The Delhi High Court has directed the Central Government to not proceed with the appointment of members to the Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal without prior intimation, till the next date.
The order was passed by a Division Bench of Justices S Muralidhar and IS Mehta in petitions concerning the creation of the National Bench of the Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT) at New Delhi.
The Court passed the direction after an adjournment was sought by the Central Government when the matter was listed for final hearing.
“Considering that these matters were to be heard finally today an adjournment is sought, it is directed that the Respondents shall not, without prior intimation to this Court, proceed to appoint persons to the GST Appellate Tribunal till the next date.“, the Court stated.
The Petition by Bhartiya Vitta Salahkar Samiti challenges the Central Government notification dated March 13, 2019, establishing the National Bench of the Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT) at New Delhi in terms of Section 109 of the CGST Act. The petition also assails Section 109 and Section 110 of the CGST Act and the corresponding provisions of the Delhi GST Act with respect to the constitution of the GST Appellate Tribunal and qualifications of their members.
It is the Petitioner’s case that Sections 109 and 110 are in gross violation of the law laid down by the Supreme Court in Madras Bar Association I, II & III case, and are hence constitutionally invalid.
The Petition states that the Sections consist of several serious infirmities which impede the role of the Appellate Tribunal as a judicial authority which substitutes the role of the High Courts.
It is claimed that as per the 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. Further, the appointment of Members of Indian Legal Services as Judicial Members would affect the very purpose of Tribunal, it argued.
The Petition also states that the Sections do not provide for the appointment of Advocates as Judicial Member or for the appointment of other specialists such as Chartered Accountants as GSTAT members.
Furthermore, since the qualification for becoming a technical member is lesser than the qualification required in the case of the first appellate authority, the Sections are in gross violative of the rule of law.
The Petition also contends that the Sections empower the Government to transfer, re-appoint members at its own will, which violates the principle of separation of power.
The Petitioner was represented by Advocates Puneet Agrawal and Gaurav Gupta.
The case would be heard next on July 26.
Read the order: