Lok Sabha clears GST Amendment Bill 2023, GST Appellate Tribunal in Focus

On Tuesday, the Lok Sabha successfully passed the Central Goods and Services Tax (Second Amendment) Bill, 2023. This legislative move aims to elevate the age limits for both the president and members of the GST appellate tribunal. While steering the bill, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman emphasized that taxpayers engaged in litigation against GST demands in various high courts or the Supreme Court now have the flexibility to withdraw their cases. They can opt to approach the GST appellate tribunal (GSTAT) once its benches become operational. The specific alterations introduced by the bill include capping the age for the president and members of GSTAT at 70 years and 67 years, respectively.

This marks an increase from the previous limits of 67 years and 65 years. Notably, the proposed changes aim to align the terms of service for judicial and technical members of GSTAT with the provisions outlined in the Tribunal Reforms Act of 2021. According to the amendment, an advocate with a decade of ‘substantial experience’ in litigation related to indirect taxes in the Appellate Tribunal is deemed eligible for appointment as a judicial member of GSTAT. Furthermore, the president, along with judicial and technical members of GSTAT, will now hold office for a term of four years or until reaching the age of 70 years and 67 years, respectively—whichever comes earlier.

This contrasts with the previous rules, which had set the age limit at 67 years for the president and 65 years for members.

Finance Minister Sitharaman underscored that the passage of this bill signifies a harmonization of the terms of service for judicial and technical members of GSTAT with the provisions outlined in the Tribunal Reforms Act of 2021. The Lok Sabha’s approval was given through a voice vote, solidifying the amendments introduced by the Central Goods and Services Tax (Second Amendment) Bill, 2023.

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