The Goods and Services Tax Council is likely to meet later this month to take up the long-pending issue of setting up of appellate tribunals.
According to sources, the date of the meeting is yet to be finalised but it will be towards the middle of the month around February 18. The Council typically meets once after the presentation of the Union Budget.
The top agenda would be setting up of the appellate tribunals for GST. The Council is also expected to take up the report on online gaming that was submitted by a Group of Ministers.
“Setting up appellate tribunals for GST is a key priority given the huge number of pending cases. It will be rolled out at the earliest,” said another source.
The GST Council, chaired by union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, had last met on December 17 after a six-month gap.
At the time, it had clarified the rates on a number of items but could not take up key reports relating to the setting up of the appellate tribunals, determining the taxation of online gaming, horse racing and casinos as well as the tax regime for tobacco and gutkha companies.
The meeting was wound up early due to the paucity of time cited by a number of state finance ministers.
Timely setting up of a GST appellate tribunal has been a key request of the industry, which currently has to take up appeals against orders to the high courts and face long delays in resolution of such cases.
“The formation of the GST Council is utmost important now as lot of matters have crossed the appeal level and without formation of the tribunals, the taxpayers have to approach the jurisdiction and high courts,” said Abhishek A Rastogi, founder, Rastogi Chambers, who has taken several matters to the courts in the absence of GST tribunals.
The report of the GOM, headed by Haryana deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala, is understood to have suggested setting up a principal bench at New Delhi. Regional benches will also be set up in states.
In larger states, depending on the population, up to five benches may be set up, the report, which was submitted in August last year, is understood to have suggested. Each regional bench would have one technical member, which would be a senior tax official, and one judicial member.
Once the proposal is passed by the GST Council, the Centre may take up amendments to the Central GST Act in the second half of the Budget Session of Parliament. The CGST Act will be amended to provide for all benches of the same kind with a principal bench in New Delhi where the tribunal’s president will sit.