the objective for constituting tribunals is to ensure supplementation of the functions of the High Court and the other courts. Moreover, also to ensure that the consumer can get a speedy redressal of their grievances. This can’t be achieved if the tribunals don’t function effectively. Thus, the plea concluded the fact that there is a urgent need for quickening the process of constitution of GST Appellate Tribunal in the best interest of speedy justice.

Conclusion

Advocate Amit Sahni had earlier made a representation to the Finance Ministry and to the GST council and asked them to take appropriate steps to constitute a GST Appellate Tribunal mandated under Section 109 of the CGST Act 2017 which will help to avoid massive backlog of cases.

Read our article:Provisional Attachment under GST: Amendment & Supreme Court Ruling

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Ashish M. Shaji

Ashish M. Shaji has done his graduation in law (BA. LLB) from CCS University. He has keen interests in doing extensive research and writing on legal subjects especially on criminal and corporate law. He is a creative thinker and has a great interest in exploring legal subjects.

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