Revenue Secretary Sanjay Malhotra has made some clarifications and confirmations regarding the imminent commencement of operations for Goods and Services Tax ( GST ) Appellate Tribunals. The tribunal is to address issues between taxpayers and the tax system, and are gearing up to initiate their proceedings in July or August. Mr. Malhotra is feeling positive about this, saying, “The process has been initiated. Very soon, you are going to see an advertisement in the media for the process of selection of the members and the president. And we hope that, quickly, in a period of six months or so from now, we are able to put some of the tribunals in place,”.
The Secretary was providing an interview to The Hindu. There will be 31 benches in about 50 places all set up for action, and the plan is to have most of them working by July or August. Mr. Malhotra stressed how urgent this is, mentioning that the launch of these tribunals matches the time when the new government takes over. Also read: Haryana Government Plans to Establish GST Tribunal Branches in Gurugram and Hisar Now, let’s go back to 2017 when the GST system started. Back then, the plan included making Appellate Tribunals to handle appeals, but they never got started. The taxpayers who were in dispute started going to High Courts for help. By October 31, there were about 15,000 appeals under central GST laws – that’s 25% more than the cases waiting since March 31 of the previous year.
Finally, in July, changes were made to the Central GST law to create these tribunals. The Finance Ministry shared the news about 31 tribunals coming up across 28 States and eight Union Territories in September. People thought the first set of these courts would start by December 2023 or January 2024. But, there were some issues with who could be in these tribunals and how old they should be.
It didn’t match what the Tribunal Reforms Act of 2021 said. Finally, in October, the GST Council approved changes, and in December, during Parliament’s winter session, these changes became official. Also read: ICAI requests Govt to include Chartered Accountants as Technical Members of GST Appellate Tribunal On December 20, 2023, the Central Goods and Services Tax (Second Amendment) Bill was approved by the parliament, paving the way for the formation of the GSTAT. The bill increases the maximum age limit for the president of GSTAT to 70 years and for its members to 67 years. Presently, the age limit is set at 67 years for the president and 65 years for the members.
Additionally, the bill aims to synchronise the Central GST Act with the provisions outlined in the Tribunal Reforms Act of 2021. According to the legislation, an advocate should possess 10-years experience in handling litigation pertaining to indirect taxes in an appellate tribunal that would meet the criteria for eligibility to serve as a judicial member of the GSTAT. Also read: Advocates with 10 years experience to be appointed as Judicial Members of various Tribunals: Govt. amends Service Rules