Supreme Court rejects plea requesting extension of GST amnesty scheme
The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to issue directives on extending the Goods and Services Tax (GST) amnesty scheme, saying it was “a policy decision exclusively within the domain of the government”.
A Supreme Court bench comprising justices Dhananjaya Y Chadrachud and MR Shah dismissed a petition by a trader from Chhattisgarh’s Bilaspur who had urged the court to direct the Central government and the GST council to extend the amnesty scheme, giving more time to small businesses and MSMEs to file their returns.
The petition by Satyakam Arya had assailed the notification issued by the GST council on June 24, 2020 which had given time till September 30, 2020 for filing of returns between July 2017 and July 2020, capping the late fee at ₹500. For any subsequent delay, a late fee of ₹50 per day had been prescribed as penalty. It asked for an extension of the scheme by two months, besides reimbursement of the late fee already collected.
But the bench said in its order:“In our view, these reliefs, as sought in the petition, pertain in the realm of policy decisions. It would be inappropriate for this court to entertain a petition of this nature, such as extension of the amnesty scheme; a cap on the late fee to be collected; exemption of late fee paid for a period between March 25, 2020 and June 30, 2020 and refund of the amount already collected towards late fee.”
The court emphasised that the amnesty scheme was itself a “policy intervention” by the government of India and that “the terms on which the amnesty scheme was executed in the realm of a policy decision.”
The petition, filed through advocate Aviral Saxena, had argued that small traders had not been able to avail of these schemes because they neither had the infrastructure like big business houses nor had they the liberty to step out and do the needful because of the lockdown last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The bench, however, remained disinclined to examine the matter. “The question is entirely of policy. How can a court interfere with this under Article 32 (writ jurisdiction)? These are even otherwise concessions granted as per a policy decision. These are not matters of rights. We cannot issue a mandamus to the government in an amnesty scheme,” it told the lawyer.