The much-awaited Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal could be set up by the middle of 2023. The GST Council is expected to take up the report of the group of ministers on the appellate tribunal in its upcoming meeting on December 17.
The tribunal will hear appeals against orders passed by the GST appellate authorities. Appeals for cases involving up to Rs 50 lakh would be heard by a single member while those above this threshold would be heard by a division bench of at least one judicial and one technical member.
According to sources, the report of the GOM, headed by Haryana deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala, has 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. Each regional bench would have one technical member, which would be a senior tax official, and one judicial member.
However, initially, the GST Appellate Tribunal may be set up on the lines of the Customs Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) and will at select centres only. The CESTAT is headquartered in Delhi with regional benches at Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Allahabad, Chandigarh and Hyderabad.
“Setting up tribunal benches in each state will be a time taking and expensive process. For now, it could be fast tracked,” said another source familiar with the development.
The move comes at a time when there are a large number of GST related cases pending with high courts across the country. This has also been a key demand of industry to ensure that issues get resolved at the earliest. With GST being a relatively new tax regime, there are a number of cases of interpretation of the law, classification of goods and services and the rate, pending at various stages. The GoM had submitted its report in August this year.
Sources have indicated that the report will be a top priority at the meeting of the GST Council.
If approved by the council, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman is likely to make an announcement on setting up the GST Appellate Tribunal in the Union Budget 2023-24. The government is likely to take up amendments to the Central GST Act in 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.
Experts also noted that the setting up of these tribunals is much needed and has been delayed for a number of years.