Following a similar order passed yesterday staying the establishment of the Education Tribunal, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court today stayed the establishment of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Appellate Tribunal in Uttar Pradesh (Awadh Bar Association v. Union of India).
While doing so, the Court directed the GST Council and Union of India not to establish the GST Appellate Tribunal for the State without the leave of the Court.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi passed the order in a petition filed by the Awadh Bar Association challenging the March 2020 decision of the GST Council to establish the Principal Bench of the GST Appellate Tribunal in Uttar Pradesh at Prayagraj (Allahabad).
The plea had also questioned the correctness of the February 2021 order of the Allahabad High Court in MS Torque Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd. v. Union of India, which directed the government to notify the constitution of the State Bench of the Appellate Tribunal at Prayagraj.
Today, Additional Solicitor General informed the Court that the Centre and the GST Council have taken a decision to file a Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court against this order.
After considering the submissions made by the parties, the Court went on to hold,
“Having considered the arguments advanced and also the instructions communicated to us on behalf of respondent nos. 1 and 2, we deem it appropriate to direct respondent nos. 1 and 2 for not establishing Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal for the State of Uttar Pradesh without leave of this Court.”
The matter will be heard next on March 15.
Senior Advocates HGS Parihar and JN Mathur, assisted by Advocates Prafulla Tiwari Dr LP Misra, appeared for the Awadh Bar Association. Advocate Piyush Pathak appeared for the State.
The order comes at a time when bar associations in Uttar Pradesh are protesting the proposed establishment of tribunals in the state. One of the reasons for the Awadh Bar Association going on strike was the confusion regarding the setting up of the GST Appellate Tribunal.
On March 2, the Awadh Bar Association filed a petition before the Court urging that the recommendations laid down in the 40th GST Council Meet, which had proposed to establish the State Bench of the GST Appellate Tribunal in Lucknow, be implemented.
The next day, the Allahabad High Court took suo motu cognizance of the strikes by the lawyers bodies, and stayed the establishment of the Education Tribunal in the State.
In its order, the Court took a dim view of the ongoing boycott, noting in its order that abstention of lawyers from judicial has resulted in criminal waste of judicial time.
“By the absentation from judicial work, valuable judicial time has been criminally wasted and that has effected judicial working of Allahabad High Court for other important jurisdictions also…
…The largest High Court of the country cannot afford such nonfunctionality of Courts on any count.”