21.12.2023: GST Act amendments to strengthen tribunals passed by Parliament

The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed the Central Goods and Services Tax (Second Amendment) Bill, 2023, which seeks to increase the upper age limit of president and members of the GST Appellate Tribunal and allows advocates with 10 years of experience to be eligible to become a member of the tribunal. The bill had already been cleared by Lok Sabha.

The upper age limit for president of the GST Appellate Tribunal is proposed to be raised to 70 years from the current 67 years. For members it is proposed to be increased from 65 years to 67 years. The minimum age for eligibility for appointment as president and member is 50 years.

Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal is the forum of second appeal in GST laws and the first common forum of dispute resolution between centre and states.

The establishment of the tribunal was envisaged at the time of the implementation of the GST regime in July 2017. However, it was lingering for more than six years. The Union Finance Ministry in September this year issued a notification for setting up 31 benches of the tribunal in 28 states and union territories across the country.

Speaking in Rajya Sabha, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the amendments in the law was required to alignment of provisions of the Central GST Act, 2017 with the provisions of the Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021 in respect of appointment of president and members of the GST Appellate Tribunals.

A key feature of the amended bill is that it allows an advocate with 10 years of relevant experience to be appointed as a member of the tribunal. An advocate for 10 years with substantial experience in litigation under indirect tax laws in the Appellate Tribunal, Central Excise and Service Tax Tribunal, State VAT Tribunals, by whatever name called, High Court or Supreme Court to be eligible for the appointment as judicial member.

To be eligible for the position of president of the GST Appellate Tribunal, the person has to be a Judge of the Supreme Court or is or has been the Chief Justice of a High Court, or is or has been a Judge of a High Court for a period not less than five years.

The amendments were recommended by the GST Council in the October meeting held in New Delhi.

Source: Deccan Herald

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