Appeal Time! GST Appellate Tribunal to be Functional Soon Enough

The GST Tribunal will have a principal bench at Delhi and 31 State Benches
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The GST Appellate Tribunal ( GSTAT ) has finally started to begin its baby steps towards functioning with the appointment of its first president, Justice (retd) Sanjaya Kumar Mishra.

Legal experts have praised this move while also urging the government to speed up the appointment of judicial and technical members to fully operationalize the Tribunal, as per reports from Moneycontrol.

A Central Government standing counsel expressed satisfaction with the appointment but highlighted the need for additional appointments for GSTAT to function effectively. He emphasized that Mishra, as the administrative head, could play a pivotal role in expediting these appointments.

Every tribunal in India is required to have a judicial member and a technical member on its benches. The judicial member is well-versed in legal procedures, while the technical member is an expert in the specific area of law under consideration.

As of August 2023, approximately 8 months ago, there were 14,227 pending GST appeals, showing the urgency for GSTAT’s full functionality.

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It is important to get up to speed on both laws and judicial decisions, as early as possible, as the appellate tribunal is set to be fully functional soon.

Experts welcome Mishra’s appointment but noted that establishing a fully operational GSTAT across India would take time due to the appointment process for judicial and technical members.

GSTAT’s establishment comes seven years after the GST law’s passage, with litigants resorting to high courts for GST disputes due to the absence of a dedicated tribunal. Once fully operational, GSTAT will reduce the burden on high courts and improve GST dispute resolution.

Parliament passed the Central Goods and Services Tax ( Second Amendment ) Bill, 2023, paving the way for GSTAT’s establishment and aligning provisions with tribunal reforms. A Supreme Court AOR, expressed hope for aggrieved parties under the GST Act with GSTAT’s formation.

To address the backlog of appeals, experts suggest digitization, virtual platforms for hearings, and innovative approaches like grouping similar appeals for efficient resolution. However, they caution against an overly aggressive approach that could lead to Supreme Court intervention.

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