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25th May 2022 (6 Topics)

A new road for India’s fiscal federalism

In Union of India vs Mohit Minerals, the Supreme Court of India affirmed the ruling of the Gujarat High Court that had declared the tax imposed on importers, of IGST on ocean freight paid by foreign sellers to foreign shipping lines illegal terming it as a double taxation.

Advent of GST Regime

  • Introduction of GST: The GST regime was introduced through the 101st constitutional Amendment based on ‘One Nation, One Tax’ To give effect to this idea, many entries in the State list of Schedule VII of the Constitution were either deleted or amended.
  • Article 246A: Article 246A gave power to legislate on GST. This provision overrode the general dominion granted to Parliament and State legislatures to bring laws on various subjects and afforded to them an express authority to make legislation on GST.
  • GST Council: A GST Council was also established through Article 279A. The Council was given the power to make recommendations to the Union and States on matters such as a model GST law, the goods and services that may be subjected to or exempted from GST and the GST rates to be levied.

What did the apex court upheld?

  • Belief until now: Until now, governments across India have treated the GST Council’s recommendations as sacrosanct, because they believed that this was indeed the law.
  • Just recommendations: The apex court held that both Parliament and the State legislatures enjoy equal power to legislate on Goods and Services Tax (GST), and that the GST Council’s recommendations were not binding on a legislative body.
  • States as equal partners: State legislatures possess the authority to deviate from any advice rendered by the GST Council and to make their own laws by asserting their role as equal partners in India’s federal architecture. The judgement could potentially transform the future of fiscal federalism in India.
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