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The Madras High Court is hearing a batch of writ petitions challenging the constitutionality of the GST Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT).
The petition filed in this regard by the Revenue Bar Association (RBA) have been clubbed with a similar petition filed by Advocate V Vasanthakumar. The Bench of Justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad is hearing the matter. The High Court had issued notice to the Central Government in August last year.
Arguments on behalf of of the RBA commenced earlier this week. Senior Advocate Arvind P Datar made submissions in the matter, briefed by Advocates Rahul Unnikrishnan and Karthik Sundaram.
The RBA has challenged the constitutional validity of Sections 109 and 110 of both the Central and State (Tamil Nadu) Goods and Services Tax (GST) Acts.
The main contention in these writ petitions is that the constitution of the GSTAT is in violation of principles laid down by the Supreme Court in R Gandhi v Union of India. Currently, Sections 109 and 110 of the CGST Act mandates that every bench of GSTAT to consist of one judicial member and two technical members.
Datar has contended that such a composition is violative of Article 50 of the Constitution. He further submitted that any body, which exercises judicial power, must be protected under Article 50, which provides for independence of judiciary.
Datar also contended that under Section 110 of the CGST Act, an advocate is now ineligible to apply for the post of judicial member. On the other hand, a member of the Indian Legal Service, who has held a post not less than Additional Secretary for three years, can apply for the post of judicial member of GSTAT.
This, according to Datar, is violative of the decision in R Gandhi, which held that a member of Indian Company Law Service or Indian Legal Service can only be a technical member and not a judicial member. Therefore, RBA’s contention is that such a composition would, in theory, make it a bench of three technical members.
Datar is expected to finish his arguments on Monday. Thereafter, ASG G Rajagopalan is expected to make submissions on behalf of Ministry of Law and Justice.
Read the written submissions of Arvind Datar below: