High Court (India)

May 14, 2019

Delhi High Court Orders Centre Not To Appoint GST Appellate Tribunal Members Without Prior Intimation


Delhi-High-Court

The central government has been ordered by the Delhi High Court to desist from appointing members to the Goods & Services Appellate Tribunal without prior intimation, until the next date.

The next hearing of the case is on July 26.

A division bench of the Delhi High Court comprising Justice S Muralidhar and Justice I S Mehta passed the order responding to petitions concerning the creation of a National Bench of Goods & Services Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT) at New Delhi.

The order was passed after the central government sought an adjournment when the matter was listed for final hearing.

Earlier, a petition was filed by the Bhartiya Vitta Salahkar Samiti, through advocates Puneet Agrawal and Gaurav Gupta, challenging the central government notification dated March 13, 2019.

The notification had called for establishing the National Bench of the Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT) at New Delhi as per Section 109 of the GST Act.

Earlier, a petition was filed by the Bhartiya Vitta Salahkar Samiti challenging the central government notification dated March 13, 2019, establishing the National Bench of the Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT) at New Delhi as per Section 109 of the GST Act.

The same petition had also challenged Section 109 and Section 110 of the Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) Act as well as corresponding provisions of the Delhi GST Act regarding constitution of the GST Appellate Tribunal, besides qualifications of their members.

The petition had contended that Section 109 and Section 110 of the CGST Act grossly violate the law laid down by the Supreme Court in Madras Bar Association I, II & III case, and are hence constitutionally invalid.

It stated that sections consist of several serious infirmities which impede the role of the Appellate Tribunal as a judicial authority and thus substitutes the role of high courts.

The petition stated that as per these sections, the number of technical members on the bench exceeds the number of the judicial members, which is contrary to the established principles of law. Appointment of Indian Legal Service members as judicial members would affect the very purpose of the GST Appellate, the petition stated.

Besides, these sections do not provide for the appointment of advocates as judicial members or for the appointment of other specialists such as Chartered Accountants as GSTAT members, the petition stated.

It stated that since the qualification to become a technical member is lesser than the qualification required in the case of the first appellate authority, these sections grossly violate the rule of law.

Since these sections empower the government to transfer or re-appoint members at its own will, they violate the principle of separation of power, the petition stated.

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