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Government notifies 31 Benches of GST Appellate Tribunal

  • Published
    16th Sep, 2023
Context

The Finance Ministry has notified the constitution of 31 Appellate Tribunals across 28 States and eight Union Territories for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) setting the stage to resolve a growing number of taxpayer disputes with the Revenue Department.

About
  • The States had proposed 50 tribunal benches to the GST Council. These tribunals will be implemented in phased manner.
  • Amongst all, the first set of tribunals will become operational from January 2024.
  • Under the order, Uttar Pradesh will have the highest number of benches of the GST tribunals, with three benches proposed to be set up across Lucknow, Varanasi, Ghaziabad, Agra, and Prayagraj.
  • Karnataka and Rajasthan will have two benches each, while Maharashtra and Goa together will have three benches to take up appeals.
  • Tamil Nadu, along with Puducherry, will have two benches, as will Gujarat along with the Union Territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu.
  • Disputes arising in West Bengal, Sikkim, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands will be taken up by two benches of the tribunal to come up in Kolkata.
  • For the seven northeastern States, one tribunal bench has been proposed in Guwahati, with circuit benches in Aizawl, Agartala and Kohima that will be operationalised depending upon the number of appeals filed by suppliers in respective States.

What is GST?

  • GST was introduced through the 101st Constitution Amendment Act, 2016.
  • It is one of the biggest indirect tax reforms in the country.
  • It was introduced with the slogan of ‘One Nation One Tax’.
  • Objectives:
    • To mitigate the double taxation, cascading effect of taxes, multiplicity of taxes, classification issues etc., and has led to a common national market.
    • The GST that a merchant pays to procure goods or services (i.e. on inputs) can be set off later against the tax applicable on supply of final goods and services.
    • The set off tax is called input tax credit.
    • The GST avoids the cascading effect or tax on tax which increases the tax burden on the end consumer.
  • Levied on:
    • The GST has subsumed indirect taxes like excise duty, Value Added Tax (VAT), service tax, luxury tax etc.
    • It is essentially a consumption tax and is levied at the final consumption point.

Role of GST Council

  • The GST Council is a joint forum of the Centre and the states.
  • It was set up by the President as per Article 279A (1) of the amended Constitution.
  • Members:
  • The members of the Council include the Union Finance Minister (chairperson), the Union Minister of State (Finance) from the Centre.
  • Each state can nominate a minister in-charge of finance or taxation or any other minister as a member.
  • Functions:
  • The Council, is meant to “make recommendations to the Union and the states on important issues related to GST, like the goods and services that may be subjected or exempted from GST, model GST Laws”.
  • It also decides on various rate slabs of GST.

About GST Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT):

  • The Central Goods and Service Tax Act, 2017 (CGST Act) in Section 109 mandates for the constitution of a GSTAT and its Benches.
  • The GSTAT will be the specialized appellate authority for resolving disputes under the GST laws.
  • Composition:
  • The GST Tribunal will have one principal bench in New Delhi and as many benches or boards in states as decided by each state, subject to approval of the council.
  • North-eastern states could opt for one bench for 2-3 states and an additional bench for very far-flung areas.
  • The principal bench and state boards would have two technical and two judicial members each, with equal representation from the Centre and states.
  • All four members would not sit for hearing each case. It depends on the threshold or value of dues involved.
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