Taking serious note of the absence of a concrete proposal before state government and GST Council for setting up of GST Appellate Tribunal in the state, Allahabad High Court on Thursday directed the Centre and state governments to file better affidavits, providing a cut-off date by which they propose to set up the said tribunal. Hearing a writ petition filed by M/s Torque Pharmaceuticals Private Limited, Justice Bharati Sapru and Justice Piyush Agrawal directed listing of the matter on March 15 for next hearing and permitted the state government counsel to send a revised proposal in the meantime.
In compliance to the order passed by the court on February 13, two counter-affidavits (replies) were filed one by GST Council and the other by state government on Thursday. After perusing the affidavits, the court expressed dissatisfaction, saying “it is apparent that promises are being made only in the air. There seems to be no concrete proposal to set up the appellate tribunal’’. Regarding the affidavit filed by state government stating that a recommendation has been made by it to set up a Bench of the Tribunal at Lucknow, the court said that it is also not in accordance with the order passed by the Supreme Court in the case of Madras Bar Association Vs. Union of India and another reported in (2014) 10 SCC 1, which provides that the Tribunal will be set up at the place where the principal bench of the high court is situated.
“In the present case the principal Bench of the High Court is in Allahabad. This seems to be another dilatory tactics,’’ the court said. Taking serious note of the difficulties faced by assessees due to non- availability of GST Tribunal in the state, the court observed, “On the one hand the right of appeal is not being given to the petitioner, on the other hand the state and Centre are both very quick to make recoveries from persons, who have orders against them. A litigant cannot be left without a remedy for reasons that the government is unable to provide forums. In the present case, there is not even an assurance that within next six months, one year or two years it may come up’.”
The court directed that a copy of this order be given to Gyan Prakash, assistant solicitor general of India (ASGI), representing the Central government as well as Nimai Das, additional chief standing counsel, representing the state government for necessary communication and compliance of the directives of the court. Earlier, the court had on February 13 directed Centre and UP governments to tell what steps have been taken to set up Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal in the state.
According to Section 109 of GST Act, the Central government on the recommendation of state government will constitute GST Appellate Tribunal, for hearing appeals against the orders passed by the appellate authority or revisional authority. Counsel for the petitioner had contended that despite clear-cut provision for setting up of appellate tribunal, it has not been set up in the state so far. As a result, the assessees in the state are facing problems.