GST tribunal format unconstitutional: HCUpdated: Sep 20, 2019 23:42 IST
Chennai: Holding that the current format of the GST Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT) is unconstitutional because it has more technical members than judicial ones, the Madras high court on Friday ruled that advocates do not have a fundamental right to become judges/judicial members of GSTAT.
A Division Bench of Justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad, gave the judgment on two similar petitions which challenged Sections 109 and 110 of Chapter XVIII of the Central GST Act as well as the corresponding provisions in the state Act.
The petitioners, an advocate and the Revenue Bar Association, contended that the GSTAT would be constituted with one judicial member and two technical members, one each from the Centre and the State. They argued that this would result in the dominance of the technical members striking at the root of the principle of separation of powers and impinge upon the independence of the judiciary.
Exclusion of lawyers from being appointed to the GSTAT was also challenged since the provisions allows for civil servants and judicial officers.
Additional Solicitor General G Rajagopalan, appearing for the Law Ministry, contended that the lawyers right to practice under Article 19 (1) of the Constitution does not include the right to be appointed as judges.
While Tamil Nadu argued that members appointed need to be legally qualified and judicially trained, the counsel for the Union Finance Minister submitted that what is essential is that the appointees have adjudicative experience. Further, the counsel said since the GSTAT is yet to be constituted, the petitions were premature.
Officials from the finance ministry did not immediately respond.
First Published: Sep 20, 2019 23:42 IST